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A Mother's Day Story
The second Sunday in May is Mother's Day. At least in the United States it is. In England, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. In France, it is on the last Sunday in May while the Spanish wait until December 8th. Regardless of when it is celebrated, it is that one day of the year that we set aside to honor and celebrate that one person without whom we would not be here!
We have a tendency to take Mother's Day for granted. You know the drill, call the florist, tell them you want something nice, blah, blah, blah. Several years ago, I got to see Mother's Day from a different perspective. I was working as a part-time delivery man for a florist to pick up a few extra dollars, and gain some insight for an article I was working on.
Mother's Day is Big Business
Mother's Day to a florist represents the make-or-break business weekend of the year. The Society of American Florists tells us that the average florist shop in the U.S. has annual sales of $250,191 per year. And Mother's Day is the biggest flower holiday of the year. Everybody has a mother, a grandmother or a daughter who is a new mother. Its big bucks.
The MVR Check
Getting the Job
While many might surmise that being the delivery man is a small cog in this mighty flower-power holiday, I am here to tell you different. All through my professional career in sales and marketing I was reminding those around me that "It all starts with an order"! I can now add to my mantra "It's not over till it's delivered"!
Starting at the beginning, the interview was earlier in the week and I am proud to report that I had the correct answer for all three questions. Do you have a car? Do you have insurance? And do you have a clean MVR? I wasn't sure how clean she meant so I answered in the affirmative anyway.
A Van Filled with Spilled Vases
Off to Work!
Mother's Day weekend started for me Thursday at 8am. When I walked into the back room, the other 11 delivery persons were grabbing every pot and vase within reach and loading their cars. The dispatcher looked at me and barked "What's your number?" I thought my delivery career was over! I couldn't even remember my number let alone addresses!
Before I could confess to being memory challenged, Tony smiled and said "I'm sorry, Ronald, I didn't give you a number did I?" With the playing field leveled it was decided that I would take two small towns to the south since I lived there. I loaded my van with all the pots and vases that had my zip codes on them and headed south towards my first mom.
My first stop was to get gas which was a fortuitous decision. As I was unscrewing the gas cap I happened to glance into the back of the van where every vase was on its side with water draining out from under the back door. An hour later the flowers had been re-watered, re-arranged and braced with empty boxes compliments of Bernice, the manager of the service station. Bernice, who probably saved my delivery career, more than earned her tip.
The Deliveries Start
The first delivery was a bit difficult but I soon realized that Oak Lawn Ct., Oak Lawn Dr. and Oak Lawn St. are not only different places but miles apart! Pine holds the record though, and is available in eight flavors; Avenue, Circle, Drive, Lane, Road, Street, Place and Trail.
My next delivery was a replacement arrangement to a Mom who had called in to complain that the flowers she received were damaged. If she knew what her replacements looked like an hour earlier she would have been happy with what she had.
At one stop there were two signs on the fence gate. The first read Beware of Dog the one below it said I'm Serious. I Left the flowers outside the gate with a note that read “I believe the Dog”.
One Mom looked rather disdainfully at the modest arrangement I handed her and commented, "My other son sent me a dozen roses." It was the only time in all three days that I wanted to take the flowers back.
Some Great Moms
One delivery was to a Mom in a very poor section of the county. The house was small and in a sad state of disrepair. But it was a veritable wonderland of floral beauty. Flowers everywhere and I mean everywhere. When the woman stepped through the torn screen door she looked at her flowers and clapped her hands. They were from her son in Atlanta she explained and he knew just what she wanted.
She insisted in showing me the flowers around each side of the house, showing me where the new flowers would be planted and telling me how proud she was of her son who worked on computers in Atlanta. As I drove slowly over the rutted dirt road away from her ragged house, I wondered if a new screen door would have been a better gift on Mother's Day. Then I remembered the look on her face when she said "He knew just what I wanted." Sometimes I guess we need to concentrate on the heart and not the house, no screen door could have made that Mom happier.
Saving the Best for Last
In between the two small towns there is a unique little retirement community founded back in 1926. It is a completely self-sufficient community with its own medical facility, church, little bank, etc. When you drive through the community you can feel the tranquility. I am sure Norman Rockwell used this little community to practice his painting. Without exception, the deliveries to this quiet little community were the most enjoyable.
My last delivery on Saturday afternoon was to a Mom in this little community who lived in a tiny house under a gigantic live-oak... She was elderly and was slow getting to the door when I rang, but had no apprehension about throwing open her door to a stranger. When she saw the flowers her eyes filled with tears and she looked at me and said "I knew you would come, she never forgets me!" The arrangement was quite large so I volunteered to bring it in and place it wherever she wanted it.
While fluffing up the flowers she told me they were from her granddaughter in Alabama who had called earlier in the day. As I started for the door she held out some coins for me but I simply folded up her hand and wished her a Happy Mother's Day. No tip could make me feel as good as I did looking into that Mom's eyes! She helped make my three day experience one that I will never forget.