Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I Should Have Asked Was: How Big Is The Truck?

  There have been many times in my life when I didn't ask enough questions. There have been many times in my life when I asked no questions at all. It's not because I'm a know-it-all. It's more a matter of rolling with things when they come my know, sometimes.
   So one Friday evening a few years back when my wife said, "I'm expecting a delivery from Home Depot tomorrow morning, can you be here? I forgot I won't be home."
   I said, "No problem."
   If I had been paying attention, I would have taken note that she provided a couple of important details. I wasn't paying attention when she said:
  • "Have them put the pallets on my side of the driveway."
  • "Don't ask how much the stuff cost."
  • "Don't worry. I'll move it to the backyard myself. I bought a wheelbarrow."
   I'm a dude. If there's work involved, work involving pallets and trucks and wheelbarrows, and I don't have to do the work, I have stopped listening. I might look like I'm paying attention, but I'm really watching a rerun of a Tom & Jerry cartoon in my head.
   Saturday morning around 7 AM, while I was lying in bed relishing having the bed to myself and somewhere between dreamland and wakefulness, the phone rang. I remembered something about a delivery of stuff for the garden my wife was going to build in the backyard, but that's about it. I answered the phone.
   "This is Home Depot. Is this Mr. Steele?"
   "The truck just left. Should be there in half an hour or so. Will you be ready?"
   "Ready?" I shrugged, but he couldn't see it. I looked at my pen on the dresser. I was ready to sign for the delivery and watch him unload the truck on the driveway. No sweat, bro. "Yeah. I'm ready."
   I made some coffee, poured a cup, and took a seat on our front porch to wait for the truck with the stuff for her garden.
   At this point, I call your attention to the photo in this post. The photo, as you can see, is of a truck. A truck with a flatbed trailer and a forklift on the back. That's not the truck that delivered the stuff to our house that Saturday morning...but it's close!
   I spilled my coffee when the Home Depot truck pulled up in front of the house. It was stacked with pallets. A lot of pallets. There was a forklift on the back of the truck. The driver parked parallel to the front of the house, got out of the truck, and walked up to me with a clipboard in his hand.
   "Are you Mr. Steele?" he asked.
   "Yep. You came to the right place." I eyed the truck. "Which one of those pallets is ours?"
   "Which one?" He looked at me like I was nuts. "She didn't tell you?"
   "Tell me what?" I was too dumb to be worried.
    "This is your delivery."
   "Uh-huh. Which pallet is ours?"
   His eyebrows went up, but he didn't tell me his thoughts. "All thirteen of 'em are yours."
   I said nothing. I was too occupied with the feeling of scalding coffee--from the cup that fell from my numb hand--on my feet. I looked at his face to see if he was serious. I looked at the truck to see if it was a mirage. He was serious, and it wasn't a mirage.
   I never asked her what kind of garden she was building in the backyard. I never asked her how much she spent (about three grand, I later found out--and that was, by the way, fine with me), and I never asked if she was going to need a hand building the garden (she didn't.)
   "Put 'em on that half of the driveway," I said. "Take your time. I'm going to get some coffee. Want some?"
   He didn't want any coffee. He probably would have spilled it on the seat of the forklift because he was laughing pretty hard. I did just what I said I would do. I got some more coffee and took a seat on the porch as I watched him fill my wife's half of the driveway with pallets.
   Thirteen pallets, to be exact. There were pallets of bags of sand. There were pallets of flat stones. Plumbing parts. Plants. Round stones. Top soil. Other soil. Thirteen pallets of stuff. Half an hour later, I signed for the delivery and went back in the house to pretend none of it happened.
   I wish I had a photo of the Japanese water garden she built in the backyard. I'm sorry to say I don't. It was her summer project, and she did a great job. She was happy as a clam hauling the stuff to the backyard one pallet at a time. The thing she built was a thing of beauty. It was divided into thirds. There was a hunk, about waist high and five feet around that held plants, and had a waterfall to the second hunk, a pond with goldfish in it. The third hunk had sand, and rocks, and a little rake for making those designs in the sand that make sense only to the person with the rake. I plopped a golf ball in there once, but she didn't see the humor.
  I make it a rule to let her projects be her projects. I offered once to help her haul stuff to the backyard from the driveway, but she refused the offer. I did a happy dance when she refused the offer, but I got credit for making the offer.
   But I'll tell you this: when my wife asks me to be home for a delivery, I have questions. I have lots of questions!

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