Mom thought that today wouldn’t be busy.
HA. HA. HA.
Right after lunch, we were swamped - mainly with my family.
Two of my cousins appeared to help move two air conditioners out of the basement and into our grandma’s house. With that job done, I ran down to my house to pick up a card for two of my cousins who graduated from Purdue this spring. The boys said goodbye, and the premises were quiet, except for a few women picking through some flowers.
But not for long.
My dog barked the alarm and I turned around to see Randy, one of our regular customers and good friend, pull into the driveway.
We knew he would probably be here today - right around two in the afternoon. Randy is a fantastic fellow, mainly because he just likes to talk and tell stories all day long. And boy, does he have stories to tell. And he don’t care who happens to be listening; he will tell a story to EVERYONE within earshot of him.
(He once told a story about when he had to pay child support and medical bills to his ex, and because she refused to pay for college tuition or anything else, he got a little bit disgruntled. And because the system was set up so that he would have to bring the money in either cash or money order to the courthouse, then wait for his ex to decide to come to the courthouse (which sometimes she decided several times that she couldn’t come) and claim the money. And to boot, the woman at the courthouse who had to orchestrate all of this wasn’t very nice to Randy. So, Randy did what Randy does best, and he planned a good trick on both the woman at the courthouse and his ex. His last payment was for $5,000 - and because he could pay in cash - he called up the bank and ordered $5,000 in quarters, nickles, dimes, and pennies and filled the back of his pick-up truck with wheelbarrows and five-gallon buckets of loose change. And he drove it all to the courthouse, carried it all into the building, past all the security, and to the desk of that crabby lady, who would have to count all of that loose change to make sure he had paid in full. Then his ex would have to find a way to transport all of that loose change home or to the nearest bank.)
Yup. That’s Randy.
Now you know a smidgen about Randy’s personality. He plants one ginormous garden every year, and this year was no exception, despite the drought and the heat. Today, he was here to buy 100 sweet potato plants. 100. That’s A TON of sweet potatoes at the end of the year.
But of course, Randy sat down and talked for about an hour before he even thought about sweet potato plants.
Man, do I love his stories. Never a dull moment when he’s here.
And just while he’s yackin’ away, up walks one of my other cousins. I think she was more than a little confused by Randy, who would talk to her as if he had known he all his life. (All her life, she’s been itching to get her scissors and cut my long hair. I have refused her suggestions all my life. Randy said I should ask her for an afro. Now THAT would be interesting.)
Pretty soon two more of my cousins appeared, buying flowers for their house. One asked me a question about some tomato plants, and then apologized, telling me to go back to chatting. I told her not to worry, that Randy would still be here for another hour or so.
And he did.
Long after my horde of cousins left, Randy was still there, 100 sweet potato plants and two packs of tomato plants in hand, telling us about his trip this weekend, to a rodeo in Georgia, with a fifteen hour drive with a horse in front of him, and he still wasn’t quite ready to leave us.
An hour later, a fella drove in, and immediately began talking to me. Randy finally decided he had better go, just as the school bus stopped along our stretch of the highway, clogging up traffic for miles. Goodbye Randy, hello new-fellow-who-I-have-no-clue-who-you-are,-but-boy-you-sure-act-like-you-know-me.
This new fella was nice. Plenty of energy, dressed in old, black converse tennis shoes, brown cargo shorts, a snowboarding t-shirt, and a dune-buggy racing baseball cap, and telling me all about his daughter who just got back from an internship in Kosovo. When he asked what I was studying, I told him history, and he responded with an “aww, yeah!” and fist-bumped me. Great guy, but GEEZ I couldn’t remember who he was. When I told him that we had sweet potato plants, he told me that he could hug us all - and promptly went to go chat with my grandma. I got him his plants, helped him pick out some cilantro and broccoli plants, visited with my mom, and then said our goodbyes.
I marched down to the other end of the greenhouse and asked mom who the heck is that guy, and mom told me that he worked with my dad a long time ago.
Apparently at a Christmas party, when I was just a kid (and before I knew I should remember people like this), he and I got to talking about the books we liked to read, and he found out that I liked fantasy/science fiction books. As I write this post, I feel like I’m starting to remember that someone gave me my copy of The Hobbit when I was very young. That must have been him.
Mom can’t remember his name. I sure don’t know it. But I am grateful to him for the book that started my obsession with Middle Earth, which consumed my middle-school life, and still remains deeply ingrained within me.
I am grateful to wonderful people who surround me with guidance, humor, happiness, a job, and a satisfaction with my life here at home.