I couldn’t say no. One of my college roommates and his new bride had purchased their first flower shop earlier that year. It was pretty much just the two of them and her mom. I was super proud of them venturing out on their own after another owner they had worked for backed out of all the promises he had made them over the years.
Here was the second biggest flower day coming up, and the desperate call for help came to my email. They needed delivery drivers for Valentine’s Day BIG TIME! Hundreds of delivery’s had to be made and it was just Dave and his brother. No way could they get it all done in a day. I was back in school working on my masters, I had some time. It was just for tips, but I wasn’t going to do it for the money. The distress reached out from the email and grabbed my heart. Besides, it would take my mind off of my studies and my singleness.
I got to the shop that day, and the back was filled with older ladies making arrangements. I had never seen so many flowers in my life. Knives and scissors flew around like swords in an epic battle scene. It was total organized chaos in there. Dave pulled me aside and pointed out a rack of flowers for me to take. “Address and names are taped to each one; they are sorted by area, so it should go very quickly. If no one answers, tape a tag on the door and move on.” That’s pretty much all the instructions I got.
I loaded up the car and then had to organize. See, this is before the days of cell phones and GPS, so I had to pull out an old fashioned MAP to figure out where I was going. This was also on the south side, and I was TOTALLY not familiar with the area. I got oriented, and drove off. With three of us, we could get done by 10 PM if we were lucky.
My heart was racing out of my chest. I was kinda nervous about how this all worked, and I didn’t want to screw anything up for them. Plus, that back room insanity was infectious, and I certainly caught a bit of the urgents from them.
I made my first stop the biggest one they had. It was FIFTY white roses set into a giant spherical vase with a giant white and gold Lamé bow. This was serious bucks, so I figured the person getting these would be mucho appreciado! The address was in the big condo towers on the lake, which in this part of town was probably the fanciest place you could live. 19th floor, with a full view of the entire lake, and beautiful wooded park next door. Yup, richville.
I rang the bell on the door, and a stunning young 40 something answered the door. She was dressed to the T’s and could easily have been a super model. I presented the prize winning bouquet to her with a huge grin on my face. I was not at ALL anticipating the reaction. I got a terse “Cha”, and a roll of the eyes. She grabbed the 15 pound behemoth of flowers, and shut the door. I just stood there, staring at the now closed door that was 2 feet from my face.
My heart totally sunk into my chest. “Wha…What just happened?” “That’s like a $300 arrangement! I… I don’t get it.” All my adrenaline was gone. Confused and totally dejected, I sloughed back to the elevator. My mind was racing with WHY that reaction.
I continued with that route in a daze of trying to figure that one out. I don’t remember a single other delivery, until the last one of the day. It was a box with 2 roses in it. To Sherri, from Brian. I pulled up to the tiny house in the very sub average South Milwaukee neighborhood. These were typically 2-3 bedroom cracker jack box houses that had a living room and tiny kitchen. You could cut both the back and front yard lawns in about 10 min with a manual human powered rotary mower. At that time, these things ran about 40-50K total.
After over 50 deliveries, I was exhausted and still totally affected by that first one. I was very glad to be done after this one. Beers at the bar with my other single friends were in my near future. I rang the bell, and a very perky 15 year old girl answered the door (rather quickly). Grinning from ear to ear, the reflection of the setting sun glared off her braces right into my eyes. “Is Sherri home?” With her giant blue eyes open as wide as could be, and hardly containing her frenzied glee, she responded, “That’s me!” I benignly handed her the box and said, “These are for you, from Brian.”
The shriek that emanated from Sherri’s Lip Smacker coated lips got the attention of the next door neighbors yipping Pomeranian. “OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!” She ripped open the top of the box, and there they were. Two perfect long stem red roses with a sprig of baby’s breath served up with some greens and wrapped ever so delicately in green tissue. For her, it was the most amazing thing EVER!!!!!!! Obviously delirious with delight, she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and thanked me profusely. Her mother had now joined the party at the door, also grinning from ear to ear. She produced a $5 bill and handed it to me and just mouthed THANK YOU ❤. With Sherri still in absolute heaven, mom slowly closed the door, and I walked back to my car.
I can only speculate the first and last reaction I received that day. Both obviously still hang in my memory almost 30 years later. Sherri’s, however sticks with me just a little bit more. Sheer delight will do that to your soul, which is why I choose to engage in it as much as I possibly can. Thank YOU Sherri for one of the greatest Valentine’s gifts I have ever received. Wherever you are, I hope with all my heart you still feel that love and delight every day of your life.