“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”; wise words from Charlie Chaplin. Sometimes you just gotta laugh to see things clearly. Today was a good day to do both.
My job involves helping retired people relocate and managing their estate sales.
It’s great because I love working with PEOPLE. Today we moved a sweet couple, Mr. & Mrs. T.
Mr.T is ten to fifteen years older than Mrs. T, so she dotes on him even though she, herself is hunched over with a severely S shaped spine. She’s patient to look directly at him when she speaks because his hearing aid needs to be fixed.
Today was moving day for the Ts. We recommend our customers take this day away from their new home while we unload, unpack, sort and arrange their belongings. By the end of the day, their place will look like their “home”. But it isn’t pretty getting there.
Moving is stressful as it is, but especially for the elderly downsizing to half the space they’ve known. Not only are they letting go of their home, but many of the furnishings they’ve collected over decades.
Mr. and Mrs. T were no exceptions. They wanted to keep more than they had space or ability to utilize. And, they wanted to monitor the unpacking.
All day long, they followed us from one room to another, shuffling as they went. Once they found a place between boxes, all they could do was stand and watch, then go sit down to rest and start over again. Honestly, it made me grumpy. We had to move slow and wait for them to step aside or walk around. I was concerned that they’d get too close as we zipped along from box to box with box cutters. Add slick packing paper flying everywhere (yikes!)
We had A LOT to unpack; in a little space. Their kept smiling, but their presence was slowing the process. They really wanted to be there.
Finally I sent a quick word to God as I caught myself grumbling inside.
Okay God, help me out here. Please don’t let me show my frustration. We’re here to serve them, but they’re in the way.”
No sooner had I finished the thought then I neared the end of a giant box with hats.
His hats, her hats. I pulled them out of the box and there was Mr. T standing in from of me just watching.
“Wow, look at all these hats. There’s so many.”
He just smiled. So I’m thinking, Okay Lord. …help.
There were baseball hats, fishing hats, straw hats, visors. “I really like this one.”
I pulled out a solitary Fedora and handed it to him.
“Let’s see it on ya.”
He looked like a cross between Bogart and Frank Sinatra. I’d just unpacked his collection Bogart and Sinatra movies & albums.
Mr. T suddenly came to life before me. I saw him as the young man in the black/white photos on his desk.
He was clowning around and I understood his collection of clowns (they weren’t the creepy kind).
Here was a man of character and flair, humor and mischief.
I’d almost missed him.
We both chuckled, “Ah, that’s great! It looks really good on you Mr. T.”
He gently takes off the hat, smiles, tilts his head and hands it back proudly, “It was my father’s.”
My earlier frustration melted as he turned and walked away for another rest. And that would have been enough, but…
I continued with the last handful of hats at the bottom of the box, one more box down and –?!
What. Is. THAT?!
Was it a shriveled up old cigar? And another –broken one?
Sometimes people store things or set things down and forget about them.
Puzzled, I bent down peering into the box.
That’s not cigars! It’s poop. Old dried up POOP!
They must have had a cat (I hope) at some point that had a rebellious flair.
And I’m thinking Oh NO! Mr. T just had the hat on his head!! AHHH!
At that time the T’s decided to go back to their former house to check for mail. I couldn’t have been more relieved. I called my manager over.
“What is THAT?”
Her look of shock sent me reeling. She quickly disposed of the “added items” as I let go of the laughter bursting from inside.
I cleaned up the hats finding no other “gifts” and went back to unpacking. Each time I thought about it I laughed.
It was an exhausting 12 hour day, but in the end, when the T’s hugged us goodbye it was worth it.
Today’s reflections –
“You never know what you’ll find at the bottom of the box.” –my manager
“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” Robert Frost
“With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come.” William Shakespeare
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Charlie Chaplin
Bogart photo credit http://www.nndb.com/people/837/000024765/hbogart3-66.jpg