Every Friday i received an afternoon fedex delivery of a pink box full of produce, and usually a little rice. Every friday i took great pains to make sure i was home at a reasonable time to pull the box out of the blistering sun and save some of the produce. I asked my coordinator to take hours from my schedule on friday and move them to saturday. I was willing to work a long day saturday if it meant i would be home to receive my shipment of food for the week when it arrived. Well, one day it didn’t arrive. The latest it had ever shown up was about 4:10 in the afternoon. However, the little ticket said that fedex would deliver it “some time before 8”. I waited as long as i could, hoping the fedex delivery truck was just behind schedule that day. At 6:30 pm i couldn’t wait any longer. The evening chores would have to be started at 7 at the latest if i was to be finished by sundown. If i was going to make a run to the dollar general, it would have to happen at that moment. The dollar general was the only store in our little town, save for the feed store across the street from it. It was either that or buy groceries at the gas station. I hopped in the car and made a run to the dollar general.
The dollar general stocked some food items. However, not many of them were the kind of food items a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free person could eat. I had to get creative. I was looking for food that would feed me for the week, not just a snack. I bought a big jug of v-8 tomato juice. I bought two cans of black beans, two cans of black eyed peas, three cans of black olives, 2 bags of frozen peas, 2 cans of “pineapple in 100 percent pineapple juice”, 1 jar of pickle spears, and two packets of tuna. Once at home i set about making what i called “Quarantine Soup”. I dumped the jug of v-8 into a soup pot. Then i poured in the two bags of peas, two of the cans of olives, and all of the canned black beans and black eyed peas. I set the lid on top and turned the stove on. I boiled it for a few minutes…just enough for the peas to defrost and the whole thing to warm. Then i spooned it into a plastic cup and dug in. It was pretty good but most importantly, it was easily attainable and filling. Just then, i heard the sound i had been straining and praying to hear all afternoon; the fedex truck was coming down the path to the house.
At first i was excited. I thought, “oh thank God, maybe now i can finally rescue some of the produce in the box and see what’s still edible. Maybe, by chance, the shimeji mushrooms will be salvageable. I had been so excited to try those mushrooms, both because i’d never had them and because it had been so long since i had a mushroom of any kind on my plate. But, as the seconds ticked on i quickly realized i had prayed a little too hard for that truck to come. Come it did…and it kept coming…straight for the house! I suddenly realized, in horror, that he meant to back the truck right up to the porch. I knew, of course, that this was not possible, for there was a car and a tree in the way. But he didn’t seem to see those. I began searching for my horn to honk at him, to alert him that what he was attempting was not possible, to get him to stop. But, i was surprised to find, i was not in a car. There was no horn to honk, standing at the kitchen window. I watched in horror as the fedex truck backed completely over my mimosa tree. The thing disappeared beneath the bottom of the truck. I gasped and was immediately angry. I had nursed that thing from a tiny stick last year and this year it was shoulder height. I had replanted it when Cashew, as a puppy, had dug it completely out of the ground. That little pink mimosa tree in front of my house meant a lot to me. It wasn’t just a weed or a scraggly bush. It was my tree. Just as if someone had backed over my child with a 2 ton truck, i felt the rage well up inside of me. I felt the urge to rush into the yard and pull that man out of his truck to drive it forward myself, to release my little tree from the terror that had befallen it. I just knew this had to be a new driver. It couldn’t be my friendly, cherished, and trusted bible-quoting fedex driver. He wouldn’t betray me this way. He wouldn’t destroy things on my property after i had trusted him enough to leave the gate open for him each week, given him access to my little setup that i shared with no one. He wouldn’t back over my tree. Suddenly, he seemed to realize what he’d done and the truck lurched forward, revealing a bent and mangled mess of branches, cracked or split in places, revealing the green fibrous wood beneath. I felt i was staring at a child with its broken bones visible, jutting out from beneath the skin. It happened so quickly and i had failed so utterly to protect this little tree in any way. I felt powerless. As i was trying to process what had happened and why the fedex driver i had so appreciated and praised week after week would do this to my tree, the brake lights on the truck came on again. My eyes widened. He was trying it again! This time, he aimed to avoid the tree. Instead, he steered the back end of his truck straight for the side of my suv parked in front of my house. I began banging emphatically on the window panes shouting loudly, “No no no no no no no NO!!!!!” A centimeter from the side door of my car, he slammed on the brakes and the truck lurched to a halt. I wanted to rush out on the porch and tell him to get the hell off my property. I wanted to ask him if he was on drugs. I wanted to ask him who the hell gave him a driver’s license. I had one more payment on that car before i owned it outright and it almost got t-boned by the back of a fedex truck. I was so angry at this point. And then something happened. The fedex driver gave up on parking next to the porch and got out of the truck to come deliver my box. It was him; my familiar, cherished, always happy and optimistic, bible-quoting fedex delivery man. It was not a new driver. I wished it had been. I felt so betrayed. I had trusted him, as a more frequent visitor to my property than anyone else in the world. He had always looked out for the trees and the dogs when parking. He had always cared for the packages as if they were all marked “extremely fragile” even though they weren’t. He had always gone above and beyond for us, even finding shady places to leave the boxes under trees so they weren’t in the sun if i was at work when he arrived. I never in a million years would have guessed he would be responsible for such wreckless behavior. I frowned. I couldn’t face him. He had backed over my tree! But i thought if i did, he might offer some explanation for his behavior. I lifted the curtains. He stared at the ground as he walked. He wore a baseball cap. He never lifted his gaze. He had a stern expression on his face and the lines around his mouth were tight. He dumped two boxes before my door and tapped on the window with his fingernails. Without a word he turned and left. As the truck disappeared down the driveway i realized i had missed my opportunity to ask him what on earth was happening. Because of covid-19, we were supposed to stay in the house until the driver had gone, for the driver’s protection, as they usually weren’t wearing masks. I had done so, though i had so many questions. The first thing i did was close and lock the property gate. It would never again be left open, for anyone. I finished severing all the broken branches from the main part of the mimosa tree. It was a shame. So many of them were mangled. I dragged the cut branches to the brush pile and laid the thorny things on top. I stared at the freshly patchy tree. I was sorry i hadn’t protected it. I was sorry to see all the wonderful new growth cut off. I sighed. I went over to examine the car. It was fine but the tire tracks from the truck remained in the dust next to it. I felt so betrayed, most of all by the fact that he wouldn’t even look at me and offered no apology or explanation for destroying my tree and nearly destroying my car. I thought, maybe something had gone very wrong in his life. Maybe, knock on wood that i was wrong, maybe his wife had succumbed to covid that morning and his job still made him work…maybe he had come down with covid himself and wasn’t thinking straight due to lack of oxygen to his brain and vital organs. What if his grandkids were sick with covid and he was afraid they wouldn’t make it, knock on wood that i was way off. I had no idea what had happened in his day, but i had to believe it was something huge, because i had never seen him drive like that, and i’d never known him to be the type of person to just walk away without any explanation. I decided not to report the destruction of the tree to fedex. It wouldn’t bring my tree back and it wouldn’t make anything better. All it would do was lose him his job. He was probably going through something awful and that was probably the last thing he needed right then, so i kept it to myself.
Half of the food in the boxes was spoiled, for two reasons. It was summer in texas and the food had been in an un-air-conditioned truck until 7:30 pm. Also, imperfect foods had made matters worse by putting the ice-pack in one box – all its own, and the produce in another. The produce was warm as if it had been in the oven. I stared at the ceiling, “Lord, why can’t you give these people common sense? I ordered the garlic-parm oat milk butter for the purpose of obtaining the ice pack that comes with…in order to keep the produce cold. Why on earth would these people put the butter in its own box? Why on earth? I don’t give a ***’* *** about the butter…it was bought to keep the produce cold. Jesus Christ.” I contacted imperfect foods and they gladly refunded me the money for the spoiled items.
The next day i had to work late to make up for having a short day friday to receive the box. However, Sunday after work i brought a change of clothes and braved the chaos at the walmart in town to obtain a plastic storage container. The fedex delivery guy had urged me to get one when we first met and i had said i didn’t want to because it would advertise to the runaways from the drug and rehab center down the street that there might be goods there… However, i was now much more afraid of losing trees and vehicles to the giant truck than i was losing my mail to detoxing millennials looking for free stuff. i set the box next to the gate. The fedex driver had gotten his original wish. I was on board with the system now.