Packing Strangers’ Lives & Visiting Their Favorite Restaurant
The big event of the week for my congregation has been to get a member and his family moved. Just’In spent Saturday morning hauling boxes from one of the two sheds they’ve got full-to-the-ceiling with stuff. He finally just had to throw up his hands and tell them, “That’s enough for me. I have to go home.” The task wasn’t done, and probably still isn’t done.
On Tuesday, I went over with four other women and two teenage girls to help them pack. When we rang their doorbell and told them we were here to help, their response was, “We’d love you to help pack, but we don’t have any boxes.” So we spent the night looking for boxes, each of us scattered pell-mell over the community, and we came up with quite a bit. At nine in the evening, they finally asked us to stay and help pack; we’d already helped since 6:30 that evening. Dark had already fallen, and it was time for our families to sleep. We had to politely extract ourselves.
I promised, before I left, that I would show up the next morning to help them pack. “Them” consists of an elderly gentleman, his wife, and her twin sister. When I arrived the next morning, a stranger let me in their house and told me that they weren’t home. The gentleman was at work, and the twins had gone out for breakfast and planned to go out for lunch as well. I called a cell phone and left a message; I was there, like I promised, but I didn’t know what they wanted me to do.
Meanwhile, I helped the stranger who let me in the house; he was a friendly handyman of sorts, and he took down the three ceiling fans that they wanted to take with them. I packed them: found boxes that would fit, then found the packing material and the tape. While looking for all these things, I saw that much had been packed since I was last there. It no longer looked like they had just started packing, but rather like they wanted to move in a week or so.
The girls came home and, after a couple of small errands, asked me out to lunch. I wholeheartedly agreed. I chatted with them as we went to their regular lunch joint: a truck stop called Sapp Brothers. Fascinating establishment. The food at the buffet was mediocre, but edible; for two little old ladies who probably don’t cook for themselves too often and who don’t care much for tasty food anymore, it was understandable why they were regulars to this place.
There were phones on the wall in every booth for truckers to call their families or their employers while they ate. When we went to the bathroom, we passed a gas station-like area with snacks and medicine and such, but we also passed racks of clothes and movies for sale. There was a fast food establishment there as well, in case you don’t feel like diner-atmosphere food
The most fascinating to me was a large sign that pointed up a flight of stairs. The place was strangely lacking the usual state souvenirs, but this sign said “(Dr. Izzy’s) Chiropractor/DOT Physicals” and “Dental/Showers (up this way)”. In examining their website, they also have a small movie theater; I find it funny that they’ve included a picture of their bathrooms. And of course, they’ve got a huge truck repair shop, sized to fit those dinosaurs of the road.
The sisters, who have the same hairstyle and wear matching outfits, took me back to their place after “feeding their worker” and had me do some real packing in one of their two sheds out back. I quickly packed three boxes before I had a tour of my local grocery store to get to; that was fascinating as well, if not deserving of an entirely different post. Just as I suspected, however: they weren’t out by Thursday like they’d hoped. But their three lifetimes of stuff that’s never been sorted through make me feel nice and tidy, compared to them.