Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
Walking through the door of The Hopeful Florist, I am encompassed by the overwhelming aroma – carnations, roses, gardenias – every corner of the shop exudes a tender essence. I’ve only been working at my aunt’s shop for ten minutes, and I think I’m going to die: death by fragrance poisoning.
“If you ever want to sell flowers…” For years my Aunt Theresa has poked and prodded for me to come work for her. I’ve always declined. Other than Pete who drives the delivery van, the shop is full of female employees. They’re Theresa’s friends, women in their thirties who spend the weekend watching Julia Roberts movies and sipping wine coolers. They gush over ribbons and flowers and hearts. You can understand my reluctance. But I gotta pay my bills.
“Hey, Chris, you still working at Cromwell’s?”
“Nah. Not anymore. Sales.” That’s all I said yesterday when my buddy Stew asked about work. Stew’s a personal trainer. We had just finished a late night showing of Nightmare on Elm Street and were eating frozen pizza when he brought up my employment. I had no problem being evasive. I don’t need the guys in the fraternity knowing about my new job.
Last week I received the condemning notice from Cromwell’s Market. The message was simple:
“We regret to inform you that budgeting needs have forced us to eliminate your position. Good success in all your future endeavors. Sincerely, The Cromwell Management Team.”
I’ve worked for that grocery store chain since I was sixteen. My tuition payment is due at the end of the month, and I don’t have time to look for a job. That’s why I finally caved and called my aunt.
“Oh, Chris, this is going to be so much fun.” Theresa had rambled over the phone, diving into a monologue about daisies and roses. She’s a little intense. Thinks she’s healing the world one bouquet at a time.
Now it’s Monday. My first day. I’m staring at my reflection in the glass of a flower cooler. It’s hard to decide which part of my uniform is the most disgusting: the purple polo shirt, the white shorts, or the pink baseball cap with The Hopeful Florist embroidered in yellow thread.
“People love it,” Theresa had insisted when she placed it on my head. Yeah, she’s nuts.
The door jingles and my first customer saunters in: a teenage boy with jeans that fail to conceal his plaid boxers. He points to a bucket of long-stemmed roses like they’re nothing special.
“How much for a dozen of those?”
“How about thirty?” the boy counters. Cheapskate. He kicks at the bucket.
“How about sixty-five?” I cross my arms and give him a disapproving look. He responds with some snark about how local businesses “suck” and gives the greeting card trolley a volatile spin.
“Nice hat,” he says on his way out. I yank off the pink atrocity and shove it in the garbage can. I cover it up with expired flowers. If Theresa asks, I’ll tell her I lost it.
Back in the stock room I organize a huge shipment that just came in. I start by stacking boxes filled with vases. I make a slight error in spacial reasoning and a box slips. I scramble to keep it from crashing into the other boxes. I fail.
“Chris, what in the world? Didn’t you see the word ‘fragile’ everywhere?” Theresa comes running. She stares open-mouthed at the glass shards covering the floor.
“I’ll clean it up,” I promise and reach for a broom.
“After that I need you to wash the windows and water the outdoor plants. And after lunch, I’ll need you to cashier while I run across town. We’re all out of baby’s breath. This has never happened.” Apparently, a shortage on baby’s breath constitutes a floral emergency.
“No baby’s breath? How are we still alive?” I begin sweeping.
“Ha ha. Alright, smart guy. Just try to be more careful, okay?” She motions to all the broken glass. Theresa’s like a big sister and has the propensity to act like I’m an idiot. “Hey! Where’s your hat?”
“Lost it.” My voice is sincere.
“Already? Well, don’t worry, I have plenty.” I’ll bet she does.
The rest of the day continues in similar fashion. Around eleven I mistake a female customer for a male. Then I misplace a fifty dollar bill and accidentally send a congratulatory bouquet to the home of a grieving widow. I’m about to tell Theresa we should forget the whole thing. This isn’t working out. But I need the money, so I shut my mouth. I listen to the demands of hurried businessmen and entitled women darting in and out:
“How long will this take? It has to be there by five.”
“Why are you so expensive? The shop down the street is much cheaper.”
“I don’t have all day. Can you hurry up?”
Somehow I survive the day.
At five o’clock, Theresa approaches me.“I have an assignment for you.”
“What is it?” I can tell I’m not going to like it. I stop mopping and lean on the handle.
“Pete’s sick. He’ll be out tomorrow. I need you to play delivery boy.” She holds out the van keys, like I’m being promoted, then skips back into the office.
Once she’s gone, I roll my eyes. The delivery van is a dinosaur. No AC, no CD player. The upholstery in the cab smells like old Cheetos. The paint job is bright pink like my stupid hat. At least the storefront has a mini fridge.
All this, however, can be overlooked. It’s the deliveries I dread: the hospitals, nursing homes, funeral parlors. Our main customers. I don’t want to think about the smell of urine and disinfectant, mingled with the reality of death. It creeps into your pores, lingers on your clothes. No thank you.
“Ohhh, Chris, you’re so lucky. I wish I could deliver flowers.” On the drive home I call and complain to my girlfriend Katie. She’s less than sympathetic. She’s always so female about everything. She says I’m a “typical guy,” wants me to be more romantic, more in tune with my feelings. She keeps talking about getting married. I’m not so sure. This is why we fight.
“I guess I’ll talk to you later.” I abruptly end the conversation. What’s the point of having a girlfriend if she’s not going to commiserate?
When I get home, the frat is in the middle of poker night. I made sure to change out of my uniform before leaving the shop.
“Yo, Chris, come give us your money,” one of them hollers at me.
“You wish,” I say to the guys and retreat to my room. I eat a quick bowl of Ramen and go straight to bed. I dream that I am drowning in a swimming pool full of perfume. Rather than throw me a life-preserver, Katie and Theresa toss bouquets.
“You ready?” The next morning, Theresa is grinning at me like a proud parent on the first day of kindergarten.
“Sure.” I grab the clipboard and wander out to the van. The list of deliveries is printed in an elegant font Theresa thinks is “adorable.” I scan the list and proceed to smack my forehead against the rubber of the steering wheel and moan. According to the sheet, my first stop is the hospital. Of course it is. The same hospital where I’ve spent months walking the halls, sleeping in awkward positions, paging nurses, praying for a miracle. I hate that place.
After that, Theresa’s got me going to two other hospitals, a series of funeral homes, rehab centers, nursing homes. Ugh. This is going to be a terrible day.
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Psalm 73:21-23 (ESV)
Go on to read Part 2 of The Delivery Guy.
-Question to Ponder: When are you inclined to grumble? To give thanks?
-Song Recommendation: Rainy Days & Mondays by The Carpenters
Written by Heidi Sadler, Inspired by Psalm 73. Copyright © 2016 by Heidi Sadler, All Rights Reserved. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016)
-Read Previous Sunday Psalms from Season Two: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7, Episode 8, Episode 9, Episode 10, Episode 11, Episode 12, Episode 13, Episode 14