From a distance, whether mowing the lawn, tending to the animals, or cutting wood, I can recognize the Fa-Thump, Phathump, Fa-Thump amplified rotation of the tires and diesel engine working up the motivation to travel up the long hill a mile away from our house. A sudden increase in my heart rate, eyes get dilated, hair stands on end, my senses are alert, vision sharpened and hearing more acute than ever as the big Brown truck makes a rounded left hand turn on our dirt road kicking up a dust cloud common in northern back roads. I can can usually tell in a split second if he is about to accelerate or coast in order to make the wide turn into our driveway.
What could be in the big box? The possibilities are endless. There is a chance they could be new curtains or bedspread for my daughters room, but I am hopeful it could be a new slew of rods from TFO or a replacement net for my broken Brodin wooden Guide net. My wife is privy to my game. She knows I have a secret code with the guys glad in pooh brown to store boxes inside of my garage door so I can intercept before she gets home. Its all in good fun. Is it a genetic disorder? My father had a serious problem ordering online and getting things he really need needed, like shark fishing rods, fish finders, Ice-augers and other miscellaneous items from Cabelas that I inherited. Do we as males have an inherent ability to bond with other males in this delivery secret ritual or is it more?
Jump back two decades and I was living in a much larger metropolis where I would drive to the mall or one of several Fly shops to purchase the majority of fly tying materials or a much needed new line from Scientific Anglers. I simply could not fathom living a life ‘Up North’ where one didn’t need to drive across town to actually pick up a rod or feel a pelt of deer hair prior to purchase. My brother-in-law bragged about how he would accomplish all of his Holiday shopping from the comfort of his EZ chair online. Inconceivable. Now days, I see the virtue in compiling of list of tying materials and making a bulk order to Feather-Craft for my Sex Dungeons and Hog Snares, along with guide flies from Catching Shadows and Anglers Choice Flies for next guide season.
As I was roto-tilling the garden last spring, standing amid the fresh aroma- a nitrogen rich potpourri, compliments of goats, sheep and chickens wafting through the promise of fresh spring air, I quickly shut down the tiller to say ‘Hello’ to my local driver. I had the idea of ‘getting to know’ my UPS and Fed-Ex guys. Why not? Really, they know me, and he often asks how the fishing is. These guys know more about you than perhaps some guys at the office. For instance, he knows I prefer getting camping equipment from Sierra Trading Post and on a more personal level, my monthly prescription for Humira injection for my psoriasis needs to be chilled and kept in the shade. So I had prepared a set of questions for my driver.
What is your name? How old are you? How many years have you been delivering packages for UPS?
“Jack. A little older than you. 28 years next month.”
How many kids do you have? What do you like about delivery packages?
“I had three— I lost my son in Afghanistan four years ago…”
Whoa~ did not expect that. How do I continue? I don’t. It was understood. We both had a moment. I paused to reflect how it gut wrenching it would be to lose a child, and then have some forty year old punk on my route have the audacity to ask about my personal life. He was a little choked up, I apologized and expressed my condolences. I can’t even imagine. It made the moment that much more real and I quickly realized I had found what I was looking for. Jack always sees my on the way to the river, beeps his horn as I fly by to meet clients, leaves a dog treat on my boxes at the door inside the garage and in return I leave him fresh SweeTango apples from the farmers market. This is a good relationship. I encourage everyone to get to know their delivery person, from every company. Find out something about their home life. Especially this time of year. They are transporting millions of boxes to more homes than ever before, in some off the most inclement conditions. Traveling thousands of miles each week to make sure you can light up someone’s face with that special box under the tree. The least you can do is let them know how much they are appreciated.