So on Monday morning, right about midnight the storm started. I had just hung up from my nightly call to Boodles when I was told that it had started snowing. I went outside on my way back to Produce to take a look. The forecast was for 4-8 inches followed by sleet. Not much by the standards of much of the northern hemisphere, but people here in this part of the South aren’t used to it, just like us from Southern California aren’t.
Widespread panic had set in pretty much since Sunday; the store had been cleaned out of milk and bread. In our department we were out of bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The nightly meat and produce truck was scheduled for 4:30am, but there were already reports of accidents and heavy traffic on all freeways heading into town, so I wasn’t expecting it to come on time, if at all.
By 4am, management had reluctantly allowed those who wanted to leave to go ahead. I figured what difference will three hours make, so I stayed until my normal quitting time of 7am. My truck never showed up, but I managed to find plenty to do.
I made it home with little difficulty, the fact that my Urban Assault Vehicle has four wheel drive possibly compensating for the fact that one of my tires is getting a little baldish (I need an alignment). I had told Boodles about the snow and she asked me to make a snowman and take a picture of it. So I made one in front of her Grandma’s house:
And there he is, the jolly happy soul himself. His eyes are two grapes and his chapeau is a mushroom, all discards from Produce of course. He’s actually very tiny because when I was making him I was tired and cold, but I’ve seen worse.
The snow continued while I slept on Monday, at some point turning into sleet. By Monday night it had stopped, but road conditions were pretty icy and treacherous. Mom saw on the news that they had been telling people to stay home if possible, and she thought I should call in. I had already been thinking that way and earlier I had asked Rhubarb, the Produce Manager, if she thought I should call in due to weather or illness. She indicated that in the Bizarro World that is WalMart, a call-in due to illness would be understood but calling in due to weather might be questioned.
See, what they make you do is call an 800 number, punch in the last four digits of your social, your birthdate, the store number, then you keep going through voice mail prompts about why you’re calling. There are options other than “Personal Illness” but since that’s the only reason I’ve called in I’ve never listened to the whole thing. Somewhere down on the list is something like “Inclement Weather” or “Natural Catastrophe,” and for all I know there is a part of the call-in menu that specifies “City Being Attacked By Monster,” then you go to the next part where you press one for Godzilla, two for Mothra, etc.
After you navigate your way through voice mail hell, then they give you a confirmation number and tell you to stay on the line. After all that, you still have to talk to a manager to report your absence. So when I was switched over to the store it was about 9:45pm. The phone rang and rang several times and I started to wonder if maybe they had gone ahead and closed the store. Finally somebody answered. I didn’t say that I was sick; I just said that I was calling in. She said that there was hardly anybody there, but that she would pass on the message. So there it was. I lied, and I hate to lie. I was raised better than that.
Having accomplished that, and since I now seem capable of sleeping 24/7, I went to bed. I slept through midnight so I didn’t get a chance to call Boodles to see if she liked her snowguy.
Tuesday morning I finally got up and hung out with Mom for a bit. She had found a folder with some old letters in it, including some between her and Dad. She was crying, I don’t think a day has gone by in the 10 years since he passed away that she hasn’t cried over losing him. Theirs was a love for the ages, 54 years and still as crazy about each other as the day they married in 1946.
She also found a copy of a letter I wrote on Thanksgiving back when I was in high school, when she read it to me I could barely recognize the voice as being mine. Stuff like “I’m thankful for my God and my country and the freedoms that we have to share the Gospel.”
I have often described my spiritual journey of the past several years like this: Around the time my Dad died in 2000, I went into a cave. Call it a crisis of faith if you will. Dad’s death wasn’t a surprise, he had been battling heart disease for 20 years, plus a stroke in 1988, but it still shook me to my foundation. He was like my rudder, so my ship sort of ran aground.
Sorry about all the mixed metaphors. Foundations, ships, caves, I’m literally all over the map and in the ocean here.
At my most bitter points in my crisis of faith, I would say things like: “I still believe in God, I’m just not sure I like the son of a bitch.” That may not sound very blasphemous to some of you, but it was pretty harsh coming from a former fundamentalist. Tania used to call me a Christian agnostic, I wasn’t sure that there really were any answers, but if there were I still looked for them through the lens of Christianity.
Most of the time these days, I no longer feel like I’m in that cave. Most of the time I feel like I’ve emerged from it, but in a far distant place from where I went in. Most days I believe that there is a God and that she or he has good intentions toward me, but I am more and more aware that if I am to get out of the mess I’m in and get my shit together, it’s going to be me doing it. Maybe with God’s help, maybe not, but it’s up to me.
I don’t feel at home in most churches I go to. I’m hardly able to recognize the simple faith that I had back when I wrote that letter, the simple faith that my Mom and sisters still seem to have. I do have faith but, as they say on Facebook, it’s complicated. I can’t share my doubts and fears with my family…not on this level. Especially Mom, she worries and cries enough about me as it is. That’s really the main reason why I still keep this blog anonymous, and nobody in my family knows about it. I want to be honest here, and I don’t want my family to be crushed if I occasionally drop the S or F-bombs or call God a bad name.
But I feel like I’m lying. I’m lying to them if I speak “Christianese.” If I go to church and sing the songs and speak the prayers, sometimes I feel them and sometimes I feel like a phony. And I hate to lie. I was raised better than that.