MY JUST REWARD
I live in a condominium, located in a rather large development in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. The complex is restricted to those 55 years of age or older so we are filled with retirees and 'Snowbirds'. For the past few years, a couple of my Snowbird neighbors have relied upon my goodwill to be their 'GoFer' during the long hot summer months when they're Up North. We all speak of Up North as if it's an actual spot on a map, but Up North could apply to anyplace north of the Florida Georgia border.
Perhaps, I should explain to those of you unfamiliar with the South Florida lifestyle, Snowbirds are the transplanted locals, our 'seasonal' residents, who leave the snow of the northern winters and come to enjoy our sunshine and beaches. They stay three or four months, long enough for warmer weather to again appear in their northern homes. Then they migrate back from whence they came.
I look after their units and send them an occasional condition report. If they have service men arriving to look at their air conditioning unit or appliances, I make myself available to let them in and wait until they're finished so that none of the owners possessions 'walk away' while their doors are unlocked.
Each year, during their winter stay, one of my neighbors will take me out to lunch as a way of saying 'thank you' and to show their appreciation. Last year lunch consisted of the three of us sharing a cheese pizza during the happy hour special at one of our local chain pizza stores. Our drinks were water with lemon and the entire bill came to $4.00 plus tax. Needless to say, they are quite frugal.
This year after they had taken me for our annual remuneration lunch, my sweetie inquired as to how it went. I had shared with him the details of a few of our earlier luncheons and he was curious as to just what had transpired during our latest junket. The following is my response to his inquiry.
Lunch went well, I suppose. I don't understand, however, why people get so cranky as they age. I hope someone will jerk a knot in my tail when/if I start becoming so out-of-sorts. The husband and wife were both as grouchy as a old sore-tailed bear.
I called them about 11:00 to make sure we were still 'on' for luncheon I also asked if I could have a particular section of their newspaper. I write short articles or an occasional poem and one of my works had been published in that day's local newspaper. I thought I could gather up an extra copy or two for family and friends who don't live here. I also offered to drive but, oh no, they wouldn't hear of it.
When they arrived to pick me up, although I don't know why, she was driving. Does that mean she's the better driver? Heaven help us if that's true . They had remembered to bring the section of the paper that I had requested so I tried to pat myself on the back by saying, "Did you see why I wanted an extra copy?"
The husband's response was, "Yes." Then there was a long silence.........
Finally, the wife said, "Do you write for the newspaper now?"
"No, but my sweetie and I send emails back and forth and he thinks some of my 'stories' are funny. He's been encouraging me to send them in to the local paper so I finally did. One actually made it to print so I wanted to give him a copy."
The husband seemed to mull that over for a minute or two, then said, "Really? I didn't think it was very funny? He actually thought that was funny? Maybe I should read it again, I must have missed something."
I couldn't think of a proper response to that (there went my pat on the back) so we suffered an awkward silence that seemed to go on for quite a few minutes.
Thinking it might be a good idea to change the subject I said, "It really is a nice day today, isn't it?"
The wife almost shouted back at me, "NO IT'S NOT! Surely you've noticed how windy it is." And several minutes went by as I listened to her tell how much she disliked the wind.
Trying to be pleasant, I responded with a comment along the lines of, "Well, we'll be thankful for the breezes about August or September."
Oh dear, big MISTAKE! That brought on an even more involved speech about how in the world can people stand to live down here in this sweat box all summer long and on and on and on.
By now, it seemed a good idea to just shut my mouth, which is exactly what I did. UNTIL we were seated in the restaurant and yes, we went to a real restaurant and I ordered a real sandwich all for myself. In an attempt to start a pleasant conversation , I asked them, "When are you leaving this year?
"Wow, already? Are you going back earlier than usual this year?"
I thought the poor wife was going to have a stroke. She said, (real loud again, maybe she can't hear and she left her hearing aid at home?) "I don't know why people keep asking us that. We left on the 15th last year and this year we're staying until the 18th. ANYONE should be able to figure out that we're staying LONGER NOT SHORTER this year.
Well now, my momma didn't raise me to be stupid. That was my last effort. From then on, I just grunted when spoken to, smiled pleasantly, and endured the remainder of the lunch. When they dropped me off, I thanked them for lunch and sprinted for my front door, amazingly happy to be home
Oh yeah, one more thing, don't ask me about her driving. Did you know that when you park in a parking lot, you're supposed to straddle that white line ..... Even if you have to back up and take several runs at it? It should be lined up EXACTLY down the middle of your car. (The day wasn't a total waste. I learned something.)
As for the second couple who's condo I watch during the summer. They said hello when they arrive and good-by when they leave.
I'm thinking that's not all bad.
© copyright Donna Hale Chandler
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