Perennially in love with love (note to new readers: that was thinly veiled sarcasm), I had the pleasure of delivering flowers in State College on Valentine’s Day. This was perhaps my tenth year—I’ve lost count— of working, if you call it that, on Valentine’s Day for a local florist.
As I’m sure you know, Valentine’s Day, along with Mother’s Day and Millard Fillmore’s Birthday, is super busy in the floral world. Who better than to call in for reinforcements but someone who’s clumsy and has a knack for saying just the wrong thing at just the wrong time? Fortunately my history of scraping the flower truck on the side of a stationary parking garage during another floral adventure has not dq’d me from the task of getting roses, lilies, tulips and assorted spring flowers to their new homes. This year I was on the job at 7:00 a.m.
Speedy flower delivery requires a two person team: a driver and a runner. This year my sister the NASCAR aficionado drove. It was my job to navigate and run the flowers from the van to the lucky Valentine. Carolyn did a great job and we made it through the day without trading paint with any other delivery vehicles.
Navigating is probably easier for me than it would be for some folks, since I’ve lived in State College for a long time, and I’m part Indian, and we all know what a great navigator Sacagawea was. But I am a born oaf, so I am not sure that my exemplary navigation skills make up for the constant threat that I will spill something, squash an arrangement, or drop a vase of long stemmed roses, issues that Sacagawea didn’t need to worry about.
The blooms must have been arranged in just the right way, since we got through the day without any mishaps.
There are some constants in the Valentine’s Day flower delivery world.
Each time you carry an arrangement by a group of straight guys in an office building, one of them always says, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” This wasn’t really that funny the first time, and after ten years, it’s still not that funny. I try to be a Mr. Nice Guy, but when the fellow is an uber-jerk I have been known to say, “Had you called as you said you would, these could have been for you.” This typically embarrasses the perp and then you can get back to the topic at hand of trying to find Suite 213A and the lucky Penny Oberholzter, the recipient of a FTD “Old Ball and Chain Bouquet”.
Ninety-eight percent of flowers are for women. This year there I had four deliveries for men. One of them had the volume up to 11, one guy was in that ‘European or gay?’ nether region, and I gave the flowers for the third guy to his administrative assistant. I am pretty sure the last guy was straight. He wore gym clothes that looked as if they’d been worn to the gym about 50 times without a trip through the washer, he had a large sailfish mounted on his apartment wall, and the biggest clue of all, he was singularly unimpressed by yours truly and the Teleflora “Jersey Shore®: Gym, Tan, Laundry, Get Laid” arrangement.
College women wear pajamas until late in the day, when they change into the obligatory black tights and Uggs. It’s a look. Apparently no one ever has had the sense to say “Do these black tights and Uggs make my ass look fat?”
Anything with a Mylar balloon is a bad idea.
Most college apartments look as if the décor, if you can call it that, was inspired by the San Francisco earthquake. Why put something on the wall or a shelf when the floor is so handy? And we are not talking about a little mess, but enough to make me think that the first step in cleaning the apartment would be to run a snowblower.
There are those times when you hand over the flowers and want to say, “Just what is going on in here?” One of my deliveries was to an apartment in a particularly skanky building. When the door opened, I could see that there was nothing in the living room save three paper lanterns on the mantelpiece of the bricked-up fireplace. The young woman who lived there was wearing really short shorts, and an off the shoulder tee shirt, and as she was opening the door she was putting on rubber gloves in and exaggerated, theatrical motion. I didn’t know what all of that meant except that it was time to get out of there. Fast.
Little old ladies are the nicest customers. They all tell you they’ve never seen more beautiful flowers and act as if you’re the second coming of Rudolph Valentino. Perhaps the flowers really are that nice, and I’m that hot. I’m not ruling either out.
Flower boys don’t get many tips. Not even a buck this year. But maybe that will change next year when I don my red sweater and am back at it again. Hope springs eternal when you’re Cupid’s right hand man.