The story I am about to tell you, friends, doesn’t belong to me. In fact, I’m stealing it from the owner without her knowledge — this comes under the heading of “It’s Easier to Ask for Forgiveness than Permission” — but seeing as how I am her Love Child, I think I can get away with it.
Okay, so this particular friend, whom we’re gonna call “Lane Wallace,” which is totally not her name, is known for being delightfully, unintentionally, outrageous. Blessed with a whacky sense of humor and the biggest heart this side of the Mississippi, she will say pretty much anything that comes through her mind, without stopping to run it through a filter. It’s a delightful quality in her, though, because she is one of the most kind-hearted people in the universe, so what cross that filter-less zone is always sweet…but also slightly demented. She can also take a joke, which is a quality I love in all my friends, and she laughs harder than anyone else when we tease her.
And, despite already having been through more than most people will ever deal with in a lifetime, her faith in God and in laughter and in the healing power of mashed potatoes remains undaunted.
Back in the day, she used to work for her father, who was a contractor. In the way of good Southern women everywhere, she called her father “Daddy,” and was completely and utterly besotted with him.
One day, at the office, Daddy asked her to do some complicated work that would take hours and keep her from stopping in at the post office before the counter closed, which is the way people used to get mail once upon a time, Children. So she decided to call down to the post office to see if she needed to build a trip down there into her day, or whether she could skip it.
Dialing a number she knew by heart on the rotary phone (when a seven digit phone number took approximately 3.4 hours to dial), she was listening for the ring when Daddy walked in and started talking to her. She held the phone away from her ear to hear what he was saying, and missed the hello on the other end.
When her father noticed she had the receiver in her hand, he indicated he would come back later, and Lane put the receiver back to her ear.
Hello? she said. This is Lane Wallace from Wallace Construction. I was wondering if y’all could check my box for me? The ladies at the post office knew her by name, so she didn’t even have to say which box was hers. Ahh, the good ol’ days, when people knew people…
There was a hesitation on the other end, and then the woman said, Umm, well… I suppose we could. Why exactly do you need that done?
Well, Lane said, a bit confused, We are very busy down here today, and I’m running around like crazy, so I just really need my box checked. Could do that for me?
There was another hesitation on the end of the line, but Lane figured the lady at the post office was busy and distracted, too, so she didn’t think much of it. When the woman spoke again, she said, Umm, okay. But, uh, if you don’t mind my asking, what exactly do you think is in there?
In my box? Lane said, somewhat mystified by the third degree she was receiving. I don’t know, probably just trash. But Daddy wants it checked every day.
The woman asked Lane to hold on for a second, and went away from the phone. Daddy wandered back in and started talking again, but Lane did manage to hear the post office lady say, You can come down here at 2 o’clock.
Lane, assuming there must be something important to pick up, said, Okay, I’ll do that.
But 2 o’clock came and went, and Lane didn’t even notice, so busy was she with the task at hand.
At 2:30, the phone rang.
Wallace Construction, she answered, in her pleasant telephone voice.
Is this Lane Wallace?
Yes, it is.
This is Janice. We spoke earlier today? You were going to come in at 2 o’clock.
Lane checked her watch and said, I was going to, yes, but time has just run away from me. I promise I’ll come by tomorrow. Can you just put whatever you have for me in the back?
There was a long hesitation on the other end, and then the woman said, Miss Wallace?
This is Janice, from Doctor Green’s office?
Doctor who? What office?
Doctor Green? The OB-GYN? You called and asked us to, umm…. check things out for you today?
Well, as you would imagine, hilarity ensued. Janice told Lane that the entire office staff — every nurse in the building — had been watching the clock, waiting for the crazy woman to come in at 2. I found your number in the book, and said I would call you…oh, they’re going to be so disappointed when I tell them it was a mistake! Janice said.
Oh, no! Lane said. We can’t have that. Tell them I called to reschedule, and I’ll come in tomorrow morning. And she copied down the address of the doctor’s office, and the next morning, picked up a box of doughnuts (Krispy Kreme, y’all! Holla!) and went to the doctor’s office.
When she walked in the door, she said, I brought you doughnuts…now, could you please check my box?!
When I tell you that this was a funny, but not entirely unusual, event in my friend’s life, you will not be surprised to know that she once, when her beloved cat had been missing for a few days, marched across the street and rang the doorbell of her neighbors and demanded, with no preface or pardon me, “Did y’all eat my cat?”
The neighbors may or may not have been Asian…
Thanks for being such a character all these years, Lane Wallace. (You know who you are!) I love you very much!
Love from your