I dread his calls.
My friend Josh is an older gentleman who lives alone in a meticulous house. He is a great guy but overly congenial. He is as set as cement in his ways and worships orderliness. He has a magnificent garden and enjoys sharing plants. I ran into him the other day and he mentioned he had some banana plant starts to share. “Would you like some?”
“Sure.” I responded.
He called early the next morning. His phone calls aren’t easy to navigate and I didn’t have it in me to answer. It would be hard enough to slog through the voicemail. He didn’t let me down: “Hi, this is Josh. I have banana plants ready for you. Let me know what time you can come by today. They’ll need to get in the ground pretty soon here. Call me back and let me know what time you can come. I’ll be home all day. The morning’s fine. The afternoon would work too. Call me back.”
The day got away from me. He called again the next morning and I answered. “Good morning,” I said.
“I called you yesterday but you didn’t answer,” he said, almost hurt.
“Sorr…” I started to say but should have saved my breath.
“So, you’re the first one I offered the plants to and I want you to be the first to get them. They need to get in the ground pretty soon you know.” He could tell I was not appreciating the urgency of the matter.
“Well, good morning, Josh.” I smiled.
“Yeah! So… what time can you come today?” He was undeterred.
“Today doesn’t work for me but I can certainly come tomorrow.” He paused. I could tell he would have to pull a chair for this conversation.
“Tomorrow… mmhh. I don’t know. Let me look at my calendar.” This part of the conversation is the same every time.
What I don’t understand is that he already has all of today blocked off for me, never mind it’s a 30 minute job. “How do people get through life?” he is asking himself, incredulous.
“I guess I can do tomorrow. What time?” He is clearly put out.
We set a time and he hung up before I finished signing off. I smiled.
Not an hour later I learned I’d have to cover my coworker who’d been in an accident. I picked up the phone to vex Josh.
“I could have swore you said you couldn’t come today,” he was scratching his head in confusion. “Mmhh… I don’t know, let me look at my calendar.” I was really throwing him for a loop. “I guess today is good. What time?”
“I drop my son off at Scouts at 7 and can come thereafter.”
“But it’s dark at 7,” he was completely befuddled.
“No Josh, it’s not dark till 9.30.” I said smiling.
“Really?? Alright we’ll see. Guess I’ll see you at 7. I’ll put it on the calendar.”
“Not right at 7, a little after.”
This was brutality. “But you said 7.”
“Josh, let’s say 7.15.”
“I could have swore you said 7. I’ll change the calendar.” He muttered breathed deeply.
I made a mental note to look at this calendar when I got there. He will never understand me or how I muddle my way through life.