On Tuesday, my office cellmate and I went out for a walk down College Avenue at lunchtime. People were rushing in every direction and the sunlight felt pretty good in the warm afternoon. At the corner of Bishop and College, Sigma Delta Tau often holds bake sales for vague causes. “Buy this cookie to prevent child abuse,” is a common refrain. Tuesday, the sorority sisters were running around on the grass, where plastic-wrapped pallets sat on the sharply sloping lawn like odd spines on a stegosaurus. A herd of lanky frat boys lugged another plastic-wrapped pallet up the hill to a spot near the building. Everyone was laughing in the oddly warm December sun. The frat boys scrambled down the hill and in front of us bounced as one body toward a strangely placed 18-wheeler. My cellmate and I walked on, but my back hurt, so at the corner of Hamilton, we turned back.
This time, we could see the truck was nearly empty but the boys were unloading another pallet. It looked heavy. We could see from this angle the pallets were Jingos, some new thing Pepperidge Farms is selling with shouty commercials. Yeah, that one. About twenty pallets dotted the sloping, uneven lawn. It looked like the back of a giant, plastic-wrapped stegosaurus, but in a minute, we had forgotten all about it.
An hour later, my phone rang. A guy who ran an office one floor up wanted to know what a sorority should do with a sudden and shocking abundance of snack crackers after a verbal miscommunication with Pepperidge Farms. I started listing off agencies. The guy was keeping an awesome story to himself, I could tell. I did not want to miss out on whatever it was, so I hung up on him and ran upstairs.
In his office, I found him red-faced and laughing, sitting with a young woman I didn’t know. It developed that she was a member of the lawn snack sorority, which by the way appears to be called EAT at first glance, and some other sorority girl had had a conversation with some PR lackey that might’ve sounded like:
PR dude: Would you mind passing out some of our new snack crackers?
Sorority girl: We – like – would not mind.
And then a truck showed up. The sorority now wanted to know who would accept a donation of thousands of snack-size bags of Jingos because the sage at the local soup kitchen donation line wasn’t answering his phone. Fortunately for the sorority, we just had a hurricane and thousands of people were living in shelters, so I made a list of agencies looking for donations, though I should have mentioned that, not for nothing, there’s a grammar school two blocks away and you know all of those children don’t eat every day. But that slipped my mind. They asked if I wanted some. Thinking of the anti-hunger project, I said sure. The young woman asked how many cases because she brought cases of Jingos with her when she came to work. I said I’d take three for our three families. She disappeared and returned with three cases and a single serving bag, which I gave to one of my co-workers who still has a metabolism and normal blood pressure. Remember how those pallets required a herd of sweaty frat boys? Those boys were pretending to struggle because three cases weighed nothing.
A little while later, I called my sister to tell her a sorority on College Avenue was frantically trying to unload cases of crackers. She said maybe the church could send a car, but how would the driver find the right place? I told her to look for the only building on College Avenue that looked anxious about retaining water, and this was a matter of some urgency because Tuesday night it was going to rain.
Pete drove me to work Wednesday morning. We were gratified to see about half the number of pallets I’d seen were now propped neatly against the building and no food was mildewing on the lawn. From this, I learned that I need more twenty year olds to make cargo-size food errors.