The Delivery Man

He is sitting on the curb outside the supermarket at sunrise. His surgical mask hangs below his chin. This is the calm before his daily route. Today is going to be a busy day of driving. He has grocery deliveries to make.

He is smoking, playing on his phone. His Cincinnati Reds cap is pushed back on his head to reveal whitish hair.

He’s a retired food service guy. But I’ve heard different. I’ve heard he’s an angel. The jury is still out on this.

He’s been doing his grocery deliveries since the pandemic began. He does them for free. He rides a busted-up Honda along dirt roads, delivering to mostly shut-ins.

His accent is Ohio, but he’s lived in Alabama a long time. So he talks more Alabama than Akron.

I keep asking how the delivery thing started, but he genuinely doesn’t have an answer. In fact, he doesn’t want to talk about himself at all. He doesn’t like being interviewed. It’s too much attention. He’s not that kind of guy.

Which I find refreshing in today’s world of compulsive selfies. He is a rarity.

Why is it when modern people do a good deed a film crew always happens to be standing nearby? It’s ridiculous. You’d never catch someone like, for example, an angel doing that.

“It’s not a big deal,” he says, laughing, smoke wafting from his nostrils. “I just deliver stuff, no magic.” He nods to the parking lot. “I do it all in that ugly Honda.”

No magic? Well, how about this? At the height of the pandemic he was making almost 90 deliveries per week. Sometimes he would be in the Honda for entire days, living on fast food, doing endless errands and drop-offs. And like I said, he does it for free.

He delivered to the elderly, the sick, the shut-ins, and out-of-luck families who had no cars. He got pretty good at it, too.

When he’d deliver to people who seemed to need conversation, he could sense it. He’d stand in their yard, distancing himself about 30 feet, and enjoy a satisfying morning session of chit-chat.

“You’d be surprised how many people just need to talk,” he says.

People always try to pay him for his service, but this only ticks him off. He states clearly, for the record, that he doesn’t do this for money. He won’t accept money. So put it back in your dadgum pocket.

He will, however, accept gas fare, or cookies. But that’s all.

He taps his ash and adds, “Or Krispy Kreme.”

He has made friends on his routes. One lady in particular became a close friend. She was old and in terrible health. For a few weeks she made him leave her groceries on her deck and walk away. She was terrified of COVID.

One day she asked if he would put her groceries in the cabinets for her. Her palsied hands were riddled with arthritis, she couldn’t lift the bags without dropping them.

So one thing led to another. One day he was placing dried goods into her cabinets, the next day he was cooking minute steaks on her stove.

She liked having him around. He liked being around. So he figured, “what the heck?” and he started hanging around more often.

Which led to him doing her dishes, vacuuming, and doing laundry. He even started sleeping in the living room when her nurse sitters couldn’t make it.

He helped her load heavy oxygen canisters, brushed her hair, and he even served her breakfast in bed a few times.

“Breakfast in bed was a mistake,” he says. “What a mess she made.”

One time his sister-in-law was getting rid of some extra bags of fertilizer and topsoil in her garage. So he brought them to the woman’s house as a surprise. He got his brother-in-law to help dig holes in her flowerbeds. They planted marigolds. They even constructed a wooden outdoor swing.

At first the woman claimed she didn’t like the swing or the flowers. But she was lying. Old ladies like to play hard to get sometimes.

Because the truth was she adored him. And she told him this when she was on hospice care.

He misses her now. She died months ago, but he’s not broken up about it because he says in a knowing voice, “She’s not suffering no more.”

He insists that he is not a religious man. Instead, he takes a drag on his coffin nail and goes into a well-rehearsed lecture on religion. He tells me he doesn’t believe or putting on fancy clothes to sing songs with an organ. And he doesn’t want to listen to a 22-year-old seminary graduate speak for an hour about overcoming adversity.

He already knows enough about adversity. And the only songs he likes are ones with pedal steel solos.

No. This is his cathedral. This world. The trees, the sky, the dew-filled air at sunrise. You’d be hard pressed to find a happier guy.

He steps on his cigarette, then stretches a lanky frame and moans about how getting old sucks. He places his surgical mask over his face and yawns.

His day is about to begin. He has deliveries to make this morning. People are counting on him.

We bump elbows because this is a pandemic. We say goodbye. When he walks away, I see a glimpse of him from behind and I am more than a little surprised. Because I really was expecting to see wings.

Oh well.

I guess his Honda will have to do for now.

28 comments

  1. Sandi. - October 14, 2020 9:23 am

    This is just the kind of heartwarming, uplifting story we need to hear during these uncertain times. Thank-you, Sean. I think his wings were probably tucked inside his shirt.

    Reply
  2. Sheri Russell - October 14, 2020 10:46 am

    In the midst of miracles, surrounded by angels. Last January my warm wonderful husband suffered a big big stroke. And he has intractable hiccups. Which in a roundabout way caused the stroke. Friends, doctors, nurses, have all shown us their wings in his process of recovery. Hardships have lately caused an epidemic of wing sprouting. Thank you for adding to the list!

    Reply
  3. Jan - October 14, 2020 11:42 am

    Such a great way to start my day! I love your angel stories but then I love all your stories! Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  4. Diane Toth - October 14, 2020 11:50 am

    We need to be more like the man delivering groceries except for the smoking😉

    Reply
  5. Marilyn - October 14, 2020 12:03 pm

    There are so many good people around us, but it seems most of what we hear or read is bad. Thank you for seeing the good and bringing us a breath of fresh air. What you write is real, and we need to be aware of it. Thank you Sean, I think you might be sprouting wings too!

    Reply
  6. Jo Ann - October 14, 2020 1:17 pm

    Thanks again for your story about another of the many good folks around us. We don’t hear about them on the news, but you remind us that they are here, going about doing good deeds, unnoticed except by those they serve. You do good deeds, also, by telling us about them. Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  7. Teresa Blankenship - October 14, 2020 1:20 pm

    You can’t always see the wings but you know they are there ❤️

    Reply
  8. Patricia Gibson - October 14, 2020 1:43 pm

    He is religious. He just doesn’t know it🙏 God bless him.

    Reply
  9. Steve Winfield (Lifer) - October 14, 2020 1:45 pm

    You’re probably one, too. No way you can find all these great people without God’s guidance.
    I love you bunches!
    Lifer Steve.

    Reply
  10. Bobbie - October 14, 2020 2:05 pm

    I’ve known many ‘angels’ in my lifetime. None had wings…but they had really big hearts❤️ Thank you as always for sharing your stories. They lift the spirits, inspire and encourage. God bless you and your family‼️

    Reply
  11. Becca - October 14, 2020 2:07 pm

    WOW! You are always finding the good in people, the good they do things without expecting anything in return, and they are basically awesome people! You too are an Angel, and Jamie too! God bless!

    Reply
  12. Keloth Anne - October 14, 2020 2:20 pm

    Outstanding—what a wonderful story 🥰♥️

    Reply
  13. Judy Beaver Waldrop - October 14, 2020 2:47 pm

    That’s my brother in law personified. I’m from Ohio. I love it when someone in the south recognizes good in us foreigners.

    Reply
  14. Sherry - October 14, 2020 2:58 pm

    Another good one Sean. Got the tears flowing this morning and yes we do need to hear your stories. It helps to
    renew my faith that there are still a whole lot of good people in this world! Thank you for always seeing that and
    helping us to see it too!

    Reply
  15. Liz Bishop - October 14, 2020 3:29 pm

    If you know how to contact this Angel, I’d live to send him some gas money. He is indeed an Angel and there will be many stars in his crown!

    Reply
  16. MJ Breaux - October 14, 2020 3:58 pm

    ❤️… can’t see to type just yet.

    Reply
  17. heisgoodblog - October 14, 2020 4:29 pm

    Love expressed through beat up Honda is real.

    Reply
  18. Faye Hutt - October 14, 2020 6:05 pm

    For a new acquaintance, I really do love you! What good you do.

    Reply
  19. Linda Moon - October 14, 2020 6:34 pm

    Beautiful Alabama intonations are preferable to Ohio accents, even though lots of my people migrated to Ohio for jobs and a kind, angelic, and wealthy relative whose home became their cathedral. I think the Angel you told us about has pure and undefiled religion, Sean, because he visited a widow in her affliction. Would that there were fewer selfies and more selfless, like the Honda-driving Angel and our Aunt Esther!

    Reply
  20. MAM - October 14, 2020 9:28 pm

    And you find another wonderful story to brighten our days! Thanks!

    Reply
  21. Hazeu - October 14, 2020 9:58 pm

    There are angels among us.

    Reply
  22. Brenda - October 14, 2020 10:55 pm

    Beautiful story and he definitely was an angel 😇

    Reply
  23. Terri - October 14, 2020 11:56 pm

    I’ll be praying for that Honda delivery man, God bless him, and God bless you. Love you much Sean.

    Reply
  24. Ann Hunter - October 15, 2020 3:26 pm

    Wow!! There really are angels walking around on this earth. God is so good. Great story!

    Reply
  25. Jane - October 15, 2020 4:10 pm

    Good story. Helps to read something about someone doing good things for others. Especially in these days

    Reply
  26. Chasity Davis Ritter - October 15, 2020 9:36 pm

    God bless this kind hearted person. Oh that more of us could have this love in our hearts for our fellow humans. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  27. Elizabeth - October 18, 2020 10:35 pm

    this really made my day, thanks so much!!!

    Reply
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