We have a Meals on Wheels route at work. Let me back up. Our company has a program so anyone can volunteer for whatever they’d like, on the clock. It could be a one-off event like a beach clean-up or a regular commitment at an animal shelter. Our MOW route is something we do every week.
Until today, I had never done it.
When Steve asked me to go with him, I agreed, under the condition I drive. I recognize I have a little fear around interacting with the elderly, but it would be a great way to hang with him and take baby steps in confronting that phobia. Sadly, he had to attend a funeral today, so I ended up being paired with another coworker, the always-on warehouse guy. I still got to drive, but missed catching up with someone I haven’t spent much time with lately.
Now, if you’ve driven with me, you know I drive very cautiously. I hate cars, I don’t enjoy the act of driving, I’d rather ride a bike, bus, train or plane than deal with the road myself. Since it was lunch-time, and just around the neighborhood, I knew it wasn’t going to be too bad. Besides, I could drive our company’s fancy biodiesel VW Passat, and who doesn’t mind rolling in a black station wagon that smells like french fries?
My car-mate is pretty high-energy (read: spastic) and kept changing and turning up the radio. He navigated and did all of the meal drop-offs. He’s pretty frenetic and wanted me to cut through a gas station when a red light stopped us. As we were returning to the Berkeley Senior Center, we got caught by another traffic signal.
“Turn left here,” he pointed, flailing his arm across my chest. “Into the auto parts parking lot.”
We were just a few blocks away, so, against my better judgement, I did. And, there was a cop behind me. Lights flashed as he followed me through the parking lot into a parking spot. I turned off the car, took off my seat belt, then thought better to put it back on and sit there. He asked for my license and registration. I gathered it from the glove box, wishing the my passenger would stop his grumbling and complaining about how “it wasn’t right, everyone does it!”
The officer explained that I had crossed a double yellow line and he had to give me a ticket, since so many people had witnessed. Knowing I was at fault, I feared how much it would be and whether it was considered a moving violation. And, cool as they are, work doesn’t pay for tickets you get yourself.
He asked if I was related to a Jonathan with the same last name (which I wasn’t) and Phillip interrupted, “C’mon, man! We was doing Meals on Wheels for the seniorz!” (Yes, it sounded like he added a “z.”)
“Do you have any proof?” He doubtfully scanned the shiny black car with tinted windows. Darn you, on-site car washes!
I handed him the route list and pointed at the hot and cold containers in the back seat. He shook his head as he gave it back.
“I can’t give you a ticket.” And with that, we were allowed to go on our way.
There’s no major life lesson here, just a realization that whatever extra credit points I got for doing a good deed, the Universe cashed them in for me with the reprieve.
Oh, and that Meals on Wheels isn’t so bad. I may even sign up again. I just hope someone would care enough to bring me food when the time comes… and that they have a good time while doing it.