It’s Thursday morning, and I’m filling my Chevrolet with as much gasoline as it can carry.
It’s my third of four reclamations. And a chance for me to return to one of my most beloved holiday traditions.
Let me explain.
Last year, I suffered through the pain of both a broken foot and the inability to participate in the Equinox Thanksgiving dinner delivery tradition, something that meant the world to me. I was in a tremendous amount of pain – both broken bones and broken heart.
At that point, I made a promise to achieve four reclamations, that I would not be totally healed, body and spirit, until all four reclamations were achieved. The first two – a return hike to the Boreas Ponds, and a return to the BUILT charity art auction – were achieved. The fourth will take place in April of 2018.
But this would be my third reclamation. And instead of my usual trek of waiting for 9 1/2 hours at the Empire State Plaza to deliver my dinners …
I’m actually heading to Equinox‘s main offices on Hackett Boulevard.
I am now an official “target driver.”
Target drivers are carefully selected by Equinox for their ability to travel to the farthest reaches of the charity’s distribution network. Dinners must be delivered within a 40-mile (as the crow files) radius of the vehicle loading point, to ensure that the food is delivered fresh and safe.
My delivery appointment is at 9:00 a.m. I arrive at 8:15 a.m. Old habits die hard. 😀
The volunteer coordinator hands me some paperwork. Included in the paperwork are my three distribution destinations – all in Schoharie County. Haven’t delivered meals there before … until today.
Other target drivers arrive. Some are headed to Catskill with their meals, others to Amsterdam. Stephentown. Cherry Plain. Fort Plain. Towns that probably had two stop signs if they had one.
The coordinator explains to the drivers that each family member must receive a metal tin (containing the cooked portions of the meal, including the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes and the vegetables), a white cardboard box (containing bread rolls and slices of pie) and a cuplet of gravy. If the ticket has a “4” on it, that means four family members receive dinners.
I noticed something. “Aren’t each family also supposed to receive a loaf of bread?”
“We didn’t get bread donations this year,” she said.
Well that’s not right… oh well. Let’s get my ride loaded up.
Three cardboard packing boxes – one for each destination. Instead of scrambling to put everything together, I work with the distribution volunteers to carefully pack each box for my trip. “Put these in the back seat of your car,” one of the volunteers said to me. “That should keep them cooler than if they rode shotgun in the front seat.”
And off I go. Destination, Schoharie County.
But one pit stop first.
Chuck’s gotta stop at Stewart’s.
No, I’m not picking up coffee and donuts and a lottery ticket.
I bought three loaves of bread – one for each family. Nobody misses out on bread during MY deliveries. Nobody.
Now it’s time to travel. My first destination is in Middleburgh. And I’m tooling down the back roads and winding vistas, listing to my SiriusXM “Holly” Christmas music channel and having a great time.
My destination home in Middleburgh was at the end of a long, hilly road. Some of those hills were quite steep – thank God for General Motors engines to get me through the journey.
First destination – three meals delivered. As I bring in the meals, I notice that there’s a decal on the front door. I’m delivering to a Blue Star family. “My son is deployed overseas,” the woman tells me. “We’re expecting him home next month.”
“God bless him and keep him safe for a joyful return home,” I said. One delivery done. Two to go.
Next stop – Cobleskill. Five meals to a family in a mobile home park.
Geez, who numbers these trailers? 36, 37, 39, 40, 38… I arrive at a double-deep double-wide that looks like it might be my destination.
Just to make sure … each family’s distribution card also includes a telephone number. So I call.
“Hi, this is Chuck from Equinox, I have your Thanksgiving turkey dinner deliveries.”
“Mommy, daddy, Santa Claus is here and he’s brought us Thanksgiving dinners!”
Um… well … er …
Mom takes the phone. “My husband will be out to greet you.”
Meal dropped off. Two meals down … one to go.
Third destination is Delanson. Yeah, I know that’s Schenectady County, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m still in the wilderness.
Every part of my team is working together in harmony and in synchronization. My 2013 Chevrolet Cruze “Dracourage” is humming along. The tunes on the satellite radio are keeping me upbeat and cheery. And the GPS on my BlackBerry PRIV ensures I will arrive at my destination.
Final locale. Two meals for one family.
I greet the recipient. He tells me that his neighbor’s husband is in palliative care, and that she wouldn’t have any Thanksgiving meal today. He called Equinox the night before, and asked if he could increase his meal request from one to two dinners, so that he could share with his neighbor.
Three meals delivered. Achievement completed.
And as I drove back to familiar lands, I called the volunteer coordinator. “I just wanted to let you know that I delivered all my dinners, all families were home to receive them.”
“That’s wonderful, thank you,” she said.
“And definitely put my name down for next year.”
“I will. Thank you again for being a target driver and for helping Equinox this holiday season.”
And at that moment… Reclamation #3 was achieved. Success.
That feels so wonderful. Big old smile on my face.
I’d take a picture and show you … but it’s not a good idea to take selfies while you’re driving. But I’m sure you can see my big smile anyways, right? 😀