A week or so ago I was contacted by a young woman who was looking for transportation for her brother. We discussed the cost and she went ahead and scheduled with us to pick him up on Thursday afternoon. We were to pick him up at his dormitory at The University of Arkansas and bring him to his families home in a town 45 minutes away. She told me he did not have a telephone so the only way she communicates with him is via the internet. I asked who would be responsible for payment and she indicated that he had ‘the’ ATM card. No problem, we could do this. On Thursday morning I telephoned the number that the woman had called me from just to make sure everything was still on since I could not contact her brother. A young man answered the phone. I asked for the woman by name. He questioned who I was calling for???? I repeated it and he said she was at the hospital having a baby! I asked if he was “Mike”? He said he was and so I told him who I was and that we were scheduled to give him a ride in the afternoon and was wanting to confirm. He acted as if he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. When I told him she had arranged to have me pick him up at The University and bring him home, it dawned on him who I was. He said “Oh, you must be talking about my son, Mike. He is named after me”. It all seemed a bit odd to me but we just do what we are hired to do. I showed up at the dormitory at the agreed upon time. After about 5 minutes a young man came around. I asked if he was Mike and he said he was.
I didn’t want to have a silent 45 minute drive with this 18 year old boy, so I started asking him questions to get the conversation going. I made sure he had the cash and didn’t need to stop at the ATM on the way home. He referred to it as ‘the family ATM card’. Apparently it is a very tight knit family. I found out I was taking Mike to an apartment complex (a very large complex owned by a man who owns most of the apartments in the area and builds them CHEAP!), which is the ‘family home’. He lives there with his Dad (Mike), Mom (who is recently employed out of state), his sister (the one who made the reservation), her boy child and soon her baby girl that was born that morning. I’m not saying living in an apartment is bad, but the number of adult people living in this one apartment and sharing one ATM card is amazing! I don’t know any other University student that doesn’t own a phone (usually a smart phone) and most of them have their own cars. Mike said his family only has one car for all of them and his mom is currently using it out of state at her new job. I (being the nosy one I am) asked how his sister got to the hospital this morning to have her baby. He said the hospital sent a van to pick her up! *NOTE* For those of you that don’t live in this area we do not have public transportation available.
I asked him the usual questions about his major and thoughts about The University. I then asked him about his grades. He said he went to a private high school (in a different state) and they prepared him well for keeping up with his college work. He said he makes mostly B’s. He plans on transferring to the University close to where his mom has taken a job and move along with the rest of the family. He was such a nice, polite kid. I was just so impressed that this kid (and family) that obviously didn’t have a lot of extra money was determined to get his education and get good grades to better himself.
Yesterday morning I received a call from an ‘older’ woman asking me if I was a mobile notary and would I come to her. I told her that I was. She seemed thrilled to have found me. She asked about my charges and thought they were fair. She told me that she lost her husband a few weeks ago and she had 2 teacher retirement papers that needed to be notarized. I told her that I had some time that day that I could stop by. She told me she had some ‘errands to run and Christmas shopping to do’ so she wouldn’t be able to meet me at her house until after 3:00 pm. Fine. I would meet her there then. What seemed very strange to me about this was that she was obviously able bodied and could get out. She was even going to be out, why not get it done while she was out? It would definitely be cheaper for her! Again, I don’t ask why I just do what clients want. When I arrived at her house I asked her how she was doing (knowing that she just lost her husband), she was honest with me and told me ‘not very well’. I noticed her house was decorated for Christmas. I complemented her on going ahead and decorating during this difficult time. She pointed out that she didn’t have a Christmas tree up and just “wasn’t going to” do it. Her house really looked beautiful and very Christmasy. Again, to make small talk I asked her who had been the teacher (I knew I was notarizing teacher retirement papers), she or her husband. She told me that she had been the teacher and her husband had been the principal. THEN it dawned on me who she was. I had never met her or her husband before but I knew there was an elementary school named after her husband! I should have made the connection when she told me her last name. She was thrilled that I knew that. I then told her that I had been a teacher in a previous life. We seemed to have an instant bond from there on. My phone rang a couple of times while I was at her house. I just hit the ‘ignore’ button but did notice it was someone from the same number calling each time. That usually means they want something right away. She was so nice and so sweet. She told me she knew she could have gone up to the school or to the bank to have those papers notarized but she just didn’t want to have to see everyone. NOW, I also understand why she wanted me to come to her house to notarize the documents! She told me how glad she was that she found me. What a nice warm feeling that gives me! I asked her how she found me (I try to ask everyone so I know what advertising is working) – she pointed to the phone book. She said, “right in here, you are listed in a lot of different places in this book, you do so much”.
After I left her house I checked my phone expecting to find a voice message from the person who had been trying to call so desperately. No message. In a few short minutes my phone rang again – the same person. It was a young man wanting to know what I did. I told him that I ran errands for people. I asked him what he was interested in. He wanted to know what ‘types of services’ I offer. I’ve heard this tone of voice many times before but not usually during the mid afternoon. I explained that I bought groceries, walked dogs and general errands like that. He sounded so disappointed and said, “Oh”. I then had to explain to him, like so many others, that even though “Escort” and “Errand” are right next to each other in the phone book they are not even similar businesses! He quickly apologized and hung up. I’ve had this conversation with many men over the years so it was nothing new for me. I figured the Principal’s wife (the woman whose house I had just left) would get a kick out of it since she had just told me she found me in the phone book. I called her and she had the biggest hoot over it. It was so nice to hear her belly laugh and she thanked me for that.