Stop, Drop, and Roll
Gloria did a drive-by again.
It’s the opposite of a smash-and-grab.
What she does is more of a “stop, drop, and roll”. She stops long enough to do a drop-off, then — on she rolls.
We even have a name for it; we call it “getting Gloria’d”.
We never know what’s going to be in the stash when she strikes. Usually there’s food. She helps the food bank clear out the week’s surplus before the next allocation arrives.
“Just take everything!” they tell her, happy to be rid of it. She distributes her haul according to her own favor.
Between times, she occupies herself by scouring flea markets, second hand stores and estate sales. She does want her benevolence to be appreciated, but never wants money for her offerings.
(Are they offerings? Sometimes they’re foistings.)
Mostly, they’re good things — and, yes, there can be too much of a good thing! Sometimes, we’re buried in enough onions and celery to make stuffing for an army. Right now — I counted them — we have twenty-three cans of tomato soup in the pantry. We didn’t buy a single one.
Gloria finds single-serve coffee makers — the name brand ones — languishing in the back rooms of thrift stores (don’t ask how she gets access!) Employees don't know what they are and label them “Missing Carafe”.
She knows her labels, and recognizes quality. She convinces them that those will never sell, and offers to “get them out of the way”.
Once, she called us (after dark, on a misty evening) to say that she was “almost there”. She had rescued an entire queen size wooden bed frame and had it in her truck.
It looks nice in our bedroom.
Oh, yes — and she brought us two cats, when she had to downsize. They leave their own gifts at the doorstep.
Standing upright against the boxes, there’s an enormous black plastic yard bag — the sturdy kind, meant for collecting leaves and twigs. Behind it is a twenty pound bag of dry cat food.
(Somehow Gloria feels obliged to support the cats formerly known as hers.)
We haul the boxes into the kitchen, unload them, and cram the goods onto every available shelf space.
Looks like the chickens will get a spaghetti casserole with tomato soup and canned diced veggies. Yum.
We wedge the bag of cat food between the wall and the extra refrigerator in the utility room.
Now it’s time to delve into the mammoth bag.
On top are two largish deco pillows. (Why?) They’re black with geometric designs in gold metallic stitching and look almost new, but clash with our rustic, eclectic farmhousey decor.
Burrowing down, we find piles of clothing. The standout items are: a designer label, chunky knit sweater coat in teal (mohair, beautiful but not practical); a black midi skirt made of some slimy polyester blend (useful but not beautiful), and a zippered bag — the kind sheet sets come in — full of hospital socks (red, definitely useful, but… twelve pairs?)
Sometimes being friends with Gloria is a chore.
We’re not well off, but we’re better situated than she is. And here she brings us all this stuff. Stuff we now have to find a way to use, store away, or pass along to someone else.
We’ll offer those throw pillows to… oh, maybe not. This one has a weird stain on it, and the other one has a split in the seam. They go in the donation box.
The sweater coat is a keeper. It fits, doesn’t have a thing wrong with it, and the color is sumptuous. We live in a temperate climate, but if we ever have an occasion to go out for an elegant evening that coincides with freakish cold… it will be perfect!
The slimy black skirt is debatable. It looks brand new, but smells like a musty attic. A wash cycle will freshen it, and then — we’ll see.
And what am I going to do with twelve pairs of red socks? On second look, they’re not hospital socks. Those are usually thin, and come in blah colors. I squeeze a pair through its plastic sleeve. They feel cushiony, look sturdy, and are most definitely bright.
There’s no empty space in my sock drawer, so the red socks — cozy in their zippered bag — will have to live under the bed for now.
I send a quick thank-you text to Gloria.
“Got the goodies. Thanks.”
She can talk your ear off in person or on the phone, but her text response is a characteristically terse “K”.
After a few more weeks of drop-offs, it’s time to clear out some of the Gloria-assisted accumulation. I load up the truck and make a donation run.
On the way home, a tire goes flat.
Part of me wants to blame Gloria. If she hadn’t dumped all that excess on us… but that’s not fair. Gloria’s the kind of person who would give the shirt off her back to someone in need, when she’s not in good circumstances herself.
A few hundred dollars later, we have a new tire. If no other unexpected expenditures come up, we can limp along for a while.
But then our well pump quits, just out of warranty. Right about now, it seems that if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.
Our bank account goes flat.
At least we can eat. We always have an abundance of eggs, and — thanks to Gloria — tomato soup.
The weather is turning. There’s a nip in the air, and a chill in our bones. We don’t want to use the heater too much; the cost of propane is outrageous. So we bundle up.
My feet are cold. I rummage through my sock drawer, looking for a pair with non-slip soles. There’s one. One sock, not one pair.
And then I remember that bundle of red socks. They’re still under the bed, packed neatly in their now dusty bag.
A spider scuttles away, and I jerk my hand back. Gingerly, I reach out again and yank the bag into the light. Give it a quick dust off.
An odd odor poofs from the opening. Mingled with the imported-textile smell, there’s another, vaguely familiar one. It makes my nose twitch, and niggles at my brain.
The plastic sleeve is lightly fastened with a strip of something gummy. I open it and slide the socks out. The non-slip coating has a design of smiley faces.
What is that smell?
Feels like there’s one of those tissuey things inside the sock band. Poking thumb and finger in, I pinch it and pull out — money?
It’s a fifty dollar bill. It looks real, feels real, smells real. There’s another one in the second sock.
I dump out the rest of the socks. What if…
The next pair has money in them too.
My heart is pounding in my throat. I’m biting my lower lip, ripping open all the sleeves and shaking the socks loose.
Each sock has a fifty dollar bill inside.
Gloria claims she doesn’t remember where she got the socks, and she refuses to take any of the money.