I like my UPS man. He’s friendly and delivers happy stuff like the Little Big Planet 2 video game that makes 11 year old boys smile with true delight. And, my UPS man is proud of me when he sees the Chubby Mommy Running Club featured in the local paper or on the news. He waves to me when he sees me running around my neighborhood.
If I were Mr. Rogers, my UPS man would be Mr. McFeely.
My UPS man stopped by with a speedy delivery the other day and asked me how the running was going. I told him I’m training for the Eugene Half Marathon and that I ran an ASTOUNDING (to me) 6.5 miles on Sunday.
“Can you believe it?” I said. Six-and-a-half-miles. In a row.
“Wow!” he said. “That’s great.”
“And also?” I said, with growing excitement, “a woman from the IronGirl company called me and asked me if I want to run the IronGirl race in Portland this June. It’s a mini triathlon. It seems like a lot of work, but I do swim and run, and I do know how to ride a bike, so I guess I could try it. How hard could it be?” I asked.
“Oh,”he said, “I can’t swim.”
“What do you mean you can’t swim?” I asked. It surprises me that there are people out there who can’t swim. Didn’t their moms force them to go to swimming lessons when they were a kid like my mom did, and learn how to dive for pennies?
“I just can’t,” he said. “I can sort of tread water and hold my breath and stuff, but I’m just no good at the swimming part. My wife makes me try, she’s a great swimmer, but I end up using floaties.”
“Wait. They have floaties for grown ups?” I asked.
“Well, those floatie belts that go around your waist,” he said. “Like, for water aerobics?”
“Oh,” I said, trying not to smile. “Yes. I know what you mean.”
“And I hate getting my face in the water,” he said. “So there’s that. But then I discovered those snorkel mask things. You know, the all in one thingy that covers your eyes and your nose and has a breathing tube?”
“Yes,” I said. “I think I know exactly what you mean.”
I was listening very attentively and not even laughing at all because that’s not my style. My mom can’t swim and she’s afraid of the water and she had to save my brother once by wading very carefully into the river with a stick for him to grab on to when he got in over his head. At the time we teased her because she couldn’t swim, but now I know it was an incredibly brave thing to do. Who am I to judge?
“Well,” he said,” if I use one of those and the floaty belts, I can sort of swim and hang out in the pool with my family.”
“That’s good enough,” I said brightly. “But you probably won’t be doing an IronMan. Or an IronGirl. Right?”
“No,” he said. “Probably not.”
And then I introduced him to the dogs who were desperately trying to wiggle their noses out through the tiny crack in the door, which I had almost closed behind me, but not all the way, obviously. And he gave them each a little treat because I think they teach the UPS guys to do that in UPS training schools. And now the dogs love him, but I know they’ll still bark at him. They bark at everyone.
I think UPS guys are brave in their own way, dealing with all these barking dogs who might bite them for no good reason.
So, it was with a sad heart that I broke the news to my UPS man that we are moving to a new house. It’s only 2 miles away from this house, but unfortunately, not on his route. He’s no longer a person in my neighborhood.
I’ll think of him though, when I’m doing my swimming without a mask. I hope my new UPS guy is as good as this one.