About a year ago we employees found out that the three partners in our little law firm had agreed to merge with the largest personal injury law firm in the state. Since then, we have been nearly overwhelmed with new clients because this firm is the one that advertises non-stop. Being super busy and having someone else worry about paying our salaries is the good part; becoming a cog in a giant bureaucratic wheel has been the challenging part. But I still work with the people I have loved working with for years, which is definitely the best part.

Working for a big firm has other benefits, like free T-shirts with our firm’s logo, free hand sanitizer, and free logoed chapstick. I don’t have to worry about having Napoleon Dynamite’s problem, because there are literally hundreds of chapsticks in bins at the office. I’m not sure why we have them, but the marketing department seems to think it’s important that we do.

The marketing department put out a call for volunteers for their latest venture, buying 30 turkeys at Safeway using the firm’s owner’s credit card and delivering them to Care and Share for their annual turkey drive. I have a truck, so I volunteered, along with a guy named Chris from the other of the firm’s offices in town. He and I exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet at the Safeway at 11:30. We were instructed to arrive at Care and Share at noon sharp so the media could watch us delivering the turkeys.

Now half an hour to buy 30 turkeys that the supermarket has ready for us and transporting them a couple blocks away seems like plenty of time.

Except the supermarket in question is Safeway.

For the second time two days in a row I found myself inside a Safeway waiting at a customer service desk when I really didn’t want to be. The place was packed, and Chris and I tried to stand away from everyone else while we watched the customer service clerk spend about ten minutes working on a money order for a customer. Finally, it was our turn, and I told the clerk we were there to pick the thirty turkeys for the law firm and tried to hand her the firm’s credit card. The clerk called back to the meat department and then told us someone was bringing them up to the front. We waited for another five minutes for the meat department guy to appear, and then I tried to hand the credit card to the clerk again. “We have to ring all of these up,” the meat department guy announced.

At this point, Chris said, “We’re kinda on a tight schedule here and have to get these somewhere in 15 minutes.” The clerk and meat department guy raised their eyebrows, and it seemed like they were each showing signs of urgency behind their masks as they started rummaging through the cardboard boxes of birds. I handed Chris the credit card and told him I’d move my truck over next to his SUV to see if that would save time. Mostly I wanted to get the hell out of the Safeway.

I got out of the truck after moving it across the parking lot and saw Chris hauling a flat cart stacked with the boxes of turkeys as fast he could across the asphalt. “They’re still ringing up the tags, but they’re letting us go ahead and load the turkeys,” he said.

“You’d think they could have had them ready to go if they knew we were picking them up at 11:30,” I griped as we stacked the boxes in the back of my truck. “Should I go ahead and take these?”

“Yes,” Chris answered. “Go, go. I have to go back in and finish paying.” I slammed the tailgate closed and then zoomed out of the parking lot.

I found the Share and Care on the other side of the highway and pulled into their lot. I had five minutes to spare but still had to figure out where to unload the truck. There was a long line of cars, so I drove around all of them up to some volunteers standing out in the lot. They told me to drive all the way around the building so that I would end up back at the front of the other end of building and to unload there. I zoomed around the the side of the building and then hit the brakes when I encountered a semi that was attempting to back into a slot between two other semis, an activity which ate up my remaining five minutes. As soon as the semi backed up enough for me to squeeze by, I zoomed past it before it could think about shifting back out of reverse to reposition. I pulled up to the unloading area right at 12:00 noon at the front of a line of vehicles that were also donating food that had formed behind me as we had all waited for the reversing semi.

“I’m dropping off turkeys!” I announced to the volunteers, “Thirty of them!”

The volunteers had pushed some shopping buggies up to the back of my truck. “Oh, that’s a lot of turkeys!” One of them went to get a flat cart so they could stack the boxes on it instead of pulling the birds out one by one and into the buggies. Right then Chris ran up with one last turkey that hadn’t made it into my truck bed. I didn’t see any news cameras, but later the firm posted a video of the volunteers unloading my truck with me watching on. The local TV station had been there after all.

When the last turkey had been unloaded, Chris and I breathed a sigh of relief. “We did it!” I said.

“Teamwork!” he added and held up his hand to offer me a high five. I offered him an elbow in lieu. “Yeah, an elbow bump probably a better idea,” he said.

In spite of Safeway’s best efforts, we had accomplished our mission right on time. And I’ve got a new co-worker that I feel lucky to work with.

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