Tom and I have been married 37 years, so it has become unnecessary for us to speak in complete sentences. Because of our deeply ingrained love (like the Colorado River carving out the Grand Canyon), our conversations are spare yet meaningful.
On Thursday, I had walked my 2-to-4 miles alone, bringing along two empty Fleet Farm plastic shopping bags to do a garbage pick-up on a three-mile route around our neighborhood. But on Friday, Tom and I arranged our extremely busy retired-folks schedule to walk together on the Central Lakes Trail.
I hadn’t brought along bags for garbage pick-up because, in my own mind, this walk was kind of like a date. Still, it bothered me to walk past an empty pack of Camels, a Coors Beer can, a newspaper flier—without picking them up. Which reminded me . . .
Me (to Tom): Yesterday when I was picking up garbage on—let’s see, it would be Roosevelt Street? No, one block off Nokomis would be Oak Street—well, you know that street where there’s a transmission shop and the back side of the milling place—
Tom: What happened?
Me: Oh, you know, that street where the people didn’t mow their lawn for three weeks because their mower was broken?
Tom: Yea, yea—Oak Street.
Me: Yes! Oak Street! That’s it—one block off Nokomis, alphabetical order, Oak Street.
Tom: What happened on Oak Street?
Me: I had just bent down to pick up an empty Diet Coke can out of the gutter when I heard a vehicle coming up behind me.
Tom: And . . . ?
Me: The guy driving—it was a truck. But not a pickup truck, a bigger truck, like a grain truck.
Tom: What about the guy?
Me: The guy in the grain truck—or whatever kind of a truck it was—rolled down his window and said “thank you” to me.
Tom: Thank you?
Me: You know, for picking up garbage. He was turning into the milling company so maybe he worked there. So he thanked me for picking up garbage.
Tom: Did you give him your number?
Me: Yes, my social security number and my bank account number.
Tom: Did you give him your cell phone number?
Me (snorting): Of course not. I’m not stupid. Even though I could tell he wanted it.
Tom: All right then. What did you say?
Me: I said, “You’re welcome.”
Tom: Is that the end of your story?
Me: I think so . . . (pant, pant—we were walking up hill.)
Me (after a moment): Yes, that’s the end.
I’m sure he meant that it was a good story.
Like I said, 37 years of marriage and the conversations get deep. Really deep.