“Love covers a multitude of sins,” Saint Peter wrote. I know this is true, for I have experienced it, most dramatically on a Valentine’s Day many decades ago.
Like any poor, college-aged kid, I picked up a ton of odd jobs to pay for my education. Chicken-farming, house-painting, fence-building, burger-flipping, and boulevard-busking: All of these are on the employment resume from my college and graduate study years. So is “Florist Delivery Driver.”
For the uninitiated, there is no busier day for a local florist’s shop than Valentine’s Day. It is a shopping bonanza of heart-shaped balloons, red roses, sweet chocolates, and carnations. The delivery van is shoved full of these beloved goodies, and the driver speeds through town breaking almost every traffic law on the books with speed and efficiency; for even the smallest shop in the smallest town has hundreds of deliveries to make.
On that fateful Valentine’s Day, I was steaming down a washboard road out in the countryside when the van I was driving, bouncing as it was over the ripples, ricocheted — inexplicably — into a low-hanging oak tree limb.
It’s impossible to accurately describe what happened next, except to say that the entire body of the van twisted clockwise to the two o’clock position. The front doors spontaneously flew open, and every single glass window in the vehicle shattered into millions of pieces.
When I rolled to a stop, spitting out fragments of glass and shaking shards from my hair, I had to walk a mile to a farmhouse to call the shop (that’s right kids, no cell phones) and deliver the dreadful news. I told the owner what had happened, and braced myself for the tongue-lashing that was sure to come, as I had totally destroyed her delivery van.
She said nothing for what seemed like forever, and finally responded with a question: “Are the flowers okay?” I was bewildered. What about the wrecked van? What about the well-being of the young driver? No: “Are the flowers okay?”
I walked back to that twisted pile of steel and glass where the owner arranged for a freshly rented van to meet me. We transferred all those Valentine gifts to the new ride (remarkably, they had in fact survived), and she put my butt back in the driver’s seat and sent me on my way.
At the end of the day, with all the deliveries made, I sheepishly walked into the florist shop. The owner and staff were giddily exhausted, and had collapsed with open bottles of wine and beer, celebrating the completion of another Valentine’s Day rush. I tried again to apologize for her van.
The owner sashayed across the floor, and sounding like my grandmother said, “Honey, nothing stops love. Not even a wrecked van.” Then kissing me right on the mouth she said, “Whatever love won’t cover, insurance takes care of the rest.” And for that, on so many levels of life, I am grateful.