by Paul Reynolds
“Hi, yes. I am calling to check on my 3:45 pick-up.”
“May I have your ID number?”
I gave the dispatch person my identification number as I looked at my watch. 4:30 pm. What’s going on? I wondered to myself. I waited a few minutes for the dispatcher to get in contact with a driver.
“Hi, sir? Your ride will be there in another forty-five minutes or so.”
“Thank you,” I replied with some enthusiasm as I looked out the door of the Lodge, which was covered with tiny beads of water. The rain was crashing into the ground at a million miles per hour and the ashtray of a trashcan outside the door was overflowing with water. People came in and out of the Lodge either to go to one of the many offices in the building or to wait for the shuttle. At 4:45, my cell phone rang.
“Campus Ministry, this is Paul,” I answered the phone, hoping to catch my friend completely off guard.
“Hey! Where are you?”
”Ah, man, you didn’t fall for it, Sarah.”
“I know you. And, I know your number.”
“Oh, whatever,” I replied in a defeated voice. “I’m in the Lodge, waiting for my ride.”
“Ok, I’m coming.”
I looked out the window, smiling a sympathetic smile, as a squirrel dashed across sidewalk hoping to find refuge in a tree from the downpour. Man, what nasty weather, I thought to myself as I felt somebody tap my shoulder.
“Hi, Sarah. What’s up?”
“Not much,” she replied with a sullen look on her face.
I paused for a few minutes. “Okay, let’s hear it!”
“It’s nothing,” she replied, attempting to reassure me.
“What’s going on?” I persisted.
“How’d you know?”
“You look sad. I could tell by the look on your face that something was up.”
“I got this crush on somebody. It’s really bad. I shouldn’t feel this way…”
“But you do,” I finished her sentence.
“Yeah. It’s really awful!” she said.
“You can’t really help how you feel,” I reassured her.
“ I don’t wanna talk about it,” she sighed.
“Did you go to Campus Ministry today?” Sarah asked.
“Yeah, I did. It was so awesome to hang out there with everybody!”
“I organized some music for Jessica for Sunday’s student Mass. A pretty simple task, but I really had lots of fun doing it. It brought me some joy.”
“Those people are the best! I’m glad they make you happy.”
“Yeah, going to Campus Ministry is the best part of my day!”
“Totally!” Sarah replied. We sat in silence for another fifteen minutes. I looked at my watch again. 5:30. I pulled out my cell phone.
“Hi, yes. I am calling to get an update on my 3:45.”
“You haven’t been picked up?”
“Not yet,” I replied with a smile.
“Give me a few minutes,” responded the dispatcher in a soft, pleasant voice.
“Okay.” I glanced over at the front door of the Lodge to see Sarah drawing pictures in the condensation of the door with her finger. She drew smiley faces, flowers, and a variety of animals.
“Quite the artist,” I said to Sarah as I listened to the oh-so-pleasant music that they play when they keep somebody on hold.
“Eh, I dunno,” she laughed.
“Mr. Reynolds?” said the dispatcher.
“Your driver should arrive in twenty minutes.”
“Twenty minutes? Okay, thank you very much,” I replied as I hung up my phone. Sarah and I sat in silence for an additional fifteen minutes, listening to the raindrops tapping against the windows of the Lodge. We watched as people came into the Lodge, seeking shelter from the rain as they waited for the Shuttle. Waves of people came in and out as the Shuttle came and left. Sarah finally broke the silence.
“So, how’s the priest thing?”
I answered her with a huge smile and a wink, pointing to my throat, indicating our own special sign language for the priesthood. It was something I had been considering since my dad died. Thinking about the prospect of my being a priest made me happy. We got into some more small talk until about 6:15 when Jessica came from the Campus Ministry office towards the front door of the Lodge.
“Oh my gosh, Paulie. Are you okay? Where are they?” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, I’m okay. I think the rain is putting them behind schedule.”
“Well, I don’t mean to be rude, but I have to catch the shuttle, Paulie.”
“Okay, I will see you on Friday.”
“See you then, Paulie! God bless!”
“God bless, Jessica.”
At 6:45, Fr. Mark came towards the front door of the Lodge, shaking his head and looking angry.
“I don’t believe this, I can’t believe this,” he muttered, shaking his head and looking at me as he walked out the door to his car.
“I’ve never seen him get angry before,” I told Sarah. “I feel terrible.”
“It’s not your fault. He’s concerned about you for your waiting here for so long.” She was right. That had been the second time I had seen Fr. Mark since 4:00. I still felt bad that he had gotten angry over my ride being late. The rain continued to tap at the windows in the Lodge, this time a little harder. Sarah continued to draw pictures in the condensation on the door and we exchanged some more small talk. I looked at my watch again. 7:30 pm. I pulled out my cell phone to check on my ride.
“Hi, I called about an hour ago to check on my 3:45. They said my ride would be here in twenty minutes, but that was an hour ago.”
“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll check and see what’s going on,” assured the dispatcher. More of the “on hold music” followed.
“Sir, your ride will arrive in forty-five minutes.”
“Okay, thanks I said.”
“You’re so patient,” Sarah exclaimed.
“I would have been extremely frustrated and yelling on the phone.”
“I’m used to this, Sarah. It doesn’t bother me anymore,” I replied.
“You’re really patient,” she repeated. The rain started to let up and the two people I saw outside began to put away their umbrellas. Sarah and I sat in relative silence, exchanging a few words here and there. I looked at my watch again. 8:15. I looked out the window again to see my ride looping around the parking lot of the Lodge towards the building. Sarah and I headed outside to meet my driver. We said our goodbyes and I got on the lift of the van, thinking about my day at Campus Ministry and my time with Sarah. I couldn’t help but smile. I had had a wonderful day doing stuff that I enjoyed and hanging out with a good friend. I continued to smile as my driver rolled us away from the school and drove me home.