Schmoozing

This morning brought at least a foot of new snow to the nursery. Minutes after posting the picture of the deer below, I attempted to drive to the nursery from my house with my 4-wheel drive pickup. Things were so white, I couldn't see the road and I plowed into a big drift and ended up buried halfway up my doors.

Dad to the rescue, as usual. He pulled me out and cleared a path so I could find my way. Eventually, after wading through the knee-deep snow and gathering what needed to be gathered for my booth at the Fargodome, I got in the pickup and attempted to head to Fargo.

Although the five miles between the nursery and the highway were under a foot of snow, the main highway was plowed and the trip to Fargo was easy. I checked into a hotel, set up my booth, and started to schmooze.

Some of my least favorite people in the world are people who have booths at things. This weekend, I am one of them. It sort of put me in a malevolent mood. The 380 lb man across from me selling health drinks seemed emblematic of the whole sorry shebang.

But immediately people start stopping by the booth to say that they loved visiting the gardens or that they love coming to the nursery and are you going to give a class and when is it and oh I wouldn't miss it and your place is just so much fun--and then I perk up and start enjoying myself. Flattery gets me every time.

A couple of weblog readers stopped by--hello to Milt and Jay!--which was fun.

People watching. I love it, but it is also depressing. How did people get in their present condition? A schoolmate came by using a cane. Am I that old? Another woman came by with a daughter to say her mother--now a grandma rode on the bus with me in school. Ugh, another punch in the gut.

And then there are the insane people. One poor woman bends my ear for about 1/2 hour every year, oblivious to the fact that there are other people waiting to talk to me. There is no getting a word in edgewise, or moving the conversation toward a conclusion--winding things up is not acceptable. When she breathes, I don't know. She must have learned how to talk both while inhaling and exhaling. The topic matter? Nothing to do with anything--her medical matters, her relatives, her genealogy, whatever. I don't know her from Adam. Or Eve.

Today, she hovered at my booth three times. Each time I was busy talking with somebody else. She went away, apparently bored at not getting attention right away. I know from past years that she will be back, however.

What is frightening to me is to realize that this poor woman has been functioning like this for years. I might regard my annual half-an-hour with her as enough misery and craziness to last me for the rest of the year--but she is going on like this somewhere every single day of the year. In a sick way, it is miraculous.

It brings to mind this one slightly unhinged customer we have who always arrives at the nursery at an odd hour, storms out of his car as if he is on an urgent mission, and rushes around the greenhouse in a jerky manner as if he is some sort of songbird jumping from branch to branch. It is bearable, if a bit sad, to watch him for five minutes. It is unbearable to think that he is going through life rushing and jerking into and out of stores every day, not just when he comes to the nursery.

So, those are my thoughts as some of the people come up to the booth. Oh my goodness, I forgot about you. I can't imagine you have been going on like this for another entire year. How do you do it?

Another favorite, the barbed compliment:

"I enjoy your column."

"Well, thank you!"

"Of course, not all of them are as good as the others."

I haven't figured out how to respond to that one yet.