It was October of 2012. I had just released my book, I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl. While I should have been happy, I wasn't. Instead I was stressed because as a first time author, there was much work to be done. Writing a book had nearly killed me, and now here I was trying to get it out into the world.
First time authors are usually not bestsellers, so I still had my day job at Broadway Singing Telegrams. The upside was it had given me enough material for one book, so perhaps there was a sequel. During a bout of writer's angst, I got a call from my boss Bruce. He wanted me to deliver a Get Well singing telegram in the form of a chicken. How apropos, I was already in a foul mood.
The delivery was at a rehabilitation center called Kessler in West Orange, NJ. The telegram was to Martha Bowman from her Sunday Girls. Apparently, she had just had surgery. As part of the assignment, I had to get a can of chicken noodle soup. This was last minute and the time window was tight. Already, I was grumbling.
As if that weren't enough, the trip there nearly killed me. The train ride was peaceful, but the bus ride was pure unadulterated hell. Sure it was short, but the driver had cranked up the heat to the point where the inside of the vehicle resembled a lava pit. Some of the passengers wore odorous hair oil and perfume, and the heat magnified the smell to the point where it made me gag. It was hard to tell whether the driver hated us or his job, because he took the route with the most hills and bumps in the road. Surviving that contraption of death was a miracle, and I was never so glad to get off.
Kessler was only down the hill, and now it would be gravy on top of this chicken. Not so much. The road I had to take resembled a ravine and had no sidewalk. This trip was going to kill me. Snarling indignantly, I called a cab. I would hit Bruce up to reimburse me for my troubles, and he would get an earful about this later. My plan was to knock this delivery out and get home ASAP.
When I was dropped off, I was greeted by a large, quiet building. Security can be a pain, but this man let me up with no issue. It was as if no one ever came to this place unless they had to. There was no contact, which meant I had to sneak in. I was already agitated so this annoyed me more. As I made my way to change, the place was eerily quiet, almost as if people were exiled here. When I morphed into my bird like form, I crept down the hallway that was dimly lit jail style.
I entered the room of Martha Bowman. A red headed woman, she was in what looked to be an intense full body cast. She had makeup on, probably the contribution of a friend or family member. When she saw me she laughed. A young woman next to her, also a red head and probably her daughter, got out her camera phone. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" I asked.
"I have no idea." Margaret said bursting out into laughter.
Then I began to sing a medley of songs to cheer her up. Some contained "Get Well" lyrics. Another was the "Bushel and a Peck" song where I ended it by giving her a peck. During my routine, Martha nodded and laughed along with the young woman at her bedside. When I was done, I said, "And so you feel better, here is a can of Campbell's chicken soup."
"Dad will be so upset he missed this. He picked the wrong time to get you food." The young woman said. I read the message, handing the telegram to her daughter and as well as the can of Campbell's chicken soup.
"How lovely of them to do this. Carla, please call them right now." Martha commanded.
I said goodbye, and left the room. Carla followed me out. She informed me her mother had recently been in a car accident as a result of colliding with a drunk driver. He walked away with barely a scratch, but this poor lady severed her spinal cord. Martha was in a coma as a result of the accident, and she was paralyzed. For weeks, they were unsure whether or not she was going to live. After coming out of the coma, Martha was sent to Kessler, a rehab center dedicated to the severe trauma. One floor was amputees, another cranial injuries, and this was the spinal cord unit.
Carla also explained her family was deeply religious, and her parents were quite involved with their church and had even been missionaries at one point. Martha was head of the women's group at this parish aka The Sunday Girls, and for weeks her congregation had been vocally praying for her recovery. However, she was not allowed visitors until she was awake, could open her eyes, and could lift her head. So basically, I had been sent by her adoring women's group in celebration of their prayers being answered and this victory. Carla also added that the church group would visit, except they lived three hours away, but they were orchestrating quite the welcome home gathering.
This woman was grateful to be alive, and here I was whining about my literary issues. Yes, comedy is about writing, pushing the envelope, and getting known. It is also about bringing a laugh to someone who desperately needs it. As I left, I was greeted by a group of children who wanted to give me a high five. One little girl told me her father was on the floor as a patient.
Telegram etiquette states once the delivery is over, the costume goes off. The next bus didn't come for an hour. So I stuck around a little longer before I flew off..