Thursday, October 18, 2012
Our Busy Season
Our Busy Season
We are in the midst of our busiest season. We here at the monastery are much like the rest of the world in this season when we await the feasts of Christmas and the New Year. But we are busily waiting. There are concerts, cards to write and send, greetings galore and, above all, the packing and shipping of our Abbey Store items. All the baking is done, all the other preparations are made, and so the daily routine consists of taking the many orders that come in and shipping them out. I help with that – and I like it. A number of monks head down to the shipping area every day and put in a full day’s work. We have a lot of fun and the job has its interesting and, at times, funny aspects.
Some years back part of my job was taking orders over the phone. A lot of calls came in every day and there were times I needed patience. Some people had to go look for their credit cards – I could hear the footsteps fade into the distance and had to wait until the callers came back on the line. The receding footsteps reminded me of the end of an old movie. There were times I wondered if they kept their card in a neighboring state. On other occasions they got the wrong card and had to go looking again. More than a few callers wanted to know if there was alcohol in the fruit cakes. I told them that there was but that we were told that the damaging effects of the alcohol would have been burned off during the baking process. Right or wrong, that little bit of wisdom did not do much good. I guess I did not sound convincing enough and a lot of the people decided to go for the fudge – until I told them that some of the fudge contained brandy. Well, that did not go over too well. Other people wanted to know the exact ingredients and especially if there were nuts in the cakes. I learned that a lot of people are very allergy conscious. We tried to make everybody happy. But we had no nut-free cakes. There were times I would have liked to have said the same thing about some of the callers.
But the best was when a lady called from Brooklyn and wanted to know how much it cost to ship a fruit cake to India UPS Ground. I asked her to repeat that and when I was sure as to what she said I told her, very politely and kindly, like, really,that there is no ground between here and India. There is a lot of water. And the cake would have to go by air, which would cost something like seventy-dollars, the cost of the cake excluded. She huffed and said that she could buy three cakes with that same amount of money. I corrected her, again very kindly, and told her that the amount would pay for five with some change left over. She never did get the cake. Maybe they sell fruit cakes in India. I hope so. That was an example as to how a little bit does not necessarily go a long way.
We have long since handed over the receiving of the calls to an outside group. They handle the callers with grace, with finesse, with holiday cheer – the kind you do not drink.
So. The Season is here. May it be bright for you, and busy. May your cakes take to the skies. May your seasonings and condiments bring only health. It is, after all, a season of miracles.