It is Christmas Eve, but that does not really matter for the shift on duty at Kipp Street*. The trash keeps on coming and the line keeps on moving. As they say, “Our business is picking up.”
The first shift is moving smoothly. The line has not stopped and so the workers keep at the work of sorting. They are like a line of Santa Clauses in Hi-Vis and stocking caps sorting ought the naughty trash from the nice recyclables. Below them the bobcats turn here and there with their loads and the fork lifts pick up and drop off large bales bundled in steel wire. There is a tall maze made up of stacked bales and the runways in between. The loader lifts its jaws up toward the in-bin and drops in the unsorted items from the pile rising at the doorway. There a succession of trucks back in to unload. The drivers seem to be glad to finish their shifts for the short holiday break.
All in all it is a good day. Then something unusual happened. There have been some unique visitors here. A raccoon found its way in, and a few other creatures. Occasionally an unusual item arrives, money, golf balls, a basketball, an old auto transmission. It is all in a day’s work but these items stand out as something a little different.
John saw them first. A young couple was looking in the entry door. He went up to them and asked if he could help. “My name is Joe,” the man said, “I heard that you might be hiring.”
“That’s true, “replied John, and pointed to the trailer outside. “There is someone in there you can talk to. We are always hiring around here. “
As Joe headed for the trailer, the woman looked at John and said, “is there a place I can sit down for a minute? I am expecting the baby to come soon and it is getting hard to stand.”
“Sure, just in there is a break room. It is at least warm and there is a place you can sit.” And he led her past some odd items in bins, opened the door and let her in.
That seemed to be about it, and all was calm again – if you can call the sound of the line, the bailer the bob cats and the fork lifts quiet. A littler later Joe walked back and looked around. John shouted and pointed to the break room; “She’s in there.”
“OK, Thanks.” Joe walked in, and then walked out about 10 seconds later. “I could use some help! My wife is having a baby, right now! Her water broke”
What a place to have a baby. Clara was driving by with a bale of plastic bottles when she saw the commotion. She came over and got the news. “A baby? What a place to have a baby!” Looking over at John she said, “Do you have a cell phone? Call 911!” Then she looked at the soon to be parents and said, “Help will be here soon.”
Joe said, a bit nervously, “Mara is not due for another week. Do you think there is a problem”
Clara replied, “They come when they are ready, don’t worry.”
The whole floor crew now came over and asked what is going on. When they heard, they said, “We can all help until 911 gets here.”
So a couple of guys went to direct the ambulance when it arrived. Another went upstairs to get an office chair, thinking it could be more comfortable. Someone bought Joe a cola from the vending machine, this one read “give to a Dad” on the side.
The men started to look for something to boil water in, because one remembered that is what the men did in all the old cowboy movies. Clara took off her work jacket and gave it to Mara to help her stay warm.
The contractions had started, the first one about when the water broke, and the second came about 10 minutes later. Joe and Mara were looking very anxious about this turn of events.
“Don’t worry, I’m a mom too, you’ll get through this.”
It took another 15 minutes before the paramedics arrived. They guys outside waved them to the front door and brought them into the break room. And they said, “ We’ll take it from here. Thanks for your help.”
By this time the line had stopped, so in all there was a baker’s dozen or line and floor workers standing outside the break room. Mara and Joe had insisted that Clara stay. Every once in a while she would peek his head out to say, “It’s getting close!”
Someone said, “Well this is new, a baby at Kipp Street. This sure beats that old raccoon story!”
Another said, “It sure does, but what a place to be born. This ain’t no hospital.”
“Well,” said a third,” I am glad we invited her in, at least she is out of the cold.”
After what seemed to be forever Clara popped her head out and said, “It’s a girl! Everyone is OK, though Joe is a little green around the gills.”
The paramedics got ready to transport Mara, Joe and the baby to the hospital. The one in charge looked over to the group and said, “Thanks for all your help, it made a difference.”
So that is how a baby was born at Kipp Street. A few days later there was a note that came from Joe and Mara.
“To all the people at Kipp Street, thanks a ton. Our little bundle arrived and we decided give her Jessie as her first name and Kipp for her middle name. By the way, Joe got the job and will start next week.”
Just then two or three of the guys had to blow their noses or clean their glasses.
David E. Carlson (aka FRESHREAD)
*Note: Kipp Street is a real place, where FRESHREAD serves as a workplace chaplain. Everything else is fictional, but it does in a way resemble a true story from another place and time.