Officially, or at least on paper, I was known as the expediter.
This is not to be confused with an executioner, executive, expunger or even King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur.
According to my good friends over at Merriam-Webster, an expediter is “one employed to ensure efficient movement of goods or supplies in a business.”
In Southern vernacular, “I git ‘er done.”
I’m the go-to guy, the one to see when there’s a problem, the “if you want it done right, see John” kind of dude.
In the real world, however, I did whatever the head honcho, Paul, needed me to do to ensure that Cornerstone United Methodist Church’s drive-thru Nativity went off without any hitches, or a hatch or a whatever.
I was sort of a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. Which, when you think about it, was probably for the best. Knowing me, if I was Joseph I’d probably drop Baby Jesus; accidentally step on a little sheep if a shepherd; and have an allergic reaction to myrrh if designated as a wise man.
So expedite I did, and with much gusto, if I do say so myself. Oh, and I had a walkie-talkie, so I was pretty dang important. Oh, and a safety vest, too.
I toted the CDs that contained all the music and the program for the various nativity scenes from the end of the line where they were dropped off back to the front for the next ones to use.
I hauled a few CD players back and forth. Got Mary some water, started a fire for the shepherds, you know, expediter-type stuff.
My big moment the first night was when an elderly couple’s old pickup overheated. I filled their radiator up with bottled water and we were good to go. Cross off another expediter job well done, thank you very much.
But it was the second night where I found my true calling. You see, I was given a flashlight, and not just any flashlight. One of those with an orange cone attachment – like they use to direct traffic.
And that is exactly what I did.
Cornerstone is on the corner of Hwy. 154 and Hwy. 34. And no, that is not how the church came to be called Cornerstone. That refers to the scripture where Jesus says he will be the cornerstone of the church and so on and so forth.
Anyway. Cars line up on Hwy. 154 and then turn right onto Hwy. 34 and eventually make it to the entrance of the Nativity. On 34, cars can get off the road, not so much on 154.
The only way to keep through traffic going was to get them to use the suicide lane while at the same time getting those wanting to do the drive-through moved over as far as possible on the right side.
Now, to do this right we, being Paul and I and a couple of others, had to go up to cars and ask them if they were driving through or going to the nativity. Driving through? Please use the suicide lane. Really? Yes, really.
It was at this time I learned the power of the cone. Because with that orange tinted flashlight, I stopped pickups and SUVs, held up traffic to let people out after completing the drive-thru, and encouraged others to pick up the pace.
Unlike at our abode where the SONS of Thunder fail to hear/obey anything I ever say other than “dinner,” people actually listened to me – or at least they listened to the cone.
And this would include a massive 18-wheeler who got into the right lane, the lane for those waiting to see the nativity. Something told me he was not there for that.
I went up to him and asked if he was there for the nativity. That would be the expected “no.” But he was adamant that he had to turn right. I told him that was fine, but he would be sitting in that line for about 30 minutes before he ever turned right.
He looked at me, looked at the cone. “Can you get me out?”
Absolutely. I had the cone.
Next year, I’m bringing a big red light saber for my cone. Think of the power then.
Until next time.