For Want of a Code a Ham Was Lost . . . Almost


The object of the quest!

This has been a rough couple of days.

Yesterday morning, I picked up my nearly-dead cell phone to discover a message from my sis-in-law, Missy, who had called at 11:30 PM the previous night in an attempt to relay the message that Dad had been taken to the hospital by ambulance because of chest pains which developed as he and Sandy, my mom-in-law, were watching the final minutes of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”

This was a cause of concern.

I called Sandy, who was in the room with Dad awaiting the team to come prep him for an exploratory heart catheterization. She said the procedure was scheduled for 1:00 PM. I assured her we would be there. Upon hanging up with Sandy, I waited for Budge to awaken of her own free will to tell her that her Dad was in the hospital about to undergo a bit of heart surgery.

She took the news quite well.

Dad's troubles lay in the LAD and the OM vessels.

We spent the rest of the day yesterday in the waiting room of the Heart Cath Lab at St. Francis Hospital in downtown Greenville. The procedure that was to start at 1:00 was delayed by a complete comedy of errors until 4:00 but the doctor managed to detect the blockages and place one stent into one of those blockages in the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery (the “LAD” for short). Unfortunately, the plaque dam in the Obtuse Marginal Artery would have to wait because of the deleterious effect of the acidity of the contrast dye used in the procedure. Well, in due time, in this case due time being 11:00 AM this morning, the second stent found its new home and Dad was taken to his room for a period of rest and recovery before he is released tomorrow.

Because of all that drama, I got stuck with ham duty.

See, we — that is to say Budge’s side of the family — planned to gather at Dad and Sandy’s tomorrow night for a Christmas celebration and the guest of honor was slated to be a patented Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. The love Dad and Budge have for Honeybaked Hams is hard to overstate, which may have been partially responsible for those nasty blockages, come to think of it. Now, Budge and Sandy were talking in the waiting room this morning about shoes, wine, children, how Budge broke her toe the night before, etc, etc, when Sandy suddenly exclaimed, “Oh dear, the ham will be ready to pick up at 2:00 today.”

The ham. The Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. Will be ready. At 2:00. TODAY.

Let me recap for you. Dad, Sandy’s husband, Budge’s father, my beloved father-in-law, is having heart surgery at that very moment. Everybody on board? Despite that little bump in the road, however, somehow, a HAM — that was to be served at a dinner that is now cancelled for obvious reasons — shot to the top of the priority board. I don’t know how. That’s not my area. I just know Sandy was worried about the ham so Budge put her at ease with, “We will pick up the ham.” Sandy felt this was a capital idea and wrote out a blank check for us to purchase the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. Apparently, the ham question was settled. Dad came out of surgery just fine; we all hugged necks and sent Dad off to his room with Sandy close behind.

Then Budge and I realized we were hungry.

So, off we went to Oriental House for lunch. En route, we contacted Erica who joined us for a fine lunch of some kind of meat liberally soaked in “white sauce.” For the record, I don’t know what kind of meat it actually is nor do I have much idea of the ingredients in the “white sauce.” I just know it tastes divine so I adhere to the Apostle Paul’s admonition in his First Epistle to the Corinthian Church and go on about my business.  After the meal, Budge and Erica decided to go see a movie. I reminded Budge that we had ham duty and was informed that now I had ham duty. They went to the movie and I went to pick up the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham.

I managed to get to the Honeybaked Store on Pleasantburg Drive without incident. I managed to get across the parking lot in the driving rain without incident. However, I did not manage to pick up the ham without incident. I confidently strode to the counter under the “Pick up hams here” sign and a brightly smiling young lady with a beautiful cafe au lait complexion looked at me sweetly and said, “May I have your code please?”

I remembered Budge and Sandy discussing a code earlier. I even remembered the code they were discussing, so I blithely sang out “52252” and waited for my ham to appear.

My ham did not appear and it was here my troubles began.

Abandon all hope ye who enter herein without a CODE!

The sweet child said, “Um, that’s not one of our codes, sir. I need your official Honeybaked Ham code so I can get your ham.” (Incidentally, that code turned out to be the code to get into the garage within which dwells the extra refrigerator where the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham — in a perfect and code free world — was supposed to be deposited)

I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham. This had seemed a straightforward transaction.

I told the sweet young lady that I had no other code but the ham was under Sandy Sims’ name at which point she smiled and said, “We don’t file hams by name, sir, just codes.”Once again, I explained that I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham.

So, trying to be helpful, she said, “Well how many people are you serving? Maybe we can figure out the code that way.” I never realized it would take an advanced degree in cryptography to buy a ham.

Keeping my smile as plastered on as I could, I told the girl I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham. Furthermore, this time I added that as a MAN, did she really think I would have been entrusted with something as vitally important as the Christmas gathering guest list? So finally, she gave up and got the manager who came out and the first thing this bright apple did was say, “May I have your code, sir?”

I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham and instead ended up in a Monty Python skit.

At the end of my tether by this point, I told the man to just give me one of the biggest damn hams in the store and if it were the wrong one, I would eat the leftovers myself. This finally garnered me a bag full of a Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham at which point I went to the register to pay.

The young man had witnessed the entire fracas and so was most solicitous as I filled in the rest of the check for the ridiculous price they asked for a Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. I handed him the check and he looked it over carefully. I was about to ask him if something was wrong when he looked at me most somberly and pointed towards four numbers neatly written at the top of the check in Sandy’s immaculate handwriting as he announced, “Um, sir, that’s your code.”

He managed to keep a straight face. I did not.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

One response »

  1. Yep, never send a man to pick up something specific – in this case a coded ham at one of the busiest ham-times of the year!!! How dare she?

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