Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wonder Twin Powers Activate (Old Bridge, NJ)

As a kid I loved the Wonder Twins. A dangerous situation would arise and these two seemingly normal siblings would touch each other's fists, say "Wonder Twin Powers Activate, in the form of ..." and one would usually change into an eagle while the other, somewhat less glamorously, would get to be a pail of water. In this way, week after week, the Wonder Twins would thwart the bad guys. The moral of the story being the power of two is always greater than the power of one.

That is a lesson I was reminded of on Wednesday night. Up until a week before arriving in the Freehold area, all my attempts to find a host had been unsuccessful. I was in need of a superhero to save the day. Lucky for me, I got two for the price of one, my own Providential version of the Wonder Twins.

Janet and Joyce aren't really twins but they are sisters. I've known Janet for the past two years. She is the HR Director at the American Bible Society and probably the first person I talked to after getting my job in August of 2007. Ever since that day, I've known that I had Janet in my corner. She helped me navigate ABS policies and employee benefits, she took me out to lunch when I started and again before I left. She even drove all the way down to PA to attend my going away party at Simon's house. Most importantly, she made ABS a more enjoyable place to work and she did it all with a smile. In return, all she ever asked of me was occasional help with formatting company organizational charts in Microsoft Visio. All in all, a pretty good bargain.

I knew Janet lived in the Old Bridge area, but that was 20 minutes by car from where I was walking. But faced with not having a place to stay, I fired off a quick email asking for help. It didn't take long for the reply to come. "Of course we can pick you up and then drop you back off on your route in the morning. And Happy Birthday," she wrote, remembering I was about to turn 36.

With the date set for Wednesday night, the Wonder Twin powers activated. There was no eagle or pail of water, just out of this world hospitality. For starters, Janet gave me her master bedroom and slept in her nephew's room for the night. Then she took me out to a steak dinner at Outback along with Janice and her two sons Justin and Jason. One 9oz. Victoria Cut Steak, mashed potatoes, some coconut shrimp and a salad later I was wondering if I might have to peel myself out of the booth.

When we returned home, in an effort to work off some of the calories I just packed on, Janet, Jason and I went downstairs to play some ping pong. Those who know me well might remember that I was a bit of a ping pong prodigy in my earlier years. Some time has passed and I don't play that often, but it was an absolute blast to try and turn back the clock and rekindle some of that competitive spirit against my two unsuspecting opponents. I won't divulge who won, especially since the results have not yet been certified by the US Table Tennis Association, but I will say that both of them put up a valiant fight. My only worry is that with all this ping pong and wandering around the United States people might start calling me Forrest Gump. I wouldn't mind so much if I can be assured that Tom Hanks will option the story of this journey and star as me in the cinematic debut of "Poorman Walking".

I digress. Janet and Joyce were not done pampering me yet. We celebrated my belated birthday with one of Janet's famous cheesecakes and some of Joyce's chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. I had some writing to do before going to sleep but all the blood that should have been flowing to my brain was in my stomach instead. I dragged myself up to the master bedroom and turned on my computer, but even an earlier cup of coffee couldn't stave off the inevitable sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep. Nutritionists always say it isn't healthy to go to sleep on a full stomach, but don't they know how good it feels? That night it felt like pure bliss. And I followed it.

In the morning Joyce and Janet cooked me breakfast and Joyce packed a sandwich, some cookies and bite sized Snickers bars in a bag for me to take on the road. She dropped me back off on my route, headed toward Princeton Junction. From 5:30pm the previous evening until I was dropped off at 8:30am, Janet and Joyce saw to my every need and did so with a loving heart and an enthusiastic spirit.

I could help Janet her with her org charts from now until eternity and it would still pale in comparison to the generous help she and Joyce offered me when I didn't have anywhere else to turn. I guess I might have to start believing in superheros again.