Palm Sunday

It was Palm Sunday. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the beginning of Holy Week. It’s the Sunday before Easter and a BIG holiday for Catholics. It was going to be a busy day for my father. He woke without the alarm at his usual time, 5:15 am. At 7:00, he was going to the men’s pancake breakfast at Saint Matthew’s. Then, my father was going to eight o’clock Mass to have his feet washed by Father Tom. Don’t worry, he had trimmed his toenails the night before. If you’re not familiar with this foot-washing performance, it’s a reenactment from the Last Supper described in John 13:13. Loose translation: Christ washes his disciples’ feet.

Anyway, my father got up and did what he always does. He went directly to his computer to read The New York Times. My mother is not Catholic and was not planning on eating pancakes, having her feet washed or even attending the 8:00 am show. She was sleeping in. It was a peaceful spring morning in upstate New York. The birds were just waking up. There was a gentle rain tap-tap-tapping against the window. My dad scrolled down the page: Bloomberg, Republicans. He read a story about Syria. And then suddenly, there was a flicker and the Times disappeared. Right in the center of the screen there was a picture of my father and below was written in red, in all caps, “YOU ARE WANTED BY THE FBI.” My father just about had a heart attack. “Holy shit!” he said out loud. He started to panic. What do you do if you’re suddenly wanted by the FBI? He thought for a moment. His brain was racing.

Then he did what any man would do, he woke up his wife. My mother was not happy. “Why are you waking me up? It’s just a hoax. For god’s sake. Try restarting the computer.”

This did not put him at ease. He went back to the office to examine his photo. He was wearing a white T-shirt, his hair looked disheveled. It definitely wasn’t a flattering picture.

Then, he had a brilliant idea. He called the FBI. Surprise, surprise, on Palm Sunday at roughly 5:30 in the morning, there is no one answering the phone at the FBI. How disappointing. He left a message. He sat staring at the screen for a bit and then he had a surefire solution. He picked up the phone and dialed.

“Voorheesville Sheriff’s Department,” said a friendly voice. My father introduced himself to the sheriff and explained the situation. There was a long pause. Finally, in a very calm voice, the sheriff said, “Mr. Steinkamp,  it’s probably nothing—it’s probably just a computer virus originating in China.” And then he said something that only a small-town sheriff would say, “Do you want me to come over and take a look?” Poor sheriff must have been having a very slow weekend.

“Oh, that would be great,” my dad said.

By the time the sheriff arrived, my mother was up and making coffee in her bathrobe. The sheriff gladly accepted a cup and he and my dad went to work unplugging, plugging, restarting. Nothing. Absolutely no change. The photo of my father with the red warning remained. Finally, the sheriff said, “Paul (they were on a first-name basis now),  Paul, I think we’ve done everything we can do. Also, if I don’t leave now, I’ll be late for Mass.”

“Mass!” In all the hubbub, my father had completely forgotten. “Jesus Christ, my feet!”

Alexis Steinkamp
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