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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Valentine's Day especially busy for those who deliver the flowers

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Delivery driver Vickie Jacobs unloads a few valentines from her van Monday.
SIKESTON -- In the midst of delivering a dozen red roses Monday, Vickie Jacobs did her usual glance over before taking the item to its recipient.

As she looked the arrangement over, Jacobs noticed discoloration of the petals, something caused by a water spill.

"This one will have to go back," Jacobs said as she pushed it back into the van.

Jacobs returned the flowers for a replacement and brought the new arrangement back to its owner later in the day. While it's not uncommon for water to drip onto the flowers, it's also not uncommon for a stem to break, a balloon to pop or balloons to tangle.

"It happens to everyone," Jacobs said.

It's no secret Valentine's Day is a busy day for florists everywhere, but what some may not know is there's more to successfully delivering valentines than driving around town and dropping off flowers and candy.

"They have to know the town, route their deliveries and take care of the flowers -- It's not the easiest thing," said Jim Pharris Sr., who has been in the flower business for over 40 years.

Jacobs was one of several delivery drivers working Monday, making sure area residents received valentines from their loved ones.

For Jacobs, her work day began around 8 a.m. delivering a full van to schools, banks, hospitals, doctors' offices and residences all over the area. After sorting and gathering, items were recorded on her clipboard and loaded into the van. Some were even secured with sandbags.

Jacobs mapped out her route, starting with the closest places and working her way to the farthest places.

"It's fun, it's interesting and I meet a lot of people. It's different every day," said Jacobs, who has worked as a local delivery driver for St. Louis Post-

Dispatch, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

And it's not easy maneuvering a vehicle full of balloons, candy, flowers, candles and stuffed animals. Jacobs must use her side mirrors and at times, stick her head out the window to get a better view.

"I've lived all my life in Sikeston and by doing this, I've been places I've never been and driven on roads I never knew existed," Jacobs said.

And if there's a location Jacobs isn't sure of, she'll call and get more specifics before leaving, she said.

When the day's over, delivery drivers may have made two or three trips to places they've already delivered due to late orders.

"I enjoy it, and it's really nice to see the reactions on people's faces," Jacobs said as she drove around Sikeston Monday. "Sometimes we take them to the elderly and they cry because maybe their kids sent them something."

Jacobs said a lot of people expect deliveries on Valentine's Day, but many are surprised.

Helen York, owner of Helen's Florist, said most peoples' reactions are, "Ah! Those are for me?!?"

Kim Baker, customer service representative for The Flower Patch, said lots of extra vans and extra employees were needed for the holiday.

"We start planning in May, looking at catalogs and reserving extra vans," Baker said.

Some people placed orders in advance, but the phones were ringing steadily Monday, beginning as early as 5 a.m. at one florist. They were expected to stay busy throughout the day, and especially again around 5 p.m. when those who may have forgotten the holiday were getting off work.

The day doesn't end until the last flower is delivered, which is typically sometime into the evening, the florists said.

Each florist may have its own system for their deliveries, but they all share a common bond.

"We live for this day," Baker said.

York said the day's hard work is overlooked by the huge amount of joy they bring to others.

Pharris said about the busy holiday: "People enjoy getting flowers -- and on Valentine's Day, they enjoy sending them, too."