Never could get the hang of Thursdays

Surprised-Cat-Popped-BalloonJust as I try not to often post the what-I-had-for-breakfast type of entry on this blog, I also try to avoid let-me-tell-you-about-my-awful-day posts. Besides not wanting to chase readers away with whiny posts, I also feel as if my awful days are never as horrible as other people’s days. I can’t count the times that I have been feeling that I’ve just had a horrific day, when someone I follow on social media will report that a close relative has been diagnosed with a fatal disease, or that they have lost their job, or have been in a car wreck (and they are posting this news from a hospital bed), or any number of other much more serious calamities than my difficulty with a computer program at work. Which makes me feel like an ingrate who doesn’t realize how well I have it.

It’s like most of my bad days are first-world-problems, while many of my friends and associates are mired in real troubles.

But I really do think that last Thursday may have, cumulatively, just barely qualified as a bad day by those other standards…

Quotation-Douglas-Adams-life-Meetville-Quotes-63502The tl;dr version: Learned of Pratchett’s death in the morning, bus awfulness getting in to work, all sorts of crap at work, and hubby found the hot water heater busted when he got home. Oh, and I seemed to be cranky before I had even heard the first bad news.

If you are willing to hear the details: I was rushing to get ready for work because there was an important meeting that I needed to be there for. I had important information to report. There was a critical question that I had been trying to get an answer to and I absolutely had to have the answer that day or I could not make a deadline. The entire project was up against a critical deadline which had a great deal riding on it.

So I was already feeling stressed. And then I heard the news that Terry Pratchett, an author whose work I adore, had died the night before. We had all known he was suffering from early-onset rear-brain Alzheimer’s, which is a fatal disorder and that his demise was looming. Knowing it was coming does not soften the blow, and I was more than slightly upset about it.

But I had to keep moving and get out of the house and catch my bus.

I had walked a few blocks from the house, and the cheerful sunny weather has entirely failing to improve my mood, when suddenly I was hit in the face (and my entire front half) by a cloud of water droplets. I stopped in my tracks, trying to figure out where the water had come from, when another wave hit me. It was coming from over the roof of a grocery store just ahead of me in the path. I walk by the store every morning to get to my bus, but there is not usually clouds of random water spouting up from its roof. I detoured, but it was impossible to avoid geting hit a few more times. When I got to where I could see the front of the store, then the person with a power washer up on a lift in front was visible, with all sorts of caution signs and stuff pointed toward the part of the parking lot that absolutely was in no danger of ever being splashed with water from that hose aimed that way. The sidewalks beside and behind the store, all of which were getting randomly sprayed, had no warning signs at all.

I did not seem to be covered in muck or grit, just water, so I sighed and kept walking. The detour and so forth had probably added three-quarters of a minute to my walk, but that 45 seconds were not inconsequential.

I arrived at the corner of the last intersection before the bus. It is an intersection of two extremely busy multi-lane roads. You do not attempt to cross this intersection against the light. In the last twenty years, I would say that nearly half of the times that I have nearly been run over by a driver not noticing a red light or otherwise failing to yield to us pedestrians in a crosswalk have been at this intersection. I arrived at the corner with a Don’t Walk sign.

Across the street I could see my bus stop. There was exactly one person standing there waiting for a bus. This stop is a major stop on one of the Rapid Ride lines, so if on a weekday morning you see less then four or five people at the stop, it is safe to conclude the the most recent bus left the stop no more than four minutes ago, which means you have at least five minutes before the next bus arrives. Plenty of time for my turn at the crosswalk to come up, right?

Except, as I am having that thought, a nearly empty bus pulls up to the stop. I started trying, through sheer force of will, to get the light to change to red, so the bus couldn’t pull out before I could cross the street. But because there was only one person who needed to board, or course that didn’t happen, and the bus pulled out.

And then I got my walk sign. I check the time and do some calculations. The next bus should be there in ten minutes, plus the thirty-ish minute trip to down town, and it usually takes me 8-10 minutes to walk from the stop I exit the bus to my office and to get up to my cube, and I will probably arrive at the office a few minutes before this meeting that I have to get to.

So, I tag my bus pass against the pay station, pick a spot to stand at where I will be out of the way of other pedestrians, pull my phone out of my pocket, and open up iBooks to resume reading the book I’m currently reading. While this is happening I am vaguely aware that other people are gathering at the stop, which is expected. When I look up from my book, however, rather than the ten or twelve people who are usually waiting at the stop just before a bus arrives, we have a few more than eighteen waiting. That means that the odds are not good that I will be able to get a seat when the bus arrives.

And I can hear it pulling up. As I turn my head, my heart sinks further. I can see there are a bunch of people already standing in the aisles. As the bus comes to a stop, I can see that we have a couple dozen children in the back. So we’ve got a field trip group on the bus. Lovely.

Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. I love the idea of them going on field trips. It’s just at least half the time the field trip groups are very loud. They aren’t screaming randomly, it’s just you usually have a bunch of kids who are young enough that most of them have never ridden on a public bus before, so they are a little bit excited. A bus is not a quiet environment, so if they try to have a conversation, they have to raise their voice. Once a few of them have raised their voices, the only way the other kids can have conversations, even quiet ones just with the child sitting next to them, they have to raise their voice to be heard over the din.

It doesn’t matter how crowded or unpleasant this trip will be, I can’t wait for the next bus. This bus should get me there in time for the meeting (although when the bus is more crowded, each stop takes longer for people to get on and off, so now there is a slight possibility I will be late). I get on, and we all jostle each other until we reach some form of equilibrium, which leave me standing in the back quandrant of the bus, surrounded by a third of the field trip group.

The children are not a problem. At all. With one exception, they are all very conscientiously talking very quietly, leaning over to speak to another child and not yelling. The one exception is an adorable kid named Frederick. I know this because at random intervals he would call out the name of one of his classmates, or the name of a teacher, or the name of one of the parents that were chaperoning the group. When the person looked at him and asked what he wanted, he would say, “I love you!” if it were one of the adults, they would say, “That’s nice, Frederick. We love you, too. Don’t shout.” And he would nod and smile and try to contain himself, but a minute or so later he would have to call out to another person.

But it was adorable, rather than annoying.

The problem was that where I wound up standing (we were all packed in together in contact with each other whether we wanted to be or not, that’s how crowded it was) was between two of the parents who were chaperoning the group. One was a mother of one of the kids, the other was the father of another of the kids. They were the sorts of extroverts who find it absolutely impossible not to be talking if they are in a space with other people. Their conversation was, for me who didn’t know anyone they were talking about, just an inane non-stop droning.

There was not a millisecond of the trip that one or the other of them was not talking, and because it was a bus they had to talk in big room voices. Since I was literally wedged between them, despite having very nice headphones on, I had one voice drowning out the music in my left ear, alternating with the other doing the same in my right ear.

Two stops before mine, the classroom group left the bus, which was a mini adventure in itself, and I was able to sit down for about forty seconds until my stop. I checked the time. I still had enough time to get to the office. I completed the walk without incident, and arrived at my desk two minutes before the meeting was to start. I peeled off my hat, coat, earphones and backpack, started my computer going, grabbed my coffee cup and water bottle, ran to the kitchen, got back to my desk, grabbed my iPad, and pulled up the meeting notice to make sure which conference room it was in. It was the one I had passed three times already, and could see it was empty, so that was fine…

…except there was an urgent meeting notice in my inbox. The meeting had been rescheduled. It was already in progress, and about to end. Because it was rescheduled, it wasn’t happening in a conference room, everyone was on conference call.

So I called in with less than a minute left in the meeting. There had been an emergency related to the project, which had thrown everything into a scramble, and nothing not related to the emergency had been discussed anyway. We were told to e-mail our status to my boss (who is filling in for the currently vacant Project Manager position {though the new hire starts this week}).

So I had gone through all of that for nothing.

So, I start typing up my status. I get an urgent IM from my boss (who, in addition to covering for the PM, is also in an office half-a-continent away, helping run another business unit whose director was let go this week for reasons…) about whether I can get my status to him now. I finished the message, clicked send, and typed into the IM that I was just finishing it.

I took a deep breath, and tried to figure out which of the six things that I now knew had to be done that day or else (I had headed into the office believing that there were four such things because of the deadlines, but now I had two more). I got a call from a co-worker with questions that were annoying. When I finished handling that, my boss emailed out the summary of everyone’s statuses… and mine wasn’t in the message, even though I had sent it ten minutes prior.

I was just contemplating whether to reply and add my status (as we often do if either one of us misses a meeting or something doesn’t get recorded correctly), when another message popped up from my boss, explaining why my status was being left out at this particular time. You don’t want the details, and I’d probably get in trouble for sharing them.

Many more things went wrong at work on Thursday which were of that nature. If I explained what they were, any of you who have already not been bored to death by this point would kick the bucket. Plus, I probably shouldn’t talk about it outside the company.

I did get my six things (at least two of which were impossible) done. But completing them involved tasks where there were frequent points I had to sit and wait for the computer to complete something. I tend to look at Twitter when that happens.

And every time I looked at Twitter, someone in my timeline was posting a tribute to Terry Pratchett, or had just heard the news and were being devastated, and so on. So I was sniffling and on the verge of crying all day.

I wasn’t quite finished with my day when my husband called me. He almost never calls me at work. If he’s calling me at work, I always brace myself for bad news, because that’s usually the only reason he will call. He told me that when he got home that day and went to put his bike away in the basement, he found big puddles of water all over. At least one of the hot water heaters was dead and leaking water. He had mopped up the worse of it, consulted with the landlady, and figured out the the hot water heater that was actually leaking while simultaneously feeling ten times hotter than the others was the one for our unit. So he had turned off the breaker for it, and we wouldn’t have hot water until at least the next day.

I was wrapping things up for the day after that when I got an urgent message from a co-worker. It impacted one of the impossible things I had already completed and handed off. I tried to get hold of another co-worker to see which of two options for dealing with the new information she preferred, but she didn’t answer her phone. That’s when I noticed just how long after 5:00 it was. I decided I had accomplished all I could for the work day. I started shutting down to head home.

Because Friday is my usual work-from-home day, before I leave the office on Thursday, I confirm that my desk phone is forwarded to my cell phone, so people from work will be able to get hold of my on Friday. I was not quite halfway home when the co-worker I was trying to reach calls me. So we have an interesting work conversation while I’m standing on the sidewalk between the very windy bay and literally the busiest non-highway within the city limits. The microphone on my new headphones is of much better quality for that kind of environment than my previous set.

By this point I’m waiting for the next bad thing to happen. When I made it home without being hit by a car or attacked by ravenous crows, I started to heave a sigh of relief. Except I couldn’t find Michael anywhere in the house. I checked the stalker app on my phone, and saw that he was at the grocery store two blocks away. Iwas struck by a sudden surge of worry that something would happen to him on his walk home. I only just stopped myself from walking to the store to try to find him and escort him back. What good I thought I would be at protecting him from my imagined threat, I have no idea. It was that realization from the one corner of my brain not being an irrational wreck that stopped me.

He got home not long after, having decided that after my bad day I needed a dinner of comfort food. So he was going to make French toast, sausage, and bacon. Very much not a meal that was in line with the diet I’ve been on for the last 14 years, but it did make me feel better.

Friday was a better day, if for no other reason that I was working from home. Also, I got to hear, in detail, from the neighbor who a few weeks ago was crushed on the job between an excavator and a bulldozer, exactly how it happened, how me managed to not die or suffer permanent disability, and the aggravating but amusing things that the business owner at fault has been doing to try to get out of paying. So I got to join the chorus of people urging the neighbor to retain his own lawyer on this. I hope he does.

But mostly, I’m really happy at how energetic and cheerful he is, getting around on crutches (he came home from the hospital in a wheelchair!), and that he seems to be recovering. Which makes my bad day Thursday seem like not such a big deal…


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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. I used to publish an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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