Bill Cutshall’s Weblog

August 14, 2008

An Epically Off Day

Filed under: Things I am too Lazy to Categorize — billcutshall @ 1:08 pm

I know I am probably inviting further disaster by writing this before the day is well and truly done but every now and then you have a day in which things go wrong in an epic fashion. Today has been that kind of day for me.

I had planned to spend the morning at work, meet a friend for lunch, pick up a suit at the tailor, fetch my dry cleaning, go to the gym for a swim, and get home in time to let the nanny beat rush hour traffic by a few minutes. Ah, that would have been a nice day.

My wife started the morning scrambling to get to an out-of-town business meeting that the client had moved up on the day of the meeting. As she was scrambling to get out the door, the nanny called in sick. A sick nanny and an out of town wife necessitated a major change of plans. I now had to add “getting my two lovely little girls ready to leave the house and tag along with me” to my comfortable to-do list. They are 3 and 4 years old and more than a handful but I knew I could take them to lunch with me as well as run both my errands and, if I was lucky, convince them to stay at the gym’s kids’ center while I got my swim in. It was still a doable thing and, if I could pull it off, I would look like super-dad to my lovely wife.

Before I even had a chance to start dancing as fast as I can, the day stood up and asserted that it wouldn’t be your ordinary run-of-the-mill change-of-plans hectic day, though. My wife, who had just a few minutes earlier rushed out the front door to get started on the long drive to Houston, popped back in and said “honey, you’re never going to believe what I just did.” In my experience that statement is rarely followed by good news.

“I hit your car with the truck.”

Nice. “You just backed into my car? How?”

“I didn’t see it. I’m sorry.”

“How can you not see it?!? It’s the size of… well, a car! It’s right behind the truck. You had to walk right past it to get in the truck. How could you not see it?” As I walked out to the driveway I realized that I was being hard on her and that I should dial back the emotion a few notches. After all, it can be fixed. It’s just a ca….GOOD GOD LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT CRATER!!! HOW FAST WERE YOU GOING? DID THE AIRBAG GO OFF?

Easy does it. Breathe. It’s still just a car. There is still no permanent damage here.

“It’s OK, honey, it’s just a car. I love you. Get going and I’ll take care of it.”

As she rolled away I added “call the insurance company”, “call AAA for a tow truck”, and “call the shop I use to see if they have time to take the car” to my list of things to do that day. I went inside and called the insurance company while dressing the girls. Their hyper-advanced automated callback system managed to drop my call 3 times before I was finally successfully connected to a live human being who, ten minutes into getting my claim information, experienced technical difficulty and dropped my call for the 4th time. I was glad that he got my callback number just in case we should be disconnected. Surely he would be calling me in just a few seconds.

Ten minutes went by and I realized that I wouldn’t be getting a call back and that I was doomed to jump through the automated system’s hoops if I wanted to talk to a live person about getting my car fixed. I decided that I needed to be more dynamic in my multitasking if I wanted to accomplish all my tasks today so I loaded the kids in our other truck and got ready to go pick up my suit. I would grab breakfast for them from the drive-though window of their choice. I was rebuilding my momentum.

The truck’s battery was stone dead stopping my momentum in its tracks. Being a gadget guy I have a portable jumper battery which… oh good, it’s in the back of the truck rather than in the house charging. Happily it had enough juice to start the truck, barely. I put it back in the house to charge and loaded the kids up. After leaving the driveway the insurance company’s automated callback system taunted me with 2 more hang-up calls.

The girls were hungry but only wanted food from places with no drive-through. Pretzels at the mall it is. If I still hoped to look like “super-dad” to my wife, I would have to leave that out of the story. At the mall, the store clerk informed me that my suit was ready but the shirt I had ordered to go with it was lost. Of course. Simultaneously the insurance phone beast calls me with an actual live person on the line. It was while juggling both those conversations that my girls both informed me that they needed to “go potty”. The female bladder exists to inject frustration into the lives of men.

I completed the circus act I started in the store without dropping a single ball. Both girls pottied without making a mess, my claim was filed, I had my suit, and I had a tracking number for my shirt. As I walked out the doors into the mall parking lot I wanted to throw my arms back like a gymnast sticking the landing and yell “TA-DA”. I resisted the temptation and focused on getting to lunch on time instead.

After lunch, the truck battery was dead again and I had to explain to the kids why daddy needed to borrow electricity from someone before he could turn the AC on. The girls were complaining about the heat so I decided a treat was in order. On the way to pick up my dry cleaning we would stop at the gas store and get Frozies (Icees from the gas station in case you don’t speak 3-year-old). Despite the precedent the day had already set, I was actually surprised to see all 4 flavors out of order. I was running out of ways to explain disappointments to my kids and, ignoring the lesson the Icee machine was clearly trying to teach me, I promised the kids that we could go swimming later.

On any other day, the trip to the dry cleaners after lunch would have been better than a sedative for the kids. Today, though, naps did not ensue. My lost shirt had increased the importance of this errand and I was relieved to find my back-up shirt clean and pressed. We headed home to arrange for a tow truck. On any other day AAA would have had a tow truck in my driveway 15 minutes after I hung up the phone. Today, though it took an hour and a half and a follow-up phone call. By this time I had given up explaining to my girls why things weren’t going the way I had said they would and simply told them that we would get to the pool when we got to the pool. When the tow driver pulled out of my driveway without incident I felt my momentum returning. I had already put the girls’ swimsuits on and was nearly done with the “pool gear” checklist when I realized that their floaty coats (life vests) were in the back of the truck that my wife had used to deface my car before fleeing the city. There was no way I was going to tell my girls that we weren’t going swimming, though.

No way.

I loaded them in the car and planned an extra stop at Target to pick up a shiny new pair of life jackets. The truck started fine but was starting to overheat. I was fairly certain it would make it to the gym but had little confidence that the battery would restart it when it was time to head home. I was tired. The kids were hot. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedos.

Of course the pool was closed.

“And that’s why the kids have new bikes, honey.”

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