Monday, June 23, 2014

Even on my worst days…

It’s kind of funny how a day can start out bad. Take this morning for example. First off, you have to understand that I commute in at a ridiculously early hour. I do this to avoid the crazy rush hour traffic that personifies the hubris of the Washington DC area. For those of you that do not live in the area, imagine thousands of people all attempting to arrive at the same time at one of the populous work centers that make up the DC area. Not so different from most metropolitan areas right? Now throw in a sizeable percentage of those commuters with over inflated egos and a sense of entitlement enjoined by officious titles and the money that flows this close to the seat of control of the (still) most powerful country in the world. Now you see my problem.

So this morning I arose late. This was planned to some degree. I say ‘planned’ when I really mean that I realized too late last night that if I was to get my required minimum hours sleep, I would have to move my alarm clock forward, pushing my whole day back this morning. This, in turn, would cause me to possibly miss my scheduled outside exercise entertainment this afternoon, throwing off my weekend plans, and RUINING MY WHOLE SUMMER! OMG! Thus, it was imperative that I move out this morning with the greatest acuity.

After groggily silencing my alarm, tripping over the dog, assembling my snacks, and gathering my wits, I still managed to exit the house roughly on schedule to hit office door at the regular time. As I started up the jeep, I sensed that something was amiss that would cause me to be late. Call it a dark cloud, an evil presence, or a sinister omen: something was nagging me. As I hit the main road out of Camelot, I centered on what it was: I needed to stop for gas! Arrrgh!

This was not the disaster that it seemed. I was planning on stopping at the Borg (Seven of Eleven) Shop anyway to pick up some coffee. My day was still manageable. Arriving at the Borg Shop, I went through the usual mechanization at the pump to get it to deliver the magic go juice. Push a button (or not), insert card, wait for screen to flash unintelligible gibberish, then remind me to get coffee, more gibberish, enter my pin, more gibberish then an ad for doughnuts, finally down to business – lift handle, select grade of magic juice. Needless to say, this particular pump has no handle to lift, just the phallic (and frankly somewhat intimidating) nozzle. I’m sure nine out of ten psychologists could milk something about me seeing a gas nozzle as an intimidating phallic symbol, but let’s move one, shall we?

The dance at the pump continues. The gas cap is removed and placed where I will see it in my rear view mirror in case I should forget to replace it after fueling. This could entirely happen should I be fleeing masked desperados who chose this Borg Shop at this particular moment in time to stage a shootout with their equally well armed rivals. In that case, I would thoughtfully return the gas nozzle to it proper place, leap into the driver’s seat, start and gun the engine in preparation for leaving the whizzing bullets behind. I would glance in the rear view mirror noting the gas cap in it woeful perch on the spare tire. Slapping my head I would be able to return to the back of the jeep and place the gas cap where it belongs – whizzing bullets be damned! The only thing worse than having to (re)face an early morning fusillade is having to sheepishly tell the auto parts guy that you forgot to put your gas cap on and drove off without it, then pleading “please, please, may have another if I promise not to be so stupid again?” He will of course respond with a wise and forgiving nod, almost exactly like a priest in a confessional does after hearing, once again, that your sorry you took the Lord’s name in vain while trying to drive to your very important job; knowing that your promise to not do it again is so much bunk, but bunk that you mean right here and now so it counts. But I digress…

After inserting the nozzle carefully to avoid sparks that would surely engulf me, the jeep, nigh the whole neighborhood in a conflagration of flames I squeeze the handle. This is the ultimate decision point for the veritable gas pump. Will it find me worthy of the magic go juice, or will it emit a sinister laugh, empty my bank account anyway, and leave me penniless, begging strangers for a crust of bread for me and my starving children? After a moment, the pump deems me worthy, deciding (today) not to ruin my life, and the magic go juice begins to flow. I am elated!

Now I am a pump-stander. There are people that are standers and those that are not. I have no truck with the non-standers. The instructions on the pump clearly state that it is your sacred duty to stand by the pump in case gremlins cause the nozzle to buck out, spewing gas all over the concrete, running across the pavement to where a bloodied Bruce Willis waits with a lit lighter, ready to cry “Yippi-Ki-Ya Mother F’er”, dropping the lighter and engulfing you, your vehicle, the Borg Shop, and neighborhood in a conflagration of flames. It’s just not worth it! What is so important in your car that you can’t stand drooling by the pump for the five minutes or so it takes? Stand there using your fancy smart phone – it’s ok. I saw where Mythbusters proved that a cell phone can’t cause the fumes from a gas pump to ignite. Don’t even get me started on the people that smoke or won’t turn off their engines. They are just evil, probably from eating too much watermelon (the devil’s fruit!).

Once the pumping is done, I move my jeep to parking and enter the Borg Shop to get my coffee. As I shut my door, I hear a disquieting extra ‘clink’. This sound continues to disturb be throughout the coffee prep and pay process. Upon returning to the jeep I go to open the door and nothing happens. Crap! For about a month the door has only been able to be opened from the outside, and now that is not working. I go in from the passenger side, trying (unsuccessfully) to not look like the dweeb I am. I make the decision to return home to jimmy the door open and make some field expedient repairs rather than deal with the humiliation of strange people be-smirking my misfortune there in the Borg Shop parking lot. Also I am pretty sure the curses I will be required to use might enjoin some gas pump conflagration danger. At home only the dog is up to look out the window and bark-laugh at me (which he does).

With all this returning home, cursing the door, cursing my scraped fingers covered in old door grease, then sighing with relief when I get the door to open (and close, then open and close several more times to ensure it’s working), I and hopelessly late for work, and it’s not even 4:45am! So, that was my bad morning. I know, it seems trivial, and it is. I am old and wise enough to know that even my worst morning is heaven when compared to what a great many people are facing, especially those in harm’s way serving our country. Those guys and girls are the ones that can have truly bad mornings. Or someone in a nursing home or hospital, unable to get out and enjoy all this glorious summer has to offer. No, I try to be grateful for my bad mornings. Some days I even succeed at it.

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