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By: Jamie Collins

You ever wake up on a day that should be like any other in your life, but quickly slides down a slippery slope from the spirit of “Good Morning Sunshine” into the treacherous territory of “Welcome to Hell” in the flash of a nano-second? Um, I’ll go with yes on this one. I actually had one of these sanity-sucking days last week. I found myself one event away from either a strait jacket or a prison jumpsuit.

This laugh’s on me.

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7:25 a.m. – Wake up to a frantic husband. I am still between worlds – partially asleep, half immersed in a dream in the outer rung of conscious reality, when I hear him tell me we have overslept due to my faulty iPhone alarm clock setting skills the night prior – we are going to miss a planned parent/teacher conference scheduled to begin in 15 minutes. WHAT??? Brilliant! (More like awakening to a bolt of lightning and being loomed over by a chaotic reign of terror, but moving on…)

7:30 a.m. – E-mail the teacher to apologize for my utter incompetence in setting the blessed alarm clock and beg for mercy. We reschedule for a later time.

7:32 a.m. – Decide that my entry as a candidate into the World’s Daily Beauty Contest has officially been cancelled. The stated reason? An untimely wake up.  We shall proceed onward with the “roll out,” deodorize, spiff up, clothe maneuver. (Check, check, check, check). Just get into the car. Don’t forget your handbag. And your kid. Set the alarm. Now RUUUUUUNNNNN!!!! The sanity is fading fast, people.

(Usain Bolt has got nothing on me.)

8:15 a.m. – Drive en route to the local elementary school on a mission to drop off Mister G for another exciting day of academia. (I believe the aura surrounding my soul has now darkened about twenty shades and is entering “omnipotent ruler of the damned,” territory, after having missed out on that steamy morning shower ritual in the paralegal day spa. Goodbye hope. I bid you farewell. Moving on…).

8:45 a.m. – Swing by the McDonald’s drive thru located near my law firm for an Iced Coffee (now needed more and more with every-single-waking-solitary-freaking second that ticks by) in an attempt to perk up my weary soul.

Still encumbered in a dense “roll out” fog, I hear the drive thru lady’s voice beckon to me from that black box to ask, “How many creams?”

At which point I determine I have absolutely no idea what is happening. (Where am I…and why are you asking me these random questions, because it’s iced coffee – just make it the way you always make it – the way it comes – with however many creams that entails. Perhaps the fact that we have never had this discussion at any point during my 29,000 visits through this particular establishment is what’s crippling my brain).

So I open my car door, slide across the pavement, pull myself up to that black box with both arms wrapped tightly around it, my head reared back like a crazed, caffeine-deprived lunatic incapable of piecing together lucid fragments of socially appropriate verbal communication in a moderately cordial tone, just as the words: “I don’t understand what you’re asking me” exit my mouth. My tone was clueless, not mean. I was in no shape to answer fast food interrogatories, people. No mood. (Okay, I may have made up that first part about clinging to the box, but my energy in this moment is baseline at best, and my pulse, barely a flicker.)

I then glance up at the screen and realize she had me down for a regular coffee (minus the ice cubes and pre-programmed cream/sugar measurement via the magic McDonald’s iced coffee making machine). Mystery solved. I tell her I want “an iced coffee,” and would like that however it comes. I then proceed through the drive thru, toward my future sanity, at least what’s left of it.

8:46 a.m. – Pull up to the window to hand her my free coffee card. That’ll brighten my day. Free coffee! It’s looking good from here! Move over world, a more vibrant version of me is coming through.

She then hands the coffee card back to me, along with my debit card, verbally articulating that she didn’t realize it was my “time for a free coffee” and it will have to be next time. My dreams are dashed. My soul is weary. Lord help me to make it through this day.

8:47 a.m. – Pull up to the second window of the drive thru. I have officially been awake for one hour and twenty minutes and the fact that I have not yet killed another human being on this planet is quickly becoming a miraculous feat of unknown comprehension, which may come to an immediate end.

I am then handed a GIGANTIC iced coffee, at which point I think to myself, “Well, perhaps I really need this large coffee WAY more than I thought I needed the medium I actually ordered.” I think fate (or the Marion County Imprisonment Prevention Team) has intervened. I roll up my window and drive away toward the legal bunker wondering how in the hell I’ll survive this day.

8:50 a.m. – I pull into the parking lot and shift my car into park.

8:52 a.m. – Make it into the building and sit the hell down. Wonder what kind of evil joke the universe is playing on me. Thank God for this ridiculously tall iced coffee sitting next to me. I wrap my fingers around the cold glass, throwing it up into the air like a cold bottle of Dasani discovered by a parched paralegal crawling across a barren desert in 120 degree heat. Begin to work.

8:55 a.m. – A friendly coworker enters my office (now known as the lair of the Dark One) and asks “Did you do your make-up different today?” After a long pause, I attempt to wield every ounce of willpower within me to suppress my (now) incredibly strong desire to harm any living, breathing person on this planet who is standing within 10 feet of me. I push all sharp objects back out of an arm’s reach on my desk (farewell letter opener, scissors, pointy pens)and begin to articulate what type of day I’m having, as I sit smack dab in the middle of hell’s runway.

What? You mean my make-up doesn’t look the same??? Nooooo. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I did a roll out, and rolled right on into the car in 15 minutes this morning, much like a frantic marine recruit on induction day.

I take a big sip of my iced coffee before continuing on with the rest of the story. She is attempting to hold in her laughter and gazing at me with empathetic eyes. I sense a slight twinge of personal preservation hiding beneath her smile. I can smell her fear, albeit laced with glimmers of sympathetic laughter.

Good thing I like her. She is standing behind enemy lines in the presence of an under-caffeinated, under-make-up’d, highly agitated lunatic. She departs my office.

9:15 a.m. – Receive an e-mail notification that our library books are due in three days. (Are you freaking kidding me? No.) Realize if I do not deal with this issue immediately, I will forget this e-mail ever existed, it will undoubtedly become buried in the place where e-mails go to die (my yahoo account), and I’ll be looking at the hefty fee of one quarter – multiplied by the 3,000 books Gavin has checked out of the library.

Great.

So I log onto my library account to do an auto-renew. Access denied. Do you know why? I don’t.

So now I’m just sitting at my desk, fully-annoyed, partially caffeinated, plotting how I will go about securing a small business loan in order to fund the 3,000 overdue library books fine, and wondering how I will manage not to kill people.

9:16 a.m. – Decide I can’t care about the stupid library books. Go to shove the uncooperative library card back into my Burberry wallet. Look down and realize my debit card is nowhere to be found. Nowhere.

Pull every single item out and realize it’s really not there. Panic.

Tell a co-worker my life is over. Panic some more.

Another co-worker walks by and peers into my office while loafing her way down the corridor, much like one of those zombies in “The Walking Dead.” She is likely wondering why I resemble a full-on-paper-shuffling-sorting-freak-on-crack, as I touch and retouch every single item in my bag, wallet, and possession and frantically spread items all across my desktop, with torpedoed eyes and a glazed-over-50-yard-stare, peering out from behind that wooden helm in the outer rung of paralegal hell with a frantic soul, no small business loan to bankroll my son’s new book collection, evil thoughts, and half an iced coffee.

9:18 a.m. – Walk out to my car. Open the door. See that blue debit card peering up at me from a secure spot on the floorboard.

Score 1 out of 3,000 for the paralegal team.

At this point, a small victory, but a major one. I am exhausted. There is not enough iced coffee in all of the world to extricate me out of this unscripted Seinfeld episode; one eliciting no royalties or laughs from my front row seat to the show.

Yep – 2 hours into my day, that’s where I found myself. No parent/teacher conference. No shower. No free iced coffee. No debit card. No library renewal. No sanity. No tolerance for stupid people. I’m absolutely certain you’ve found yourself in a similar situation on an unexpected day when a bad day makes its way to you in a bat-out-of-hell fashion, somewhere after “good morning” and along the day’s road paved with positive intentions.

It happens to all of us. The worst of us. The best of us. All of us in between. The next time you find yourself navigating a day like this one, know that you are not alone. We all have these days. Keep these thoughts in mind:

“Bad stuff happens. Sometimes it makes no sense at all. Sometimes it’s unfair. Sometimes, it just plain sucks. Bad stuff happens sometimes. Always remember that, but remember you have to move on somehow. You just pick your head up and stare at something beautiful like the sky, or the ocean, and you move the hell on.” – James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

“I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside.” – Wayne Dyer

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

“Long is the way and hard, that out of hell leads up to light.” – John Milton (My personal favorite – definitely a keeper. Let’s print that one now.)

“Carpe the hell out of this diem.” – Unknown

On a positive note, you better believe I will arrive at the office tomorrow as the full-on legal equivalent of Miss. America: fully-showered, with make-up flawlessly applied, impeccably dressed, and fueled on FREE iced coffee. (Yep – free coffee or a jail sentence). You can bank on that.

Even on a day from hell, there is always something bright just around the corner. If only I could round that last turn a little faster.

p.s.
Please send another ice coffee, a therapist, a make-up artist, 8 book shelves, and bail money immediately. And stop laughing.

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You ever had a day like this? If so, I wanna hear about it. Better yet, share your favorite coping mechanism for dealing with it, Sunshine.

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We’ll see you Monday!