I define “craptastic days” as an unbelievable series of events which come together to break down the individual’s psyche. On those days, I am hanging on by the thinnest thread until mentally, I am on a cold cement floor curled into the fetal position. The moment right before the thread completely unravels, something resembling redemption happens. A kid comes to me, gives me kisses, a picture they drew for me, a hug or just randomly tells me they love me and it makes the whole day worth while.
The song ‘Don’t really know me’ by Snowden plays silently in my head the entire day. I knew I was in for it when 10 minutes before Cecilia and I had to leave the house for her therapy sessions, Abby and Phoebe begged to come with me so we could “do school” while in the waiting room. Right. They NEVER want to do school…especially in the waiting room of Cecilia’s therapy.
As Cecilia made a B-line for the upstairs to get her coveted mini mouse doll for the umpteenth time that morning, the two older sisters casually informed me, they, “didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and…can we stop by the grocery store to pick up some pop-tarts.”
There it was.
Despite my constant
nagging reminding them about pop-tart’s complete lack of nutrients, high sugar content, and their general inability to satiate them…I acquiesced to their tactics.
“Let’s remain calm and maintain some sense of sanity…while minimizing eminent disaster” is the mantra I kept repeating to myself.
I managed to get everyone out the door. Acknowledging the speed limit, we quickly made it down our street. Two stop lights later, I am pulling into the un-named grocery store’s parking lot.
Knowing I’m on a tight timeline, I am going over in my head the series of events which need to take place
1. I have to QUICKLY run in and grab some generic box of pop-tarts
2. Make it to therapy without going over the speed limit.
Therapy is a 5 minute drive from my house. The grocery store is two minutes away. Ah the benefits of living in the city. So if I have 10 minutes, I should be able to get there within the narrow time frame. Really, how hard can that be?
FLW (famous last words) folks, FLW.
Steps away from the automatic front door, I realize I don’t have my “special” grocery store card. Who cares, right? Just buy the damn thing. I don’t need a discount on $2.99.
So when I answer the cashiers, “Ma’am, do you have your members card” with my, “Oh darn I forgot it” she was scrambling to find a piece of paper and pen to scribble my number down. I repeatedly told her, “It’s ok I don’t need a card for the pop tarts…I’m running late, I have an appointment in like 8 minutes”. Before I can finish, she seized my computer screen and ran to customer service to “LOOK UP” my phone number while yelling “it’s ok Ma’am, it will just take a second”.
I stood there, red-faced, furious, sweating of course and pissed that we are going to be late for Cecilia’s appointment. Amazingly enough she made it back pretty quickly from the grocery store’s hidden archaic machine just in time to type my ten digit pass code into the computer….and wouldn’t you know it, those pop tarts didn’t qualify for any kind of discount what-so-ever. She looked at me and had the nerve to seize my computer again only to suggest I go and pick out another box of pop tarts that were on sale.
In a rare moment of personal strength, I just looked at her and let my furrowed brow give her the answer she was refusing to hear.
SIDE NOTE: When I was in my undergrad at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, we studied the Alexander vocal technique. As a freshman we were encouraged to carry around famed vocal coach Patsy Rodenburg’s ‘The Need for Words’. It was an integral part of our curriculum and considered to be “the bible” of protecting your voice.
Contrary to my studies at UNCSA, there was no need for words in that moment. Turns out, sometimes a simple blank face will communicate exactly what your inner dialogue is. She nervously smiled and said, “No you probably don’t want to go get another box do you…that’s right…you did say you were in a hurry.”
Once again, as I’m checking out, the screen flashed its big bold-faced word in size 20.5 font “COUPONS” with a big green Yes button and an even bigger red NO button. I gently and somewhat sarcastically extended my forefinger on my right hand and pushed the giant “NO” with its 19.5 font.
Of course, you could probably guess what happened next. If your thinking “Oh no, did the printer run out of paper?” You’d be correct.
I mean come on…when my luck goes down hill it plummets into the black abyss. There is no piece of toilet paper gently swaying side to side on an imaginary pillow lined staircase with blue skies in the background. Nope. My toilet paper spontaneously combusts into an enormous fireball and hurdles itself into the cavity of despair.
“I don’t need my receipt” I gently inform her and wouldn’t you know she comes back with, “Are you sure, It won’t take long I promise”. “No that’s ok…have a great day!” I yell. Before she can complete her, “Thank you for visiting with us today” I was out the door and waiving like the true derelict I am.
I clumsily shoved myself in the car and chucked the pop tarts in Abby’s general direction.
As I was responsibly pushing 3 miles beyond the city speed limit, I nervously acknowledged the police officers passing me in the opposite lane.
We were in fact 5 minutes late. I was able to sign in, but there was a long line of parents in front of me so I waited for the 15 minutes it took for the line to dissipate. As I approached the desk, the receptionist who jokes with me every single week about how, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…this new system we are learning is so complicated” picked up the ringing phone and was once again distracted.
I sat back down and waited another 5 minutes. By this time I was completely pissed. Twenty minutes have come and gone and Cecilia is still in the middle of the room dancing to the music in the current commercial on the waiting room tv.
Finally the anger propels me out of my seat and I approach the receptionist who had finally gotten off the phone, and I said, “We were 5 minutes late, I acknowledge that but it has been 20 minutes now and I personally don’t feel we should have to pay for the 30 minutes she didn’t have therapy.”
Bracing herself for battle, she squinted her eyes and said, “Oh no, I think we forgot to call you last week to let you know your OT was on vacation this week.” I calmly smiled and verbally affirmed her goof with a, “Yep, you forgot to call me.” To which she made that face where you stretch your mouth in a downward frown and attempted to offer a sincere apology.
Since CC’s next appointment was in 5 minutes I just decided to continue to wait. We made a trip to the bathroom, washed her hands, and by the time we returned to the waiting room, it was time to send her off to her session. With 30 minutes to spare and KNOWING it always takes a full 15 minutes to pay the bill, I just requested to go ahead and pay for her session at that moment.
Of course the receptionist delivered her usual, “Oh this new system we are implementing is so confusing…I guess you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks can you?” In my head I answer with a confident, “No, you really can’t.” But in reality, I just smile like I usually do and signed the little receipt and calmly set the pen down on the ledge and returned to my seat with the explosion in my brain on standby.
Obviously we didn’t get any school work completed in the waiting room. By the time I finished paying the bill, Cecilia was five minutes from finishing her session. Luckily, the rest of the day carried on without any major upsets. I almost reached the mental fetal position, but looking back, it didn’t fully qualify for a “craptastic” day. When we arrived home for lunchtime, Phoebe June came to me with a hug and kiss to let me know how much she loves me. Abby voluntarily completed her school work and Cecilia played quietly in her kitchen for a whole hour.
And just like that, the stress flew out of my body. I narrowly avoided a full-blown craptastic day.