Posted by: jevcat | June 2, 2012

Day of Disaster and Story

It was a day that would have done Murphy proud – or made him cringe.  It was a Super Monday on a Friday, in a short week that shouldn’t have had a Monday at all.

Having spent all day Thursday thinking it was Friday, I woke up yesterday to the unpleasant realization that it hadn’t been, and no, I could not sleep in, I had to get up for work.  Worse, although it was payday (good) there were some bills due that I had to pay (bad), one of which would involve fighting over a charge (worse) – all before work.  So I stumbled out of the bedroom to the computer, and, just routine, checked my bank account.  Not only was the automatic deposit for my paycheck not showing, I had a negative balance.  WHAT????  Life is such that I had calculated – literally, I used a calculator – the amount of money in the checking account down to the last penny.  Apparently, for me a calculator is not enough.  Frantically scrabbling for my checkbook and calculator, I re-calculated last week’s numbers, and yes, somewhere I had punched in the wrong number, making the last several entries wrong and, instead of a balance of $16, I was in the red for $75, not counting the $35 bounced check fees that had not yet been assessed (not to mention that, to add insult to injury, the two overdrawn checks had only hit the bank the day before).  To quote Charlie Brown:  “Augh!”

And – PANIC! – my paycheck wasn’t there.  I hit Refresh.  Nothing.  Glanced at the clock, hit Refresh again.  Nothing.  Ex-ed out of the tab, opened a new one, logged in again.  Nothing.  Glanced at clock again – getting late.  Tried Refresh one more time, then went in to make lunch to take to work and breakfast for the boat, periodically crossing back to the computer and hitting Refresh.  Nothing.  I set up the espresso stuff for my Beloved, hit Refresh.  Nothing.  I start packing the bread, cottage cheese, fruit, hummus, carrot and celery sticks into my tote bag, hear my Beloved’s painful, slow morning progress from bedroom to bathroom (he is in the midst of a bad flare-up of his condition) and nobly resist the temptation to immediately run over to him, hysterically jumping up and down, waving my arms, and announcing the twin disasters.  I try the computer once more:  SUCCESS!  My paycheck has arrived!  Technology is wonderful!  I try to pay the bill on line and find a glitch resulting from a previous misunderstanding has not yet been cleared up (technology is only wonderful when it works – my feelings about modern technology resemble those of Ghandi when asked what he thought about Western civilization:  “It would be a good idea.”).  Frantically I scribble out a paper check, hunt for a stamp for the envelope, and scrawl the phone number on back of an envelope and shove all in my purse so I can mail the check and call and tell them it is in the mail.  I glance at the clock:  I have now missed the ferry I wanted to get.

I kiss my Beloved, tell him (probably too soon) what has happened, glance at the clock – getting late for the next boat – and race to the kitchen to slam my tea for the boat into the nuker, race to the bedroom, throw my clothes for the day onto the bed, race into the bathroom for morning ablutions, at the end of which I reach for a Q-tip and, in the process, jostle a bottle of Revlon Wild Lemon perfume, one of two that recently emerged from the bottom of a carton at back of a closet, along with assorted other detritus from my youth not seen in decades (curious if it was still made, I Googled and ran across ads for “Vintage” Wild Lemon; sigh).  I watch as it totters, tumbles, and hits the tiles with a spectacular smash, smithereens and miniscule shards flying up and scattering across the narrow bathroom, including into the cats’ food and water dishes.  The refreshing scent of lemon fills the bathroom.  Feeling a slight sting, I look down and see a tiny drop of blood emerge from a spot on my foot.  So much for that next boat.

The survivor. It still has the price sticker on it that says “Korvettes” — which for New Yorkers will tell just HOW “vintage” it is. I feel old.

Down on all fours, I cleaned up, sniffling with self-pity, fighting off my Beloved who kept insisting he could do it despite my pointing out that, with the flare up, he is having enough to do just staying vertical.  Won that one, lost the argument about me wanting to walk his service dog for him.  Band-aided the two nicks on my foot (found the second while tending to the first), grabbed my now-lukewarm tea, and raced down the hill to make a boat 45 minutes after the one I’d planned on.  Of course, it was late and I could have sauntered down in leisurely fashion and still made it.

Took the subway instead of my preferred bus because of the time factor, but decided to splurge and buy a raspberry corn scone and mini-sticky bun at Eli’s in Grand Central Market on the way from train to office.  I picked up the scone, deposited it in the bag, which it promptly dropped straight through the bottom of and onto the floor.  At this point, my sense of humor would normally have kicked in, but it didn’t, so I knew the situation was dire.  Fortunately the cashier had seen the whole thing and just told me to take another.  I paid with a $20, shoved the bills and coins of change into my slacks pocket and headed for the office.  Shortly after arriving, I put my hand into my pocket and discovered that, while the coins were still there, the $15 in paper money had vanished, and nearly cried again, feeling as though it were divine retribution for having spent money on pastries.

But then my part-time assistant came over, I started to tell him the tale of my sorrows, and, when I got to the part about the scone’s long descent, my sense of humor finally kicked in and I started laughing.

All of which is a probably over-long way of getting to the insight:  human beings are story-tellers.  I’ve always known I was, but it’s not just me.  Scholars, anthropologists, and philosophers have spilled much ink (and nowadays used many electrons or whatever) in trying to define what makes us human, but I think that this is it:  we tell stories.  And our stories can make us laugh at and with ourselves.  We now know animals can convey information, sometimes quite complex information, but (so far as we can determine) they don’t tell stories – healing, laughter-inducing, joy-and-pain-sharing stories.  Perhaps all that makes us human, and all we have achieved, began with the first human to say, “Let me tell you a story.”  Perhaps all of Creation is God’s way of telling a story.

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Responses

  1. Aaaakkkkkk what a morning! Glad you were able to laugh in the end. I went to a funeral yesterday (dad’s girlfriend) thought it would be a couple of hours….ended up being all day!

  2. Oh My…haven’t we all had days exactly like that one! What a wonderful account of a “disaster day”. Thankyou!

    • Thank you, Stephanie. We all have them, but if we can laugh, we’re ahead of the game.

  3. ….. love your insights Jan ………… which reminds me of a story …….. Heh, heh! Dan

  4. So true!


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