Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Strangers with Admonitions

Elliot squawked and laughed his maniacal, hyena laugh into the darkness of our bedroom, and that can only mean one thing: I had hit the snooze too many times. Elliot is the radio personality I reluctantly invite into my half-consciousness each morning, and he begins his day at precisely 5:48. So if he's on, I'm not supposed to be in bed. I hear Elliot most mornings.

"Ow!" I groaned upon receiving a sharp knee to the back.

"What happened to 5:30, man?" The Boy mumbled into my hair.

"12:30 happened to 5:30, back off." I referenced the ungodly hour we got to bed after unpacking from our gloriously long weekend, but he was right. I had a doozy of a day ahead of me that I had dreaded for the entire 10 1/2-hour drive that usually takes 5 hours, so I got up.

As I walked briskly in the cold to my car two blocks away and an hour and a half later, a black dog lunged away from her owner, who was trying to unlock his front door, and right across my path. Her retractable leash stretched in front of me, then encircled me. Attempting to free myself from just such an entanglement on the beach two years ago left me with a scar on the back of my knee, so this time I didn't move.

"I'm so sorry," he said, a face full of freckles under a backwards baseball cap. "Zoe, come on." He called her and she wound around again. I just stood there dumbly until he wrangled her. "I'm really sorry," he said.

"It's okay. Have a good day," I tried to smile.

"You too," he said as I walked away, then, calling after me down the sidewalk, "I hope you have fewer obstacles."

And that's where it all took a turn.

I won't bore you with all the details, but let me sum up.

Me: "Hi, can you please transfer these files from point A to point B so I may send them to the printers?"

They: "Did you fill out the paperwork? Did you get the guy to sign it who is on vacation until past your deadline? Did you talk to the person who is away from her desk all day? Did you wait at your desk for half the day after printing the nearly 500 pages that, previously unbeknownst to you, need to go through a post-review pre-printing review? Did you contact 'finance focals' in three different time zones to ask the same question without getting an answer?" And this is just
a sampling.

I had told the man who sits by me about my strange encounter in the morning, and he witnessed the veritable ropes course I encountered all day.

"Did you get a good look at the guy?" He said, straightfaced. "Are you sure he was even a real person?"

I'm tempted to lurk around his house to see if I run into him again. Or maybe I should hide? Who knows what my ominous, fortune cookie-esque neighbor might say next time.

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