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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Perfect Recipe For Disaster

There have been worse disasters. The Hindenburg, for one. Great photo, big bummer. I certainly do not want to make light of anyone who has begun their day by stepping in a proverbial pile of dogshit, but I may have had one of the worst starts to a day in my entire life this morning. Granted, I thankfully have not had to start any of my days in a hospital or bomb shelter and relatively few in a police station or lock-up, but as far as my middling life goes, this was a pure fucking drag.

I got up, showered and got dressed as I would get on any other unassuming working day, ready to drive to the office and put my time in at the Fortune 500 Salt Mine. I gathered my things and checked my pockets and as a last-minute thought, grabbed the garbage from under the counter to toss in the dumpster on my way out. I locked the door, tossed the garbage and went to my pocket for my car keys.

Where were my car keys?

It had been the bulge of my cell-phone I felt in the pocket of my jeans and not my car keys. I was effectively locked out of both car and apartment, just like that. Just like that. It was still dark outside, as I glanced from the car to the balcony of my 2nd story apartment. My mind raced, as best a mind can race at six o-clock in the morning. I can shimmy up and over the balcony, I thought. Or, I can call Taggart, have him come and get me and borrow his car and pick up the other key from Allie this afternoon. Of course, calling Taggart was the easiest option, since I had my phone and all.

I began to climb.

It would be difficult for me to tell you how uncomfortable it is for a 51 year-old, overweight, foul-tempered man with high blood pressure and a knack for irony to have to scamper up the side of a building and onto a second-floor landing like a retarded lemur monkey before he has even had his morning java.

But I will try.

It was with agonizing slowness that I mounted the railing that bordered the first-floor stairs. Agonizing slowness and hard-earned trepidation. I have a well-developed sense of imagination that allows me to visualize any mishap - when I pull out of my parking lot, I can not only picture the dark-blue pickup truck that will T-Bone me in short order, I can hear the deadly crash of metal and feel the impact in my mind. It's a gift. As I searched for purchase like a normal man climbing one of those rock-walls that the young daredevils maneuver in their snug, safe harnesses, I could only imagine the thud of my head on the concrete below. It wasn't as fun as it sounds.

I hauled myself up and over, slowly - huffing, puffing and cursing like a one-armed longshoreman. But I made it and let myself in. Jesus, I thought. If I can get up and over and in so quickly - a young, spirited thief could probably do it in a quarter of the time - with a smile on his young, spirited kisser. That thought alone would have led most normal people to lock the door to the balcony. Not me, however. Who knows, I may have needed to repeat the act ten minutes later and would prefer not to have to throw patio furniture through the door to gain entry. In fact, I would prefer the young, spirited thieves not to do so, either.

So, I eventually made it in, then out of my apartment, keys firmly in hand. The fingers of my right hand were numb from dangling my carcass from the balcony railing like Sylvester Stallone in "Cliffhanger", only not as nimbly or gracefully.

I got in my car and started it up and began the drive to work, beginning to marvel at my amazing feat of daring, even as I wondered if I would ever get my breath back, if I was having a stroke and what in the fuck was wrong with my fingers, anyhow...

Then the lights showed up in my rear-view mirror. I was being pulled over. Really? I thought. All this before 6:30am? What the fuck? After being berated through a loudspeaker ("GET OFF THE FREEWAY - GET OFF THE FREEWAY"), I got off the freeway and was promptly asked by a sourpuss officer of the law, who was apparently shucked off because he was on-duty at 6:30 in the morning, if I had any firearms in the vehicle. "No," I said, wondering if I had any firearms in the vehicle.

He then proceeded to write me a $585.00 ticket for tags that had been expired since April. "What?" I asked, wondering if I had any firearms in the vehicle. "I usually get notified by e-mail and I go on and pay it..." He shrugged, looking at me as if I had neglected to check on my feeble mother, who had then, on the verge of starvation, stumbled down a flight of stairs searching for a hand-canned jar of peaches in the cellar, when they should have been kept upstairs in the pantry, so Mother could reach them in an emergency. Or something like that. "I don't think about my tags much," I offered. "I mostly get in my car and start it up and drive away - unless I've locked the keys in my second floor apartment and had to scramble up and over my balcony to retrieve them... I don't check the plates and say to myself 'phew - we're good this month', you know?" He didn't and I signed and drove on to work and that's how my morning began.

I dare you to top it.

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