Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Day from Hell: Halfway Point…

Have you ever noticed that when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong?

It started yesterday, really: Arriving at the Mayo along about 2:00 p.m. for a CAT scan, I’m informed that the imaging machine has been up and down a couple of times during the day, so they’re running a little late.

How much “little late”?

Ahem…well, about three hours.

Holy fuck. It’s an hour’s drive, one way, out there: two hours through homicidal traffic, round trip. I save an hour of misery by depositing two hours in the Mayo’s misery machine.

Still, I do have other things to do with my time than twiddling my thumbs in a waiting room.

“Look,” say I. “I am not in pain and whatever ails me isn’t about to kill me. Why don’t we reschedule, and then you can move everyone who’s sitting out there looking patient/cranky/miserable up 15 or 20 minutes.”

“Oh, no no. It’s no problem. They’ve been catching up!”

Uh huh. READ “We are check-in staff, not scheduling staff.” Also known as “not my job.”

So I take a seat and wait for an hour or more. Luckily, I brought a yellow pad with which to doodle. I make some notes on the direction in which I intend to take the current mini-project.

Some people waiting there are clearly very sick (that, after all, is why you pay extra to go to the Mayo). I remain convinced that they should get priority, since they should not have to sit around till the cows come home to get attention.

An hour later, two of us get called in to a pre-examination waiting room. She’s one of the folks who is obviously, visibly, very ill. Very sweet, too. I learn, as she speaks through a paper face mask clearly intended to protect her from the contagion of her fellow waiting-room denizens, that she’s from Seattle and she has a husband who has manfully stood with her through a long and spectacularly difficult illness: he “retired” from his job to take care of her. This couple is decidedly not at retirement age. Another is a guy who is less visibly in pain, a sufferer of chronic kidney problems. He does not complain, but what he describes is something that has to be fairly excruciating. He is a Republican, but one with common sense. We get on well and if we were not at the Mayo Clinic would no doubt be solving the nation’s problems over several beers.

Finally I escape: yes, three hours late. Trudge across the Valley through rush-hour traffic (why do they call sitting in miles-long lines of cars a “rush”????). Bolt down a few bites of food, feed the dogs, and fly out the door to choir…for which I am totally not prepared.

BUT… minutes before I must race out, an email comes in from M’hijito. He has put his back out, big-time, and is beside himself a) with pain and b) with frustration that this comes just when he has arranged to take two days off work to enjoy life. Do I still have any of the droggas that I obtained during the Year of the Surgeries?

Well. Yes, I do. What he doesn’t know is that I have stashed them (where he cannot find them and take them away from me) to use as the key to my Final Exit, whenever it may be needed. Which could be…oh, very possibly right now, depending on the results from this CAT scan.


I also have certain other chemicals obtained in states where they can be purchased legally.

A first-aid kid assembled, I fly down to his house and find him…not there.

Yeah. So…where the f*** is he? I do not know. The house looks like…well, a bachelor pad. I leave the scene to your imagination, which will have to be fairly vivid to be up for the job. So I deposit the medicaments on the kitchen counter, find a piece of paper and (miraculously!) a pen, and drop a note to him in the middle of the living room floor directing him to the source of first aid. Then fly to choir, worrying that he may be at some “urgent” care center.

Later I learn he’s gone to a movie because, says he, he feels better sitting than laying down or standing up. Read “I do not want you to know about the girl I’m with.” Okay.

Moving on…

The light dawns this morning. If anything it is even murkier than it was yesterday. Hoooollleeee sh!t.

Roll out of the sack around 7 a.m., which is about when it gets light at this time of year.

Go to e-mail to check on the Son’s condition. No clue about that…but lo! Here’s an email from a client in Singapore demanding that I produce an estimate on a project we’ve discussed in passing: by 9:00 a.m. September 22, Singapore time.

By now it’s 10:30 p.m. Singapore time, December 21.

Estimate? On what? To my knowledge, I have not even seen his current project. I search incoming and sent e-mail. On the third go-round, I realize his co-author is another of my clients, and this individual has indeed sent me the article and its associated correspondence… As attachments to an e-mail that is a reply to an e-mail from me (itself a reply) that already contained an attachment. In other words, his attachment is in a message that already contained attachments.


I download these and find it is a large project.

It’s 9:00 before I get it figured out and calculate the costs plus the PayPal gouges and prepare a formal estimate that they can present to their institution.

BUT…I was supposed to have my car at Chuck the Wonder-Mechanic’s place at 9:00 a.m.

And I’ve forgotten to feed the dogs. Throw some food down and fly into the back of the house to wash the face,. brush the teeth, and and toss on some marginally presentable clothes. Haven’t had a chance to bolt down breakfast.

Fly back into the kitchen, pour some hot water over some coffee grounds in a French Press, slice a few bits of cheese to munch in transit. Step on a dog dish I’ve left in the middle of the kitchen floor. Twist my ankle, bruise my instep royally, but amazingly enough, fail to break the dish.

Swear like a sailor — a veteran sailor, nay, a pirate. The back door is open. The sweet little prissy little mother now living in Sally’s house hears this imprecation and exclaims in horror. F*** you, you twit, I think while limping back to the office to retrieve the car keys and the credit cards.

Along about 9:10, I leave the house, computer in tow — I hope to get some work done while sitting in Chuck’s waiting room, even though he doesn’t provide an Internet connection for the hoi or the polloi. Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner is already resident in the car, having broken down yesterday: the plan was to get him fixed at Leslie’s on the way home.

Turning east into the glaring sun, I cannot find my sunglasses. I search as best as I can while driving, and cannot find them. Sh!t…what could have happened to them? It’s not something I would’ve taken into the house…but failing to find them after much groping around, I figure that has to be what happened. Either that or the damn things fell out of the car in some parking lot.

Headed out of the neighborhood… I follow a route of back streets in order to avoid the spine-wrenching speed bumps and the tooth-grinding roundabouts that decorate the most direct feeder streets. At the corner of Neighborhood Lane North-South and Main Feeder Street East-West, I spot a cop car, lights flashing. Figure one of the locals has driven out in front of one of the crazy fools who speed across Main Feeder Street E-W, so slow down for what I expect to find is a fine wrecky-poo.

Nope. No wreck. Instead, it’s a cop and a civilian car and uniformed cops walking around. And there’s the resident of the rental house on the corner, out in her front yard in her bathrobe (it is a chilly morning), looking exceptionally unhappy.

Mm-hmmm. A Police Situation.

Over the past week or so, neighbors on the Nextdoor social network have reported several incidents where creeps sorry, strangers have shown up at the front door, knocked or rung the doorbell, and when confronted with the occupant, identified themselves in various transparently spurious ways. Painfully clear that these people are looking for opportunities to burgle. So I’m thinking that’s probably what happened here. Either that or one of the spouses took it upon him/herself to wallop the other one. Who knows?

Since I’m running so late, I’ve missed the worst of the rush hour and it takes only about half the expected time to arrive at Chuck’s. Of course, because now I am late, I’m told to get in line…meaning a one- to two-hour wait. That’s OK. Car mechanics are, by and large, convenable company.

Ensconced in Chuck’s …uhm…waiting room after having sponged another half-cup of coffee from the boys, I examine the bruised foot. Hurts, but it doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as expected.

Turn on the computer and consider what to do. Before leaving, I’d typed the notes I’d made at the Mayo yesterday into the work in progress; hit “save,” or so I thought. But don’t feel very creative and am worried about the Chinese math papers. So open the response to the reviewers and start to work on it in a desultory way.

Start to write a comment to Paragraph 2 when…ker-blankoooooh!!!! The file goes completely white and…yes…fucking Wyrd CRASHES, taking down the other two files that were open.

It is, as it develops, a major crash.

Manage to recover the program, but it takes another hour to recover the crashed goddamn files. The one I’d added data to and had saved seemed to have lost data. It “recovered” in several iterations, no two of which were identical — and all free of the most recently added passage. After much despair, I finally found — as by a fluke — a version that contained the data I’d entered at 7 a.m., suggesting it probably had retained the content I had entered earlier yesterday.

The Chinglish response to peer reviewers…not so much.

Fortunately, I’d only sifted through a couple of paragraphs of that thing. But every sentence that you have to do twice is a sentence that costs you money.

Chuck arrives, himself running late because his wife, who is very sick indeed, is having an exceptionally bad morning. {sigh}

Chuck and Mrs. Chuck are one of those fairy-tale couples who still, 50 years later, are still deeply, passionately in love. And when you hear Chuck describe their travails, you know that watching her suffer (unto what, at great length, will be her death) is even more painful to him than it is to her. You wish there was something that could be done, but you know there is not.

Selfishly enough, this does not help your outlook.

The men finish with the car. I search for my expensive prescription sunglasses one more time, before setting out on the roads again. No, I do not find them.

Northbound, the road is under construction (is there any street in Lovely Uptown Phoenix that is not torn up?). Finally make it to the Leslie’s pool store. Search for the expensive prescription sunglasses again. No, I do not find them.

Schlep Harvey in to be fixed. Find another piece of the disintegrating pool brush in his innards. Discuss cartridge filters with the beloved Leslie’s guy. While we’re chatting, he spots a shoplifter exiting.

This is so commonplace he doesn’t even rise to the bait. {sigh}

I do not mention to him that I’ve ordered a new cartridge filter from his competition, Swimming Pool Service and Repair (because they do not gouge me for a “trip charge,” or at least they are not forthcoming enough to admit that’s what they’re doing). Reflect on how extremely annoyed I am that a) they’re ripping me off for $1,250 for the privilege and b) Leslie’s is only charging $799 for such a filter.

Leslie’s, of course, is not advertising the installation charge, and so I feel pretty confident that the bottom line would be about the same. Still, I’m irked.

Drag the repaired Harvey out to the car, feeling happy not to be panhandled on the way. Search for the sunglasses again, thinking maybe they fell under the seats and got stuck in the exceptionally annoying narrow crevasse between the Venza’s seats and its exceptionally annoying credenza lash-up between the seats.

Back in the ‘hood, I head up Neighborhood Lane NS, retracing my back-roads route toward the house. Naturally I get behind a U.S. Postal Service truck!

Understand: the mail isn’t delivered in our parts until after 5:00 p.m. WTF is this guy doing here at this time of day? There’s not enough room to get around him, so I have to make a U-turn (a fairly elaborate maneuver on a narrow street) and go back down to an east-west neighborhood lane, make my way to Feeder Street NS, and dodge fellow nut-cases and confused workmen to get back to the Funny Farm.

It’s almost noon by the time I get home. All I’ve had for breakfast is a slice of cheese, one decent cup of coffee, and a great deal of caffeinated swill.

Fly into the house, turn on the computer. Find response to early-morning worried e-mail from M’hijito. The high-test addictive drug I delivered scares the bedoodles out of him. He declines to swallow it. I suggest he cut a pill in two or that he try the marginally legal alternative also delivered to his precincts last night. And I cannot figure out how to demand that he return the H-T AD without revealing that I want it for suicidal purposes, having determined not to go through a helluva lot more Healthcare Bullshit in the future. Some things, you simply cannot explain to anyone under the age of about 65 or 70. Especially if they’re your kid.

Drag the computer and Harvey out of the car, let the dogs into the backyard, retrieve two pieces of leftover pizza from the fridge and set them into the toaster oven to warm. Pour a glass of wine.

On impulse, search the car again. This time I finally find my spectacularly overpriced shades: under the choir binder in the passenger seat…where I’ve already searched twice, fruitlessly. The only explanation is that the damn things dematerialized the first two times I searched for them.


So it goes. A long day consisting of annoyance after frustration after socially delicate predicament after grief after annoyance.

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Author: funny

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  1. Sounds like a doozy! Tomorrow is another day, right. re: the sunglasses, clearly the gremlins put them back after you went in the house. Only possible explanation. 😉

    Today has not–so far–been a bad day, but it is the first since Sunday that I have not been beset by fever, chills, and a racking cough that just wouldn’t quit. Plague, I assume. Or flu. Whichever is going around.

    Pizza and wine sound like a good end to a lousy day. Here’s hoping Part II of the day is an improvement!

  2. That. Sounds. Horrific. So sorry.

    About those glasses: A close friend, who’s 74, said that recently she left her computer on the bed. Went into the bathroom and when she came back, the computer was GONE. Hadn’t fallen off the bed, wasn’t on the dresser, wasn’t anywhere.

    She knew, she absolutely KNEW, that she had not taken it out of the room. Yet she searched her whole house. Nothing. The doors were still locked. No one could have gotten in in those two minutes she was in the can anyway.

    And when she went back upstairs, wondering what the heck she should do, she spied the computer. Sitting right where she’d put it earlier.

    Now we’ve begun to refer to this as her poltergeist. If she can’t find something or I misplace something while visiting, we no longer have to take responsibility for our own actions because clearly this is not our fault.

    I hope tomorrow is worlds better for you.

    • This is pretty typical.

      Then there was the time an expensive pair of prescription glasses (are any Rx glasses NOT expensive?) apparently got set down on a rarely used knit bed-throw. After not days but weeks of searching, I arranged to get a new Rx and buy a new pair of glasses.

      Finally happened to pick up the throw off the bedroom bureau drawers, preparatory to … doing somethingorother with it. Felt something hard in there…unfolded, dug around: and found the glasses stuck in the weave of the damn throw! How they got there, I have no idea. Did I look right at them? Who knows? But I surely am capable of looking right at something and not seeing it. That would be one of the skills we develop with ripe experience…

  3. Totally understand the pills stashed for “just in case.” I have a similar plan. Just tell your son you want them back for any future surgeries.