Saturday, March 19, 2011

One of those days

Ever have a day when you just can't do anything right? I have them more often than I would like to admit, but yesterday was a doozy.

I started the day with high expectations. It was supposed be 80 degrees and sunny, and after the last two grueling weeks of work, I was planning to leave work early and enjoy some "me time" before I was supposed to drive 3 hours to Charleston, WV to conduct scholarship interviews this morning. I didn't pack a lunch because I was planning to leave by noon. It was going to be a good day.

When I got to work, the only thing on my agenda was to get our scholarship letters out the door. But as I was reviewing them, I kept finding mistakes, not big major mistakes, but I didn't want anything going out the door that wasn't perfect. I was frustrated with myself for not having caught the mistakes earlier, but better late than never. They got out the door on time. By then it was noon; maybe I wouldn't have all that much "me time" after all. But there were a few more things I had to take care of at the office first.

At which point, I discovered that I had neglected to communicate some information to the financial aid office. Information that was going to throw off our bottom line, a mistake that was NOT going to make my boss a happy man. I swallowed my pride and admitted my mistake and tried to rectify the situation as soon as possible. I wasn't getting out of the office anytime soon. So, instead of leaving work early, I worked late. Luckily, I found out as I was leaving that I actually HAD shared that information with financial aid, I just couldn't find a record of it. So I hadn't made a mistake, I had just made a fool of myself with my boss and possibly taken a few months off his life as he worried about the ramifications of my oversight. Ugh!

Fast forward a few hours, and I am finally on the road to West Virginia, hours behind schedule, but that's OK. Until I realize that I left all the materials for the next morning's interviews on my desk at the office. Dilemma. Do I turn around and add an hour and a half to my journey? I pulled off the highway and got on my Blackberry and realized that I had the documents in my email as an attachment to someone else. I would continue on, and just print them off when I got to the hotel. Back on the highway I go.

And then it starts getting dark. And it starts to rain. And I see the first TOLL ROAD sign. Crap! I had forgotten about the tolls! I pull off the highway again and check my wallet. $2.75. If memory serves, there are two $1.25 tolls - I should be fine. Well, memory DIDN'T serve. The tolls are $2.00 each. I paid the first toll and resolved to get off the first exit to find an ATM. (and before you suggest this, I KNOW that you can tell them you don't have money and they will give you a receipt and you have 10 days or so to pay the toll, but that is what I did in the fall when I went to WV, and wasn't able to pay the toll in that 10 day period because of all my travel and ended up paying nearly $30 for that $2.00 toll - I prefered to find an ATM, pay the extra $3.00 fee, and be done with it). So, next exit, I get off, but the gas station is several miles down the road. When I arrive, I discover that the gas station is boarded up and abandoned. Okay... The road I am on parallels the interstate, so I decide to keep going forward rather than double back - it is getting late and I don't want to waste any more time and perhaps I'll find an ATM.

OK, those of you from West Virginia, stop laughing at me. Not too many ATMS on these back roads in rural WV. An hour later (about 9:30 PM), I finally see lights that tell me civilization is closeby. I head towards the lights and find a gas station with an ATM and hey, look, there's the interstate. I get my $20 and get back on the highway, immensely proud of myself for keeping my cool and for having such a good sense of direction, and wouldn't you know it, I've driven so far that I have already passed the second toll booth.

10:15 PM, I arrive exhausted, starving and wet from having to traverse an entire packed parking lot (it is state basketball tournament time, after all, and all the hotels are booked solid) and inquire at the desk about the possibility of printing out the information I need for the morning's interviews in their business center. "Sorry, m'am, but our printers are down." I am too defeated to do anything but call my husband to let him know I've arrived, brush my teeth, and fall into bed. I'll just get up early, go down and use the business center computer and make notes for the interviews.

7:00 AM, both alarms and the wake up call are blaring simultaneously (after the day before, I wasn't taking any chances). I do some sit ups and push ups because today is a new day and I'm going to start it right, by golly! I shower, and put on my suit. Uh oh. The skirt and shoes are fine, but the jacket is a single button at the waist number, and I forgot to pack a camisole to wear underneath it. The twins are fully exposed, and I can't go ANYWHERE like that and not get arrested for indecent exposure. That's OK, there's a black undershirt in my karate bag in the car that will do. I slip into yesterday's jeans and head to the lobby to make the notes I need from the computer, and then head out to the car to get the shirt so I can get dressed. Not until I am halfway across the parking lot do I realize that I am driving a rental car and my karate bag is in MY car back home in Virginia, 3 hours away! For heavens' sake! Can I get a break!?!

I head back to the reception desk and note the time - 8:15 AM. I am supposed to be at the interviews at 8:45 AM and I can't go in my jeans and plaid shirt. I ask the receptionist if there is a WalMart of Kmart or any kind of MART that might be open at 8:00 AM where I can buy a camisole. "A what?" she asks. "A camisole." "What's a camisole?" "Uh, an undershirt?" (Sheesh! She's wearing one under her suit jacket and she doesn't even know what it is called!?!) I'm in luck, there's a Kmart just about 3 miles away.

I dash back upstairs to throw my stuff in my bag, rush back to check out and sprint across the parking lot. I went just a wee bit over the speed limit, and arrived at Kmart at 8:32. By 8:39 I was back in my car with the camisole, prepared to change in the car because that is the fastest way. But there's a guy taking a leisurely walk with his dog (in a parking lot!?!) so I decide to find a more secluded location to disrobe. As I head back towards the law offices where the interviews are to take place, I find a nice, secluded parking lot and slip out of my shoes and shimmy off my jeans and contort myself to clasp my skirt in the back. Before I change shirts, I glance around and think, "just to be safe, I should lay the seat down so no one sees me." I do, perform my Clark Kent routine, and sit my seat back up, surprising two men who were standing, gasping, hands on knees, catching their breath after finishing a run right next to my car. We stared at each other a moment, them in puzzlement and me in horror, and then I turned on the car and burnt rubber getting out of there. I arrived at the law offices at 8:46 AM, one minute late, not too bad! Especially since the interviews weren't scheduled to start until 9:00 and 8:45 was my own self-imposed deadline.

I park on the street and realize that it is only 1 hour parking, even on Saturday. No problem, I have change for the meter, and we have a break in exactly one hour so I'll come back out and pump in some more coins. I enter, laugh at my troubles with my co-interviewers and get down to work. And promptly forget all about putting more money in the parking meters.

Three hours later, I head back to my car, convinced that there will be a parking ticket waiting for me. Finally, luck was on my side - no ticket! I pumped a dime into the meter to buy myself 12 more minutes, grab my bag, and head back inside to change back into jeans before the 3 hour drive home. On my way back outside, my co-interviewers grab me to ask some questions, so my 12 minutes turn into more like 20. I finally make it back to the car, and wouldn't you know it, I got a parking ticket.