Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Friday Afternoons & Saturday Mornings

A few months ago, a large stack of satellite image poster maps of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier area mysteriously showed up on what is typically my desk in what is typically my cubicle in Corning. They were covered in red and blue stickers with meticulously hand drawn legends along the margins denoting their representation of values in millions and tens of millions of dollars in investment money in different zoning areas. If you are somewhat curious as to what this means, then I can completely relate, because I was curious too. Unfortunately, I have no idea who put them there, or what they mean, and their only relevance to this story is that they were still sitting there last Friday afternoon when I somehow knocked a cup of coffee over on my desk.

The initial three nanoseconds of slow-motion horror at what I had done turned to relief when I realized 1. the cup had fallen away from my computer and 2. the lid had remained on, greatly reducing the amount of coffee spilled. Then back to horror when 3. I realized the cup had instead landed on the above mentioned satellite image maps, and 4. in the same instant the lid completely popped off letting the entire volume of black coffee inside spill out.


Rushing to the kitchenette––while attempting to look like I wasn't in any hurry at all––I grabbed a roll of paper towels, nonchalantly sprinted all-out in an inconspicuous manner back across the office and placed one between each layer of coffee soaked map attempting to draw the hot, acidic liquid back out. But the damage was done. Upstate New York now has a new Great Lake.

After leaving the office, and apologizing to the office manager/receptionist who assured me that it was no big deal, I drove 25 miles south to my other cough, mumble something about the weather, sort-of job, in the kitchen of the local up-scale dining establishment.

Now, it was something of a point of amazement to me that in the dozens of 6 hour shifts I'd spent there over the past couple months, and the thousands and thousands of dishes I'd populated with food, washed or stacked, I hadn't broken one. That night though, on the very last tray brought in from the dining area around 10pm, it happened. I chipped a martini glass. Sure, no one saw it. Sure, it was one in two and a half months. But still.

Streak broken.

Right about then, a friend/co-worker unexpectedly invited me to her birthday party that night. If life were a movie, this would probably be one of those obvious moments where, based on the day to that point, you'd be yelling at the screen: "Don't do it!" "Don't go into that dark room by yourself!" "Don't turn your back on the vampire!" "Don't marry that heart-beat!" Life is not a movie though, and two hours later into the night, instead of being home, asleep, where my potential to destroy things was limited, I was driving to a house in a town I'd barely been in before, with a bunch of other people I'd barely met before.

Over the course of the night, which went till the wee hours of the morning, I drove over a hammock, spilled more things, knocked over a ladder or something, and nearly set my host's kitchen on fire. Now, I was by no means the only person who spilled or knocked something over, and everyone, I think, understandably blamed it all on my by then, relatively affected condition. The truth though, I think had more to do with the natural continuation of the day I was having.

Fortunately, nothing really bad happened. I woke up around 7 curled up on an overstuffed living room chair with the blue glow of a TV screen that had long since run out of anything to play staring me in the face across a room now strangely vacant except for someone else sprawled on another couch. I quickly ran through the mental inventory I long ago developed for such situations: Am I alone? Check. Am I fully clothed? Check. No tastes in my mouth that I cannot readily account for? Check.

Satisfied, I arose and slipped, triumphantly, out the door to my car––which was no longer on the hammock. On the way home I stopped for a leisurely Saturday morning bagel at Dunkin' Donuts, triumphantly, and then arrived back, at my own living room around 8am, where I sat down on my couch, triumphantly, with the chemistry textbook I've been working through for the past three weeks. And then I realized:

I'd forgot my jacket.

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