Bits and pieces from the astoundingly normal life of Paul Carlisle Kletchka

The past few weeks have been pretty nuts. With 40 percent of our team gone, work has been trying to say the least. With the holiday season and a 10-day trip to visit family in the Midwest, home life has been a bit scattered. Thursday afternoon, it all seemed to culminate in one of those days that defies explanation, that is so utterly over-the-top you must laugh at the absurdity of it or be knocked cold off your feet and kept down for far longer than a 10 count.

To a degree, I expected it. I had an appointment to give blood at 3:30. Call it Murphy’s Law, call it the universe’s cruel joke, call it what you will, but I always know that if I have planned something that requires me to be out of the office, things will go wrong – usually very wrong. So I will often try to plan my day in such a way that I can avoid the obvious pitfalls. That tactic was working on Thursday and I was feeling pretty good about myself. And that was probably my big mistake…

I had a computer to deliver to our other building, so I planned to do it right before my appointment, as the bloodmobile was just across the street from there. My lunch was a little later than I’d hoped, but at least I was able to eat all of it. And a very nice person brought me chocolate-covered peanut brittle earlier in the day. I thought it would be a nice finish to my lunch right before I headed out the door, so I decided to eat a piece. I think that one piece turned out to be 7. I also think the person who made that stuff must have used crack as an ingredient. Anyway, stuffed full of yummy addictive candy goodness, I went to my car with the computer and headed out to the other building. I made my delivery, took care of a couple other issues, then headed across the street to give blood.

Despite the fact that my appointment was in the last time slot and things were obviously winding down at the bloodmobile, I was strangely energized when I entered the room. I read the donor info packet, sat down, and waited for my interview. When I was called, I headed over to the screened-off tables with a little extra spring in my step. The nurse took my pulse and my temperature. To my horror, she told me the pulse was 102 (usually 70-80) and my temp was 99 degrees (usually 97). OK, so I’d been running around in the other building while wearing my coat – that had to be it. She said we’d go through the rest of the interview and check again after we were done. Then my blood pressure was high – well, high for me. Not high enough to cause concern, though. Then it was time to prick my finger for the iron test. When she squeezed my finger after pricking it, blood came out like a little, tiny fountain – so fast that I think a drop or two fell on the floor. I joked that they could just milk my finger for the pint of blood instead of putting a needle in my arm.

So, at the end of the interview, she took my pulse again. It was 100. I was again horrified, but apparently 100 is the highest your pulse can be for the Red Cross to allow you to give blood. I expressed my concern and the nurse asked me if I was under stress. Well, yes, but I didn’t think it was THAT bad. Then she asked if I’d eaten anything recently. Well, I had some… chocolate… covered… peanut brittle… DOH! How much? Oh, only 7 freakin’ pieces of it. Um, yeah. Can you say sugar high?

So, I gave my blood – laying on the table next to my boss’s boss, while I quipped that it was really his fault my pulse was so high and he told me about his computer woes. Good times. Next was my drink and snack, then I left. On the way back to my building, I stopped to check out another department’s holiday party. I have friends who work there, I’m not just a sugar junkie. Nevertheless, I was presented with two of the most delectable cupcakes ever made before scurrying back to my office. And that was when things really started to go downhill…

It was about time to leave for the day, so I flitted around my office, turning off computers and equipment, made one last check of my e-mail before logging off of my computer, and started to pack my stuff up to go home. The phone rang. When I answered, it was a faculty member that I’m quite fond of. She’s always busy and Thursday was no exception, as she was just getting around to resolving a problem we’d discussed the day before. But it wasn’t working out the way it should. I had to run down to her office to take care of it, and when we were done I looked at my watch. 5:10, and I needed to go and pick up the kiddo. And now, having tanked up on fluids for the blood donation, I had to make a stop at the restroom. When I flew back in to my office, the phone rang. I figured it was Lovey, wondering what was going on and if she needed to pick up the little one, so I answered without first looking at the caller ID. Nope, it was the faculty member again. New problem. Network problem. And as I tried to figure it out, it magically resolved itself. So I hung up, maniacally grabbed my stuff and ran out of the building. I got in my car and headed toward the day care center. It was 5:20, and I was so late I was getting flustered.

As with every other place on campus, parking at the day care center is in short supply and high demand. I saw one last spot open and headed for it. As I began to pull in to it, I was shocked to see a baby’s car seat right there on the pavement in front of me. I stopped, peered at it, and realizing that there was no one in it, began to slowly pull ahead. *HONK* I stopped again, looked around, and seeing nothing, started to pull forward. *HONK HONK* WTF was that? *HONK HONK HONK HONK* Fine! I won’t park here! So I backed out of the spot, pounced on another one, and got out of the car ready to yell at some chowderhead for thinking they could save a parking space with a goddamned car seat. But as I walked toward that space, I watched as a car smacked right into the car seat. Obviously, safety was not that person’s goal, so I decided my policy of “choosing my battles carefully” dictated that this was one to forfeit and I headed for the door of the day care.

One of the things I really like about our day care center is that the door is locked from the outside. To get in, whoever is sitting at the reception desk must press a button to open the door. There’s also a card swipe you can use if you’re “on the list,” but it’s very rare that anyone has to use the card swipe, because there’s always someone at the desk. When I got to the door on Thursday, the usual person wasn’t sitting there, but I knew the person who was there would recognize me. She looked right at me, but didn’t open the door. Then I noticed that there was a child’s parent in the entryway – between the first and second doors. She was waving at the keeper of the button, who looked right at her but still didn’t open the door. I did a little back-and-forth movement to try and get her attention, and she again looked straight at me then TOOK OFF HER FUCKING GLASSES AND BEGAN RUBBING HER TEMPLES. I yanked my billfold out of my pocket, jerked my ID out of its holder, slammed it through the cardswipe, then stomped my way in once the door had opened. The other parent thanked me with a tone of “what the hell just happened here?” as we both gave a questioning glare to the person at the desk. No “oops,” no “sorry,” not even a “kiss my ass” was uttered by her.

By now, it was nearly 5:30. I half walked-half ran down to my daughter’s classroom, steaming over just how late I was. I walked in to the classroom, looked at my darling little munchkin, and said, “Hi! Let’s go home and see Mama!” to which she responded, with a rather thoughtful look on her face, “No.” She flat-out refused to put her sweater on, and getting the coat on her was like trying to dress an octopus with restless leg syndrome who repeatedly yells at you, “I just don’t want to put my coat on!” with a few giggles thrown in for good measure. I finally got her bundled up and we made our way to the front door. Still not a peep from the keeper of the button, but I had to keep my expletives shoved way down inside to protect the children.

By the time I convinced my child to sit in her car seat, I had to pee again. Jeebus! My bladder’s bigger than Rhode Island, how much fucking water did I drink? So I drove home as quickly as I safely could. Once there, I was informed upon trying to get the Monkey out of her car seat that “I just want Mama to do it.” Somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard Roseanne Barr saying “This is why some animals eat their young,” and that was when my better nature won out and I started to laugh at what I’d been through. All of those little things had nickled and dimed my patience to near bankruptcy, but I’m so glad that I could step back for just a moment and see the rather Abbot & Costello-esque humor in it all and have a good chuckle at my own misfortune. If that’s the worst day I have this month, I should consider myself fortunate…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s