1. You whack at the alarm clock, fully intending to get another 10 minutes of sleep, and the snooze bar snaps off the clock and flops under the bed. And now the alarm won’t turn off at all.
2. There isn’t a single piece of clothing in your closet that speaks to you in any way. You’ve worn everything a hundred times and the thrill is gone, especially that growing section of items known as “maybe I can fit into that again one day”.
3. You go to make coffee, then remember that you were supposed to buy more. Last night at the supermarket. When you were standing in the coffee aisle. Trying to remember what you were supposed to buy. So you bought Cheez-Its instead and hoped that was right thing.
4. You get in the car and the gas tank is empty. Oh, yeah. Forgot about that, too. Whoopsie. Now you’ll have to stop at that nasty gas station on the corner that you normally avoid because it smells like feet, and the guy at the counter thinks that belching is a form of communication. Yay.
5. The traffic lights are blinking red and no one knows how to behave, honking and not waiting their turn and generally being asshats. At six consecutive intersections. Like the city council decided that your part of town wasn’t worth the maintenance and they gave themselves a pay raise instead.
6. You walk into the workplace and your manager immediately hits you with “an opportunity”. Before you can even set your purse down. Or get fully in the door. You still haven’t had any coffee. There’s no way this is going to be pretty.
7. You learn that you will have a partner in this opportunity, the socially-stunted “Gerald” that lives three cubes over, a man who has never actually turned on his PC or met anyone that he hasn’t tried to sleep with, despite the vehement refusals, restraining orders, and firing of warning shots. He just doesn’t get it. In more ways than one.
8. Your manager, with that clearly fake smile, announces that you and Gerald the Man-Whore really need to get this project done, pronto, despite no money in the budget for things like overtime, copy-machine paper, or an explanation of what it is that he actually needs you to do. You promptly decide that it really wouldn’t be too annoying having to wear orange prison jumpers as a penalty for bludgeoning your boss with that “Employee of the Month!” plaque you won twenty years ago when you still cared.
9. As soon as your manager runs off to find a bigger-title ass that he hasn’t kissed today, Gerald announces that he just remembered a dental appointment and he runs out the door, hinting that you may not see him again until conveniently after the project is due. Something about wisdom teeth. You know this is a lie because he can’t possibly have any.
10. The phone rings and you stupidly pick it up without doing a sanity-check on the Caller ID. It’s your mother, who still doesn’t understand that you don’t actually live at home even after several decades. She wants you to fix the broken step on the stoop. Right now. She lives three states away, and she can’t seem to grasp how this might complicate things.
11. Lunch time. You glance toward the boring microwave meal that you prudently shoved into your work satchel this morning during the two minutes when you actually had some sort of organizational control of your life. The soggy cardboard rectangle has basically been thawing on the corner of your desk for four hours because you were too lazy to put it in the office fridge. It should still be fine. You’ve risked far greater food dangers. (Remember those creative childhood meals that your mother would slap together? I was in college before I learned that “goulash” was not typically composed of Beanie Weenies and some ancient croutons.)
12. You schlep to the break room, where you discover that the microwave door is missing. Not just broken, gone. Really? You briefly consider nuking it anyway, assuming that if you dash to the other end of the hall you should be relatively safe from the radiation. Then again, it would be just your luck for the president of the company to pop in for a candy bar and be felled by nuclear fallout. Investigators will then trace the meal back to you since “Don’t touch and I mean it!” has been scribbled on the container in your handwriting. It’s just not worth the risk, even if that president is a clueless twit who deserves a Silkwood rinse or two.
13. You stomp up three flights of stairs (damn elevator is always out of order) to another microwave that thankfully hasn’t been vandalized, slap your meal in the thing and punch some buttons. While the machine whirs, Bitsy Longbottom, who has never had a life of her own, wanders in and makes offhand comments about how people shouldn’t use things if they don’t work on that floor.
You realize that if you engage in actual conversation with Bitsy, one of you will not get out of the situation alive. So you grit your teeth and remain silent until the ding, then you slam the microwave door as a defiant rebuttal on your way out. Bitsy’s parting shot: “You didn’t wipe after you were done!” She’s one of the reasons why good people do bad things.
14. Back downstairs at your desk, you gently start peeling back the cardboard top of the container, being super careful and all. Right when you just about complete your mission, Satan reaches up from Hell and slaps the container upside down in your lap. Boiling hot fake meatloaf gravy gushes everywhere. The saddest part of the whole scene is that no one even bothers to stop by and see why you are screaming in pain.
15. Hours later, your crotch still smoking slightly, you finally get to a stopping point on the project. (Translation: You can’t bear to look at another spreadsheet right now or you will go insane.) You head out of the building, into the underground parking, down to the bottom level, and across several acres of concrete to the safe spot where you normally park your car so mean people like Bitsy can’t key it in a moment of psychotic delusion. Then you remember that you parked way back on the top level because you were running late after all those misbehaving stoplights. Your left eye starts to twitch.
16. You head back up the stairs and to the actual location of your car. It hasn’t been keyed by Bitsy, there’s a plus, but it has been ticketed. This is most surprising, mainly because you didn’t realize you could get a ticket in your company’s parking garage, never having seen anyone else get one. What’s the deal? You peruse the comments on the ticket, words that were apparently written by someone sitting on a vibrator.
It seems this spot is reserved for someone you’ve never heard of in your entire career with the company. Reserved? You look around for any kind of signage or spokes-model for more information. There’s nothing. Nada. The only thing you can find is a small pile of cigarette butts in an upper corner of the parking space. If that’s supposed to indicate that you shouldn’t park here, then I obviously went to the wrong schools.
17. You throw everything in the car and get out of there. Once clear of the parking garage, you whip out your wireless to call your bestie, just to vent about your day, and you realize that you don’t have a signal. Right as you are driving past a cell tower with the name of your provider emblazoned on the side of it, along with the slogan “Best network in the country!” That’s a bucket of lies right there, Ethel.
18. On the way to your dwelling, you stop at the supermarket, hoping that this time you will remember everything you forgot the last time instead of just going home with crackers and a false sense of accomplishment. You spy an empty slot in the parking lot, professionally head toward it, blinker on, and get cut off at the last minute by a van loaded down with multi-fathered children and plastered with bumper stickers proclaiming that Jesus is partly responsible for the piloting of this vehicle.
Breathe. Just breathe.
19. You park in another state, then stagger into the store, with everything twitching by this point. You head right for the coffee aisle, the one must-have you can remember since it’s been 36 hours without caffeine. You turn the corner, and discover that all the shelves are completely empty. A small sign, bearing the scrawled message of a 5-year-old in purple crayon and attached to one of the shelves with duct tape, explains that there has been a recall due to a misunderstanding with the good people of Bolivia.
While your jaw swings in the wind, you suddenly get a call on your wireless. (What, you can’t get a signal right next to the tower, but we’re clear as a bell in the dry goods section of Happy Mart?) Oh, wait. It’s your bestie calling!
20. You: “Girl, you are not gonna believe this day. We are going drinking, and we are going drinking right now. I’ll meet you at Ojeda’s in 10 minutes.”
Bestie: “Oh, honey, I forgot to tell you. I started that new diet this week, the one where I can’t have any liquid carbs, or vegetables that were grown above-ground. Alcohol has carbs. Can’t do it. Maybe some other time? Wait, what is that noise? Hello? Are you still there? Why do I hear a baby crying?…”
(Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 08/12/11. Revised and updated with extra flair for this post.)