I was thinking of this today, or actually a variation on it: could have been raining yesterday. Because it is in fact raining today in the nation’s capital, in addition to being unseasonably cold, and my fleeting forays out from under cover to get on and off the train were less than pleasant. But it would have been worse if this weather had showed up a day earlier.
Because yesterday, I showed up to work without my badge, which meant I couldn’t get into the building. I knew exactly where my badge was: sitting in my computer card-reader (I now guiltily confess that it’s been so long since I updated the blog with any regularity that I don’t remember if I ever properly chronicled the transition from wearing badges and having a separate network access card to using the network access card as a badge/ID and electronic door-unlocking mechanism all in one. On the one hand, there are fewer dingles and dongles to keep track of, but on the other, if you mislay your card you are multitudinously hosed.) So my vague plan was to stand outside the front door of the building and hope to encounter a sympathetic co-worker upon their arrival, and then beg a favor of them. And in a turn of rare good fortune, this plan actually worked fairly well. One of my colleagues, who is a fellow contractor but an employee of a different firm and thus both sympathetic and not at all responsible for me, arrived about five or ten minutes after I took up my post, and she was willing to go upstairs, fetch my badge from my desk, and bring it down to me so I could get in and get on with my day. So my forgetfulness only caused a minor glitch, standing around nervously for a bit on a cold but sunny morning.
Now normally I am pretty good about keeping track of my stuff, creature of habit that I am, so you may be wondering why I was badgeless Wednesday morning in the first place. Indeed, there was a very specific reason, namely that I had left work on Tuesday in a rush because of a minor calamity at home. Mondays and Tuesdays are my wife’s days off and when I had left the house on Tuesday morning the state of the household was somewhat mixed. The little girl was sick, and was likely going to spend most of the day on the couch, with my wife tending to her needs while also keeping tabs on the bino (who just turned three and is as big a handful as ever), while I was at work and the little guy was at school. The little girl had been sick since the night before (or was it two nights before? I admit at this point it’s all starting to blur together.) and my wife had been performing most of the direct-contact caretaking duties. This ultimately took its toll and by mid-morning on Tuesday my wife had fully succumbed to the horrible bug and was no longer up to the task of minding an ill five-year-old and a rambunctious three-year-old. So she called me and I gathered my things and bolted, trying to mentally assemble an improvised way home out of Metro schedules and taxi rides. But in my haste I forgot my badge.
The day before that had been oddly off-model as well. It was a non-holiday Monday and yet every single person was home. Business as usual for my wife and the younger two kids, whereas I had taken the day off because of a scheduled job interview (shhhhh) in the afternoon and the little guy was home sick with the last vestiges of his own bout of the bug. He was mostly recovered, so it was a fairly low-key morning (pretty sure the kids all stayed in pajamas until almost noon) and I made it to my interview on time, but it ran late, and then I had to drive home from said interview during rush hour (and in the rain!).
Sunday was the day when the little guy was mainly in convalescent mode, although he had first fallen ill Saturday night. My wife and I had had a date night scheduled for Saturday evening for weeks, with a babysitter lined up in the form of a favor-returned by someone my wife had done cat-sitting for. We got the kids ready for the weekly movie night, the sitter arrived, and my wife and I set out. The plan was to hit a local drinkery for a bit and then proceed to a local eatery (or not so local; there is no Outback Steakhouse in our town and it’s been years since I’ve been to one, and it may be mid-range low-brow bo-bo but I am quite fond of that joint, as is my wife, so that was where we were planning to jaunt some distance to and treat ourselves on our wild night of freedom) but right about the time we were contemplating closing the tab at the brewpub, we got a call from the sitter than the little guy was tossing his little cookies. So that cut things a bit short and set off the plague invasion.
And ironically all of this crazy shared sickness and schedule rearranging (after I came home early on Tuesday, my wife took a sick day yesterday, which was just as well because the bino got sent home from daycare before lunchtime with a fever, which magically disappeared by the mid-afternoon visit to the pediatrician’s office, then returned by dinnertime; today my wife is back on the job though still not feeling 100%, the two younger kids are home with a sitter, and the little guy and I are more or less on regular routine) came on the heels of the previous week, where my wife worked several late nights and we continuously commented on what a crazy week it was, and then on Friday …
… on Friday I left the office at the usual time and walked to the train station, where there was a large crowd of people. Not terribly unusual for a Friday; I always take the earliest train home and on Friday more people tend to do the same. And in this case some of the crowd was owing to the fact that trains were running late, and people who would normally have boarded and departed (on the earliest train on the other line the station serves) were still hanging around waiting. The announcement system was indicating trains were running 15 minutes late. Not the end of the world. Then that expanded to 20, 30, 45 minutes. I was texting my wife to keep her posted. She was home at the time, but had a 6:00 appointment to keep (again, apologies, I don’t think I’ve devoted any blog-space to the fact that my wife started a new job where she exclusively makes housecalls, or if I did it was fleeting and long ago, so there you go: Wednesday through Friday and sometimes on weekends when she is on the clock she is variously at home waiting for a call, driving around a very large service area, or at someone’s house tending to an extremely sick animal). Around the time that my train had not shown up after 75 minutes of waiting, with the system announcements continuing to indicate delays “up to an hour” we finalized our own plan, which went a little something like this:
- I got on Metro and took it to the end of the line
- She picked up the kids from daycare and drove them straight to the Metro
- I jumped in the car and all five of us proceeded to her 6:00 appointment
- She got out at the appt. with her gear, and I hopped behind the wheel and took the kids out to dinner at McDonald’s
- (Incidentally it was one of the saddest McD’s I’ve ever been to. It was in a strip mall, not a free-standing structure in the parking lot of a strip mall but one of the small storefronts. Not only did they not have the Playplace I had been hoping for to placate the kids, but they did not have napkins or ketchup. At least they had Happy Meals.)
- When my wife was done with her appointment, I drove the kids back to pick her up.
- All five reunited again, we made the hourlong drive back home just in time to tell the kids they could skip bath but had to brush their teeth and go straight to bed.
I say again, it was ironic that we thought that Friday night was as disjointed as things were going to get, back before the rolling waves of decrepitude swamped us. On the bright side, at least both my job and my wife’s have been cool about our need for flexibility, and at least nobody has been so seriously ill as to need to go to the hospital or anything, and at least I’ve dodged the bullet and everyone else seems on the upswing one way or another. Could be worse, even though it is raining.