Photo Credit: mjbphotographyanddesign.com
When our oldest child was quite young one of his favorite books was “Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Can I quote it for you? No really: I can. I read it to him that many times. Actually after the way things were going this past weekend I don’t need to quote the book. I lived it. Two days in a row in fact.
I woke Friday morning looking forward to completing my last day of a very long work week and getting home to my family. We all have weeks that wear us out on occasion. Mine was last week. I was in a pretty good mood because it was, after all, Friday. I knew I had little on my plate to complete at work that day so I was looking forward to an “easy” day and…perhaps…leaving a little earlier than normal. Yep. I was pretty chipper when I arrived and sat down at my desk. Joking with a few coworkers I settled in for the day feeling pretty good. That feeling lasted until I opened my inbox and started reading the emails that were awaiting me. Part of my responsibilities is to QA data prior to transferring it to one of our clients. I could go into greater detail here but I’m sure if I did it would somehow be a HIPPA violation and the last thing I need is for the HIPPA cops to come looking for me. Anyway, the data transfer QA is by far the least favorite part of my job. Mostly because if there is a problem with any of the data I get an email and a weekly “issues log” and I have to figure out what is wrong and why. There in my inbox was last week’s issues log. UGH! As I opened it and began to investigate the “issues” my mood was still pretty good. It is a weekly occurrence and usually is some silly little thing like the scan was hard to read so it transferred into the spreadsheet incorrectly or that the original number was plain flat wrong. No big deal. The computer makes mistakes and so do I. I am a human after all.
I pulled files and happily went about answering questions until I hit the “issue” that made my stomach roll. The one that turned my happy mood on its ear. As I began investigating the final problem I discovered that the issue was caused because I had somehow shuffled all the data on the Excel sheet into the wrong place. I had totally screwed up the file. It didn’t matter to me that the file was submitted when I had only been at my new job for two weeks I was sick at the fact that I had messed up that bad. As I said before, I am fully aware that I am capable of messing up. I can live with that. No what my type A personality can’t take is when I can’t figure out how I messed up and I, still to this moment, couldn’t figure out what I did. I had no explanation for it other than I messed up…somehow. After running myself in circles for a while I did the only thing I could do: I redid the entire file, resubmitted it to our client, and then emailed them taking full responsibility for my error and apologizing. Knowing that my error not only affected our client but our client’s client, I felt horrible and I braced myself for the reply email that I knew was not going to be happy.
About this time my boss came in and I quickly explained the problem to her. Thankfully she was very understanding and sweet to me, as per usual, because I was already doing a pretty good job of beating myself up. I even offered to have her take the fee I was sure our client was going to charge for the screwed up file out of my paycheck. Yep. I had myself in a real funk by the time she’d arrived. She reassured me that wasn’t going to be necessary and I handled it the best way possible so I was feeling a little better right up until the reply I was dreading hit my inbox. I knew the reply wasn’t going to be pleasant but I wasn’t expecting to be made to feel like I’d bankrupted a company by my error. (I hadn’t by the way.) Nor was I really anticipating to be spoken to (can you apply that to an email? It doesn’t really “speak”. You know what I mean right?) like I was an inept toddler. As I read through the reply I knew the day was going to get ugly. You see with this particular client when she finds one mistake she then becomes the mistake FBI. She digs until she hits the core of the earth. Suddenly she suspects that if you screwed up once you had to have done it multiple times before. I again replied my apology noting that I understood the problem it caused everyone and assured her that I would be diligent to never let it happen again. That’s the best I could do. I braced myself for the barrage of emails I knew were coming. The ones questioning other things that wouldn’t have been questioned before.
They arrived. I spent my day re-checking all the files for one of the companies her company represents while fielding the emails from her that kept hitting my inbox. Thankfully one of my coworkers had pity on me and sweetly helped me out. (I have great coworkers.) Had she not I might have done myself harm with my staple remover. I contemplated it a few times during the day. Added to the “heat” I was feeling for my screw up and the internal berating I was giving myself, the air conditioning was on the blink making the office feel somewhat like a sauna. Now saunas are nice in a spa but not so fabulous when you are already having a bad day at work. By the time I left for the day (not early I might add) I was hot, tired and completely drained.
It was in that frame of mind I began my commute home through the increased traffic caused by the College World Series being in town. I love the College World Series but I wasn’t in the mood for the increased volume of cars nor the fact that none of them knew what lane they needed to be in. My already frazzled state became even more frazzled after nearly rear-ending the fifteenth person cutting across four lanes of traffic to exit. Added to that I was deeply contemplating whether or not I am cut out for my current job or whether I should begin looking for something with a little less pressure like…for instance….checking groceries at a local supermarket. (Okay I’ve seen the way people treat the workers at check-outs. I was only half serious in that thought.) I was seriously re-evaluating every decision I have made in the last 6 months while trying not to kill anyone with my car. By the time I arrived home I had myself in full cranky mode. Tired, grumpy and slightly depressed I managed to make it through the might without scaring my poor family too badly. I had my moments but I have a great understanding family. I found myself relaxing and letting things go. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the next day would be better. I was wrong.
I awoke Saturday earlier than I’d planned to the sound of ice falling from the window air conditioner in our bedroom. We are currently living in my grandparents old house and since my grandfather would have none of that new fangled central air stuff we cool with window units. The one in our bedroom is one from our old house and it is pretty old as evidenced by the fact that it ices up every few hours. Because there has been no room in the budget to replace it we’ve been just dealing with it and waking up a little warm. No big deal. Just annoying. As I stumbled out to start the coffee pot I failed to notice my husband had already set it up for me before he left for work earlier that morning. Water all over the counter. Nice. Noticing it was warmer in the rest of the house than usual I investigated and discovered the living room unit was shut off. After a text conversation with my husband I learned it was struggling that morning so, thinking it needed a rest or needed to be hosed out because of cotton, he’d turned it off for a while. I tried to turn it on. Nothing. Because I don’t trust myself to “hose” out anything I wandered up to my parents house to enlist the help of my daddy. He was more than willing to, once again, help out his youngest child. After his expert assessment it was discovered the fan motor was burnt out. I felt bad that I’d broken his air conditioner. (I go to guilt pretty fast. I didn’t break the air conditioner. Time had.) Being the amazing landlord and father he is,he assured me it wasn’t our fault and then informed me he would go buy a new one because it is his house and it needs one anyway. The deal was that my husband could put it in when he got home from work so he wouldn’t have to. Okay. That was more than fair I thought. One warmish day. I could handle that. The third and final unit was still plugging along so it wasn’t too bad in the house. Yet.
I rushed about getting some cleaning done before the house got warmer than I prefer. My kids were not so happy about that but they wisely didn’t say much. They just helped me…while “standing up on the inside” I imagine. We had just finished when…bang…no power in the house. Great. What had I done now? Locating a flashlight to check the breaker box I was about to investigate when my mom showed up at our house. Her power was out too. Okay. At least I didn’t break something this time. (At this point that was a bonus point.) We called in the outage to a computer generated voice, not something that inspires confidence that anyone is going to get it, and set in to wait. Not much else you can do with no power. Have you ever noticed when the power is out and you can’t use the bathroom (one has to have electricity to pump water from a well on the farm) suddenly everyone needs to use it? Have you also noticed that when it gets hotter in your house than normal your children start bickering over nothing? It was in this state I texted my husband inquiring if he thought it was too early to start drinking. Since I don’t drink I think he figured I was having a bad day. Again.
While my mom and I were trying to distract the children from bickering with a game of cards my phone rang. It was my father in law. It seems a little birdie (I think the bird’s name was “Whining Facebook Post”) told him we were having air conditioning problems so he had ordered one for us. He informed me we could use it to replace our dying one in the bedroom. Feeling guilty I left to go pick up the unit he ordered. I was too hot to argue with him but not hot enough that I didn’t feel a little guilty that they’d bought us an air conditioner. I also felt slightly guilty that I left the bicker twins with my mother in her heating-up house while I got in my air conditioned car to go get it. I did it anyway. Once again fighting through stupid drivers with baseball tickets, I obtained the amazing gift from my in-laws and made it home. I think I only thought a few bad words during the trip and didn’t verbalize them. That was a minor miracle considering the mood I was in. Arriving home I discovered that we still had no power. I had two new air conditioners but no juice to run them. I was also starting to get a “hot and tired” headache. At this point I was afraid to even open the refrigerator because I didn’t want to let any cool escape. Two and a half hours at 90 degrees outside was making it quite warm inside. Settling in again I silently hoped that the power guys were close to a solution and my food wouldn’t all spoil before they found one. It was then that my husband texted that he would pick up a pizza on the way home from work. Things suddenly started looking up a little. I didn’t need to open the fridge now. Then the power came on. Even better.
My Superman arrived home with the pizza and immediately began installing the new units. I of course was irritated because I thought he should eat first. I am so rationale when I’m tired and hot. He firmly informed me he wanted to get the air conditioners in first so the house could start cooling. You’d think he’d know better than to be logical when I’m trying to “wife” him. Geez. Never the less: he began putting in the new units. That sounds simple but in this house it is a bit more complicated. Because the windows slide open left and right instead of up and down the process involves plexiglass, foam filler and tape. Lots of tape. And patience. I probably wasn’t a really great candidate to help but he put up with me anyway. It was well into evening before the job was complete and the house had a chance of cooling off. After feeding Super-husband the pizza he wouldn’t eat earlier, cleaning up the mess from putting them in and standing in a cool shower for a while I drug myself to bed, reminding myself of the lesson that Alexander learned from his Mom: everyone has bad days. I’d had two. Surely tomorrow would be better.
Sunday dawned with a storm but as I woke in my cool house I didn’t care. Checking the coffee pot before I added water I hummed about preparing for a new day. After a good night’s sleep I found myself thankful for our amazing parents (both sets) my wonderful husband and even my bickering kids. I even found myself thankful for my job and co-workers I enjoy. My attitude much improved by a night of cool sleep. It was going to be a better day I’d decided. Then I noticed the bananas on my counter. It seems the heat in the house Saturday had turned my nice yellow bananas brown. Quickly I knew no one was going to want to eat them. What a waste. ‘Okay’ I thought, ‘If you make lemonade when life throws you lemons what do you do when it gives you brown bananas?’ Then I had an epiphany: Banana Bars. When life gives you brown bananas you bake banana bars. With cream cheese frosting on them you won’t care if you’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…or two.