Bad Day on the Calendar

The fabric of our lives tends to unroll in quiet, predictable folds, looking exactly the same from day to day, week to week, season to season.
Nothing wrong with that. It’s comforting, in fact. We sleep late, have cereal, coffee and orange juice for breakfast, except on Wednesdays when we eat at Waffle House #777, and Sunday at Beef O’Brady’s after church. And they know what we’re going to order when we walk in from the parking lot.
Predictable.

Until July 3, when a series of mishaps emerged to uproot the routine of our routine.
As usual, got up late and checked e-mail and our schedule for the day. I had a doctor’s follow-up appointment, but that wasn’t until 3:30 in the afternoon, plenty of time to drop the groceries at the house en route to the hospital.
A routine shopping day, greeting friends - until the rumble of thunder overcame the pleasant market day ambience.

We wrapped up the shopping in a hurry, stopped by at the pharmacy, hit the checkout lanes, then the exit….
That was the moment the sky fell apart. To call it a monsoon would be sugarcoating this deluge. The vast parking lot was instantly filled with many inches of draining, with more rain sluicing than draining.

And this was when Dave said, “What time is it?” and shook his watch as though to wake it up.
I cut him off. “Omigosh, Dave, my eye doctor’s appointment is at 3 o’clock. It’s now almost 3 and that’s at least a half hour travel time in this kind of weather.” We stood there trying to get out of this conundrum with the least damage possible, to the doc’s schedule, our own needs, (like frozen foods in the trunk of the car), potential for running off the road, ad infinitum.

“Just call him and tell the staff we’ll be late,” says Dave, not understanding that this doc is hard to schedule with, and this appointment was made sometime in January.
“Just hope we can call it ‘late’ instead of ‘no show,’” I told him. “Besides, I didn’t bring my cell phone. Didn’t think I’d need it. Likewise my calendar notebook where I have his number.”
“Can’t you call from a phone booth, or borrow the store’s phone?”

Good idea, I thought. I was at the service desk in a flash. There was only one person aiding an elderly lady with a money order or something requiring a lot of questions to be answered. The clerk was diligently and painfully eliciting information. She glanced at me and then away, making it clear she was not going to switch customers here. I understand and agree, but it would have taken so little time if I could have her for just a second.

So I ground my teeth and prepared to wait, when I noticed a really cute young girl in the customer service office, in supermarket uniform, fiddling with a cell phone and ignoring me. She did look up briefly, then went back to her device. I couldn’t stand it. “Excuse me, Miss, I need a quick favor,” I began. And ended.
She never missed a click, but replied, “I’m on my break.”

I was dumfounded, and near tears. I didn’t know if I should cry or leap over the counter and snatch her toy. I did neither, but exited to the now-jammed entryway, working my way to Dave who by now had lost track of me.
“Come on, we’ve got to go,” I announced, and grabbed the grocery cart and went for the automatic door. “It’s still raining,” he protested, and I made one of those spousal rebukes husbands hate: “Tough.”
By now the rain had subsided to a gentle roar and the water level in the parking lot down to about three inches. “Guess what else?” Dave ventured. By now we were in the car, groceries in the trunk, and coping with the instant steam room effect cars provide when it rains.

“We’re not dropping the groceries off, for one thing,” I answered, “for once, I didn’t buy ice cream, and nothing else is that perishable. It’s not a hot sunny day, after all.”
Well aware that we had not dressed for a doctor’s visit, I coaxed Dave to at least show up at the office rather than be no-shows. Almost instantly I wished I had listened to him. I’ve never driven in fog so dense. We stayed under 40 mph all the way up to Ga. Hwy. 54, where the fog was a little thinner. At least you could distinguish cars from trucks.

I got out at the front door of the hospital and he parked the car, while I dashed…well, shuffled, to the elevators. I was ready to grovel rather than reschedule this appointment. We waited close to another hour (or so it seemed), in wet clothes and hair, until I remembered that Dave had started to tell me his discovery.
Instead, he said, “What’s today’s date?” “July 3 – oh, it’s your birthday, Dave. What a way to celebrate.” I had planned to use this day to bake his favorite apple-birthday pie.

“That’s not all it is,” he continued. “My driver’s license expires today. We’ll just head over there and take care of that since we’re already in Fayetteville.”
“You won’t make it. It’s 4 o’clock now and I bet they don’t take applicants after 4.”
The doc was able to tell me in five minutes that I needed more tears, and he was dead right. A lot of fuzzy vision cleared up after I started using something I had never even thought about before: eye drops.

At last, we were on our way to the former DMV, now DDS, off McDonough Road. The rain was nearly gone and it was still cool enough to wait in the car while Dave braved the lines. He came out much earlier than I expected, said they had announced that a dark green Toyota Echo was illegally parked in the DDS parking lot. Why they couldn’t just speak to me, in the driver’s side with a book, I don’t know, but Dave was ready to go home.
“No, no, we’ve already invested too much effort in this day to leave with tasks incomplete.” To my surprise, he caved, went back inside, and was allowed to take his place in line again.

The lines were long – half in and half outside the building – but contrary to public lore, both waiters and waitees were cheerful, and when he emerged again, he was really quite chatty.
“I’m glad this day is over,” I said.
“Well, it’s not exactly over yet,” he cautioned. “We didn’t bring proof of my identity. I have to come back next week with my passport or birth certificate.”

The day was redeemed when he suggested we go to Charley’s on Ga. Hwy., a favorite of his. Our entrees were excellent, and the day was made by our server, Abbie, who mentioned that the complementary dessert-of-the-day was pie.
Apple pie. Perfect.
[Sallie Satterthwaite of Peachtree City has been writing for The Citizen since our first issue Feb. 10, 1993. Before that she had served as a city councilwoman and as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She is the only columnist we know who has a fire station named for her. Her email is SallieS@Juno.com.]