Between 12 and 5

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Well, it’s official. A new record has been set. Yep, for the fourth time this year we must venture down into the dark and dusty basement. We have to retrieve the soapbox, and we must once again stand upon it. I say “we” because I’m babysitting the Little One, and she likes Big Papa to hold her.

So what’s worthy of soapbox pontification this time, you might ask? Well, none other than the folks at our local cable company.
Come to find out cable equipment and lightning storms just don’t play well together, and of late, our part of town has been thunderstorm central. No cable means no Internet connection.

No Internet connection means no column sent to the newspaper.
While that’s bad enough, the real emergency is much worse. No television. And Little One just loves watching “Fashion Police” — that and her new friend, Mr. Ceiling Fan.
With baby in one hand and phone in the other, an emergency call was made to the cable company. Immediately placed on hold for 30 minutes, one of us was greatly irritated. Guess which one?

After finally being connected to a real person, the appointment time of either between 8 and 12 or 12 and 5 was given. After hearing this, someone got really mad!
Then the cable person was placed on hold. It was time for a quick diaper change. Afterwards, I told the cable folks that between 12 and 5 would be fine.
Unless you’re still recovering from hip surgery and babysitting your granddaughter, who has time to take off work to sit and wait half a day for the cable company?

Even a doctor will give you an appointment time. Now, true, they really don’t mean it, but at least they give you the hope you’ll be seen when you show up. Unlike the cable company, many other professions can give exact appointment times.
Every Wednesday morning by 7 a.m., a garbage truck rolls up in front of our house. This has happened for the last eight years despite rain, sleet, or even an occasional snowflake that brings most other traffic to a grinding halt.
If trash isn’t out on the curb by 7 a.m., the truck doesn’t stop. Truck doesn’t stop; trash piles up in the garage for another week. Stinky trash in garage; The Wife isn’t happy. Trust me, the garbage appointment is one I’ve only missed once.

A parent-teacher conference is scheduled for a certain time. Don’t be 30 minutes early or 30 minutes late. Meetings with the principal are also set for a specific time. Take it from me, showing up late for your meeting isn’t a good way to start off. Especially when The Boy is in trouble. Although, you can be late with a meeting with a lawyer — he won’t care; he’ll just charge you $250 an hour.

Sometimes important appointments and times are written down on paper, like a summons to appear in court. Try this: if you ever have to go to court, tell them you’ll be there sometime between 8 and 12 or 12 and 5. Just say you work for the cable company. I’m sure the judge will understand. And no, don’t tell him the guy from the newspaper told you to say it.
Yes, the cable company finally made an appearance right at 5 p.m. and fixed everything, but when offered a unique opportunity, the guy said no. He didn’t want to change any diapers.
During our day together, I learned a lot. The Little One needed three feedings, an equal amount of burping, and eight diapers changed. Not to mention five outfit changes — three for her and two for me — and numerous naps were taken. She also needed countless hugs, kisses, and just loved hearing stories about life growing up at 110 Flamingo Street. I know ‘cause she told me.

There was one more important lesson learned, but it wasn’t until after the cable company left. Being home all day with Little One, by 5 p.m. it was definitely time for a road trip – one of us was going a little stir crazy.

A diaper bag was carefully packed with all necessary paraphernalia: change of clothing, spit cloths, and above all else, a hearty supply of diapers. Soon, with Little One placed in her pink car seat and secured in the middle of the backseat, we were on our way.
So what exactly was that last lesson learned? Thirty minutes into a road trip, when you really need it, is not the time to discover a carefully packed pink and blue diaper bag was left sitting back on the kitchen table.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is storiesbyrick@gmail.com. His books are available at www.RickRyckeley.com.]