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Going Down

February 2, 2013

Rats! I overslept. Again. Why, oh why did I stay out so late last night? And why did I drink so much? Was it really necessary to close the bar? Would I never learn?

I had only twenty minutes before I had to get myself and my child out the door. And he was still asleep.

The new babysitter, Joanie, was very accommodating…she fed the kids breakfast, and didn’t mind at all if they showed up in their pajamas dragging along their favorite stuffed animal. Brendon‘s was an orange and black striped tiger named Tigger. Being a typical two and a half year old with a few ‘Winnie the Pooh‘ books, the toy just had to be named Tigger.

For me, I’d have to skip breakfast…no time…not even for the coffee I so badly needed. It was my own fault, though. I knew that…I just didn’t want to admit it, even to myself. Especially to myself. That would mean having to take personal responsibility for closing the bar last night. And I certainly didn’t want to go there.

Maybe I’d be able to take an early coffee break and grab a Danish. Breakfast of champions…especially when it’s paired with a pot or two of strong coffee.

Having rushed through my morning routine, we made it out the door on time. Barely.

Joan met us at the door. I quickly kissed my son goodbye and hopped back in the car, to ignoring my much deserved headache, once again grateful that we’d switched sitters…

Brendon had thrown a fit every time I’d left him with Sharon, the previous sitter. Kicking, screaming and digging in his heels as I dragged him up the sidewalk to the large two story farmhouse. I didn’t understand. He was normally so easy going. Just not with her.

Sharon came so highly recommended. I had friends who swore by her. There was no indication of abuse or neglect…Brendon just didn’t like it there. I was at a loss. Each morning, he begged me not to take him to Sharon‘s. From the very first day. Maybe it was her farm that scared him…he’d never actually seen cows up close before. Or farm machinery. He was used to being in town. No wide open spaces. No big animals; no loud machines. I don’t really know, and he doesn’t remember that far back. At any rate, it just didn’t work…I had to find another sitter.

Luckily, one of my co-workers’ wives, Joanie, ran a daycare. And a vacancy had just opened up.

So, we went to meet this new sitter after work one day. And before she talked to me, she squatted down, smiled at Brendon, held out her arms, and softly said ‘Come to Joanie.‘ And Brendon did. Willingly. From that day forward, he ran into her arms each time I dropped him off. So, thankfully, I could take that guilt trip off my list.

I whipped my car into the first open spot and jogged to the front door of the hospital, each step jarring my aching head.

As the elevator rose to the third floor, I dug my keys out of my purse . One-handedly, I swapped car keys for work keys. During that process, I dropped a set, just as the antiquated elevator doors creaked slowly open.

And as luck would have it, their trajectory was spot on, and my reflexes were slow…the keys bounced once and disappeared into the abyss between the floor of the elevator and the third floor. I stared in utter disbelief.

What are the odds? If I played sports, I would have scored big with that play. Not sure which sport, but I would’ve made some serious points. Might have even made MVP.

Down, down, down they went. Finally, coming to rest on the floor of the sub-basement, five floors below.

A great start to my day, I thought, really great. Hopefully, coffee would help. Lots of coffee. And that Danish. Maybe two. Caffeine and sugar. That’s what I needed. Especially after last night.

I left the elevator, sans keys, and rounded the corner in a rush to get to work on time, having totally forgotten the housekeepers routine of scrubbing the main corridors first thing in the morning. My first footstep onto the slick floor sent me skating across the hall, flailing my arms and narrowly avoiding a fall. Somehow, I’d defied the laws of physics by remaining upright. My purse was not so lucky…its contents were strewn all over the floor.

After picking up my belongings and repacking my purse, I rang the bell to the admissions unit for chemical dependency…the detox unit…where I worked…with a hangover. Oh…the irony. I’d thought about that a lot. Not enough to make me change my ways though…yet.

I’d gone to great lengths to avoid being hauled in by the authorities for detoxification by my co-workers. That’d be way too embarrassing.

So, to ensure I didn’t get a DUI, my biggest fear, and wind up on the unit without keys, I developed a strict personal policy. Just being proactive, I thought…I’d decided that I would drive after one drink, think about it very carefully after two and absolutely would not get behind the wheel after three drinks. No way. No how. Which presented another problem…

I would, on occasion, misplace my car. Especially if I went bar hopping with friends.

So, being the resourceful, intelligent person that I am, I devised a fool-proof strategy to deal with this newest challenge…while I was still sober enough, I wrote down exactly where I parked my car and put that valuable little slip of paper in the same spot in my wallet, every time. A stroke of brilliance, or so I thought. Perhaps even an epiphany

Not that I had a drinking problem like the rest of my family, you understand. I was the professional here, I would know if there was a problem. This was simply exercising caution. Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. That’s all. No problem.

That, and I found it embarrassing to have to call my friends and ask if they knew where I’d left my car. It was particularly embarrassing if they told me I hadn’t actually been with them on the night in question.

I rang the buzzer for admittance to the Unit. And soon, the door was opened for me.

I’d had better days, but I was there, at work…reporting for duty. Something to be said for that, at least. The night shift could go home. That made everyone but me happy. My co-workers didn’t have to work overtime, and management didn’t have to pay overtime.

For breakfast, I decided to have aspirin and coffee. My queasy stomach suggested that I hold off on the Danish for a bit…maybe til lunch.

Add that to the ribbing I endured from both my co-workers and the maintenance staff who retrieved my keys, and I was sure I’d died and gone to Hell. At the hospital, everyone who showed up for work with a hang over got the same treatment…rank didn’t matter. And I’d been on both sides. It was equal opportunity harassment. Approved and encouraged by management.  

I suffered through my shift, three o’clock could not come fast enough.

I knew I was solely responsible for my misery. And giving everyone else a good laugh. They knew that I was seriously hung over, and they’d show me no mercy. Maybe someone else would show up tomorrow in less than perfect shape and I’d be off the hook. A girl could hope…

My head hurt too much to laugh. Maybe later.

  1. Diane Hyland permalink

    Great writing, but a painful life lesson. D

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. One painful life lesson…I think I was a slow learner!

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