Snow, you asshole.
I woke up this morning happy to see big, chunky flakes sticking to the berries on the tree outside my bedroom window. But three hours later, as I was running across the Wawa parking lot — only to realize that my pee emergency had reached the critical moment that makes running a terrible idea — I realized that this all might have been an unpleasant fluffy white surprise.
Or maybe it’s just that this Wednesday can’t quite seem to get going. Maybe, like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Arthur Dent, who could “never get the hang of Thursdays,” I can’t get the hang of this Wednesday.
First, though, let me explain something about my personality. I’m one of those terribly punctual, terribly predictable people. This works for me. I am happy in this timely, scheduled place. If you ever want some good comedy, watch me try to be spontaneous or random. It’s hilarious, because it just doesn’t suit. But because I am me, I will stubbornly commit to the attempt to just roll with things. The last time I tried this, a third party took pity on me by stepping in and tracking down the person I was looking for and reassuring me that I had done a very good job trying to just let things happen organically. We both nodded at that lie, like if we nodded enough we could make it true. But it was clear to all involved that planned spontaneity will never be my strong suit. Like the creepy old men at the gym say, you can set a clock to me.
This Wednesday, though, I had to reorganize my schedule for a dissertation group meeting at 11, meaning I’d have to come to work a little earlier than planned. Typically, I work out on Wednesday mornings and roll in around lunchtime and tutor all afternoon. So, I thought, a short workout or a run would be a fine substitute. Then, a student asked me if I would mind meeting with her at 9:30 this morning to talk about her final paper. So, again, I readjusted and scrapped the idea of any kind of workout. (Hmm…maybe this is why I’m so tense?) But no problem, I adjusted.
And then there was snow. Unplanned snow. Which was totally fine while I was still indoors, watching yet another segment on the Today show about cured meats that you can give as gifts for the holidays*. But then the following series of events unfolded:
1. Diss group gets canceled due to vomiting children. No sweat, but I briefly consider fitting in a snow run between 10 and 1.
2. Knowing that trying to get home, run, shower, and come back to school is insane, I still prep for the eventuality of insanity and download a new song off of iTunes using my slow-ass desktop PC.
3. This decision brings things down to the wire, meaning that I leave the house with no wiggle room to get to work on time.
4. I find that the snow is quite slick, even with all-wheel drive. Fun ensues. I mentally practice my casual “Hey Dad, I sort of bumped my car into a Stop sign” tone.
5. Every route I attempt is blocked by police cars, municipal vehicles, or unexplained, random standstill traffic.
6. I have to pee. Bad. Real bad.
7. Pee scenario escalates to threat level midnight.
8. At this point, I have been in traffic for an hour. I am two miles from home. My student meeting has come and gone. To kill the time I alternately ponder the unfairness of life without a smart phone and wonder if a simple Google search will give me clear, easy directions on how to clean urine out of my car seats.
9. I make it to the town holiday events area, which is also home to several portable toilets that I am absolutely dying to pee in. While this particular Christmas wonderland is not open today, people I know are prepping for tomorrow. How do I know? Because I can see them. They’re close enough that they can probably see me if something attracts their attention in my direction. But they’re also far enough away that the fact that I am going to wet my pants with help just out of reach gets really real.
10. I summon all my strength and hold my shit together.
11. Using my new-found inner strength, I realize it’s time to get home or to the nearest toilet. First, I attempt the trip home by the most direct route possible and find myself on the other side of the roadblock I hit the first time I tried to get to school. So, in an awkward uphill slide that I’m now oddly proud of, I rejoin the traffic jam from the opposite direction and face the people I was only recently sitting behind.
12. After stalling out when I forget to put the car in neutral to idle while I take my foot off the clutch for a second, the universe decides I can have a break and gives me an opening to make a left turn that allows me to snake along back roads to the nearst Wawa.
13. In my excitement, I almost pee my pants running across the Wawa parking lot.
14. I pee. Am tempted to celebrate with a visit to the milkshake machine. Then, I remember I left my wallet in the car, which makes it much easier to stick to my decision to only celebrate actual events with milkshakes.
15. Then, I get back in traffic and remember that I forgot to pack a lunch.
16. Decide packing lunch is for losers, fight my way to campus to heroically recount my morning adventure to my officemates and anyone else who will listen.
Guess what was holding things up so badly that the bridge totally backed up into the center of town? NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.
* I really think I need to write something about that in the future, but I don’t really know what to say about it except: WHY? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY? I mean, I love pepperoni as much as the next girl, but if someone gift-wrapped some Hickory Farms and handed it to me as an unironic Christmas present, I would have a hard time keeping a straight face. I mean, I would still enjoy it and probably use it as an excuse to have people over to drink (including “Cured Meat Fiesta, Bring Your Own Crackers” in the subject line of my invitation email), but it would take every fiber of my being not to be a smart-alecky asswipe when saying thank you for my Christmas meats.