Walking Cross-Town. With the lid popped off.

“Bring an umbrella. It’s going to rain.”  She follows the weather. She barks out the forecast. It will be 35 years in September, and I’ve found she’s right 50% of the time. And I remind her of the 50% on the wrong side. It keeps the wheels on the bus going round and round. I mumble under my breath: How hard can it rain? Do I really need to haul an umbrella around, another 1.5 pounds in my already overstuffed bag.

I take the umbrella.

It didn’t have to be this tight on time. It really didn’t.  I could have postponed an 8 a.m. conference call, taken the earlier train and given myself ample wiggle room to walk, to take an Uber or to catch a cab. I even thought about it, at length.  But no, No Sir. Why defer, when you can do it now, right now. Pack it tight, pack it in.  The Counselling Blog (I need it / I read it / I won’t admit it) shared a quote yesterday that was shared anonymously:  “I try to contain my crazy but the lid keeps popping off.” I get it. I do.

I have a 10:30 a.m. training session that I am leading with 20 colleagues. The train is scheduled to arrive at Grand Central at 9:59 a.m. It’s 10 minutes late, and it’s a 13-minute walk across town if you hit the street lights just right. Tight. Too tight for a guy who likes to arrive early, set up the room, sit and relax, and review my presentation notes.

I exit Grand Central Station. It’s raining. No. I mean, it’s Raining. Sheets. I stand under a covered area and look for Cabs. Are you kidding? Waiting for a Miracle. I pull up the Uber app and it says no availability for 12 minutes. I don’t have 12 minutes and it would take another 15-20 minutes to get across town in this traffic.

I pop open the umbrella. There are streams of rainwater rushing down the streets into the drains. Monsoon on Madison. Puddles are accumulating at the cross walks. The marble in front of the major hotels is smooth, gray and slick like ice. I need to slow my pace as the umbrella in my right hand is stretching me up, my overstuffed backpack in my left is pulling me down and my smooth, leather soled lace-ups are struggling to stay anchored to the concrete slabs – an off-kilter Rickshaw teetering on a single wheel. Treacherous.

Wet, and getting wetter. The uncovered parts, pant legs from the knee down, leather shoes, socks, and the exposed back side are sponging up water. My black leather bag is glistening. I look down to check the zippers. I don’t need my bag full of water. Please, no.

My right arm has been up in the air now for 10 minutes. The left, is trembling from holding the tonnage in the backpack. I switch hands, and there is momentary relief. I’m passing tourists in their plastic ponchos waiting in line for the double decker buses. The humidity is high (it’s August), my forehead is dripping sweat. Shirt, sticking to my chest.

It’s 10:20 a.m. and I step into the building and march up to security and flash my I.D. They must have seen the don’t f— with-this-guy-look, he’s a mess. They waive me in.

The air conditioning hits me as I walk through the lobby, soothing, the tension is my shoulders begins to release.  I check my watch, happy that I have a few minutes to get it together. I made it!

I ride the elevator up to 27 and walk down to the conference room. I hear the chatter from outside in the hall. I step in, the room is full. They are all early?!?!

“Good morning. Are you early, or am I late?”

There’s silence. A kind hearted soul speaks up: “We thought the meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m., but I’m sure there was a mix-up.” Right. 20 people get it wrong, and I’m right.

“I’m so sorry. I’m not sure what happened. I was caught in the rain.” Dog ate my homework.

The room is silent. I take off my suit coat and my shirt is shadowed with rain.

I ask for someone to dial us up on the conference line as some participants are dialing in.  I can’t find my Host Pass Code. I thumb through my smart phone, and thumb and thumb and thumb. The audience shifts in their seats.

I find the code. We get dialed in.

The room is silent. 40 eye balls on me, and another 8 listening in.

I need to log into the firm system to pull up my presentation and project it on the screen. I can’t see the screen from where I’m standing. I reach for my glasses, which are wet and misty. I use my shirt to wipe them dry, but the shirt cuffs are wet – it only makes it worse.

I squint trying to read the keystrokes on the screen.  The entire room can see that I have misspelled my name, badly.  A good samaritan, a saint, really, watches Man-in-Distress, jumps up: “Let me help you Sir.”  I’ve never met or seen her before.  She’s three levels down from me from another Business Group.

“Let me log in your name.”

“Thank you.”

“Do you think you can key in your Password?”

She recognizes after she says it, that her comment may have been a bit off.

“I’m sorry Sir.”

The room snickers.

My hands are on the keyboard. The fingers on the left hand tremble from hauling that damn overweight anvil across town.  The right, pointing to the heavens for 15 minutes, is numb, there’s no feeling in the fingertips.

I take my hands off the keyboard, which stops the uncontrollable chattering of fingertips on keys.  I one-finger punch in my password.  8 digits. Capital Letter. Number. Symbol.

Error. Rejected.

The room snickers again. I try to break up the silence: “Just wait until you get to be my age…”

The password is accepted on the second attempt. The screen lights up. We launch the presentation. And I ask a member of my team to take the controls of the PC and advance the slides. Please. I’m begging you.

I go back and take my seat. The back of my pants, wet, adhere to the leather chair. I place my hands on the table in front of me to steady them, and to steady me.

“So, good morning everyone…”

Showtime.


Notes:

Comments

  1. We’ve all been there, and each memory evokes a wince and a groan. The universe reminding us of our humanity – did we need such a stark reminder? I guess so…😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Oh Mama told me there would be days like this!” You on the other hand, actually lived it! Felt every moment. But as Oprah says, “There’s a new day on the horizon!.”.. Hopefully 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Drama! I trust this was fiction! Wouldn’t want to wish it on anyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not laughing. Commiserating. Being there with you. Feeling the pain. That nightmare will be with you a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. universe keeps us humble when we forget. i’ve been there. give yourself the cushion next time, and take a lot of weight off. (cushion of time, not wet clothes). no need to challenge yourself and try to beat the odds. just adding more stress to your pile. time/space/circumstances will most always win, even if we cheat it sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Her 50% today!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Down at my Narcotics Anonymous group I’ve been invited to share for an hour every Tuesday night on the 12 Steps. I’m far from being a professional presenter of anything. Anyway, I’ve got 4 weeks to do the 12 Steps. That’s like 3 steps per night, right? My outline I made for the first session was 6 pages long. I spent 40 minutes on step one, and breezed through step two. After week 1, a Step behind schedule.
    So last night I was hoping I could bang out 3,4,and 5. But I knew better, and was lucky to squeeze 3 and 4 in.
    So after two weeks, I’m two steps behind. I think next week I’m going to forget the outline, and just write one word on my notes, in 48 point type…
    RELAX!
    And just wing it from there.
    What do you think?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. While I’m sorry for your distress, I have to admit that I find it reassuring that I’m not the only one to have days like this!!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I could feel the stress. Forgot to breathe. And I could identify with the chattering of the shaking fingers on the keyboard. Poor you. You’ll get up five minutes earlier next time, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug….

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Remember: self-compassion and that there’ll be days like this. I hope the sun is out tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. My worst nightmare!! But we always survive it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel your pain. Were you able to make up the lost time?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Omfg. 🤯

    Liked by 1 person

  15. oh weia (that’s German for fxcx)…..
    What a gr8 start of a presentation day 😉
    Made me smile for 2 reasons. One was a day long long ago I travelled with Hero Husband to the South of France (when living in UK) where we took 3 days off BUT for him to do a presentation for 400 people in a posh hotel-room. I had my wallet stolen and found myself at the police station, trying to get him to cancel all my cards as I wasn’t used to the French way of doing things…. (yes, I know now but that was then!). I literally went through hell and back and in the end the police guys spoke in a rapid torrent directly to the hotel people, who just didn’t want me to put through….. When eventually Hero Husband got to the phone, fuming, annoyed, I learned that he had to interrupt his presentation because The French Police had his wife in custody for a theft….. and the 400 peeps enjoyed a rare break 😉
    The 2nd bit that stayed with me was the forgetting of one’s password. I returned to France after 10 days in England with different cards and other passwords and I stood at a ‘credit card payments only’ cashier desk with a totally blank mind, several French coughing, sighing, murmuring in the long queue…. I got it, in the end but it was excruciating!!!! And yes, only EVER take your stuff in a rucksack with you – ever…. your back and your arms/hands will thank you.
    RAIN? Oh heaven, yes, yes, yes, please…..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dave, sounds like a frustrating, water logged induced couple of hours, “The back of my pants, wet, adhere to the leather chair”…sink or swim and in true Kanigan strength you came to the top (with some assist) and went on to a productive day…
    ///Rain what it must be like to see rain in the summer…I recall a time when I realized that in areas of the USA they receive the bulk of their rain in the summer…for me summer is dry, bone dry.
    ///My sister (who lives 125 miles north) rec’d her water bill and then walked outside and disabled her in-ground sprinkler system control panel. Her husband likes a green lawn -she informed him nope no more watering the lawn… the bill was unreal…a high percentage of people here let their lawn go dormant for the summer, gives us a different color to look at…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Christie, we have the same, rainless situation every summer. We even had a lawn sprinkler system (disfunctional just like nearly all things French) which we tried to ‘employ’ for a few summers…. it was useless. In the end I watered the lawns for a while but then decided it wasn’t on to use water so precious (and VERY expensive – and we have a well too but are not allowed to draw its water!!) just for a bit of green. I draw the line however somewhere and being the slave of my plants, shrubs and trees I do water them. I’m the only one who does it because I feel one shouldn’t have living things if one isn’t willing to keep them alive.
      The grass, bizarrely and unexpectedly, grows again after all that heat. I’m constantly amazed at nature’s capacities.
      David addressed you as Kiki because the drought and lawn-cum-prairie-cum-desert is an ongoing theme in my present life. So you must forgive him 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Smiling. Thanks Kiki. I’d be one of those who let the lawn go dry, I’m all for it. (Not for water conservation purposes but for a reduction of labor!)

    Like

  18. OMG this made me roll on the floor! Honestly, best read in recent memory. And I was not laughing because I’m delighting in your misery, but because I’ve been there, done that. And it’s much easier to laugh afterwards. Long afterwards. But there was one thing I was left wondering: why was the BackPack not on your back?

    Liked by 1 person

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