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A True Story
8.5.2002 by Dan, every Monday.

As I sit here typing this, another weekend is wrapping up, and my muse has yet to make an appearance. So instead of doing my normal creativity-stimulating ritual of snorting Nestle brand chocolate milk mix directly from the container (I'm out), I'm going to share with you why I don't have a real column for you this week. What follows is an itemized account of the last three days of my life. I swear that all of this is true, except the times, which are approximations, and the names, which I've changed to protect those with too much dignity to appear in my column.


7:00 AM. Alarm goes off. I have to get up extra early today - my boss has assigned me a job in a city a hundred miles away to run network cable in a dentist's office. I must be there at 11:00 AM.

8:00 AM. Alarm goes off. After flailing about for five minutes in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to find the “snooze” button, I decide to get up. Typical acts of morning hygiene follow.
(I wish to say here that I realize I could make an infinite number of gross jokes here about my hygiene habits, such as “Fridays are special because it's Tooth Brushing Day,” but I am not going to for two reasons: One, I have some dignity, and two, and I can't think of anything untrue enough to be funny to me.)

8:30 AM. I leave the house. I have my CD player running as soon as I start my truck. This is because there is only one rock station that one can hear where I live that actually plays music recorded after 1985, and they broadcast “Mancow” all morning. I hate this show. If you're not familiar with “Mancow,” I envy you. Imagine a judgemental clone of Howard Stern spouting simplistic opinions about things he doesn't want to understand, and you'll have a good idea of what Mancow would be like if he had more talent. I realize that some of you may like Mancow; In that case, I suggest finding someone to read to you the big words in this column. I renew my vow to move to another time zone.

10:30 AM. I have successfully found the city for which I was aiming. I start navigating by the directions my boss has given me.

10:50 AM. Some backtracking occurs when I find myself in the incorrect state.

11:00 AM. I find the interstate exit I was supposed to have taken. I estimate that I will be no more than ten minutes late.

11:10 AM. Once again, I find myself in the wrong state.

11:15 AM. Following a semi-hysterical phone call to my boss in which I am fairly certain I have convinced him that I am an idiot who cannot follow simple directions, it is established that I must backtrack to a certain parking garage.

11:20 AM. I locate and enter the garage. I must park on the fourth level of the garage, all others are reserved.

11:21 AM. The access ramp ends on the third level. I follow the arrows.

11:22 AM. I am rather startled to find myself at the exit to the garage. I explain my situation to the bemused attendant; she agrees to let me circle through again.

11:24 AM. The attendant and I meet again. She tells me to circle around again, but only after she surreptiously sniffs my breath for illegal substances.

11:25 AM. I find myself at the top of the exit ramp for a third time. Sobbing ensues.

11:27 AM. I go into reverse, determined not to face the attendant, and probably several burly police officers. I back into a reserved area and notice a small sign pointing to a previously concealed ramp to the fourth level. There was much rejoicing.

11:29 AM. I park my truck and get out. As I do, I notice that at some point, my 64-ounce Pepsi mug had inverted and completely emptied itself under my passenger seat. Sobbing ensues.

11:30 AM. My cell phone rings. It is the dentist, concerned for my safety. I explain that I am fine, and on my way out of the Chestnut Street Parking Garage at that moment. The dentist explains that I am in the wrong garage, as the Chestnut Street Parking Garage is three blocks from where I need to be. Sobbing ensues.

11:45 AM. I arrive at the building, having had to carry a tool box, and electric drill, and a box of network cable for three blocks in 100 degree weather. The dentist, giving me odd looks all the while, shows me what he wants done, and explains to me that all his drugs are securely locked away. He then leaves, saying he will be gone for an hour and suggests I eat lunch in the meantime.

11:50 AM. Lunch. I find a tiny diner in the next building. I am charged $6.50 for a take-out deli sandwich. Upon my return to the office, I discover that the sandwich appears to be mainly alfalfa sprouts, with soggy brown slices of what I can only assume is boiled eggplant.

12:30 PM. I call the office of where I work to try and explain why I've accomplished nothing. My boss is out. As I try to explain myself to a co-worker, I hear the intercom we share buzz in with the furious voice of the head of another department- I'd apparently neglected to complete a task she'd given me. I consider taking up permanent residence in the office, trading networking skills for food.

1:00 PM. Work starts in earnest. There is no way I can adequately describe the working conditions in which I found myself, so I'll just hit the highlights:

1.) Large amounts of crumbling paint, much of it a good fifty years old.

2.) Solid plaster walls through which one cannot drill.

3.) A rotten old wooden ladder on which to stand.

4.) My realization that I had forgotten several crucial tools. Sobbing ensues.

7:00 PM. The dentist returns, surveys the carnage, shares a few encouraging words, and leaves once again.

10:45 PM. Work complete. I lock up and hit the road.

11:00 PM. I drive into the worst thunderstorm in recorded history.


1:00 AM. I return home. Sobbing ensues.

6:00 AM. Alarm goes off. The few remaining functional areas of my brain realize that I left the clock on.

6:05 AM. I discover that alarm clocks do not function well from the inside of a toilet tank. Chalk up one victory on principle.

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