I know better than to think that 15 minutes is more than enough time to gather my notes, computer, fix myself up, check on the kids home from spring break, and drive to the studio for my private training client. I'm right.
That's what the glowing red numbers indicate on the digital clock beside my bed. I had come home from work since the boys were home for spring break. They were doing their usual thing - picking on each other, screaming names at each other, throwing pillows and sharp objects across the landing and down the stairs at each other. Nothing special. So I had holed up in my bedroom, spread stacks of papers, receipts, invoices and contracts around me on the bed, and propped my cute little MacBook on the lap desk my mother gave me for Christmas.
(Note: I LOVE my lap desk. My mother loves holidays and preparing gifts - especially for holidays (see my blog "Vacation"). What makes her even more special is that she knows her targets well and always gives gifts her recipients will use and cherish. Hence my appreciation for the lap desk - she knows I love to sit in my bed and she knows I love to work on my laptop. Now I do it on my lap desk.)
As I finish paying the last invoice online and noting it in one of my many black cash books, I glance at the clock and see the time. 20 minutes before my next client.
I file and repack all the stacks and zip my precious Apple notebook into my computer bag. I (reluctantly) climb down from the bed and go to inspect myself in the bathroom mirror. Everything looks good, so I smooth down my shirt, blot a little shine from my face with a hand towel, and exit my private sanctuary grabbing my computer bag as I go.
"Mommmmm, my eyes are BURNING," my preteen says as he rubs his red, puffy, allergy eyes. Tears leak out of the corner of his left eye as he tries to see through his swollen lids.
Sigh... I run back to my bathroom, dig through my makeup case until I find the bottle of Allergy eyedrops. As I run back out and tilt his head back, my cell phone rings. I prop the phone between my shoulder and ear and start whisper/pointing directions to the preteen who really hates getting drops in his eyes.
Soccer coach wants him to play a tournament in Charlotte, NC next weekend. Can he make it? Hm, can he drive himself up there? Sigh... I'm holding my computer bag, two purses (one black, one brown - I have to match and I haven't had a chance to switch them yet), a cell phone to my ear, squeezing a bottle of eyedrops into a squirming preteen's eye and trying to think of my husband and my work/travel schedule for the next weekend. "Uh, can I check with my husband and get back to you by 5:00 today?"
I put the bottle of drops on the table, ask the boys not to fight until I get back home (yeah, right), snatch my keys off the counter and run out the door. I have exactly 5 minutes to drive 6 miles through stop lights to my 4:00 client. I can do it!
I am cruising through the 1st of 3 stop lights and talking to my husband on the cell about the soccer tournament when I notice a huge gold and black wasp as big as my pinky finger sitting calmly on my leg.
I beat, slap and pound on my leg with the cell phone. The wasp and my cell phone go flying across the car. As the protective case around my cell phone smashes apart (thank goodness for those hard plastic cases), my mind registers that I am driving 45 mph down a two-lane street. I look up and notice I am careening into the other lane and swerve back into mine. Then I hear my husband's tiny voice somewhere in space - "Thea, Thea, Thea!"
I grope around on the floor of the passenger side with one eye on the wasp climbing the passenger-side door and the other on the street. I calmly smile into the phone, "Oh, hi Maurice. Sorry about that. A wasp was on my lap." Out of the corner of my eye, I see the wasp climbing to the level of the window. "Uh, I have to go now. I'll call you back, okay?" I drop the phone on the seat next to me and check the time on the dashboard.
Normally my being a minute or two late wouldn't be a problem. But our studio isn't open until 5:00pm in the evenings. That means my client will be waiting outside of a locked, dark studio in the heat and pollen. We don't treat our clients like that.
So... I start to calculate. I am now 2 miles from the studio and the wasp is resting peacefully on the ledge between the door handle and window of the passenger side. I figure I can make it. I keep driving and hoping...
The wasp gets caught in a breeze coming through the window and flies across the car toward me. I scream again - louder and longer than last time - and start flailing my arms around my head. Yes, I'm still driving - without hands. My good sense gets the best of me, and I grab the steering wheel with one hand and grab a bunch of my long dredlocks with the other. I start swinging my hair like a weapon, not knowing where the wasp is or caring - all I know is that I can hear it buzzing so it's too close to my head for comfort and it MUST GO.
My mind starts to work again and I see a driveway into a neighborhood. I slow down, pull in and stop right in the middle of the lane. Too bad if someone is trying to come home, I can't move right now. Shaking, I scan the car with laser-like vision and listen acutely for the buzzing I know so well. Nothing. Then I start itching. I feel like the wasp is climbing up my arms and down my back and across my neck. Ew.
I pull cautiously out into the street and finish the commute into the parking lot of my studio. I see my client peering through the front door window and I imagine her wondering if I've forgotten our appointment or whether she has the right time. I take a second to glance at myself in the rear-view mirror, tuck a stray loc, smooth down my eyebrows (they always stick up anyway), and pick up all three of my bags and parts of my cell phone.
"Hi Patti!" I say brightly, like nothing has happened. "Sorry I'm late - come on in and let's get to work."