When I say that I am Murphy’s favorite victim, many of you doubt me. And when I promise that I have had days as unbelievably insane as the one in Forces of Nature, you think I’m being melodramatic. It’s ok. I get it. It’s a pretty bold assertion. And so, this evening I offer you . . .
Exhibit A: Amanda and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
It all began with some directions from Mapquest. You know, Mapquest–that website you’d use to get directions back in the old days before GPS devices were standard on phones. I’d just spent a marvelous week enjoying awesome friends, great music, and beautiful mountains. In short, it was a fantastic vacation. Now, I was scheduled to return home. I’d decided to save sixty bucks, and had flown in on a cheaper airline. Which meant I was traveling in and out of Memphis, instead of my final destination– Nashville. No big deal. I rented a car, traveled the scenic one-hour drive to Nashville and was soon relaxing in the sun. Now, the time had come to return to the daily grind. So I hopped in my rental car, Mapquest directions in hand, and set out on a day I’ll never forget.
I knew something was wrong when an hour had passed and there were no airport directional signs anywhere in sight. I calmly persevered, doubling down on those directions, and pushing down the petal a bit firmer. Thirty minutes later I was starting to panic. I stopped at several exits, searching for a gas station where I could get directions. No such luck. I began calling everyone I knew who lived in the state of Tennessee. “Do you know where the Memphis airport is?” “Where am I? I have no idea!” Finally, almost three hours after I left Nashville, I arrived. My flight had already departed. Over an hour ago. I returned the rental car keys and made my way to the ticket counter.
This wouldn’t be that bad, right? I’d just explain the situation and exchange my ticket for a later flight. As I reached the counter I knew I was in trouble. There was no one there. I’m not talking about the “they’re in the back room taking a lunch break” kind of not there. I’m talking the “packed up, turned off the lights, and went home” kind of not there. The kind of “not there” that I did not need. And the airline next to them — also vacant. This was not boding well. OK, no problem, remain calm, I can handle this. I called the 1-800 number for the airline and explained my situation to a lovely young woman who politely explained to me that their airline did not have another flight leaving the Memphis airport until Monday evening–almost three days later. She also politely explained that my ticket was non-refundable and since I’d missed the flight, they weren’t responsible for providing any assistance or exchanging the ticket. Thank you, lovely airline rep. You have a nice day too.
I trudged over to the only airline still open in Memphis at the ridiculously late hour of 11am. Sure, they’d be happy to sell me a ticket on their next flight with connection to Orlando, if I handed over a mere $400. I’d be happy to, if only I had $400 to spare. Or even $400. But I’d just spent all my savings on vacation and my checking account was running close to empty. OK, plan C. I dragged my luggage back over to the rental car company. “Hello again. How have you been in the 45 minutes since I saw you last? Great. You know that car I just returned. I need it back.”
Thirty minutes later I’m settled in rental car number two (apparently my previous car had moved on to bigger and better pursuits). I upgraded to include the GPS this time (I’m not a complete idiot) and headed to sunny Florida. My GPS promised that I’d be there in eight hours, which was good news because I had tickets for the ballet at 8pm and I’d been looking forward to it for months. I’d never have had the money to splurge on tickets, but they were a gift from an amazing friend. If I bent a few speed limits, I could make curtain.
As I headed across Tennessee I noticed three things. First, it was incredibly beautiful here. Second, I was starting to feel pretty lousy. And third, this was taking a lot longer than my GPS promised. It was about five and a half hours into my trip and I’d only reached Atlanta. ATLANTA!! They promised me Orlando in eight! Were these people on crack? By the time I’d left the madness of traffic in the ATL, two things had become clear–I was definitely not going to make the ballet and my health was fading fast.
Fast forward about six and a half hours later and I was finally seeing the bright lights and big palm trees of O-town. But there was no love to be had. I was miserable. Sick and pathetic, and more than a little grumpy. I turned in the rental car, and called a friend to pick me up. We had to drive to her house to pick up my car before I could then head home. By the time I reached my apartment, it was about 12:30am and I was fantasizing about crawling up in bed and hiding there for the next six hours before I had to wake up and go to work. Ah, such sweet fantasies.
I opened the door to my apartment and discovered that while I was away my lovely home has been turned into the earth, circa Noah’s flood. There was water everywhere. Inches of it. Throughout the entire home. Turned out that they decided to install a sprinkler system to water the lawns of our complex. Great idea. Then they drove over the sprinkler system with heavy machinery. Not such a great idea. The end result: lots of sprinkler heads aimed directly at my front door, blasting hard enough that the water rushed through the cracks around the door. I searched for a dry place to set my suitcase down and called up maintenance. “Yes, I know it’s almost 1am. Get out here anyway.”
I started trying to mop up the water with every towel in my arsenal. The Swiffer is a great invention until you need to mop up three inches of standing water. I’m trying to step over a massive pile of water to reach the dry ground of a towel, when I totally bit it and ended up on the floor, soaked. My toe was screaming in agony, and within minutes was twice its normal size and turning a lovely shade of purple. Hooray for broken toes!
Thirty minutes later a team of three men was traipsing all over my home, bringing industrial size fans and dehumidifiers. Each of these pieces of equipment was huge–a three foot cube –and there were four of them. They all end up in my bedroom, because that’s the only room with carpeting. I’m pretty sure they were cursing in Spanish as they ripped out nails and pulled up carpet before aiming the fans. They brought in arm loads of mops and towels–I had used all of mine, and not even begun to absorb the lake that now existed in my home. After an hour, they headed out. And I began to dream of sleep, once again.
Pajamas on, I finally crawled into bed. But by this point, I was as sick as a dog. (Why do we say that? Are dogs really sick all the time?) I piled on extra quilts on top of my down comforter, but I was so cold that I was shaking uncontrollably. I got up to check the thermostat. Perhaps I needed to turn the air down. I was so out of it, it never occurred to me to consider the obvious problem–that I had a raging fever to accompany my horrible day. I stood in front of the thermostat and stared at if for the longest time. It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s 92 degrees in here.
Apparently, while I was away my air conditioning broke. And with all that extra heat the dehumidifiers and fans were giving off, my house was now an oven. Well, I guess the problem wasn’t that it was too cold in here. I crawled back under the layers of blankets and willed myself to sleep. I had to be at work in five and a half hours. I’d just fallen asleep when a strange noise startled me back awake. What the heck was that?
I got up to explore. I flipped the light switch but nothing happened; and from the sound of things, something has gone very wrong. Curse you, you gigantic dehumidifiers–you have blown a fuse. I wandered through the dark trying to find the fuse box. I put my super-girl powers to the test and finally found the right fuse to reset. The lights came back on, but looking around I notice there have been casualties in this battle. Both my CD and DVD players suffered a fatal surge of electricity and are sitting lifeless on the shelf.
At that point, I didn’t even care. I headed back to bed and buried myself under layers of downy warmth. One day like this is more than enough for any lifetime.