Horseshoes and Hand Grenades


Ever have one of those days when you're this pent up ball of rage and frustration, waiting to explode? When you decide on the way to work to call a doctor TODAY because something a friend said makes sense? You arrive at work safely albeit late because you've been driving half your normal speed, and when you get upstairs the first e-mail you read begins with, “Oh hell!” and the editor writing you goes on to explain how she needs you to design a book jacket for your NEXT ISSUE, which means basically you need to contract an illustrator and have them send you a sketch by NEXT FRIDAY if you're to make this deadline, and normally you have more like a month to do that. Still, you steel yourself to deal with this crisis first and as you're filling out a form for your art buyer, notice an e-mail from your OTHER editor, and he too is asking you to design a book jacket. You don't flip out though. You read the e-mail, and see that his request is within the normal deadlines. By lunchtime you've not only dealt with the morning e-mail emergencies, but you've even acquired an illustration from a dead artist's relative and finished yet another problem jacket you've been dealing with. Things are looking up, but before you can send a PDF of this design for approval, your friend announces in ”doppler effect” as he passes your cubicle that he's leaving for lunch.

Fine. You decided to get away from the fog a while ago, to stop making work a priority over life. The e-mail will keep until after lunch. Only on your way out you notice a folder on your writer's chair. It's a catalog you gave your copy-editor last Wednesday. One she asked you a question about late yesterday afternoon when it already should have been with your writer. One that's due to be reviewed by your marketing and editorial team TODAY, a stage of the process you traditionally accomplish a day EARLY to avoid delays. Despite friends and books and video game diversions, this simmers in the back of your mind. Perhaps that's why you have a furrowed brow and your buddy keeps needling you, trying to provoke what to him would be a humorous outburst. Yet you never lose your temper. Your parents bear the brunt of that unfortunately, though you've let your guard down and snapped at your closest friends during these times you foolishly make trying. Perhaps you're still thinking about your health mysteries and pining for better days as well. It's just a burden in your hand. It's just an anchor on your heart. You can't get back to work soon enough to solve the problems you have the power to solve.

Upon your return you discover an e-mail from your internet marketer. Seems she was out sick a few days and her boss didn't send you a list of books in your catalog which needed icons denoting the presence of author's notes and/or excerpts on your website. She asks if you ever got them and whether or not it's a cover-up is irrelevant. First and foremost you express an, “I'm sorry to hear that; hope you're feeling better.” before getting down to business because you're only human and that's common decency. Besides, she may have hit on you once while drunk and though you screwed it up, you'd still like to stay friendly just in case. You convey the urgency that you're getting this catalog out TODAY and yes, send the list soon. In truth, your boss must still look through it before you can send it out and as of 2:30 PM, you don't know if you're making that deadline. He arrives at 3 though and you go into efficiency mode, finishing 24 pages of corrections in half an hour. You still don't have the damn list of icons but she's never on time with simple crap like that anyway, and you've given her all the time you can. So you send your files to a printer in another office location where these people are, only an hour later they still don't have it. No worries though; you know that's a possibility and always print a set on local printers and have them hand-delivered the next day. Only the local printer first has a MORON standing in your way drooling over the papers and not noticing the EMPTY FEEDER. You reach around her and add paper, and when she leaves take your printouts. As you're standing there she returns and drops a paper ON TOP OF THE PAGES COMING OUT NEARLY JAMMING IT as you just stare in disbelief. Of course™, the printer runs out of toner but you aren't losing it; you call and let the help desk know. Then your editor sends you this month's letter column so you decide to reprint that page after placing it. One problem; the same printer ran out of a different color toner. You switch to another printer and by 5:15, at least the hardcopies are in the appropriate inbox. All through this ordeal your buddy keeps needling you with a mischievous, “What's wrong? Is anything wrong? You look worried. What's wrong?” At one point you lift up a stapler pantomiming, “I'm gonna THROW this at you,” when in reality you won't because he's a good friend. And you learned in college he could kick your ass. Perhaps this is the real reason you don't blow up as much with your friends; the threat of physical retaliation is greater than with family.

By 6PM the printouts haven't arrived in the city, and the help desk guy shrugs and apologizes that people at that location are gone but he'll have them reboot in the AM. You're so very, very tired. By now you've had enough, and go down to the gym and bike ten miles. You're powered by two things: bottled-up rage and anticipation. The former needs no further elaboration but the latter comes from checking and seeing that your DSL service is ready. This is quite possibly the best news you've had all day since getting the dead guy's son to send you artwork. Driving home is the usual ordeal despite the energy you had in gym, but once your ears stop ringing you doublecheck your e-mail and sure enough they say it's ready. This conflicts with another e-mail that says don't install until Thursday after 6PM, but you go by the more recent one. You disconnect your old modem. You put DSL filters on every phone in the house that has a modern jack, hoping you don't need to with the two old rotary phones(one with just wires and another with an archaic four-way plug). You even realize that with the 2-way adaptor they sent, you can hook up the phone in your bedroom again. The CD tutorial is idiot-proof and when you look under your desk, every light on your new DSL modem is green.

Then your mom yells.

It seems there's static on her phone. A lot. So you take off the filter thinking that might be the problem, and now hear beeping. Your dad starts explaining about main lines and telephones in '30s lingo, and your mom scolds you for getting this service despite her warning you that your godmother's niece had problems with it. You turn off the modem long enough for her to make her phone call, then proceed with software installation. Only it errors out when it connects. Every time. You realize it IS too soon despite what they said, and that you must wait until Thursday. You also realize that this is a separate problem from the static, and unless you want to retain the problem of not being able to use the internet when someone is on the phone, you're going to have to learn how to install some jacks on the older phones with the Rube Goldberg wiring running down into the basement and along the wood ceiling to who knows where.

Almost. You almost had DSL. Worse, after hooking up your old modem, it doesn't work because the aborted software installation installed enough to screw things up. So you have to reconfigure things just to get your crappy connection back.


Ever have one of those days? You might just be me, an unfortunate child of the eighties.....


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