Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Worst Day of My Life (Now with Context!)

     Below is an e-mail I sent to some friends on Thursday, October 5, 2000.  I had been attending Eastern Michigan University for a little over a month.  The subject line was "My Worst Day."
      Yesterday, I woke up. That was my first mistake. In a comedy of errors, I was lucky enough to experience the worst day of my life up to this point, and I can't imagine any day being much worse. Although, that's what I kept saying yesterday, figuring the day could only get better after each setback.

     It began in the morning, when I was in acting class.  I pretended to have a hard time lifting this rather light box, and then began pulling a table over to the middle of the stage area.  Still thinking that I was going to have to 'pretend' to have a hard time moving it, I instead hurt my back pulling the lead weighted table.  I went about my day, not worrying too much about the pain, and got to my room after my morning classes were over.  I attempted to log on to Yahoo! Mail, and it would not work at all.  Every other facet of Yahoo!'s site was functional except for the one I really wanted.  But that's not a really big deal, it's just e-mail.  When I came back from Psychology in the afternoon, I remembered that my TV (which has been broken for 2 weeks and is still at the repair shop) was supposed to be ready.  I called the place, and they said it was indeed ready.  I thought that maybe, just maybe, my day was going to turn around.  I began the trek to North lot, thinking that I may have a ticket or two on my car, because I had parked it next to the curb Monday morning because no other spots were available.  I hadn't moved the car that day or the next because the repair place hadn't fixed my TV yet, and I was hoping that now, the third day of illegal parkage, that it would still be there.  It wasn't.  

     I went to Marilyn's room to tell her that my car had been towed and ask if she'd like to come with me to find it. [Editor's Note:  Marilyn is a friend I met through a high school classmate of mine during our first days of college.]  She said she would, so we walked all the way to the Department of Public Safety, and saw a sign on the door that says "Parking Department: 10 am to 4:30 pm".  At that moment, it was about 4:40, so I figured my car would be trapped for another night.  However, an officer in the station said that a woman would be along that could help me.  I asked Marilyn if she thought this whole thing would cost me more than 50 bucks, and she estimated it would be higher than that.  The officer called me to the window and asked for a description of my vehicle, and I told him it is a '91 Grand Prix.  I asked him if he knew how much it was going to cost to get my vehicle back, and he said, "Um, I think around $400, but let me get you a print out."  Flabbergasted, Marilyn and I discuss the absurdity of that cost, as he comes back to the window and hands me a pice of paper, outlining numerous parking violations incurred by the owner of the car.  I told him that they couldn't be right, I had only gotten one parking violation in my past, and he asked if the previous owner could have gotten them.  Thinking that that was a possiblity, I looked over the description of the violations, and the dates were those that I was in possession of the car, which made no sense.  It was at this point that Marilyn said, "Your car's not green!", reading the description of the car at the top of the page.  I breathed a sigh of relief, and told the officer there was a mix up.  He said he'd get me the correct print out, and by now the aforementioned woman had arrived and was helping him find the proper forms.  They gave me the car release form, and told me it would be a cost of only 75 dollars.  I got directions to the place where my car was located, and was told I would need to pay in cash.  I had about 50 bucks on me, and Marilyn said she'd spot me 30.  

     So, we went to my room to get my insulin, figuring after I got my car we could go to the A & W restaurant which is right near the parking lot.  We then walked to Marilyn's room, which was on the way to Budget Towing anyway, so she could get her money.  We then headed out, and walked the long distance to where my car was, over some railroad tracks and down a dead end road.  I walk in the door, and I am met face to face with the most humorless man I have ever met in my life.  I tell him of my plight, and he says he needs to see a release form.  I look around in my pockets, befuddled, and Marilyn says she didn't see me have it when we left my room.  I say to the man, "I had the form, but I don't know what I did with it, what should I do?"  Deadpan, he replies, "Git one."  Marilyn and I look at each other, and we realize we are going to have to all the way back to my room to retrieve the form.  Walking there and back, I remember the pain in my lower lumbar region, and make the remark that it will be nice to drive back to campus instead of having to walk.  We get back to the towing place, and I give the guy the form.  He tells me the charge is 90 dollars, and I protest that DPS told me it would be 75.  He tells me I have to sign the form anyway, and I do so, telling him I have only $83 on me.  He snaps at me to hand him his ink pen back, and then I ask him if I can just pay what I have.  He says he'll take my money just to get me out of there.  He didn't have to be a jerk about it.  

     So, I get to my car, and see that the doors are unlocked.  Thinking "That's strange," I get in the car, and realize that it's absolutely dead.  Figuring it's gotten as bad as it can get, I tell Marilyn we'd better go face the guy from Satan's Towing one more time, just so we can get out of there.  I walk in and tell them what happened, and they explain that maybe the cops inspected it and left the interior lights on, which would explain the dead battery.  I give them my AAA card, and they tell me to go wait in my car.  After waiting a little while, a guy comes along with a yellow jumper pack, and he hands me a form and a pen, telling me to sign it.  I do this, and give him the form.  He curtly tells me to give him his pen.  Apparently all the ink pens there are gold plated.  

     So, he hooks the jumper pack to my battery, and upon starting it, I get sparks and smoke, but nothing more.  He tells me to sit tight, assures me we'll be out of there in a few minutes, and walks away.  Not much later, a young kid pulls up a very old car, and pops its hood.  After stuggling to connect the cables to my car, he finally gets them in place and hooks the other ends to the old one.  Trying seven or eight times with readjustments in between, he still couldn't get it started.  He says he doesn't know what to tell me.  I say to him that he has to fix it, the other guy at least got it to spark.  He readjusts my cables, and then switches the positive and negative ends on the other car, and tells me to start it up.  It struggles, but eventually we have power.  Finally, we are free.  Hoping I'd never see them again, with them likely thinking the same thing, I pull out of Budget Towing. 

     I pull into North lot at Eastern, and Marilyn gets out of the car, as I pick up the forms and such that I had gotten from my journey, I'm counting my blessings that the nightmare is over.  That may have been a little premature.  As she closes the door, the seat belt gets caught, and startles me.  I tell her not to worry, it happens all the time.  Laughing, she shuts the door again, but it won't close, the mechanism in it has been damaged from the inital shock of the seat belt closing in it.  I get out and look at my door to see how to fix her side, and I subsequently mess up mine as well.  We can't very well leave the car sitting there with two wide open doors, so we begin balckening our hands on trying to fix it.  It is at this point that I see a huge coffee stain all along the crotch of my khaki pants.  I don't drink coffee.  Perhaps one of the cops who inspected my car spilled his morning joe. 

     Focusing again on the door, I decide to go and get Brant [a good with cars high school classmate who also went to EMU] to help me, hoping he'll have the automotive know how we need.  Luckily he is in his room, and he follows me out to the car, where Marilyn had been waiting.  She informs me that a truck pulled in next to my car and nearly ripped the door off, not seeing that it was open.  However, it is safe, and Brant quickly fixes the driver side by locking and unlocking it.  However, the passenger side is much worse, and Marilyn's best efforts with the ink pen she was prying it with were failing.  I think to myself that I hope she stole it from the towing company.  Brant looked at it and said he didn't know what to do.  I bent down to try the pen one more time.  As I began bending it to click the mechanism in place, Brant said, "That's not going to work, it'll only break the pen and spray ink everywhere."  As if God himself heard those words, the pen successfully fixed the door.  I knew this was a sign that my hellish day was coming to a close.  As it turned out, we made it to A & W just minutes before it closed at 7 o'clock, and were able to eat there.  That double cheese burger and fries was the highlight of my day.  They were out of diet root beer, but I'm not going to quibble over something like that. 

     I retired to my room for the night, knowing that it was all over, and that those hellish two and a half hours were all in the past.  The only thing I can do now is move on, and share my stories with others, so that they might have their day brightened because of my misfortune.  And perhaps hope someone sends me a little pity money to go toward the 50 dollars in parking tickets that I owe...  
Hey, it was worth a shot.

>>  Some thoughts:  Wow.  The fact that THIS was the worst day of my life up until I was 17 years old, as a person with CF, is an astounding testament to how blessed I was to be so healthy.  

I am so glad I sent this e-mail, firstly because I would not otherwise remember many of the details from that day, and secondly because it allows me to reflect on how, 15 years ago (I was a freshman in college 15 years ago??) I viewed what fit into the category of "worst day."  Admittedly, the day I wrote about was craptacular, but "worst day of my life" seems a little over the top.  And nobody sent me any money, so if I was exaggerating to increase my chances of raising an Evin's Unpaid Parking Tickets fund, it failed. 

At the time I had no idea what was ahead of me-- personally, professionally, or health wise.  But one thing that stands out in the e-mail that relates to my transplant experience is also what must have made these terrible hours of my life bearable enough to joke about it the next day-- I was with a friend as I dealt with all of it.  I'm sure we were making snarky comments or at least trying to make the best of the situation the entire time.  The arc of my transplant experience was that no matter what happened, or which facet of my life was being affected, friends and family were there to help me get through it.  Now, in the week of my transplant anniversary, it is still those friends and family members who make this second chance at life worth having.

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