My eyes opened and blinked in the bright, sunny room. The surface of my eyes felt like sandpaper; I tried to focus them to no avail. My impacted sinuses kicked hard against the front of my skull, and then my brain began to emerge from the fog.
Sunshine? At this hour? Wait a minute … wait a minute …
There shouldn’t be any sunshine at this hour. What time is it?? What time is it, dammit!!??
I squinted cruelly through my protesting eyes, forcing them to see the soft glowing green digits on my clock.
OH MY GOD!!! I’M AN HOUR AND A HALF LATE!
My heart exploded in a hormonal tsunami as adrenaline and a quivering rush of panic. I tore the covers from my body, swinging down my legs and heaving my bulk toward the bathroom.
Why didn’t I hear the alarm?? Oh, sweet Lord, I didn’t set the alarm!! Why didn’t I set the alarm? How could I be so stupid?!? HOW AM I GOING TO GET TO WORK ON TIME?!?
I raced for the bathroom, but my body wasn’t awake; I stumbled as my still sleeping toes dragged against the ragged surface of the cheap apartment carpeting. I blindly stuck my arm out to stop myself from crashing into the wall, but it was too late — the back of my hand slapped uselessly against the drywall as it rose, and my forehead bashed into the corner. Yellow-white stars sparked through my eyes and I cursed softly through clenched teeth, fighting to keep from falling completely. I realized then that I wasn’t going to make it; I needed to shower, shave, brush my teeth and do a plethora of other morning rituals before I’d be even remotely presentable in a professional environment, and I needed to have been on my way ten minutes ago to have any opportunity to make it on time. This wasn’t happening.
I stumbled back to the nightstand, and pulled my phone from its holster. I had to call; there wasn’t anything I could do about it — I was going to be late, period. I’d have to let them know.
Oh, CRAP! I don’t even know the guy’s NUMBER! How am I going to call him?
“The guy,” as I so unceremoniously referred to him, is my manager. I’ve been on the job just over a week, but I’ve only been issued a phone and a computer in the last few days. I didn’t know my own extension, and hadn’t been given opportunity to get to know anyone else’s. I couldn’t even call in sick. My heart sank again, and I knew I’d have to resort to desperate measures.
I paced quickly into the living room, still trying not to wake my wife, blissfully snoring in the warm, inviting bed. I’d have to call the contracting firm, and ask them to contact the manager. I didn’t have any choice. I flipped open the phone to dial the number. What’s the number again?
A black, dead screen stared back at me.
Normally, I don’t have to charge my phone very often, but for some reason, the battery was completely dead. I hadn’t thought to put it on the charger the night before. We don’t have a land-line at all.
Again I swore angrily through my panic and clenched jaw, still staring at the blank screen. I turned, trying to remember whether the spare battery was in the charger, and headed back toward the bedroom where the chargers are plugged into the wall. There was a plastic crunch and I felt my third toe accordion back in unnatural positions, white bolts of agony ripping up my leg into my brain.
I danced that horrific and fascinating I’ve-stubbed-my-toe dance of pain, and cradling the injured and likely to be amputated foot in my right hand and my lifeless phone in the left, I hopped like a Simon-Says contestant to the bedroom. The green LED on the cell phone charger winked at me, indicating that the spare battery was ready. Fumbling and nursing my injured toe, I pulled the battery from the charger, then pawed at the one on my phone. It snapped free after much cursing and tugging — along with the antenna, which rolled pathetically and uselessly into my lap as I sat trying to comprehend what was happening. That ridiculous Dunkin’ Donuts ad campaign, with the annoying chorus “Alarm Clock Catastrophe,” was mocking me somewhere in the back of my head.
I tried to reassemble the phone. I didn’t know what I was doing, but somehow, the pieces went back together and I pushed the battery into place. I hit the power button. Nothing. C’MON, DAMMIT, COME ON! What the hell’s wrong NOW??
The battery wasn’t in place correctly. I had to pull it off and re-seat it, which took four tries.
Time! — what time is it?? 7:36 a.m.
I audibly groaned. The phone toyed with me, and I swore at it, threatening it in the worst way I could think of, and slammed the battery back into place.
7:37 a.m. And counting.
My shift is scheduled to begin in less than an hour, I haven’t showered, and I couldn’t get my phone to work.
You son of a —
The battery suddenly collapsed onto the phone unit. FINALLY! I pushed the power button, and exhaled sharply through pursed lips in relief as the screen glowed and came to life.
Sweating blood, I watched as the picture of my son came smiling up at me, calmly, as though the phone had all day to power up. The vibration rattled my hand as the phone acknowledged that yes, it had, in fact, been powered up, and would soon be ready for use … soon.
I watched the screen change in slow-motion, the pieces of the reception and status icons falling one by one into place. I didn’t recall another time when the phone had taken so long to come alive. The personalized message I use as my status bar blinked, then held — almost there.
Finally, excruciatingly, the time and date flashed across the status bar. The phone was finally ready!
The status bar read “Sunday, November 19, 2006, 7:38 a.m.”
I hung my head and cried.