I have two words for you: undesirable expenses. I’ll say right up front here that I am in no way comparing my day yesterday with those disasters of epic proportions in life, safety, health and happiness that are visited regularly on people around the world and even those in my own circle of love and acquaintance. So you already know, then, that I am still here to tell the tale and it’s only generalized annoyance and frustration at my own petty, less-than-optimal Happenings that make me even say it wasn’t the most glamorous and desirable way to while away the hours of that “extra day” we get every four years in the form of February 29, or Leap Day.
There are some people who claim that what happens on the 29th day of February is a sort of cosmic Freebie–it doesn’t count as real in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t actually exist, because after all the 29th of February doesn’t even appear calendars for three-quarters of the years of our lives. Of course, this idea of the day’s magical insubstantiality might be considered problematic by any of the people who on February the 29th are born, get married, win the lottery, or anything else they might consider a big Plus, if not essential. Maybe I should’ve planned my 29th better ahead this time around, just in case there was anything to the theory. But disregarding any potential Bonus inherent in the date, I did as I always do and scheduled/happened upon just another ordinary day of Being Me. Not that I find this practice in any way lacking panache and glamor, as I am after all quite the fantastic creature ‘as is’.
The only straying from my typical day was decided for me: a return visit to the local radiology center where I’d recently had my regularly scheduled mammogram. This was simply the first available date for my ‘reshoot’, and I took it. Arranging times for routine medical checkups is hardly routine, a sketchy business at the best of times, so when a scheduler says the magic words “I have an opening . . . ” I leap. Leap Day it is, then. I even showed up a little early, because who knows . . . . Should I have been worried that the first magazine I saw on the waiting room reading table in the Women’s Health Clinic was ‘ ‘? No matter, I plunged ahead.
Thus I found myself sitting in the hallway between the time of being Ready for My Closeup and getting my radiological reading from the oracle-doctor, and thinking dimly about whether my worrier-self needed to be consulted. I slouched there looking at a wall that was quite blank except for the electrical outlet that was either winking at me conspiratorially or making grimaces of warning–I couldn’t tell which. This, at length, confirmed for me that I am either too jaded or too lazy to get worried about such things.Having what is blandly termed “dense tissue”, I have probably had call-backs on at least 50% of my mammograms over the years. Auditioning actors might like callbacks, but I’m not such an enthusiast. Mostly, it means another half day of my precious life’s hours down the drain. So far the worst that has come from any of those callbacks were a few visits to a surgeon who aspirated collected fluid from persistent cysts, which while it’s another time-eater and not my first choice for a purely entertaining thing to do, is benign stuff. And I will certainly admit that I am glad someone cares enough about either me or my money to check up on my health from time to time. Even if I could figure out a handy way to do my own digital mammography ‘x-rays’ with a DIY home kit (my version would likely involve a non-stick frying pan, a bench vise, six disposable cameras, silly putty, and duct tape), I know from looking at the resultant tissue images yesterday that there’s not the remotest hope I could usefully decipher what looks to me like a grey interstellar cloud with a sparse constellation of teeny white fibroid stars in it. So I sat there in that hallway gazing without much thought at an electric receptacle.
It was, of course, a relief all the same that I had a perfectly happy diagnosis confirmation and no need to do further imaging or biopsies or aspirations. If I am to have aspirations I’d much prefer them to be for more impressive, productive or fun things than personal deflation. By the time I ran a couple of errands on the way home, there was a hefty chunk of the morning all siphoned right away and with very little to show for it but my one-page declaration of Negative (or Good) Results.
No matter, I had better things ahead. And indeed, the afternoon was a pleasant one, beginning with that telephone call from Mom S that led to yesterday’s reverie posted about the ambient music of the world, going on through the latter part of the chamber orchestra rehearsal I caught when I went to pick up my partner from his work with the players, and next leading to getting a few needful things done at home before we drove south for the evening’s church choir rehearsal. Indeed, I had put away my sense of tedium from the morning’s sitting-around and getting-pinched and sitting-around-again extravaganza and I was able to enjoy the evening’s rehearsal from my perch in the adjacent office while looking forward to a commute back home afterward, an hour or so to unwind, and then off to sleep away a longish day.
This was where things went a little off course. Literally. We were hardly on the freeway, heading wearily but contentedly home, when we caught the usual sight of many red taillights coming on as we approached the freeway construction zone downtown and prepared to get into a brief bottleneck. As we were both scanning ahead to see if the traffic seemed more backed up than usual, the cars all close together but not yet terribly slow, right in front of us appeared a very big piece of Something that could not possibly be avoided at freeway speed, let alone when it spanned the entire lane, was obviously made of metal, and was framed by cars whizzing right alongside us. No swerving, no amount of standing on brakes, and no wishful thinking could fix the situation, so drive right on over it we did. With a crunch and a clank. Whether it was a truck tailgate or a piece of construction scaffolding or something else was irrelevant: it was big, pointy, solid and Right There. Amazingly, the car jolted but never went off its straight line. The Tire Pressure light came on at the dashboard instantly, though, and we knew continuing forward was not optional.
My fabulous chauffeur got us up the first exit ramp and our champion car hobbled up the street far enough that we could get off this busy city avenue and into a passenger drop-off zone outside a parking garage. All of the good things that could happen from there on in did happen, so I have to give credit to the kindness of the day that, first of all, we didn’t see the debris until it was virtually under us, so there was no time to tighten up and get any injuries from the jolt. That the car behind us that was also ‘hit’ also limped up the exit safely, passengers intact. A large group of men passing by as we got out to survey the damage stopped and offered to help us change our tire: not, it turned out on inspection, necessary or useful, because both right-side tires were deflated far more than I ever was after fluid aspirations. I’d never realized full-sized tires could get so tiny. The car-park structure had security guards, who kindly checked on our safety. We had a functional cell phone with programmed numbers and were able to call a pair of incredibly generous friends from the church choir, who came instantly to our rescue.
When our friends arrived, the men stayed to join forces with the tow truck operator who had answered the summons for help. We two women took the one functional car and dashed off to Love Field–the airport being the only accessible location where we could secure a rental car at that hour, and then only by a ten minute margin from closing time–and picked up a temporary replacement for our injured vehicle. Then we two caravanned back and convened with the men, who had been dropped off with our lame auto in the alley behind the local auto shop our friends recommended. Leaving our kind friends with our car keys and a commission to get the repair process started in the morning–and leaving a note crammed under the auto shop door–we finally headed back for home only a couple of hours later than planned. And still uninjured, unless you count a bit of a blow to our best-laid plans.
Will you be shocked if I say there was a flurry of very colorful colloquial language indeed in the confines of a certain little red rental car when we got on the road to drive home to our burrow and the ramp leading onto the northbound freeway was completely closed for construction, with no Exit Closed, no foreshadowing, no detour signs anywhere in sight? Some days are like that. Maybe I should be glad that so many of the hours of a less than ideal day were actually wasted away and gone forever. I should at least be glad we got home mostly unscathed, eventually. I know I am very glad, at the moment, that the 29th of February only shows up once every four years.