The day before yesterday, I turned an age I will not reveal here in case identity thieves are now trolling online journals for victims, which I admit is not very likely. All things considered (and you can bet I will share so you can consider them, too), it was a pretty good birthday. Driving to work that morning, I saw that the construction that had been scheduled to start that day had been postponed. The temporary signs that had been flashing “WB closed starting 3/16/05” for the past week now said “3/17/05” instead. How nice of the universe to put off screwing up my drive home until after my special day.
My drive home that day started at lunchtime, when I headed out to a customer meeting. When their project manager called me to set it up and the only day that worked for them was my birthday, I told him they’d have to be extra nice to me. (This is the customer that employs the current bane of my existence, the person who’s going to be using the modules for which I’m responsible and who gives every appearance of being stupid or evil or possibly both. I was most definitely not delighted to have to go see her on my special day.) “Laying on the guilt, eh?” he said. “Yep, and if it works, I’m going to have another birthday the next time I come to see you,” I replied.
I’d been summoned onsite to review of the third iteration of the documentation Bane had decided she needed to see before she could move forward with the implementation. The first version I did had too many words and not enough diagrams. The second version, for which I had Powerpoint installed on my laptop, had too many diagrams and too few words. I was hoping to have a Goldilocks moment with the third one and have her tell me it was just right, but I knew that was probably not going to happen.
I was surprised to see Bane’s boss entering the meeting room that afternoon. He hadn’t had any exposure to my modules yet, because Bane didn’t want to bring him in until she felt more comfortable with the system. I still don’t know how it is he came to be there. Regardless, he was. So was his translator–the boss is on assignment from the Japanese parent company and is still working on developing his English skills. The project manager started the meeting by giving me a present–chocolate from Japan, some plain and some with macadamia nuts. Mmmm, candy.
Rather than eat the chocolate right then, which is what I really wanted to do, I started in on the documentation review. It went slowly, especially since it was all new information for the boss. I almost wish he had no English skills at all, because I found myself tuning out while he and the translator went back and forth and then I’d suddenly realize he was asking me a question directly, in English, and I’d have to try and catch up. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the impression that I’m a little bit stupid.
We wrapped up the meeting a little before five o’clock. The project manager seemed to think it went well, but I wasn’t that happy. Only one slide of a dozen had passed through the review without changes, and the bane wanted more slides added that have nothing to do with accounting, which means I can’t even do them myself because I don’t know how those modules work. Regardless of how it went, though, I was going to get home early–the customer’s office is a lot closer to home than my own–and that’s a nice birthday treat.
Except when I walked out the parking lot, I saw I had a flat tire. Not nice, universe. On the drive down, I’d heard a noise from that general area of the car, but didn’t think too much about it. Rocks are always getting thrown up by other vehicles and bouncing off my windshield or body panels; this didn’t seem any different. I didn’t see anything wrong when I glanced out the window, and the car was handling fine, so I forgot about it. Until I saw the tire, that is. Then I remembered the noise and wondered if I was so inattentive that I could have driven half the way there on a flat tire. That couldn’t be, could it? If it was, had I somehow lucked out and managed to not damage the rim? And what should I do now? I thought about marching back into the building and telling the project manager that part of being nice to be on my birthday was changing my tire, but that seemed a bit high-maintenance. I thought about calling Triple A–why be a member if all get is tour books and maps, after all–but having to wait for them to show up didn’t appeal at all. I’d change it myself. So I got to work. I had the bolts broken loose and the car jacked up when a guy leaving work saw me and stopped to help. He wasn’t anyone I’d met before, so it wasn’t like he had any particular reason to be nice to me. Before long, we had the job done and he put the flat tire in the trunk and I was on my way.
Mr. Karen got home a little while after I did, with flowers in his hand and a look of concern on his face–he’d noticed the temporary spare and wondered what had happened and if I was okay. I was, of course, and I was only going to get better, since soon it would be time for presents. Yay for presents, but not until after dinner. My first choice restaurant turned out to be closed–guess I should have gone there more often–and my second choice didn’t quite step up to the “it’s my birthday, so you need to be extra good to me” challenge. My entrée was disappointing, but the white cheese dip we had as an appetizer was extremely tasty. Next time we go there I’m just ordering a bucket of that and skipping the entrée.
After dinner, it was all about the presents, and as usual, Mr. Karen made excellent choices, including the thing I wanted but felt was just too silly to buy for myself, the thing I’d seen in Newsweek and dog-eared the page so I’d be reminded to add it to my list of stuff to buy someday but had since forgotten about and was thus surprised and delighted to see when I unwrapped, and the thing I’d mentioned in passing at dinner one night–this man pays attention. I’d be more specific, but I think it’s better to put off discussion of the related topics I’d feel obligated to cover, like my love for NFL Films, to another day.
Right now, I am pondering whether I should declare a birthday week next year. Or even this year–if birthday week starts on the actual birthday, I’ve still got most of it left. I could have pie. I could go see two movies in one day. I could even buy myself some more presents with the money we didn’t have spend on new tires–the one I flattened turned out to be repairable, and it only cost eight dollars. That’s a nice birthday week present right there.
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