I had a bad week. I mean, in perspective it was not like an accidentally trip your boss as he stands up to address the angry board of directors bad or get escorted off a plane in handcuffs because the half-deaf conspiracy theorist next to you misunderstood when you said on the phone “I’m going to show up in Spain” bad or waking up disoriented in an Aleppo park with an ‘ISIS SUCKS… Kiss Me I’m Jewish’ shirt on bad.
No, it was just your run of the mill, things did not go my way, bad week. It happens and I have certainly had way worse. Like I remember right after college I was crazy miserable, with no job, no relationship and no place of my own to live. My folks moved to a different city so even their house felt foreign. I spent most of my time hoping my 14-year-old rusted-out beater hand-me down car would get me the two hours north to my nearest friend’s house where I frequently crashed on the sofa she and her other broke college roommates had dragged in off the street.
Since I did not have a computer or word processor, one day I drove to the local library to work on my résumé. It was definitely dusk when I got pulled over on the way home because of a headlight not working. I had no money to pay the ticket so I was elated when the cop said he would let me go with a warning. But then he sternly threatened that he will be patrolling that highway all night and if he caught me driving without the light fixed once it was completely dark out, he would stop me again and absolutely give me a ticket.
Not wanting to tempt fate I sheepishly looked out of the window of my junker-mobile and asked how soon will it be too dark to drive with the headlights his way? He said about two to three minutes. I asked how I would be able to get it fixed that fast? He said that was not his problem. I said I lived twenty minutes away. He said it was not his problem. I said this was the only direct road home. He said that too was not his problem. I asked if he thought I could make it home in time. He said he did not think so and ‘the longer we talked the less chance I was even restarting the car without getting a ticket.’
Never before had someone in my head turned from good guy to mega Costco-sized douche-bag so fast. I stopped at a K-mart that was right off the next exit and parked in the far side of the parking lot where no one would bother me. I walked all the way over to the store and used the last of the cash in my pocket to buy a new bulb.
Being my Father’s son, and quite used to the car breaking down, I had a box full of old tools in the trunk that made the job easier but it was still a pain in the ass to remove the bolts, outer-casing and inner-brace to get to the bulb. Unfortunately, it was not until after I installed the headlamp and put everything back together that I discovered it did not work. I disassembled the whole thing again and walked all the way back to the store, searched for the service desk employee, explained my problem and exchanged it for another bulb.
I installed the second headlight but it also did not work. I than switched it with the one from the passenger side and discovered it was yet another electrical issue like the many others that had recently been cropping up all over the car making it buggier than an August night in the Everglades. Yet again I walked all the way back across the parking lot to the store a third time, and much to the chagrin of the hard-to-find woman at the service counter, returned the second bulb.
Since my success rate at fixing technical problems in the car were about the same as those of the Hindenburg’s landing crew or the Titanic’s ice berg watchers, I realized I was not going to have a working headlight anytime soon. My life was turning into a bad Jerry Lewis movie with no happy ending in sight.
There was no debating that it was now absolutely positively night out, so to avoid another road side visit with my new favorite policeman bestie, I removed the entire head light unit completely and duct-taped my flashlight into the hole where the bulb should have been. It was not particularly bright, but it was a light.
As I drove home, right on cue the exact same cop pulled me over. He complimented my ingenuity but made it clear I needed to get it fixed properly before he ever saw me again. I did not get a ticket. Ok, maybe he was just a regular-sized douche-bag.
I bring all that up because that was one of the lowest time in my life. Crap-City USA. Weeks of misery where nothing seemed to go my way. I was lost and lonely with no local friends, broken hearted from my last two relationships tanking, no work prospects and not a clue where, when and how to steer my life. A string of weeks of that in comparison made last week feel like an all-expenses paid vacation at Disney.
I try to recall those times when I’m whining about a rough few days. I kinda get mad at myself for playing the ‘woe is me’ card. I have a good little life. Not perfect, not extravagant, not without pain, sadness and difficulty but I feel guilty complaining because so many people have it so much worse than me.
Eventually my Dad pulled some strings and helped me get my first real job. I kept it by working my ass off and constantly proving myself over and over to compensate for the burden of knowing I did not earn it originally on my own merit. That is where I got my work ethic and confidence. That is where I learned if I have a shitty week, I need to kick off my shoes, roll up my pants legs and wade through the mess till I get to something better. I have the control and the ability to move forward. I welcome the new week with open arms and if this one is not to my liking, another chance will surely follow after that.