At the End of the Day

My life doesn’t really run to a narrative. There’s the basic “get up, go to work, come home, eat something, do something, go to bed” framework, but there’s no grand sweeping Story of my Life. It’s just a collection of random moments.

That being said, some days are a little out of the ordinary in minor ways. Today started out normal, got different, then got normal.

It was very slow at work – as in, frighteningly, “when are they going to start training us on other accounts” slow. Not terrifyingly “when are they going to start to pull in the last-hired people into a conference room” slow, though. I had left a number of messages for a bunch of different hotels in Atlanta, trying to find some block space for a group, but didn’t expect to hear back from all of them until after the Thanksgiving holiday. This event isn’t for about 5 months so it’s not a huge rush, but it’s during the time of a major convention and a large meeting-planning organization had sucked up all the available properties behind a kind of “paywall” arrangement. The person asking me to arrange the block wasn’t willing to give up a credit card number for a guarantee just to find out IF her first through sixth choices were available, at some unknown price. So I was trying to find someplace that wasn’t contractually obligated through the convention’s housing bureau. I’ve worked with the particular meeting-planning outfit running the housing desk before and frankly, wasn’t looking forward to it as they were hard to work with and this is the largest size group I handle.

At least I’m no longer covering for my co-worker, the air groups person. In addition to taking normal travel arranger-type calls, we both specialize slightly in aspects of group travel, and backing her up is not difficult, but occasionally there’s a huge spike in workload. It was mostly a caretaker job this time, though, while she was out for 3 weeks. Handled it all and got it done.

So, all that time I couldn’t avail myself of downtime when it was offered, because I didn’t feel it was right to take it when something might come up and no one else was really up lined up to back groups up.

I was just thinking “Man, TOO SLOW. Lunch in 5 minutes, seems like 5 hours.” And then a team leader came up and offered immediate downtime on the spot. Normally, it’s much more formal – there’s a sign up list, they don’t decide until after lunch, and it’s not a snap decision like that. No, today the call volume was low enough in the morning that they needed to get some people off as soon as possible.

Nobody on my team looked all that interested, amazingly enough. Perhaps no one wanted that much unpaid time. I raised my hand and said, “Well, I could go; I’m waiting for callbacks that probably won’t come in today, I don’t have anything pending, and this project is really low priority. “I can authorize you to go right now, if you like. Log out and change your schedule and it’ll be approved,” said the team leader.

Okay then, I’m out of there at noon. What to do? With the T-day holiday looming, I decided to go to Meijer’s and stock up on staples, since we’re low on a few things, and also get some of the baking supplies I’ll need for making dilly bread. And off I went, and started loading up on mostly normal staples, plus a few seasonal things texted to me by David or remembered, more or less, by me.

I had the most interesting conversation in the tea-coffee-cocoa aisle. I had a taste for hot chocolate the other night, so I was comparing ingredients on various “instant cocoa” products. I was trying to find one that didn’t have a lot of milk product in it, in case David wanted some, but then decided “what the heck, he doesn’t even LIKE chocolate, it’s all about ME and what I like here!” A woman standing there doing the same thing laughed and said “What is it about women and chocolate?” and proceeded to tell me a story about how she went to downtown Chicago and was in a very upscale chocolate place – like maybe Godiva or some other boutique chocolatier – and seeing an extremely well-dressed, posh woman with 4 or 5 little girls there.

All the girls were also extremely well turned out, and this woman was “introducing” them to fine chocolate, very deliberately. According to the lady in the cocoa aisle, they were all sitting around dressed in their finery, with freshly lacquered nails, and they had wee cups of fine cocoa and were being schooled in the niceties of properly sipping one’s drinking chocolate. She said there was something disturbing about how these kids couldn’t simply be handed an ordinary candy bar, they had to make it into some kind of special event (it was probably a birthday party). But we both pondered how one of a certain income bracket might have one’s children and one’s friends’ children properly introduced to chocolate.

“Imagine that… they couldn’t just hand the girls a Hershey bar, or even a good quality chocolate bar, and add the usual warnings about not eating too much at one time,” I said. “In an economic crisis, it’s kind of offensive to me that someone would want to ‘introduce’ young kids to such… elitist consumerism. There are people who’ll have trouble feeding their own kids and staying employed and housed.” I added something about it not being a good idea to bring up kids that take such stuff for granted. The grocery lady agreed and we chatted on for a few more minutes in that vein.

In the end, though, she and I both picked the “organic” chocolate, although it was the house brand. The “name brand” stuff was more expensive, and it was full of crap like xanthan gum. How terrible for the poor Xanthans! How do they manage to eat?

Anyway, after loading up on more stuff, yet having the nagging suspicion that I was forgetting something critical for either tonight’s dinner or Thursday’s breads, I proceeded to the checkout area. I was kind of wishing I hadn’t gone to Meier and gotten so much stuff, because I thought there would be a long line for the “live” checkout lanes, and it would take forever to scan all that stuff myself and have to stuff bags in the “loading” area one at a time. But lo! they’d installed some high-volume self-check lanes! So you can scan something, send it down a conveyor to a holding area, and immediately scan something else rather than to have to stop and bag each item. Whee!

I fancy myself as a pretty good scanner now. I bet if I had to, I could get a part time job in a grocery store. Yep. That’d last about two days until my back, knees, and wrists gave out.

So then it was Off Toward Home. But first, there was a nasty accident to pass along the way. Which begs the question… how the heck do you overturn a large SUV on a major suburban arterial, where the speed never gets above about 40-45 mph? There must have been some involvement with the central median to get some tipping action, but there it was, on its side, with a bunch of cops and fire trucks all around. And then I saw a fireman hustling himself through the opened/broken sunroof, and I realized “Holy God, there’s still someone in there.” And crossed myself as I passed by, marveling at the large number of cop cars. I mean, there were at least 5 or 6, plus two or three fire trucks. Most of the cop cars were behind the SUV in the opposite lanes… had there been a chase? Don’t know, hasn’t made the local news outlets.

Once home, what to do? Cleaned out the refrigerator a little and wiped it down. Put the food away. Had hot chocolate, played with the cat, surfed the Internets tubes.

For about an hour or so, I had an extremely bad day as I screwed up the transfer of music from my iPhone to this computer after downloading and installing iTunes on it. Thus, my pretty good day went horribly borked as I basically had to restore the phone to factory defaults… that is, wipe it clean and start over. Thank GOD, I had recently synched it to my normal iTunes install on the laptop. So, geeky angsty yadda yadda, it remembered everything and who I am and all my music and all my apps and games and I didn’t have to re-enter all my contacts from scratch or remember how to do it via Outlook. Whew.

Once David got home, it became a more “normal” day. Watched Chuck. Eventually made dinner out of the beef I originally bought to make stroganoff, because I forgot to get egg noodles. We ended up finding a kind of “easy casserole” recipe that we adapted that turned out to be… really very good. Served it over cracked Yukon Gold potatoes – next time, either smaller potatoes, or cut in smaller cubes. I’d stilll cook them separately in the same skillet I browned the beef in before we put it in the casserole, though. Beef had a really good flavor, and so did the potatoes. We’ll try that again, maybe with big sliced portobello mushrooms in the “easy casserole” mixture.

Pretty much a normal/not normal/normal day, though. Oh, and Chuck was teh awsum.

Oh, and sometime between now and Thursday morning, I need to pick up some yeast cakes. Because, yes, forgot them too. And the cottage cheese. And need to see if we already have all the other spices and herbs, too, because usually I just buy another little jar or bottle of ginger or dill weed and then get home to find that I have 2 or 3 jars or bottles already.

Yeah. That’s how I roll!

So goodnight. Maybe I’ll go shopping tomorrow.

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