Disclaimer: This story covers a serious and dramatic subject so, please excuse the language.
Over the last six or seven years, I’ve been doing a restoration on my mustang. I’ve known for a while that it was about time to bite the bullet and complete the mechanical part of the project by overhauling the last part of the drivetrain because it won’t shift half the time. I called my mechanic who said to by on Friday, they’d drop the Tremec five speed and take it to the tranny shop for a rebuild. Tuesday rolled around and I had still not heard from the transmission guy about a quote. I placed another call and turns out the mechanic had not pulled it from the car until that morning [yesterday] and wouldn’t be able to deliver it until today. I’m usually patient with this sort of thing but it does get under my skin because it’s the only car I have, so I plan my schedule around the service schedule. I was hoping to get it back by Friday so I could take a short trip to Houston, visit family and check out a new limited release movie about one of my favorite themes – regular people living in an irrational world characterized by a dirth of justice and a shortage of Super Heros. But, because my plans got ruined i’ve been a little surly of late.
A few days ago, as I was thinking “Carlos must surely be dropping off my Tremec to Manny this very hour…I can’t wait to get it back with the new upgrades”, my daydreaming was cut short by a text from a friend who I’ve known for a long time. I knew they were not doing well, but I didn’t know how not well they were. I knew that they were in a strange town and had been out of work for a long period of time. I also heard that, without any family they had to check into a program for the poor and homeless to get help. The text asked if I would be willing to take some personal items because they were on the street and did not want to lose their stuff. After several days of conversing back and forth, they requested a meal bought via phone since they had lost a lot of weight and felt ill, which I did. Then the next day, needing a shower and medicine for a swollen leg they asked if I would loan them money against a retirement account that I would help them to cash in, which I also agreed to do. The last two days, I’ve spent considerable time trying to figure out how to get forms to and from somebody who has no access to a roof or shower much less a printer or mailbox. I’ve also spent considerable time trying to figure out how to transfer funds to somebody who has no bank account and doesn’t want to waste money on bank fees much less exorbitant wire transfer fees when they’re desperate to get a hotel room so they can rest. As a professional engineer-in-charge with a degree in TV and Film production, I can testify that when two different people are both trying to control a complex troubleshooting process from different angles, it never works. The money transfer process became extremely frustrating to me because, from my perspective, this person was acting highly irrational (The subject of rational/irrational man is one of my favorite academicky type subjects to discuss because of my background studying the market system in college). This morning, after I had spent nearly four hours online, on the phone and in chat sessions trying to find the cheapest, fastest way to wire money (time I had originally budgeted for reading and writing so that I don’t fall behind on my work), I got extrememly curt with my friend because they had left the bank while I was trying to wire money online and I couldn’t figure out something with the bank’s process and had to start over three times. Their response was that they were going to the ER because their leg was swelling again, but instead, they would walk back to the bank. I texted back “No. Just go to the ER, I’ll figure it out”. No one was responding at the bank or the Western Union businesses. In fact, they block you out with automated phone systems. I stewed for a few minutes and then made an executive decision.
After taking a few more minutes collecting myself, I took the bus downtown to my bank because, it turns out, the cheapest fastest way to send money is a bank wire, except that you have to be there in person which means, you need a car but my car was in the shop [not getting worked on]. Also, you need to get there by 2PM for a same day transfer but I had spent the first half of the day wrestling with several other plans that should have worked but didn’t. I had to feed and walk my dog because he normally goes out around nine AM but had not been out all morning and I don’t have a yard. I left the house at 2PM on foot which meant I’d get to the bank at 3, an hour too late and my friend would just have to tough it out another night on the street with no medicine and an f*&%’d up leg. And, I’d just have to deal with falling behind on writing and risk losing the little audience that I do have or falling behind on reading and missing my deadline with the festival. As I neared the bus stop, the bus blew by me. Its a park and ride which means that the bus has to go slowly around a loop before parking among one of the many terminals. I was just close enough to make it…If I ran. So I took off towards the terminal like I’ve done many times before and veered off into the grass just before the parking lot. As I got to the driveway, my foot hit the ground where there was a hole in the dirt that I couldn’t see. It wasn’t very deep but somehow my foot turned the wrong direction and all my weight came down on it twisting the hell out of a formerly perfectly healthy ankle. All my decades playing sports, I don’t think I ever twisted an ankle but, as they say, there’s a first time for everything. The bus was coming around the bend. Meanwhile, I’m hopping around cussing up a storm because of the severe pain. But I sucked it up because I had a bus to catch. I jog-limped to the bus and made it just as the driver was closing the doors.
I got off the bus and limped to the bank by 3 Pm to find out that the transfer would actually make it into my friends brand new bank account today. After taking care of that business, I dropped off my new passport in my safe deposit box (the first passport I’ve ever had. I want to travel some, but have no idea when I’ll find time or where I’ll get the money…but if it’s in my destiny, then I’m all saddled up). I then limped over to the ATM to withdraw cash and realized that I had forgotten my PIN number (how is that possible? I use it almost every day). After a few tries, I got my money and headed across the street to Starbucks where I was hoping that if I spent some money, they’d hook me up with an ice pack (which they did…thanks Starbucks guy!) because I’ve got work to do and I have to play through the pain. So I’m now sitting here at Starbucks on Congress, right near the capital, consolidating my thoughts into a (hopefully) cohesive narrative. My ankle has swollen up to the point that I had to remove my shoe and as I type out my final thoughts, I’m continually distracted by the fact that it hurts like a mother fucker. After all that’s happened today, you’d think that I’d be pretty angry, but after two hours with a throbbing leg, the story “twist”, has worked on me like an Ego ice pack. And given the timliness, its hard to think it a coincidence.
Truth be told, dealing with troubled people is somewhat of a hardship because they do act irrationally, but if you read the history of the western social system and the developments that occurred from the beginning of the industrial revolution up till now (the primitive era of the Information Age), the experts will confirm that we’re all irrational in most situations. And, it could be worse…I could be homeless.