Friday, December 01, 2006


Dani and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day*

All I can say at this point is thank the deity of your choice that November is finally over.

A new page on the calendar is as good a place for a fresh start as any. And December means the ramp-up to the holidays is in full glorious swing. I’m happy to leave November, with Nablopomo and grey skies and rivers of tears behind me.

But first, I have to tell you about my day yesterday, the day that is really the only kind of day that could end a month like this month has been. And since the other hallmark of this November has been my incessant nagging for your votes for the Canadian Blog Awards, it seems appropriate that I trade this story for the last of your votes on this, the last day of voting. I like to think that despite everything, I never once asked for a sympathy vote. Today, I ask for your pity vote. After reading the story of my day yesterday (you'll have to click the 'more please' button to read it), I’m hoping you can acknowledge with your vote this new high in lows, this bad day to end all bad days, a day lamentable for its utter wretchedness.

As you know, the day started without power. It also started with rain. And in the crepuscular dimness of our foyer, I overlooked the umbrella left hanging to dry overnight by the front door.

By lunch time, the day was looking up. It was still raining, and I was still embarrassingly bedraggled, but I made my way to the mall on my lunch break and ended the hour with arms loaded to breaking with gifts for Christmas, for myself, and for Beloved’s birthday on the weekend. It was a great day for shopping, but because the outside temperatures were near 16C, I was stewing in rivers of my own sweat by the time I made it back to the office. Not to mention, of course, the rain and the lack of umbrella.

Midafternoon, I left the office for my final OB appointment with a heavy heart and more than a little dread. After peering through the window and seeing that the rain continued to pour down, I decided to leave my two large shopping bags in the office overnight, rather than haul them all over town. In the rain.

As I walked through the mall and considered the 10-minute walk from the last bus stop to the OB’s office – did I mention the pouring rain? – I had decided to just buy myself a new umbrella. I stopped at Sears, choked when I saw the price tag ($35.99!), but sucked it up and decided to buy one anyway. I got to the cashier – and realized I had left my wallet in one of the shopping bags tucked carefully under my desk.

It was too late to go back, so I decided to just go ahead. I walked across the street to the bus stop and huddled under the shelter, waiting for the 97 bus to come. Before the 97 could arrive, the 87 South Keys pulled in. The 97 and the 87 both go to the stop where I would catch the second connection, so I hopped on the 87.

Two stops later, the bus driver informed us there was a problem with the bus and we would have to disembark. Into the rain. Fortunately, less than a minute later, another 87 South Keys pulled in. For less than a moment, I debated just waiting for the 97 that I was originally going to catch, but I wanted to get out of the rain and just be sitting on the bus rather than standing in cold breeze.

It was just as the bus pulled out of the Billings Bridge transit station that I realized my mistake. The 97 goes directly to the South Keys station on the designated transitway – maybe a 10-minute ride. The 87, however, the bus I chose to ride, goes to the same stop after looping through several neighbourhoods. Three years ago, I used to take the 87 every day. You’d think that an important detail like that would have burbled to the forefront of my consciousness sometime before the instant when it was irrevocably too late.

There was no way I’d make my connection at South Keys. The connector bus only runs every 30 minutes. I had the OB’s last appointment of the day. I was going to miss it entirely. My only hope was a taxi, which would be about a $20 fare from that end of town.

I had about a minute to think about it, and in the end decided to get off the bus at the next stop, which just happened to be next to a large government complex (the Canada Post building on Heron, for you locals) where I knew I could catch a taxi. I hopped off the bus – into the rain – and made my way through a tunnel under the road and across a sopping wet field. There was probably a concrete path somewhere, but I had the taxi stand in my sights and I made a beeline for it, across the marshy lawn.

I made it to the cab, pulled open the door, dropped into the seat, and just as I was about to swing my legs into the taxi, I remembered. No wallet. No credit cards. Not a single red cent on me.

I was more or less stranded. I could have caught another bus, but I’d completely miss my appointment. My mother was supposed to pick me up after the appointment to give me a lift home, and I wasn’t even sure I could make it there in time for the ride by this point. And my cell phone had been dead for a week.

I can’t imagine what I must have looked like to the driver, but I explained to him that I had forgot my wallet downtown, that I was trying to get to an appointment near Merivale and Hunt Club, and that if he could help me at all, I’d repay him somehow. If he would consider an IOU, or let me call him later in the day with my credit card number, or let me pay him in cash later in the day I’d be grateful, I told him, but I understand if he couldn’t do it.

He told me to shut the door, as the rain was running all over the back seat of the cab. And me. He never clarified what his expectations were, but he started driving in the direction of my destination. I was so embarrassed, so grateful, so filled with dread about the upcoming appointment that I burst into tears. I sat in the back of the cab, trying hard to cry in complete silence, and absolutely unable to get enough control on my emotions to explain anything to him, not even the precise location of my destination.

Eventually, just half a block from my destination, I managed to ask him how I could pay him. He gestured toward his credit card reader and said he’d need the card to charge the ride, so I told him I would send him cash, a cheque, whatever he wanted. I gave him my business card, and told him to call me when he was near my office building and I would give him the money.

By that time, we were in front of the medical building. The meter said the fare was $18.05. I am still not sure whether he intends to follow up with me to collect the fare or not. Only when I stepped out of the cab did it occur to me to take note of his plate number so I could find him again, but by that time he had pulled away. I only saw the number painted on the side of his cab.

I’m going to call the taxi company today and see if I can find him, and I’m going to try to think of places I can commend him. Maybe a note to the newspaper. I just don’t want to get him in trouble for not collecting a fare.

Taxi drivers often get a bad rap, but the kindness of one stranger for a soaking wet, nearly hysterical, and badly embarrassed woman on the last day of a very bad month is a story worth telling, don’t you think? And isn’t it at least worthy of a vote?

(*with apologies to Judith Viorst)

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