Archive for March, 2007

This was supposed to be a five day trip.  In, three days of work, then out.  Back by Saturday, easy.  Back in time to take my seven year old daughter to her very first Girl Scouts’  Father-Daughter dance.  She’s been literally counting down the days, for almost two weeks now.  At breakfast, and then again at dinner, “Only 12 more days ’til the Father-Daughter dance!”  Her Nana had dusted off the poodle skirt SHE wore to HER first father-daughter dance, spruced it all up, add added a new poodle (who really looks a bit more like a Lhasa Apso) and sent it by mail.  So thrilled that her grand-daughter would be wearing it.  Almost like passing down a wedding dress, to hear Nana gush about it.

I made the mistake of promising her I’d be back in time.  I should know better by now in this business.

Well, we’re not really sure how the scenario is going to play out, Major.  We really need you to stick around and help trouble shoot.”  From the Colonel.  My boss.

So, I have all the next morning to dread and visualize the phone call I have to make.  I’d rather charge a fortified bunker with nothing but a bayonet than make this call.  But I do.

Mom puts her on the phone.  Her jubilant voice all excited to talk to me.  “HI Da-deee!”  Drawing out the eeeee like she always does, two distinct syllables.  The crushing weight in my chest just bears down that much harder hearing the simple,  exuberant joy in her voice.

Well hon, I’ve got some bad news….”  I break it to her, try to explain why, hope she understands.  There’s nothing but that awful silence on the other end, a silence which drags on for an eternity.  Then, a small, quiet voice.

But you promised.  You promised you’d be back in time.”  My heart just crumbles into a smoldering pile of slag. 

More silence.  I even have to ask “are you there?” after a bit.

Yeah.”  A pause.  “Well, do you wanna talk to mom now?”  Auurgh.  Twist the knife.

She doesn’t cry, she doesn’t scream or throw a fit.  That would almost be better.  Just the small, half-choked voice, heavily tinged with disappointment and betrayal.  And you know what the sad thing is?  I’ve had to do this before.  My credibility is just about shot. I didn’t miss anything so significant as the F/D dance that time, but still, building their hopes up, then changing the plan because the situation has changed after I get there, and They “really just need me.” 

Yeah, well, I’ve got some other people that need me, and just between you and me, I personally believe that they need me more, there Mr. Boss.  But it’s not always that easy, is it?

I really hate this job sometimes.

At the moment, the air conditioner is making some disturbing noises vaguely reminiscent of the gurgling in my lower intestines a few hours after downing an oversized chipolte chicken burrito and two Dos Equis in rapid succession.  I’m not sure if I should have a barf bag or a drip pan handy, but I’m pretty sure that such sounds in humans generally lead to temporary hospitalization, or at the very least some quick outpatient physical therapy at the local UrgentCare.  I can only imagine the result in a cantankerous home appliance.

It sounds like some sort of alien lifeform is poised to burst through the front panel and skitter across the floor with an ear-piercing shriek, dripping freon and compressor lubricant across the indoor-outdoor carpeting.  Then I’ll have to crawl through the heating ducts with a homemade flamethrower and a flashlight, and trust me, no one wants that.

I must admit to a certain sense of, well, reluctance to go to sleep with that thing pinging, chorgling, and blurpening just a few feet away.  I’m more than a little afraid of what may come squirming, crawling, or flying out of the vents while I sleep.  Something undeniably nasty, no doubt.  Something which requires unprotected human nasal passages in which to breed.  Something which lays eggs amidst the accumulated earwax of its unsuspecting host, or suspends its egg sac from the uvula of some poor sap with an unfortunate tendency to sleep with his mouth open.  No one I know like that around here, of course.

Oh jeez.  Now its pissed.  I think it knows I’m talking about it.  That last one was more than a mere gurgle.  Something more akin to a cough, or a grunt.  Maybe the sudden convulsive hack you make when you suck in a gnat while out for your morning jog.  Something internal clearly has broken loose from its mooring or bracket or brace or whatever.  Now it has the distinctive air of an Freddy Krueger soundtrack, all hissing, clanking steam pipes and the disharmonic tapping of steel fingers along the casing of some low-pressure feed valve.

Nope.  Definitely sleeping in the guest room tonight.  As long as that space heater with the unfortunate sense of humor keeps to itself.