We’re getting near the end of our wait.
Julie is on bed-rest now. I’ve pared my professional life down to 2 projects, and I am hoping to complete them before the baby comes. I give myself a 50/50 chance on that. My clients know my situation, and backups are in place, so that’s winding down.
This is good, because Julie is really only supposed to get up when she needs to do something I can’t do for her. That is pretty much everything, except for showering and going to the bathroom. In the last few months I have learned I am capable of getting a lot done in a day, but It’s been a challenge. Balancing the home life and the career has led to a few dark moments, but it’s also provided counterpoint to a my career focussed life. Making a ritual of cleaning the kitchen first thing in the morning clears my head, and after a day of squinting at the computer screen imagining how abstract little gears of code mesh, cooking in the evening removes the worky thoughts and replaces them with the smells and colours of a well prepared meal that I can take an ounce of pride in.
One of those dark moments, though, was last Monday night. Julie was in the hospital for a few days last week – she was feeling ill, and the doctors have pegged her at a greater risk for several nasty scenarios. My priority was her, so I dropped the work stuff. I stayed at her bedside, fetching water and trying to keep track of what the doctors were saying. Finally we called in help – my mother in law, Mary, offered to come over to give us a hand. After two days in the hospital, I was becoming aware that we needed it.
That night, she flew out from Vancouver, and I was at the airport in the evening, waiting to pick her up. She never came though – Victoria was socked in with fog, and her plane had to turn around and go home. I was a little bummed about that as the airport is about an hour and a half drive, there and back. Knowing she was coming the next day, however, and that it was only 8pm and I now had the time and energy to put a few hours in at the office lightened my mood.
I extinguished email fires and got some damage control done between 8 and 9:30. I was feeling pretty good as I locked up the office door and the elevator. I went through one of the self closing doors at the end of the hall, and heard it shut behind me. It’s a rough part of town at night, so there is an additional barred gate to go out of after that door. I put my key to the gate’s keyhole, and it didn’t seem to fit.
I have exited through that gate many, many times, and I knew my key worked. It was a strange moment, investigating the keyhole, looking at the key, seeing there was no way they were the same shape, trying the door that had just closed behind me, locked, also barring entry to my usual key. Where’s the undo button?
Essentially I was outside, locked behind a gate on a dark, chilly night with no way out. The space I was in is about 4’ by 10’. I had a laptop with a battery, and a cel phone with 2 bars left. Junkies were walking by, eyeing me up and down, if they noticed me there at all. I didn’t think I’d need to use a toilet anytime soon, but I remember feeling some relief noting there was a drain in the middle of the hallway. I also remember feeling a raging sense of despair at that sense of relief. Damn it! my day was too crappy already for a drain in the hallway to be a good thing. My spouse was in the hospital, I was stressed about work, stressed about home, I’d just spent 1.5 hours driving to the airport and back for no reason, it was 9:30 pm and I had just abandoned a bunch of projects I wanted to keep working on because I was too exhausted and sleep deprived from the previous night’s lack thereof!
I made several calls, and then several more, and then a few more after that, trying to track down someone that could help me. Apparently the building manager had the locks changed, and gave one to the guy I sublet my sublet from, but he didn’t realize it was for all the doors. I spoke with my office mate, and my sublessor, and was unable to leave voicemail in the full mailbox of the building manager. Eventually, I was down to one red bar of battery – I called a locksmith, who said they’d come, but at a $180 hourly rate. “Whatever,” I said, “Just get me out of here!”.
He showed up, eventually. One guy on a busy night. It took him literally about 5 seconds to pick the lock. “These are pretty crappy locks” he said. I concurred. They’d been crappy for me. I gave him my credit card and let him do his worst. I can’t tell you the elation of getting out of there – I would have given up my right arm if he wanted it. Heck, 20 minutes prior, I would have chewed it off if I thought it would have helped.
It was about 11:30 when I walked down the street to get into my van and go home. And while I thought “This has to be one of the crappiest days of my life”, I also took a moment to count my blessings. Really, they are many. The top three:
- Julie, while in the hospital, was fine. She received excellent care while she was there. A short decade or two ago, or in any other part of the world, we wouldn’t be so lucky. Socialized medicine is really working for us right now, as is 21st century technology, and the decedant lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to in the Western world.
- My mother in law was coming to help us out. She is an absolute godsend, and knowing she was with Julie I was able to go back to that office and work the next day, entirely guilt-free, a good 5 or 6 hours. It was the first time that happened in many days. I’m a lucky guy to be with Julie, and having Mary for my mother in law is a big perk!
- Last and not least, I had my cel phone, and it was charged up enough to make the calls I needed to get out. It was a pretty dark and lonely night, but it would have been darker and lonelier if my only option was to scream for help from passers-by.
Not, mind you, that I ever want to do that again!