Coffee with Mimi: A key incident

Published 7:47 am Friday, July 29, 2022


Contributing columnist

In “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst, the main character wakes up with gum in his hair. It was, admittedly, his own fault having gone to bed the previous evening with the gum in his own mouth. Even so, he is pretty sure this unfortunate, and inconvenient, situation is just the beginning of what may turn out to be a bad day.

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I don’t believe one little incident will predict the whole day. But that seemed to be true for Alexander. Nothing, absolutely nothing, went his way from dawn to dusk. He got the short end of the stick in interpersonal and familial relationships. He failed to heed parental warnings in multiple settings resulting in mild scoldings. The outcome of a shoe shopping expedition and a visit to the dentist were unfavorable. Lunch was awful and he hated the vegetables at dinner. He messed up in math class and his art teacher was not impressed with his creativity.

Unfortunately for Alexander, there weren’t any obvious remedies for improvement. The ball was rolling down the hill and gathering speed relentlessly minute by minute. His proposed solution was to pull up anchor and head to Australia.

At the end of the day, he shared his story with his mom. She gave the best advice ever. “Some days are just that way.”

As a fully grown adult, there is potential for Alexander days, too.

Recently, there was a rain storm in our town. It rained the proverbial cats and dogs. We needed rain after a period of below average precipitation. I just didn’t want it to rain on one particular evening. But, it did. I had tried to cover all my bases with weather reports, reasoning that surely 30% chance was way less than a certainty.

But there I sat outside in my uncovered chair, when the sky cracked open dumping a gully washer quantity of rain on humans and possessions alike. Before it was all said and done and the car was loaded with gear, I was soaked through.

It wasn’t quite the same as going to bed with gum in my mouth, but the morning result was comparable.

You see, I wasn’t in my usual car that evening. I had switched vehicles to use what we refer to as the hauling car. A car which has been used for years to haul stuff like construction equipment, gardening mess, and so forth. The persons engaged in such activities are dressed for the tasks and subsequent messes. We don’t bother to detail the upholstery after such outings. The next day will just bring more of the same.

On the morning in question, I had organized my day for efficiency. I would return the equipment from the previous evening and then switch to my “regular” car. My day was more of a dress up day and I had chosen a light summer colored ensemble.

I popped into the car for the errand portion of the day and laughed a bit because the car seat was completely soaked. Once again, I was wet, too.

Unlike Alexander, I didn’t give it a thought. It was just water. I would dry out.

Unfortunately, the car seat harbored a significant quantity of accumulated dust. Enough to transfer the dirty substance to my summery light colored ensemble as it absorbed the water.

Home, I go. I planned to do so anyway. Still not a horrible day. After all, the errands were finished.

I changed, we laughed about the incident, and I hopped in my car. I turned the key in the ignition.

Nothing. Well, not quite nothing. The dashboard lights came on. I was befuddled. I honestly manage the car care very seldom. I summoned my husband who looked under the hood. Try again, I was instructed. Nothing.

The battery was not very old. We had replaced it during Covid years. But, still.

I couldn’t locate the jumper cables. They are likely at the home of one of our kids. Always a reasonable answer to missing things. Call the tow service for a jump. The response was record time, very encouraging. The car started right away when my husband turned his key.

The battery tested fine. But just in case we should go to the auto parts store for a warranty check.

We thanked the tow service and waved him off.

I hopped back in the car. Turned the key. Nothing.

This was beginning to look like an Alexander day. I was a tad bit annoyed. Fortunately, with frantic waving and yelling, the tow service was grabbed from the street. Again, the hood was raised. Try it again. I did. Nothing.

Wait, let your husband try. That did annoy me.

The car started immediately with the turn of his key.

My key did not work. Whoever heard of such a thing? At this point, If I wanted to go to Australia, I wouldn’t have been able to get to the airport.

Fortunately, unlike Alexander, I can laugh at the whole incident. Maybe that is what disrupted potential for a horrible, no good day.