As I climbed into my car this morning, I was waiting to see when my mood would turn dark. Not if, but when, as sometime between locking my apartment door and arriving at my office, it never seems to fail that I get grumpy. I blame this on the fact that I hate going to my office. In my line of work, I can usually work from just about anywhere, but some days I just have to go in. And it is NEVER for something I want to do. Hence the bad mood.
The last couple of morning drives I found myself feeling really anxious, a new development that I blamed on the cd in my stereo, JJ Magazine's Be Happy Love. This is obviously a spurious correlation, as I really like that album and there is nothing anxiety-inducing about it at all; it just happened to be the same thing I listened to both uncomfortable mornings. (To further expand on how much I like this album, it might be my single favorite album I've purchased by any of the several talented indie bands from Cleveland, and that's really saying something. Even as good as it is, though, I think it makes a better complement to the drive home from work rather than the drive to work. The Hot Rails cd is the best to-work local cd. The Unsparing Sea album, which is Be Happy Love's chief rival for my favorite local album, is beautiful but should never be listened to during any car ride related in any way to work, going or coming. But I digress).
So, as I settled into my car, turned the key, and the last half-dozen seconds of Track 6 played, I thought about changing the disc. But then I got distracted and started backing out of the driveway, and next thing you know I'm driving down Cedar, heading toward Hell, I mean, work.
As I'm sitting at a stoplight, I accidentally lock eyes with a woman in the car on the other side of the light, waiting for it to change so she can continue on in the opposite direction as me. The contrast betweeen her youthfulness and complete seriousness was striking and a little weird, so I look away to my right, where I notice the occupants of the hatchback in the lane adjacent to me. There is a hipster looking bearded dude in the front, and he's turned around and talking to a young woman in the back. There is no one in the passenger seat. This puzzles me, so I go into super-creepy mode and peer harder, and notice there is a baby seat in the back, next to the woman, the kind of seat for newborns. I start watching the couple, realize they are doing a cute but likely joint-numbing over-the-seat hand-holding thing and how nervous and happy they both appear. This makes me smile and feel a little choked up.
All the way down Cedar, from Lee Road to the crazy turny area just past the Cedar-Fairmount hoopla district, these folks are next to me, and I can't stop wondering about what is going on in there. I also find myself driving very carefully, like I'm sure the new dad driver is also doing. Of all the cars I don't want to get in an accident with, it is this one. (Plus I have a headlight out and my tags might have just expired, so I'd totally be the bad guy if anything accident-oriented went down.) Even when we come up to the aforementioned crazy turny part, by the rapid station, when faced with the terrible decision of whether to speed up and cut the happy family car off so I can get in the turn lane I want to be in OR fuck myself traffic-wise, I go for the self-sacrificing option. Eventually we turn in different directions and I make it to my parking lot a few minutes later. I'm actually in a good mood at this point, doing a little driver seat dancing and gloved drumming on my steering wheel. Clearly the JJ Magazine/anxiety hypothesis was flawed. I'll have to find something else to blame.
I park, walk to my office building, and notice a dude that is seriously a spitting image of V.I. Lenin just sorta hanging out. To be specific, secretly crossing the Gulf of Finland pre-revolution Lenin, with the sailor's cap and the disguise. Though with the traditional goatee. OK, that technically is a contradiction, but work with me. (It was something like this picture plus this beard from this one.) I want to ask him if this look is on purpose (I'd bet a lot of money that it is), but figure that'd be rude, so keep it to myself. By doing so, I decide I have earned a few more karma points, added on to the several I picked up by being a self-conscious driver around happy couple with the infant, and catch the elevator to the floor where my office is. (Note: I give myself karma points for just about anything.) I don't take the first elevator that comes available, as there is a guy who is probably my creepy rival and seems certain to talk to me in the elevator, which makes me infinitely uncomfortable, but another one comes almost immediately and I take it. Probably my reward for not making a comment to Lenin Wannabe Guy. I'm still waiting for the morning drive good karma payback, but that'll probably take a while, as it is certain to be big.
I get off the elevator feeling pretty good about myself and realize that I want a cup of coffee but there is no time for me to buy a cup and get to my morning appointment. So I do what any narcissistic jerk would do, particularly someone who spent his elevator ride wondering about the form in which his morning drive good karma payback would come, and decide I'll just steal a cup of coffee from the break room where a handful of colleagues have established a community coffee station. You are supposed to donate cash or coffee, but I never donate either one, yet occasionally pilfer a cup of coffee. Yes, yes, I am a bad person, a free rider, the very personification of the age-old collective action problem. Whatever. The coffee is never very good, always lukewarm yet reheatedly gross, so I don't feel bad. And for the record, this does not affect my karma point tally. It just doesn't.
At least not the karma point tally I was thinking about. Apparently there are several, as I think I have a specifically coffee-themed karma account. That would explain the three separate times I spilled my pilfered coffee, including once on my hand when it was still hot and once on my sweater in front of onlookers. I probably deserved that.
I sneak the coffee and ride the elevator back down, en route to my appointment, silently wishing very bad luck to the maintenance dude that still hasn't changed the lightbulbs in my office and the young guy with metal blasting out of his ipod earphones. (Sidenote: Why is it that 98% of the folks I ride elevators with that are listening to headphones at a volume where I can not only hear it but can make out most lyrics, even with my poor hearing, are listening to speed metal? Why can't it be something good?)
I get to where I'm going, and notice that an attractive woman I see from time to time is present and that she has recently dyed her hair a nice shade of brown. It was previously a streaky blond and the new shade is a serious improvement, given my aesthetic preferences. I think this and smile at her, a half-second after I sip my now lukewarm coffee. I only realize this might not be the best timing when the first drip of coffee droplets hung in my moustache falls and hits my lower lip and relodges in the hair on my chin.
That's right - creepy guy with a beard full of creamer and coffee leering at a woman who is now certainly regretting the coloring that is drawing her unwelcome attention. That's how I started my business day.
Not half bad, if you ask me.
5 years ago