A few Mondays ago I was feeling completely recovered from a serious ball-dropping episode. The whole dopey drama had finally been mopped up and stored in the “This Will Eventually Be Funny” bin. I should have known there would soon be a sequel.
The first fiasco involved leaving my study-abroad son stuck with a frozen just-in-case credit card. This was a few days before he had to country hop for visa-refreshing purposes. Before he left the U.S., I told him there was no reason to set up electronic checking account transfers for half a year. I was worried about foreign Wi-Fi issues and device crashes.
“Let me handle things the old-school paper way for now,” I told him. “We’ll square everything once you’re back.”
The plan went well for four months. I was on it. (And my instincts were correct. Wi-Fi was indeed wacky and there was a major device tech fail.) My son used the card admirably and modestly. Also, I got a kick noticing he’d occasionally ring up charges at “The Disco.” Turned out it’s the name of a grocery store in Montevideo. Or so he said.
Then, boom. On month five of his stay, which has still not ended, this happened: I misplaced his final “away” bill and forgot about it. Time slipped away. His credit card was denied when he tried to purchase bus tickets for his upcoming border-crossing. To make matters worse, the kid soaked his cellphone back in June. (It took a dip in a washing machine. Or so he said.)
The scenario was not “nervous parent” friendly. College boy was about to country hop with neither a credit card nor a working cell phone. He was traveling with a trustworthy classmate who owned a waterproof device, but still. Everything was wrong. It’s winter there, toilets flush the opposite way, and I’m a mother. Even after I spent an afternoon on the phone reversing my colossal goof, I had sleepless nights worrying the card wouldn’t unfreeze on time. But it did. I was able to breathe easier.
“Never again will I mess up,” I promised myself. “I will be meticulous and attentive and robotic at all times. If future obligations stray from the routine, I will tattoo any rogue tasks on my wrists. The new me will never drop any ball whatsoever!”
Or so I said.
That alleged free-breathing Monday unfolded. How relaxing to know the last particle of oopsie dust had settled. Life was looking smooth and faux organized once again. I was getting things done. I was in control.
Until I noticed an unchecked voicemail message on my phone. Ball drop number two.
It was my dental hygienist. She ever-so politely asked if I happened to be running late on my way to her horizontal chair. That 28-second call had logged in 40 minutes prior. I had missed my appointment.
I was angry with myself. Like most responsible adults, I take pride in showing up earlier than necessary. I believe casual and professional commitments should be carved in Valyrian steel.
But how do distractable people like me avoid these occasional blunders? The trick, of course, is to always to look at the calendar. Another hint: Never set a dental appointment on a Monday morning. And perhaps the greatest life hack would be to program your phone to spit in your eye.
Though my two knuckle-headed snags were different, they did have one thing in common. Both times there were faint little blips on the outer edges of my wannabe Zen radar screen. Both times I had an uneasy feeling. Was I forgetting to do something, go somewhere? Yes, and yes.
In the future I need to be more in tune to that feeling. Better yet, I should just look at the calendar.