If I could pick any day, to waltz into work an hour late, it would have been yesterday. Yesterday, my manager was sick with a stomach flu, but today the regional manager was coming in. Everyone was on their best behavior, even my coworker, Ella. Everyone thought Ella got preferential treatment because she was deaf, and I’m not even trying to be insensitive, but everyone was right. Ella did mess up a few times, but she was never late for work.
I got away with it most days, but today that chance was as little as God coming down himself and fulfilling my fervent prayer request of sticking one up my manager’s ass. There was no way my car was going to make it to the parking lot of San Dino mall, I thought to myself staring at the big bold E flashing along with the empty gas light sign on my dashboard.
“Think positive. Think positive. Think positive” I repeated to myself as I raced Stacy, my beat up Volvo, through 3 more red lights, coming to a sudden halt and almost hitting the elderly man at the pedestrian crossing “Watch where you’re going you dumb bitch!” he said hitting against my car with the foot of his walking stick. He took about 4.5 steps a minute which frustrated not just me, but everyone else who had stopped suddenly to let this old man complete his walk across Dolman street. I was about 5 more lights from the mall. Maybe I would make it if this man survived long enough to get to the other side of the road, I thought to myself.
My phone began to ring. It was my manager. No I hadn’t called in to say I would be late. It’s just not what you do when your reply to how late is, 'an hour'. I was more comfortable with her just thinking I had died today and that’s why I didn’t come in.
Finally, he completed his walk across Dolman. I pushed hard on the accelerator and had barely taken off when my car began to make some weak coughing noises. I realized it was going through its last drop of gas, so I swerved to the side of the road where it was safe to park. I was about 4miles from the mall now so I thought about calling an uber, maybe walking… or running, when my manager called again. I didn’t pick up, but she left a voicemail, so I played it back.
It only took about 30 minutes for the triple A truck to arrive. “You owe me one” Larry said as he hung up. Larry was my ex roommate at the Hue towers. He’d saved my ass one too many times, I think he had gotten tired of it, and that was really why he up and moved to New York. The guy was just about done pumping about a quarter of gas when I ran back in my car and started the engine. He hurried after me and knocked on my driver seat window.
“Sin Propina?” He yelled
“What?!” I yelled back, rolling my window down.
“No Tip mami?” he asked again.
“I don’t speak Spanish sorry” I said winding back up.
I didn’t get back home until about 8pm after traffic. I walked up the steps to the second floor and on my apartment door, I found a note sticking out between the edges. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what it was.
Notice of eviction… I sighed heavily as I read the note out loud.
“The landlord was looking for you today” a deep voice said startling me from behind.
“Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you” he said. I thought you heard Brady come up, I didn’t think we were that quiet”
“No its fine. I was just uhh lost in thought”. I said struggling to fold the note back up and stuff it in my bag.
He glanced at the note in my hand and I quickly concluded
“Letter from my nan” She uhh died today, so forgive me, I’m a bit frazzled.
“omg I’m so sorry” he said “How did she die and…
“Well she wrote the note before she died. She wrote the note and then died” I stammered
“Umm I was going to say how did she die, but I’m so sorry to hear that” he said.
“It’s fine. She was quite old…” I managed to say
Brady let out a loud bark thankfully ruining the awkward silence.
“Do you want to come in for like a drink? Maybe a cup of tea or something” he said gesturing to his apartment next door.
“Uhh that won’t be necessary. Maybe another time” I said, finally unlocking my door, and walking in.
Brady barked loudly again. I never thought that dog liked me, but I smiled at both of them as I went inside now shutting the door behind me.