As my family well knows, I have a bad habit of trying to squeeze in as many items on my to-do list as possible before I head out the door. I get a lot done, but all too often I run late—not horribly late, and I manage to make most appointments on time, but when the deadline is less rigid, I can slide five, ten minutes behind.
Except for Monday morning, when I had to catch a train to Boston to catch the bus to Logan for a flight to Kansas City on business. (Fortunately, this has a happy ending, but this once again reinforces my bad habit, as you’ll see.)
I was well organized for my trip when I got up, relatively on time (mornings are always hard, as my body is sluggish). My bag was 99 percent packed. Did my exercises. So far, so good. Stopped myself from catching up on news and Facebook, so I wouldn’t waste precious minutes.
Then came the fateful decision to do One More Thing. I had a family project I wanted to finish before leaving the house, which I needed to complete online from our secure network, that I felt couldn’t wait until my return from my business trip later this week. It took about 15 minutes. I had just barely enough time to eat breakfast, finish packing, get dressed and race out the door with Al to get to the train station.
Challenging under even the best of circumstances. But I was also upset with myself, because in the midst of finishing my One More Thing project, I thought I’d messed up the online form because I was rushing and couldn’t backtrack. As I finished shoving the last few items into my suitcase, my hands started shaking. This always happens when I hurry and get stressed. Totally involuntary and very frustrating—my coordination just gets worse.
So I ranted to Al all the way to the train. Fortunately, he is very calm when I freak out. As we drove up to the station, I could see the train waiting at the platform. I jumped out of the car, Al grabbed my bag from the trunk, we said a quick goodbye, and I ran as best I could toward the platform . . . only to watch the train pull away. As one of the conductors, standing on a coach staircase, slid by me, he shook his head and shrugged. Just another late, would-be passenger.
At this point, I started crying. There are many things in this world worth crying about, and this wasn’t one of them, but I was just so frustrated with myself. Al to the rescue (fortunately, he had waited to be sure I got on) with a big hug. Rather than go home and come back in two hours to catch the next train, which would have risked a tight rush to the airport, he drove me in to Logan.
Now, here’s where my One More Thing habit gets reinforced. The ride into town had the advantage of saving my hands from dragging my carry-on from train through South Station to bus to airport. We said a real good-bye when Al dropped me off. I made it through security in 10 minutes, bought a bagel and found a table where I could write before every space was taken later in the morning. And, to top it off, I found out through an email exchange about my One More Thing project that I’d completed the online form correctly, after all. No problem!
Next time I miss a train because I’m trying to do too much, I still hope my loving husband will take pity on me once again and save the day. But I honestly don’t want to cut it so close to the wire, for myself (too much stress) or for him. (Hear that, Al? Thanks again! Love you!)
It’s comforting to know that life usually works out, even when you think you’ve messed up. But it’s also good to remember that One More Thing can usually wait. (Hear that, me?)
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.