The dawning of a New Year often brings with it a sudden need to GET ORGANIZED. This urge struck me last Friday at work as I pawed through the never-ending abyss that is my purse, where whatever I need to find is always at the bottom. When the digging and pawing become futile, I start taking things out, one by one. The object that I am trying to find is always, ALWAYS, the last thing I pull out. I just needed to find a hair elastic, for Pete’s sake, without emptying my purse all over my office. I decided at that moment that this was the day I would clean out my purse, and I was going to do it on my lunch break before I got distracted or lost motivation.
So off I went at lunch, in search of some purse accessories. I landed at Ulta, and found a cute set of 3 cosmetic pouches in varying sizes. The two smaller ones were just the right size to organize some makeup and medicines I carry with me, and I had one left over which I figured would be handy for travel. In the parking lot outside of Ulta, I proceeded to purge my purse of old receipts, expired coupons, used-up gift cards, garbage, and all the other randomness that got there somehow. It felt really good. I was heading into the New Year with an organized purse, fully knowing where to find my hair elastics, chapstick, and Dick’s Sporting Goods store rewards card. I was completely in control of my life. I gathered up all the trash and discarded items and put them in the bright pink Ulta bag, which I then threw away in my office trash can as I headed in to start my afternoon.
The next day was New Year’s Eve. Am I the only one that hates New Year’s Eve? I am inherently resentful of any “holiday” that demands that I must stay up past my bedtime in order to partake in its festivities. Inevitably, my kids wake up at the same time as usual on New Year’s Day because they “can’t sleep in”, and they’re whiny, and I’m tired so I can’t handle their whining, and then the whole day is a big whiny, weepy disaster. Anyhow, New Year’s Eve day was a Saturday, and we had things to do. I had one kid sick with a fever, and the other had just gotten a prescription for eyeglasses, which we hadn’t yet had a chance to shop for due to the holidays. I left the feverish one at home with daddy and set out to the optical store.
We picked out some frames, and then met with the optician who asked me for the prescription, which I had carefully stowed in a zip pouch in my purse that I use to store coupons, gift cards, and the like. I reached in to retrieve it, but found it wasn’t where I left it. I started going through all my new pouches, my anxiety mounting with each zip and unzip. I knew I had that yesterday! Where did I put it? Also missing–a money order that my parents had given me as a Christmas gift. A feeling of dread washed over me. I must have thrown them in the trash when I cleaned out my purse yesterday!
My anxiety turned to full on panic. I’m sure I looked like a crazy woman as I hastily shoved the frames we had chosen back on the display and ran out of the store bumbling my self-depreciating stream of consciousness, dragging Leah behind me, who was now crying because now she wasn’t getting her glasses as anticipated. I raced home to drop her off and then drove the 25-minute commute, sans rush-hour traffic, to my office. I cursed myself the whole way. How could I be so stupid? Seriously, does this stuff happen to other people? I try to get organized and end up shooting myself in the foot. Also, there goes my productive morning–I’m driving to work on a Saturday in my sweats to try to retrieve something from a trash can. What has happened to me??
What were the chances that the cleaning crew didn’t empty my trash can last night? It was a holiday weekend, maybe they didn’t come at the usual time? Maybe they didn’t empty the trash can in my office where I remember throwing everything out, that happened sometimes. A little seed of hope sprouted up in me as I let myself in the back door of the building. My hope quickly deflated, though, as I rushed through the back hallways and observed the pristine condition of the office. The floors were neatly vacuumed, and all the trash cans had new liners in them. I got to my office and hung my head. The garbage can was empty. Empty! OK, maybe he emptied the trash into that big yellow roll-y can I see him pushing around. I wonder where he keeps that? Do we have a cleaning closet here? I’ve been working here almost 4 years–why don’t I know that? I circled around the maze of hallways, searching for clues. There was one room where I know we keep the paper shredding stuff, but it was locked. Could it be in there? It would make sense to have garbage and paper shredding in the same room. I grabbed a paperclip and tried to jimmy the lock. This did not work the way it does in the movies, in that it did not work at all. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to look. Except….the dumpster.
I had never noticed whether our office had a dumpster or not (because I never needed to notice), but with an office this size, there must be one close by. I rushed outside and scanned the parking lot. There it was, tucked in the back, unassumingly bricked in behind a little wall. It would make sense for the cleaning crew to take the trash right out the the dumpster. It was my last hope.
I swung open the steel door that hid the dumpster from the parking lot, and climbed up. There were about 4 bags in there, and some random loose trash littering the bottom. I had already committed to this when I drove down here. I wasn’t about to give up now. I am a lot of things, but I am no quitter.
I hung my head and arms into the dumpster, perching my waist on the edge, grabbed the bag closest to me, and ripped it open like a racoon. I looked for signs of familiarity, but found only generic-looking medical office cast-offs. Nothing gross, but nothing familiar either. I grabbed the second bag. This one looked more promising. There was a ton of crumpled up Christmas gift wrap, which looked like it could have been from our office decorating contest. A few lunch remains, and some coffee filters. But it looked like our coffee. The hope rose up again as I grabbed the third bag and ripped it open.
I saw a box from Leo’s bakery. Wait–we had donuts from there yesterday!! Some stale cookies leftover from that cookie exchange day! I recognize those! And then, then—I saw it. The bright pink Ulta bag. I grabbed it, trembling, and peeked inside. There, admidst the old receipts and customer loyalty cards that I never used, was the money order from my parents and the eyeglass prescription. I cheered–take that 2016!! I am going out victorious!!
Let me pause here for a moment to address a few questions I know you may be asking yourself. “Tracy, why didn’t you just call your parents and have them stop payment on that money order, and then call the doctor and have them write you a new eyeglass prescription? Wouldn’t that have been much easier than digging through a dumpster?” Those are excellent questions, and indeed I pondered doing just that, but decided against it for the following reasons:
a) Leah had already waited more than a week for us to find a time when the optical store hours overlapped with my “free time”, and if I had to wait until the doctor’s office opened after the holiday, it would have pushed the whole affair into the following weekend, during which time she is still unable to see and this task continued to languish on my never-ending to-do list.
b) I wasn’t sure if it was as easy to stop payment on a money order as it is on a check, but I felt it was potentially more dangerous if that item in particular fell into the wrong hands.
c) If it was possible, and I did go the route of asking my parents to cancel that money order, I would have had to call my dad and tell him that I literally threw money in the garbage. No thank you. Tony has been accusing me of throwing money away, figuratively, my whole life. I would never live that down.
d) I can’t sleep at night thinking there was money in the garbage and it was my fault.
e) I’m and adult, and I solve my own problems, dammit. Sometimes I do so in the least glamorous way, because I’m me.
By the way, Jeff just asked me, “what are you blogging about today?” I told him, “My epic fail”. He says, “Which one?” Perhaps this should be the start of a special series, in which I tell you of all my epic fails. That could take a while.