Archived Story

It was a bad day that kept getting worse

Published 9:21am Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

Arnie had a string tied around his finger.

His wife had put it there so he’d remember to mail the letter that she’d forgotten to give him.

He left it on as he worked, as it seemed like a piece of string worth saving.

Arnie was grateful to have a job. He just wished it wasn’t the one he had. He wanted to work shorter hours. Sixty minutes seemed like too many minutes for just one hour. He plugged away as his boss tried to squeeze blood out of both turnip and tulip.

One day, he would retire. When that happened, he’d experience Smondays. Those are Mondays that seem like Saturdays.

If Arnie had learned anything, it’s that adults think about running away from home far more often than children do.

Life has rounded edges. We all have good days, and we all have bad days. Arnie’s bad days were concentrated in work environments.

He knew he shouldn’t, but he sometimes brought home the bad days he’d had at work. He’d growl like a grizzly bear with a toothache.

“You weren’t fired again, were you?” his wife asked each time.

“Of course, not,” he’d say. “Why do you even ask such a thing?”

“Well, you’ve been fired from every job you’ve ever had,” she responded. She should have majored in history. The woman had a terrible memory. She remembered everything.

“That’s because I’m no quitter,” he’d say. It made sense to him.

Arnie’s wife thought he’d lost his jobs because he tended to daydream and forget what he was doing. That was preposterous. She had stories to back her claims, but the truth isn’t always. The jobs he lost where for different reasons.

To begin with, he hadn’t really lost the jobs. They were still there. Someone else was doing them.

He lost one job for making small talk with his boss. He said, “I knew you were a graduate of the University of Minnesota.”

His boss asked, “How could you tell?”

Arnie replied, “I saw your class ring when you picked your nose.”

Arnie was inclined to do stupid things. He got it from both his mother and his father’s side of the family. He could be as sharp as mashed potatoes.

He wasn’t very old when he first demonstrated this by gluing worms to the ground and watching the early birds get hernias.

Arnie hadn’t lost his current job, but he’d had a very bad day doing it.

His car hadn’t been new for ages. It had more duct tape than chrome, but the car ran well. He thought about buying a new car, but he couldn’t afford one. Maybe he’d take out a loan and pay even more of what he couldn’t afford.

He was worried that the flat tire would be the white sidewall and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that it wasn’t. He loved that white sidewall tire and was saving up to by a second one.

He got out the jack and put on the spare. He was good at changing tires. He used his favorite lug wrench to spin off the lug nuts. He put the lug nuts into the hubcap he’d removed from the wheel. That was the way his father had taught him. You don’t lose the lug nuts that way. Unless you step on the edge of the hubcap, catapulting the lug nuts into the ditch. That’s what Arnie did.

He had to light a match to see if his flashlight was working as he searched for the lug nuts. He found three.

He was very late getting home.

He wore a face as if his shoes were too tight.

His wife asked him what was wrong. She came at him with all her teeth. It was like the Spanish Inquisition. Arnie, like most men, isn’t good at answering questions, but he tried.

He explained it to his wife.

“I had a bad day. A very bad day. I was blamed for both the things I did and the things I didn’t do. I started driving home and all of a sudden I heard, ‘thump, thump, thump.’ A flat tire! Curses! I pulled the car over to the side of the road, changed the tire, and started back on the road home. I hadn’t been driving long when, would you believe it? Again, I heard, ‘thump, thump, thump.’ Drat!”

“That’s terrible,” said his wife. “What are the odds of that happening — a second flat tire?”

“That wasn’t exactly the case,” admitted Arnie. “I’d changed the wrong tire.”


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.