bad day
Bad day

The Terrible Rotten No Good Very Bad Day

A groan escaped my lips when my hand met resistance against the frosted doorknob.

She forgot to unlock the doors again.

Normally it wouldn’t be such a big deal to be locked out of the facility, but ever since the weather turned cold this frequent occurrence suddenly became numbing. Literally. All feeling drained from my fingers as I rapped my knuckles against the glass door, peering inside for any sign of life. Nightshift aides lock the doors before beginning their shift, and are supposed to un-lock them an hour before the morning shift arrives. Unfortunately for me, the morning shift aide, that means standing outside in all kinds of weather until the blessed moment when the aide inside finally hears my impatient knocking.

At long last a shadow detached itself from a couch and came bustling towards me. A few seconds later the door cracked open and an apologetic face squinted at me.

“I’m so sorry Sarah!” She whispered, ushering me inside. “I always forget to unlock the doors!”


I bit down a snarky response and instead greeted her cordially. “No worries! Thanks for letting me in, it’s gett’n awful chilly out there.”

She shivered at the gust of wind that followed me inside. “Yeah, no kidding. I hope you weren’t standing out there too long.”

I had counted every second spent quivering on that porch, but didn’t bother to tell her that. “So how was the night? Everyone doing okay?”

She grunted in the back of her throat and cocked an eyebrow at me. No other explanation was necessary, I understood that look perfectly. Working at a care facility tends to rip descriptive words from our mouths, because trying to explain just how difficult it is can be just as much effort as dealing with the situations themselves. She quickly briefed me on the nights events and made sure to point out a large note in all caps that several additional residents would need showers today before noon.

I sighed, resigned to my fate. Showering is the most difficult aspect of this job.

A half an hour ticked by, each second pressing on my tired lids as though enticing me back into slumber. I fought the urge to lay down on one of the plump leather couches, knowing full well that if I did so I would slink back into sleep. Instead I read the notes in the log, checked on the residents, folded the last bit of laundry in the dryer, and waited for the sound of bells rattling against the door frame that meant the cook aide had come. My brown knit together with worry when the sound never came. Thinking that perhaps I missed it, I walked full circle around the facility looking for Ashlyn. She cooks on Mondays and normally arrives twenty minutes early. I glanced at my watch and noticed with some alarm that it was already 7:38am.

Where is she?

By this time I should have already woken two of the residents that require particular care, and Ashlyn should have begun mixing the muffin batter.

Vibrations shook up my leg. Reaching into my pocket I extracted my phone and saw Ashlyn’s name blink at me.


“Sarah!” she sounded panicked. “My alarm didn’t go off! Will you start breakfast for me?”

I nodded, then muttered a quick “of course” when I realized she couldn’t see me. Rolling up my sleeves, I placed a hairnet atop my messy bun and slipped a plain black apron over my head. The menu for today wasn’t difficult, it was just the timing of things that would make this next hour hard.

  •         Muffins
  •         Oatmeal or cold cereal
  •         Fruit compote
  •         Scrambled eggs
  •         Drink of choice

I sped into action. Muffin mix, eggs, oatmeal, coffee, hot cocoa, milk, and fruit littered the counter as I hurried to prepare breakfast. Oatmeal first. This particular brand takes forever to cook, not sure why, but it does. I found that out the hard way. Muffins next. No sooner had I poured the last spoonful of muffin goo into the pan than one of the resident bells rang.

Dale. He’s confined to a wheelchair and can’t move without help. He refuses to buzz for assistance until it is absolutely necessary, however, which means when he rings he needs help now.

I thudded my hip into the oven door to shut it while pressing the cooking time into its clock face. The bell rang again, sounding in my ears like a trumpet in an empty auditorium after all that silence. I hadn’t made it to his door when an alarm blared, the sound jumping a lump into my throat.

Ruth. She’s paralyzed on one half of her body and has dementia. Despite our many coaxing words she remains convinced that she can get up on her own. To prevent falls we attach a string to her shirt that connects to an alarm. If she moves too much the string pulls a tab free and screeches an ear-splitting warning to the workers that Ruth is in danger.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

Who should I help first?

Dale’s bell rang for the third time. Leaping into action I sprinted into his room, lifted his small frame from his tangled sheets and placed him in his wheelchair. He motioned at the bathroom door and grunted something incoherent. Spinning the chair around much faster than usual, I bustled him toward the seat and tucked my arms underneath his armpits to raise him up. Not a morning person, Dale slumped over, motionless.

“Dale, come on doll, let’s get you to the bathroom,” I prodded his back gently with three fingers, my thoughts focused on the loud screeching from Ruth’s alarm. When he still didn’t move I resulted to both hands, shaking him slightly. “Dale! I have to go help Ruth! Please wake up!”

He moaned and reached a hand to the bar in front of him. Slowly, painfully slowly, he pulled himself to a standing position. Hurriedly I tugged his pj’s and briefs to his ankles and helped him sit back on the toilet.

After ensuring that he wouldn’t slump out, I raced back down the hall to Ruth’s room. Along the way I smelled something burning and realized the stove was still on HIGH.

Shoot! The oatmeal!

Not wanting to burn down the whole facility, I retraced my steps and turned the stove knob off. Another unpleasant smell greeted my nostrils: gas. Timid, I shut off the oven as well, thinking that perhaps it had malfunctioned again.

Although only a minute had passed since Ruth’s alarm sounded, I felt as though it had been ringing for an eternity. Fearing the worst, I pressed her door open and found her entangled in her sheets struggling to get out of bed. Grateful the bed covers had prevented her from falling to the floor, I hurried to stabilize her with one hand and unfold her wheelchair with the other. I plugged the tab back into the alarm to make the sound stop and sighed a breath of relief at the sudden silence. Ruth stuttered something at me, her foul morning breath wafting across my face. I reeled back, unable to help myself, and turned my head for some fresh air. When I did so I noticed that she had knocked over a vase of dying flowers and her ensure drink. Dead leaves littered the floor, and a sticky pool of pink liquid gleamed evilly from the carpet.

Drat. Ensure is so hard to wash out.

Another bell sounded. Probably Dale ready to get off the toilet.

“Anybody in here?”

I turned to see Dellia, another resident, standing in the doorway, her head cocked at an odd angle to see out of the side of her eye.

“I’m right here Dellia,” I answered, my voice strained as I straightened my knees to lift Ruth into her wheelchair.

Dellia’s voice cracked as it always does at the beginning of a sentence. “I checked the kitchen to see if they made my coffee yet and they haven’t even started!”

Oh. Right. I forgot Dellia gets up early for a cup of coffee.

“Sorry Dellia, that’s my bad. I’ll make that for you right away.”

Ruth was muttering something again, but I didn’t hear over Dellia’s repeated discontentment. Apologizing to her twice more, I managed to wheel Ruth out of her room and towards the dining area. She tapped her ear, making me realize that she had been trying to tell me to get her hearing aids. I rushed back to her room to get them, help her put them on, then back to the kitchen to reface the breakfast woes.

The resident bell rang again, reminding me that someone needed assistance. It wasn’t Dale, but another resident who just wanted to know where his socks were. I helped him find them and put them on, then rushed back into the kitchen. The gas smell had gone and the oatmeal still looked intact. Timidly I turned the oven and stove on again, hopeful that this time it would work better.

The bell chimed.

With Dale tucked safely back in bed (he refused to come out for breakfast), I ran past Brenda struggling to walk to the dining room.

“Are you okay?” I asked, pausing to rub my palm on her shoulder.

She grunted at me and nodded. She recently had hip surgery, making it extremely difficult for her to walk anywhere. Although we tried to convince her to use a wheelchair, or her other walker with a built-in seat, she rejected every notion and stubbornly continued using her push-along walker.


Oven timer. Muffins are done. Sprinting now, I pulled them from the hot oven and turned my attention to the fruit. Seconds into slicing the first melon an impatient grunt from Dellia reminded me to get her coffee started.

My phone rang again.


“Sarah! My tank was empty so I had to stop and get gas, but I’m almost there!” Ashlyn’s voice sounded far away, as though she had her phone on speaker.

“Okay,” I grunted, hoisting the heavy coffee maker onto the counter. “About how long do you think it will take you to get here?”

She guessed about ten minutes. I glanced at the clock. 7:50am. She hung up before I could say anything more, aware that I needed to concentrate on other things.

A dark figure appeared at the kitchen window facing into the dining room. Eric loomed over the neatly stacked cups, staring at me. He doesn’t speak to any of the workers. Never has. He’ll talk to relatives and a select few friends, but other than that his communication is limited to pointing and dead looks. With each meal we’ll place a variety of juice options on the ledge of a large cutout connecting the dining area to the kitchen that the residents select from. Eric will point at the drink he wants, then silently take his seat and wait. I still hadn’t gotten the drinks out.

“Sorry Eric, gimme just a second.”

He glared at me, his dark eyebrows arching over small brown eyes. Feeling the stare tickle the hairs on the back of my neck I skuttled to the fridge and yanked it open, pulling all the juices from their shelf and placing them in front of him. He jerked a finger at the milk jug and marched to his seat.

The facility phone rang.

Slicing fruit with both hands, I tucked the phone receiver between my ear and my shoulder. “Good morning, this is Sarah.”

“Sarah, this is Sandra, what things do I need to pick up from the store?”

Sandra is our co-manager and food coordinator. She puts together all the meals and recipes and runs to the store if we ever run out of anything. I twisted my head around to look at the whiteboard taped to the fridge where employees write down any missing or low ingredients.

Squinting, I read her the list and hung up.

Almost everyone was at their places now, staring through the window at me.

Eggs. Shoot.

I ran and gave each resident a cup of sliced fruit and juice, then bustled back to the fridge for the egg carton. Thankfully Ashlyn came in right then and took over manning the kitchen.

The resident bell rang again.

Pap this time. He mainly takes care of himself, but needs help draining his catheter every few hours. Upon reaching his room the dank smell of dried pee made my eyes water. Someone forgot to close the clip locking the drain tube in place and the fetid yellow liquid had dripped into the carpet the whole night long.

“I’d like to take a shower this morning,” Pap said to me instead of a greeting.

I stuttered, “R-right now? Wouldn’t you like breakfast first?”

I still hadn’t given the residents their 8 o’clock medication, a fact that could result in some nasty side effects if not taken care of promptly.

“Yeah.” He had already begun removing his watch and glasses, indicating that he wasn’t joking.

Unfortunately the last person to shower him forgot to repackage his shower kit, meaning I had to run around his room and the storage area to get all the bathing equipment ready. Walking behind Pap is much like waiting for an iceberg to cut its way through a mountain. It takes a looong time. I could have taken a nap in the time it took for him to make it to the facility’s shower room.

Seven towels, a pile of filthy clothes, and 20 minutes later I re-emerged from the shower room with a clean meandering Pap lumbering close behind.

Ashlyn met me at the kitchen entrance, her face twisted with concern. “They’re all really mad they haven’t gotten their meds yet.”

I nodded, swallowing back the bubble of frustration that rose to my throat. You can’t rush medication. Doing so increases a chance of making a mistake, and that could be fatal. Some medications are pills, some liquids, some need to be crushed, others quartered, some need to be mixed into drinks, others injected under the tongue, and still more applied as a cream, etc. The medcart is divided into eight drawers, six of which are large, the other two small. Each large drawer is further separated into sections, each one full of medicine packets catered for every resident. I clicked into the computer with one hand and unlocked the cabinet with the other, cross checking the medication on the computer with the medication packets in each drawer. One by one I scanned through each packet and punched out the pill into a small paper cup. Once the scanning is complete I then take the medication to the person they’re prescribed for and wait for them to swallow everything before I can move on to the next person. Too often residents will choke on a pill, or try to sneakily discard one into the trash or in their pocket, so we must stay and watch to make sure everything goes well.

I heard dissatisfied mutters rumble around the room as I watched Pap slowly place each pill on the tip of his tongue. Peering across the room I noticed Ruth struggle to lift her fork to her lips. She can feed herself with one hand, but it’s painstakingly difficult and always ends up with most of her food on the floor. Normally I would sit by her and spoon feed her, but I hadn’t gotten to that yet.

“Can I get another cup of coffee?” Dellia held up her empty mug and tilted her head sideways to get a better look at me.

“Of course Dellia,” I said.

“And I’d like some water with ice, and this muffin re-heated,” Charlene added, handing her plate to me.

I hurried back to the kitchen where I saw Ashlyn thumbing up on her phone. She glanced up as I walked in and shoved the phone in her pocket.

“I can get those,” she muttered, reaching for the dishes in my hands.

Choice words collided against each other behind my teeth. I refused to let them slip out and only smiled.

Medications done, I sat next to Ruth and helped her finish the rest of her meal. It looked as though someone had rubbed an entire Thanksgiving feast onto her shirt and pants. The floor wasn’t much better, what with a ring of food scattered in a perfect semi-circle around her.

I wish I could have gotten here sooner.

Ruth forgets to swallow sometimes, and tries to shove more food into her already full mouth, which shockingly enough, doesn’t work. A slobbery glob of half chewed food shot from her lips and splattered on my shoulder. The saliva soaked through the thin fabric instantly and began oozing down my arm. More food burst from her mouth as I snatched several napkins to clean up the mess. It felt like playing a sick game of dodgeball, but different.

Several long minutes later Ruth shook her head at her plate indicating she was finished. Relieved, I removed the two bibs I’d placed around her neck earlier, careful not to dump all the spilt food on her clothes. She jerked her head, which bumped against my hand, which dropped the slobbery bibs of half-chewed-food on my pants.  


Helping Ruth get ready for the day is a bit of an ordeal. Imagine dressing a life-sized rag doll, but if you mess up, go too fast, or accidentally bump/drop her, than the results could be deadly.

With Ruth freshly dressed and tucked safely in her reclined chair, I returned to the dining area to see Brenda struggling to stand up. My nose wrinkled at the awful stench of pee when I rushed to help her. Brenda is the quiet type who never admits anything is wrong, but ever since her surgery she’s needed more and more assistance with little things. She’s been lenient about it for the most part, but bathroom things are strictly “her business,” a fact that makes me grit my teeth.

“I wish she would just let me help her!” I told Sandra the week prior. “I don’t want her to get hurt, and it’s important for her hygiene!”

I need to be more careful what I wish for.

Brenda’s legs shook so badly I feared they would collapse. I hurriedly maneuvered her walker behind her and guided her hips towards the built-in-seat. She landed on it with a watery squelch.  


Already knowing what was to come, I wheeled her to her bathroom and closed the door behind us. “I’m gonna help you take a shower today, okay Brenda?”

She gave me a curt nod and looked away as I began prepping the bathroom. Once I got the water started and my gloves on, I turned to help her stand up. Her face was twisted with agony. I thought the pain pill I gave her a few minutes ago must not have kicked in yet, but soon found out it was a different kind of agony she suffered.

“C-can’t hold it,” she muttered.

A sound like a bucket of mud exploding through a drain pipe echoed through the small bathroom, and a smell like a rotting carcass filled my nostrils.

That’s not good.

Dread flooded over me, but there was nothing I could do but face the issue. After I’d helped her to her feet, I gingerly tugged on her waistband. The pants plummeted to the floor. That’s right, plummeted. They hit the floor as though they were full of bowling balls. The stench intensified, wafting in my face and clouding my vision as my eyes began to water.

Brenda stood leaning against a hand railing, her feet trapped in a giant pile of her own feces. Her legs began to shake as the effort to hold herself up became more difficult. I quickly bent down to guide her feet out of the mess, but couldn’t because of all the poop that was in the way. I ended up grabbing handfuls of the stuff and slopping it in a nearby garbage can until there was enough space to pull out her feet. Once she was free from the excremental cage, she collapsed back into her walker, spreading the mess all over it.

My head felt woozy from the foul odor. Grabbing one of the towels, I crouched low to wipe up the filth on the floor. By the time I finished Brenda had regained enough strength to make it to the stool in the shower. Poop had oozed its way into every nook and cranny on her legs and feet. Cleaning it all felt like picking mud from the lines of a textured wall. Eventually, however, the mess was eradicated and Brenda all cleaned.

It took me 30 minutes to deep clean her bathroom after I’d tucked her in bed. The poop had smeared over the chair, walls, floor, handles, carpet, towels, garbage, toilet, sink and me. The smell was so bad that room seemed to wax and wane in and out of focus. I had pulled out every cleaning supply in the facility and used nearly everything to dissipate that tremendous odor.

No sooner had I finished when Dale called for me to help him with a similar problem, only not quite as intense.

The day seemed to drag on with more and more things to do and less and less time to do it with. Laundry loomed over me in the washroom, residents interminably rang for assistance, and the bosses kept pestering me to aide them with petty issues. I felt my energy seep into the floor, revived only by the constant hum of music from my phone.

I welcomed 3 o’clock like a long lost friend, and hurried to clock out because I had agreed to cover another shift with my other CNA job.

The moment I knocked on Janet’s door she gave me a long list of things to do. I enjoy this more than working at the facility. I get to know Janet better and can take my time with her instead of jolting about trying to take care of so many other responsibilities. Only today she wasn’t in a good mood.

“Why did you knock three times when you know I only like it when you knock twice?!” She snapped.

I blanched. She’d never told me anything like that before.

“O-oh, I’m sorry Janet, I’ll make sure to just knock twice next time.”

She scoffed. “No you won’t. The young never do.”

I blinked rapidly, then changed the subject. “You look lovely toda–”

“Don’t lie to me girl!” she bellowed, turning to glare at me. “I can’t take any more lies!”

I took a step back, unsure of what else to say, so I said nothing.

She grunted, then jerked her head toward the kitchen. “Clean it. And make me some tea.”

Normally Janet’s kitchen is near perfect, but today her adult grandson had decided to try some sort of cooking experiment. I can only assume it went horribly wrong, because the kitchen was a disaster. Almost all of the cupboards were open and stripped of their contents, dishes littered every horizontal surface (including the floor), the microwave gaped wide revealing a cave of dark sauces inside. A dank smell emanated from the garbage which had fallen over and dumped nearly all of its contents across the hardwood floor.

“Oh my…” The words slipped off my tongue before I could stop them.

“Don’t gape! Just get to work!” Janet grunted. She toddled towards an easy chair facing me and sat down, one hand on her walker and the other gripping that morning’s newspaper.

My shift with Janet was only supposed to take two hours, and the catastrophe in the kitchen took more than an hour to clean up. She sent me to the basement to iron a batch of clothes, a task I typically thoroughly enjoyed doing because it leaves me alone to just breathe and listen to music.

The lyrical thrum of Mozart whispered soothingly from my phone, it’s gentle notes calming my ruffled feathers. I had just turned over a pair of pants to iron the back when the music paused momentarily and beeped the familiar sound of an incoming text message. Halting the iron, I picked up that beloved electronic device and opened the message to see an image of my good friend Lexie holding up a letter announcing her acceptance into UVU’s nursing program.

My heart leaped! Excitement and giddy joy burst through my tired limbs and thrust my arms forwards, crashing into the ironing board and knocking it to the floor.

“Whooooooooooot!” I hollered, not caring that I’d dropped everything.

Happily frazzled, I pressed the “reply” button to send her an exuberant congratulations! The screen didn’t respond. I was unperturbed, this happened quite frequently. My thumb found the indent on the edge of the phone to turn it off, I waited a few seconds, then pressed it again to turn it back on.

Nothing happened.

I held it longer, thinking perhaps I just missed the button.

Again, nothing.

I tried once more, convinced that this time surely it would work.

When a blank screen met my gaze for the third time panic began to settle in.

…what did I do?…

The silence amplified the feeling of dread in my stomach when I realized what this could mean. Was it dead? Forever? Or could this just be a puberty phase for phones? My naive hope kept me pressing the power switch again and again every few minutes, hoping that maybe it would turn on. But alas, it never did.

To add to my dismay, the iron landed face down on the hem of the pants when it fell to the floor, and melted a hole clean through it. I had to face an angry Janet with her soiled garment and beg for mercy. I shan’t repeat the words she spat at me for fear of scaring the children. I will say, however, that I did survive.

With only 20 minutes left on my shift I assumed Janet would have me do something simple, like vacuum the floors, or sweep the sidewalk. Instead she grabbed her purse and tossed her car keys at me.

“I need to go to the store.”

“Right now?” I asked, not bothering to disguise the shock in my voice.

She nodded.

Taking Janet to the store is much like telling a perfectionist not to worry about that smudge on the window. Everything must be exactly how she wants it, the way she wants it, and when she wants it. Had we left to the store when I first arrived we might have finished by the time two hours were up. Leaving now, on the other hand, meant I would end up missing the first half of lacrosse practice. And that meant facing dire consequences with my coach, because we had a game against our mortal enemy that week.

Maybe this was her way of punishing me for the melted pants.

Backseat driving is the devil’s cruelest punishment. My patience is thin on the road anyway, but strap a nagging voice to my elbow that criticizes my superb driving skills makes it SO much worse. Janet directed my every move: from the way I placed my hands on the steering wheel, to the frequency of checking the mirrors.

“Make sure to count to three when you come to a stop sign,” she reminded me for the zillionth time. “I’ll just keep pestering you until you get it right.”

Janet grew up in that neighborhood and knew every rock, tree and blade of grass. What she did not know, however, were the fast and easy routes to get anywhere. Instead of going straight down the main road to get to a well known grocery store, she ordered that I turn into winding neighborhoods FULL of stop signs that eventually lead to a broken down shop that only had half of the items on her list. We ended up driving to four different stores before she was satisfied that she had everything she needed.

Of course I wasn’t allowed to simply run in the store and find the items on my own, she had to come with me to make sure I was, “doing it right.” And instead of seeing a bag of carrots and placing it in her basket, she had to count them, examine the peels, nibble on the tips (to make sure they were crunchy enough), and weigh them up and down in her hand. It was like this with everything she purchased. The one time I dared run ahead and pull something off the shelf for her, she made me go back five times and bring all the other similar items to her before she could make a decision.

I glanced at my watch. 5:45pm. Nearly an hour late to practice. My heart groaned. I love practice. It’s exhilarating to feel the muscles in my legs pump back and forth to sprint me across the field, to feel the cold rush of the crisp autumn air bite my cheeks, and the harsh winds in my ears intensify the faster I go. I love the heavy beating in my chest as my heart pulses more to keep up with the adrenaline, and the flush of energy that flashes through my limbs when the ball lands in my net. And my team, ah. I love my team. There’s something extraordinary about working with a team towards one goal. A sense of unity and pride that binds us into a single functioning machine. A bubble of sadness blocked the air in my throat. I swallowed several times to push it back down.

I can still make it to the last hour, I comforted myself. Janet’s ready to go home now, and after that I’m free!

I should have knocked on wood. No sooner had we pulled out of the parking lot when Janet’s old car lurched forward, nearly knocking my forehead against the steering wheel. Janet let out a piercing scream and thrust both hands in front of her face. The car jolted twice, shivered violently, then turned off, it’s wheels still rolling. I twisted the key in the ignition and pulsed my foot back and forth on the gas pedal.


I tried again, but to no avail.

At this point, under normal circumstances I would have used my phone to call Triple A and have them come help us. However, since my phone gave up the ghost an hour previous, and Janet didn’t carry her home phone with her, we were without any calling services.

I gritted my teeth. Frustration boiled the blood under my skin, and I could feel the veins in my hands protrude, giving them a grotesque gnarled appearance. Heat flushed to my face, turning it a hot pink. I felt my eyes narrow and my tongue curl. My voice, however, was completely tranquil.

“Uh-oh Janet,” I said, as calmly as if the only thing wrong was a hair in her soup. “I’ll take care of this, don’t you worry.”

Janet stared at me, panicked. A gurgle popped between her lips, her thoughts incoherent.

Her blanched face melted some of the furry in my chest. Despite the horror she put me through today I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. Broken cars suck.

“Stay right here Janet,” I cooed, motioning with my hand for her to stay buckled in. “I’m going to knock on those houses to see if we can borrow a phone.”

And that’s what I did. It took several different houses before a middle aged man opened the door and graciously let me borrow his phone to call a tow truck. He accompanied me back to the car where we found Janet scuffling through her purse looking for who-knows-what. He examined the engine and told us he had no clue what could have caused the malfunction.

“I’m a graphics designer,” he concluded, shrugging his shoulders in defeat. “If I was a mechanic I would help you out, but I’m afraid this is out of my area of expertise.”

I thanked him profusely for his help and offered to bake him a batch of cookies as a thank you. He rejected the offer, declaring that his wife would have a fit if he broke his diet plan, then returned to his house.

Janet and I waited in awkward silence for over a half hour for the tow truck to arrive. By the time it came Janet was near hysterics. She fluttered about with short jerking movements, snapping at anyone near by and choking on fits of rage.

I just felt defeated. It had been a long day, and I just wasn’t in the mood to react to anything.

The tow truck men kindly drove us back to Janet’s house after hooking up the vehicle to the back, and then stayed for several minutes asking us questions about the car. I put Janet’s groceries away, made her a cup of tea, and practically forced her to lie down.

Finally, an hour and a half after the car broke down, I slid behind the wheel of my recently-repaired-car, and started the ignition. The rumbling hum of the engine brought small comfort to my weary ears.

I’m sure glad this car works.

Sudden recollection of my broken phone snapped me into action.

By-golly I’ve gotta get this fixed!

No longer under the tyranny of Janet’s careful driving directions, I drove like a madman to the nearest phone repair shop. They turned me away explaining that because I owned an Android they couldn’t fix it. The next two stores told me the same thing. Desperate, I tried one more, and pitifully placed the dead device on the counter. With pleading in my eyes I begged them to do their best.

The man behind the counter grimaced at the thing as if it were a rotten bag of potatoes. “We’ll see what we can do. Come back tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have some answers for you.”

“Thank you sir!”

In my car once again I glanced at my watch. Practice had long since ended, and there was no homework for me to do, so I drove to Judy, my adopted grandma’s house.

Judy always makes everything better.  

“Oh I’m glad you’re here!” she pipped when I walked into her bedroom. “Those slabs in the bathroom fell off and I want you to paint it instead!”

House renovation projects send a shiver of excitement through my bones, so when Judy mentioned last week that she had wanted someone to remodel her bathroom, I leaped at the chance. Beach themed, I planned to paint two of the walls blue, one a light tan, and put wood along one wall to make it look like a boardwalk. Yesterday I painted the walls and pressed vinyl wood flooring to the wall. I didn’t have all the tools, however, and hadn’t reinforced them yet, so I wasn’t surprised when Judy told me some of the pieces fell off.

“But I don’t like them anyway,” Judy continued, explaining that they reminded her of her awful uncle’s house. “I want you to do something different.”

Ideas clicked around in my mind until they settled on a sandy-looking appearance. It wouldn’t be difficult: all I had to do was texture the wall, paint over it with different shades of brown and white, and then glue on a few star fish. I could already see the final product in the back of my mind. Exhaustion gone, I pocketed a $20 Judy held out to me and drove to Lowes. There I found an inexpensive bucket of texture paint, and a some powerful adhesive. I came back itching to begin the project. I couldn’t begin though, because Judy had fallen asleep and I didn’t want to wake her with all the noise I would undoubtedly make.

Glum, I wrote her a quick note of farewell, and hopped back in my car. The weight of the day’s events pressed on my shoulders, shrinking my back into a hunched ball. Then all at once a bubble of myrth rippled through my throat.

“HA!” I yelled at nothing. “This was a terrible-rotten-no-good-very-bad-day!”

It was so funny to me that I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks. My belly ached from my heaving convulses, and my lungs gaped for air. Once the giggling subsided enough for me to drive home without crashing, I turned the radio on with the volume so loud it should have burst my eardrums, and shouted along with the music all the way home.