Friday, September 23, 2016

COLUMN: Shattered Glass

Sometimes I feel thoroughly unqualified to be an adult. Sure, I can dress myself (wrinkly), feed myself (unhealthily), and house myself (messily.) But beyond that, I worry about my ability to thrive on this fast-moving marble. This week, I discovered I can't even take a sick day properly.

It started with a scratchy throat -- the sure sign of a nasty cold on the horizon. This was my cue to start dosing heavily on zinc, elderberry, and Vitamin C. If I get on this regimen fast enough, sometimes I can stave off a cold entirely. This time, I wasn't so lucky. I spent most of last weekend feeling downright icky, and I walked into work on Monday a toxic phlegm factory.

You ever have one of those colds where you're not quite sure if it's bad enough to go home sick? On one hand, it's nice to spend a day in bed recuperating. On the other hand, I'm bound to feel miserable whether home in bed or sitting at a desk, so why not suck it up and work through it? And then I realized that I'd just spent fifteen minutes staring at my hands and getting nothing accomplished.

So, rather than stay at work and spread cooties, I raised the white flag of surrender and headed home early.

I had the day mapped out in my head. I don't know about you, but when I get a cold, I get HUNGRY. Once fed, I would then retire to the bedroom, get under the covers, and while away the rest of the day in a warm and comfy Netflix haze.

I pamper myself when I get sick, so forget eating healthy and smart. Instead, I hit a drive-thru and brought home the mouth-watering, artery-clogging monster known as the Baconator. I opened the bag to get that satisfying whiff of cholesterol-laden goodness... and then realized I couldn't smell a thing through my plugged sinuses. I took a bite... and then realized I couldn't taste a thing either, thanks to the zinc tablets I'd been sucking on for days straight.

Bummer. Without the ability to smell or taste, this was the one time I could've downed a kale and spinach smoothie without being completely revolted. Instead, I ate a burger that should come affixed with a surgeon general's warning and I didn't even get to enjoy the Baconation. Ah well, no time to dwell on calories. I had a date with a blanket and my good friend Netflix.

I carried my provisions into the bedroom, took a stupefying amount of cold medicine, pulled back the sheets, crawled into bed snug as a bug in a rug, pressed the power button on the remote, annnnnd... nothing. Of course it would be a sick day when the batteries go out on my remote control. Thus began a 30 minute odyssey of tearing my house apart looking for fresh batteries.

After rifling through every drawer I could think of, I was about to abandon hope when a voice came into my head. "You're an adult," Confident Shane said. "You hardly EVER take a sick day and you shouldn't let a lack of batteries spoil your plans." Confident Shane was right. Thanks to my internal pep talk, I threw on some shoes, drove to the nearest gas station, bought batteries, came home, changed back into sweats, crawled back in bed, changed the batteries in the remote, pressed the power button, annnnd... nothing.

That's when I realized the remote, and its original batteries, were fine. Duh, I had unplugged the TV when we had that lightning storm a while back. I finally got it powered up, crawled back under the covers, hit the Netflix button, and was suddenly greeted with a screenshot of "YOU ARE NOT CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET."

By this time, the cold meds were kicking in pretty good, so I was a little fuzzy. But through that fuzz, I remembered that a couple months back, my parents wanted to test the strength of their newly-installed wi-fi. And me being the good son had taken my Samsung wireless adapter to their house to help them gauge their reception. And that's where it remained, on the back of THEIR DVD player, in THEIR living room, fifty miles away in Galesburg. Argh.

"Okay," said Confident Shane. "You might not have Netflix in the bedroom, but you DO have a DVD player. Just grab some discs and let's do this sick day right." Downstairs to my DVDs I bounded. I don't know whether to chalk it up to pickiness or the cold meds, but 45 minutes later, I finally settled on a movie. I brought it up, put the DVD in, breathed a sigh of relief... and then rapid-fire sneezed, like, 14 times.

This, in turn, caused my cat to FREAK OUT. One minute, she was asleep on the bed (WHERE I SHOULD BE!) The next minute, she's up and running concentric circles around the bedroom like a lunatic. But apparently she wasn't used to the entertainment center being open, because before I knew what was happening, she ran head-first into the open glass door, which promptly exploded into a million billion glass shards while I stood there in confused horror as it rained cats and glass everywhere. The only one MORE confused than me was poor Izzy, who disappeared in a feline flash.

It took me 90 minutes with a broom and vacuum to get all the glass picked up. All the while, I was worried about my cat, who I couldn't find ANYWHERE. Only I could take a sick day and kill a cat in the process. Eventually I called my friend Dianna, and the two of us spent an hour tearing the house apart, but still no cat. I brought in my friend Jason, and the THREE of us spent another half-hour searching before we finally found her cowering behind the basement entertainment center -- shaking, terrified, and hissing, but thankfully unhurt.

Eventually we got the cat calmed down, the glass thrown away, the house back in order (kudos to Dianna), and I finally got to snuggle up in my sick bed... at 8:30 p.m., some three hours after I would've gotten home had I stayed at work. I can't even do a sick day right. On the bright side, my cat does not rest in peace, though my entertainment center rests in pieces. And yes, I'm still sick, so forgive me while I go lay down and try real hard not to mess it up.      

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