Artwork by Esther Beitz
And to Think That It Happened On My Way to Work, by Raizy Friedman
Yesterday, too-early in the morning, right after a too-rushed getting-everyone-out routine, found me wishing I was heading back to bed instead of out to work. Instead, I hurried through the feeding-the-baby motions while mentally closing the flames for supper that had gotten thrown together in the throes of my morning maneuvers.
Then, like in the stories, I morphed into the main character for Dr. Seuss’s first-ever-written book. The story, that I have read to my children too-many times, follows a boy who describes a parade of imaginary people and vehicles traveling along a road, Mulberry Street, in an elaborate fantasy story he dreams up to tell his father at the end of his walk. However, when he arrives home he decides instead to tell his father what he actually saw—a simple horse and wagon. Except for me, the opposite held true. I was the fantasy happening, and the details were all true- but conveniently were not repeated.
I headed to the bedroom to change my baby (remember, my boss was waiting for me to clock-in on time), and his pamper needed a BIG change. Except that I forgot to put anything onto my bed to protect the linen from… you know, and so I now needed to wash my linen, quickly. I then went to throw the linen into the washing machine and found the load of delicates waiting patiently to be hung. If I didn’t hang it now, I would need to rewash it later. And to think that it happened on my way to work.
So I hung the laundry, and in order to make space for the wet load, I first had to remove the already-dry laundry from the drying rack, and throw it onto the laundry-room countertop. Which was full of already-folded laundry that had never made it to the closets. So I needed to put the folded piles onto the playroom couch. And to think that it happened on my way to work.
I crunched my way over the corn pops and toasted oats that I had used to entertain my baby in his booster seat earlier, but the playroom couch had a precarious dollhouse with a playmobil setup, which jolted and were upset by the addition of laundry next to them, and my four-year-old had made me take an oath earlier in the day that his playmobile wouldn’t be moved. So I had to reset his playmobile into perfect precision. And to think that it happened on my way to work.
Back to my baby, who was howling indignantly where I had left him (safely, mind you) after changing him for the babysitter. He had spit up, a lot, and needed a new (!) change. As I changed him, I noticed the rash on his hand was bad again, and if I didn’t put the cream that the doctor had prescribed it would get infected, so I put the cream, and stained my skirt in the process. Which I changed. And to think that it happened on my way to work.
I dabbed a little foundation under my eyes to pretend that I was well-rested, and to make it look like I was actually in the mood of working, but the liquid splattered onto my cardigan, which needed changing. I changed it, quickly, but there were no clean sweaters that matched my current skirt left in the pile, so I switched skirts as well. Again. And to think that it happened on my way to work.
I headed to the kitchen to grab my baby’s prepared food for the babysitter’s bag, and tried to slip the peanut butter sandwich into the precut silver foil. But it slipped faster than me, smearing my skirt (!) again. Onto the skirts from last year, which don’t really fit all that well, but I was getting desperate. And to think that it happened on my way to work.
The phone rang, and it was my mother, but I didn’t answer, because I was, after all, on the way to work. I put a coat onto the baby, pulled up the blanket, donned my own coat, went back in for my earrings, and locked the door with a finality. Bumped the carriage down two flights, left the baby (unattended, at this point. I had enough of being safe, thank you!) in the lobby, and ran back up for his bottle. And to think that I was actually heading to work.
As I turned the corner, I remembered that I had only closed the flames mentally, but not physically. Back down the block as fast as my self-respect would allow me to without it being called ‘running’, up the stairs, unlock the door, to the flame. It was closed. I must have done it subconsciously, at some unknown point between the laundry and the sandwich. But I was still on the way to work!
Down to the street, (did I lock the door? I didn’t go back!) I met many people on my way to the sitter, whom I greeted but did NOT talk to, because–I was on my way to work! I dropped the baby at the babysitter, who asked me if I can watch all the children for five minutes because she had an emergency (her son had a virus and was retching in the bathroom–true emergency!). And to think that it happened on my way to work.
I slipped on the street, but nothing broke and nobody laughed, so that was uneventful. I arrived to work only fifteen minutes late, and my boss raised his eyebrow meaningfully and asked, “Everything okay? You’re a bit late. Anything special happened this morning?”
I looked at him, and contemplated my choices for a minute.
“No,” I answered calmly, “Sorry about the time. Nothing at all happened on my way to work.”