Why I Was Late to Work Today
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is writing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
I work in an office building. A densely populated one, at that. Therefore, when I’m walking in late, it’s painfully obvious to at least 40 people. But the reason it’s happening certainly isn’t obvious. I assume most people just attribute it to laziness, lack of motivation, or an overall disregard for corporate policy. I only wish it were that simple.
While I take full responsibility for this, I find it necessary to explain the history. It all started the night before, actually.
With earnest intentions to get my sons to bed early (or at least at their regular time), I started the bath 15 minutes early while my wife, Sonia dutifully sat with them to finish dinner. I was ahead of the game, or so I thought. Have you ever been on a conference call where you’re convinced the meeting leader is purposely extending the call (aka stalling) so it reaches the scheduled end time exactly, no matter how useless the extra information is? Well, my kids do the same thing with bedtime. And whether we like it or not, we’re going to hear about last quarter’s financials. Translated: My sons decided to extend dinner just for the sake of extending it, refusing to eat a morsel until it was cutting into bath time. I came down and tried to help, ultimately causing the running bathwater to almost overflow like that scene in Fatal Attraction. So much for being ahead of the game.
Needless to say, the kids wound up getting to bed even later than usual (because, of course), meaning they’d most definitely wake up late the following morning. But them waking up late means us getting to school late, which means me getting to work late. So, this morning I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. It was earlier than I’d expected. And I should’ve started the process of waking them at exactly that moment. But I didn’t. Instead, I waited. I mean, the house was so silent that I could hear it settling. How could I mess with that kind of serenity? So I lay in bed and listened to the sounds of the birds outside, cars whipping around the corner, etc. Considering that the three days preceding it I had awoken to my five-year-old poking me in the throat, I embraced that rare, precious moment like it was a gregarious puppy dog.
I soaked in every millisecond of stillness and waited until the last possible second to wake the boys up, knowing I would essentially be peeing into a beehive. And, to be clear, they took that serenity and gruesomely murdered it. They flopped around like dying fish; they shouted angry words into their pillows. My one son even called me a cactus (I’ve figured out that’s his word for a**hole—clever boy). To be honest, I don’t really blame him. I mean, I’d call the person waking me up an a**hole too.
Getting my children from their beds to the breakfast table when they’re exhausted is not unlike getting my wife from the shoe store to the exit when she’s shopping. There’s some magnetic surge that renders the voyage near impossible. I then find myself going into what’s referred to in football as “hurry up offense.” The clock is ticking, time is slipping away, and with every daunting second, I am even more certain that losing is in my future. So, I tuck both boys under my arms like footballs and head to the table, while they’re crying. I’m pretty sure Peyton Manning has never faced this type of pocket pressure. And in case it wasn’t obvious, two weeping, exhausted kids don’t really feel like eating. Another thing they definitely don’t feel like doing is taking off their pajamas. I mean, you’d think their school clothes were made of fire.
The time was rapidly approaching for us to be out the door, so I took their breakfasts and dumped them into easily transportable Zip-Lock bags. Their tears had subsided and dried to their faces at this point, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to be happy about being awake and actually eat. I was still the “cactus.”
We were finally in the car. This is momentous. However, I left the bags of cereal on the aforementioned breakfast table. So I bolt back inside. It only took 30 seconds to do that, but those 30 seconds will matter very, very soon.
Because of the time I lost forgetting the cereal, I end up pulling off my street directly behind a yellow school bus. But not just any yellow school bus. The bus that has 18 stops to make…and they’re all on the one-lane street that takes me from my house to my kids’ school. So, there’s that.
I finally arrive at school and, because some jerk decided to walk their kid inside and leave their car in the loading/unloading area, the rest of us mere mortals have to helplessly wait in a line behind them. Naturally, when the driver finally emerges, it’s one of the parents who never RSVPed to my son’s birthday party.
A rushed minute later and we’re finally indoors. Out of oxygen from the 20 yards I just had to run, I give the boys a breathy goodbye and a kiss on the cheek. Then, as I’m walking away from them, I have this momentary epiphany where I become aware that I spend far too much of my time with my children simply getting them from point A to point B. I peer back and watch them disappear into their respective classrooms, as I wonder if I’m “present” enough in their lives. It is during this impromptu soul-searching event when the clock on the wall comes into view. I need to be at work in 20 minutes…and I’m 35 minutes away.
The rest of the story is likely a familiar one for those of you who have ever crept into work a little later than you’d care to admit. Most of us don’t try to be late. In fact, it’s entirely possible the co-worker you see sneaking in at 9:15 was detained because they simply overslept, or they had to change a flat tire. But in all likelihood, they are late because they had multiple mouths to feed that morning. And one of those mouths refused to eat and secretly called him an a**hole.
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