I should have stayed in bed.
Sometime during the night, the power went out. So, instead of my alarm clock waking me at the usual time with its usual klaxon blare, it was blinking 12:00. I only woke up because I was freezing. Apparently, along with the lack of power, there was a lack of heat. Fumbling for my cell phone, I squinted until the numbers came into focus. Then gave a few choice curses while I scrambled from the bed. I was already an hour late for work.
The water in the shower was warm enough to tolerate, and I soaped quickly. Just about the time I realized that, due to the power outage, I wouldn’t have a pot of hot coffee waiting for me, was when the water went ice cold. I startled and jerked out of the spray, slipping on the wet porcelain of the tub and nearly crashing to the floor. I managed to save myself by grabbing the towel rack. Of course, in the process, I wrenched my elbow and pulled half of the towel rack away from the wall. Grumbling, I turned off the water, stepped carefully from the tub, and dried off as quickly as humanly possible. There was no way I was shaving with freezing cold water, so the stubble would have to stay. Teeth brushed, I made my way back across the hall to the bedroom so I could dress.
Where I promptly stepped on the cat. He gave a screech and hiss, taking off to hide under the bed. I was only aware of this on the periphery as I was falling unheeded toward the hard wood floor. Knees hit first, then the sore elbow, and it was a close call to keep my face from smacking hard. I laid there for a moment, catching my breath, and wondering if I shouldn’t just crawl back under the covers. I made myself get up, get dressed, and head outside.
Of course, as soon as I was in the parking lot, I saw that my car had a flat tire. At that point, I was ready to admit defeat and hide until the day was over. But there was a big project due at work and I knew I needed to go in. I changed the tire, thankfully the spare in the trunk was in good condition, headed back inside to change into clean clothes and finally, only two and half hours after I should have already been sitting at my desk, I was on my way.
But the universe wasn’t done playing with me. There was a fender bender on the on ramp to the highway which meant that I had to take the long way to work. It added fifteen minutes onto my journey. At this point, I knew I’d never make it without a healthy dose of caffeine and pulled into a coffee shop. I was already late; a few more minutes wouldn’t make a difference either way. The line was only four people deep, but the person at the front was apparently ordering enough to feed an army. I tried not to act impatient. If the occasional sigh escaped, I couldn’t be blamed.
Finally, I made it to the front of the line and ordered my extra large double shot espresso. When the smiling girl gave me my total, I reached into my wallet to pay her. I stared in shock at the two singles and the lack of bank card. God, could this day get any worse?
I smiled in what I hoped was an apologetic way and opened my mouth to tell her to forget it, when the man behind me stepped up to the counter and handed her his card. He smiled and for a moment I was arrested by just how pretty he was.
I blinked. “Thank you,” I managed to stutter.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said softly. “You look like you’re having a hell of a morning. I’m happy to help.”
“You have no idea what kind of morning I’ve had. But I really appreciate this. It’s an incredibly kind thing for you to do.”
He cocked his head to the side and studied me for a moment. Then his smile grew wider and he gestured with his head toward one of the empty tables. “Want to sit down with me and tell me about your horrific morning?”
I grinned. I couldn’t help it. I was late already, might as well make the most of it.