Friday, August 24, 2007

Living Right

Sometimes it's hard to remember to just let your life unfold. We try to direct every minute of every day because we've got things to do, things to accomplish. We rely on things like planners and blackberries and secretaries and calendars to keep us on the straight and narrow path to whatever our goals may be. But sometimes, life has a little surprise waiting in the wings for those unguarded, unplanned moments when you are least-expecting and most appreciative of whatever may happen. It doesn't have to be a big thing. In fact, it's the little things that bring you up most abruptly.

Last Wednesday was a busy day. All of my days are busy, but I was especially busy trying to get back on my working feet after a long, long summer of juggling kid, work, and new house stresses. It seems that I will never catch up on the projects that need doing, the daily work that must be done as well as massaging the creative juices into flowing again. So I'm trying to do what I aspire to but rarely totally succeed - rolling with it. Taking each day, each minute as it comes and not obsessing over what has happened or what will happen. Living in the moment.

I was sitting at my desk when our chief engineer stopped in my door and told me to come to the studio for lunch. It would be served in about 15 minutes and there was a demo by the Sony folks for some HD cameras and editing equipment that would be happening during lunch. I had no plans, so I said "Sure!" Being me, I got involved in whatever it was I was doing and by the time I remembered lunch, it was nearly over. But those Sony folks had brought A LOT of food. Barbecued pork, coleslaw, beans, corn muffins, and for dessert, pecan pie and chocolate cake. There was still plenty, so I got a plate and sat down to eat and listen to the Sony guys explaining some stuff about editors and servers. It was VERY good barbecue. And I was sorry that Darling Man wasn't there to have some because he would have enjoyed it immensely. I thanked the folks who brought lunch and returned to my desk.

El Paso needed help - three shows that air this coming weekend. Having been their representative at national PBS for three years, they knew they could call me in a pinch. When the new fiscal year began, we began using Fed Ex exclusively for our shipping, which meant that the UPS guy didn't show up twice a day anymore. For me to ship something to El Paso, I had to drive across town to the UPS office.

Roll with it, baby.

I packaged up El Paso's programs, along with a few FedEx packages and set them aside for later. I would leave early, drive to UPS, then home.

Just before I was ready to leave, someone came to my office asking what to do with all the food in the lounge. I'm not sure why I get all the weird questions (either on the phone or in person) but I'm apparently the go-to guy when you don't know what to do. How did they ever survive while I was home this summer???? Turns out they were leftovers from lunch. LOTS of leftovers. My boss came and took a little meat and some hamburger buns. I told Conrad (one of our night guys) to fill up a plate. Even gave the cleaning lady some muffins. But there was still FOOD left. So I consolidated it, boxed it up, put it in the cooler they'd left behind and put it in my car. Darling Man gets barbecue after all!

Then I grabbed my packages and drove to UPS. Which was closed. Just for lunch - a 2 hour lunch! But they would open again in 15 minutes, so I dug out my cell phone and called my mom to chat. The temperature was 102, so naturally the conversation turned to utility bills. Mine was slightly lower this month, but still way too high for me and we were talking about ways to save on our bills. Last year, Mom gave me one of those old-fashioned clothes lines - the kind you open and close like an umbrella and they can spin around. Most people plant them in concrete in their back yard, but I wanted to be able to put it up and down as needed. So it never even came out of the box. I needed one of those heavy duty outdoor umbrella stands to hold it up. And I couldn't find one. From time to time, I'd visit hardware stores, garden centers, Wal-Mart, Target, K-mart - and I'd always look but never find what I was looking for.

I know my dryer is a huge energy hog. And we do a lot of laundry. If only I could find a stand for my clothes line!!!! But wait! Home Depot (which I've never darkened the door of) was a block away. After I drop these packages off, perhaps I should go check them out... Mom wasn't optimistic - it's the wrong time of year. People are done buying patio furniture. They probably won't have any.

It's only a block away. It wouldn't hurt to look. I rang off when UPS opened their doors again. My packages safely on their way to their destinations, I got back in my car and went to Home Depot. The garden center had its own entry way and was deserted except for the young man behind the cash register, who put down the book he was reading and asked if I was looking for something specific.

Yes, I said. I'm looking for a very heavy duty patio umbrella stand.

Let's go back over here and see what's left, he replied. And led me to a clearance rack in the middle of the garden center. Amidst the jumble of items were two umbrella stands. Wrought iron. Green. VERY heavy. Perfect.

Well. Almost perfect. They had a yellow clearance tag saying that they were $39.98. I whistled under my breath, then decided to get one anyway. I'd probably save that much on drying my clothes anyway and it would last a looonnnnngggg time. So I hauled the thing to the cash register and got out my checkbook.

Helpful guy rang it up. Scratched his head and scanned it again. Blew air out of his cheeks and typed in the UPC number by hand. And started laughing.

One cent, please.


One cent, please.

Incredulous, I asked him if he was serious. He nodded. How can that be? I asked.

Well... these hadn't been great sellers apparently. They'd been living on the clearance rack for a long time. No one bought them. So finally, they were marked down in the computer to $0.01 just so they'd know when the things were gone. So I paid one penny for the item I'd been looking for for over a year.

On the way home, I called Mom back and told her what had happened. And that there was one left. She laughed.

You must be living right.


Anonymous said...

What a great story! You were practising the Law of Attraction.

I thought you were going to tell us when you got to UPS you accidently mailed the package of BBQ.

nikki said...

I thought the same thing babzy did!

1 cent! What a find!

The New Parent said...

Hi S--one cent, pretty amazing and great B-B-Q to go with it---what a wonderful Karmic adventure (smile)!

Anna said...

I also had the same thought!

Yay for cheap stuff!

I had a similar experience in Sainsbury's the other week. I picked up a bottle of £10 red wine, the label was damaged and it and been reduced to £4. When it went through the till, it came up £0.50. Fifty pence. I asked the cashier to check, she put it through again and it was still 50p. So I rushed back and grabbed the other 4 damaged bottles - they were 50p too. Damn, it felt good. Can't say I've ever had 50p-a-bottle wine before!