6. Bad Morning
It was already one of those days.
The work clothes Lisa left in the dryer didn't dry enough. The water from the shower wouldn't get warm. Her puppy had last night eaten her tennis shoes. She stepped in poop while walking him. Wearing slippers.
After coming back in and quickly crating the pup, she frantically, awkwardly, washed her foot in the kitchen sink, the fecal aroma making her gag. She put her damp work clothes and boots on.
Out the door, Lisa rushed to her car, already 15 minutes late, got inside and looked at the far sideview mirror to pull away safely. She couldn't see it, though it dangled by a cable like an eyeball knocked out of a skull.
"For Christ's sake," she screamed to no one, turning the ignition. On. She craned her neck rearward, undeterred, worried more about her job than the mirror. She could add it to her to-do list of things which were rarely ever done. Something in her shoulder popped. And now her neck hurt.
She pulled away and raced to the first stop sign at the end of her narrow Baltimore street, braking just shy of a Latino mother walking her children. The mother started yelling, rushing her children to the safety of the sidewalk.
Lisa spoke a lot of languages, but somehow not Spanish. Lisa mouthed "I'm sorry!" and sped away to the next stop sign. And then the next one. And then the next one where she almost hit another pedestrian walking their dog. The mirror finally fell off as she skidded to a stop. She understood the curses that time.
On the highway, a minor fender bender on the opposite side, had two cars pulled along the shoulder by the median. And of course everyone southbound on her side, though actually totally unaffected, slowed downed to look, causing gridlock.
Lisa began honking her horn and screaming. She stopped. Tears welling. As the traffic slowly rode by Lisa stretched her gaze as far as she could to see the minor accident, too. Her neck hurt too bad to turn it.
Finally, the traffic gods took favor on her. She made it to the BW Parkway and then her work's exit in record time.
Seven minutes late. This wasn't the first time. Her boss was going to be pissed. The Chief waited for her outside the large, mostly empty hangar, with crossed arms and pressed lips. He spit some dip. It was a graceful arc.
"I know. I—"
"Get your ass in there, Higgins."
"Yes, Chief!" Lisa sounded off as confidently as she could. She ran to one of the three boxes (virtual cockpits for the drone pilots), boots echoing, neck hurting, a tear streaking.
"Damn, Higgins, where've you been?" her friend Alvarez asked.
Lisa said, "I'm sorry, puppy problems," and took her place. The box stank. Alvarez must've started his protein diet again. She wiped her face and sighed. Started tapping her foot with anxiety.
Later, when commanded, she pressed the trigger to give air support to some special forces engaged with the Taliban from 8,000 miles away. A spectacular fireball from the missile strike whited-out her tiny screen. Alvarez cheered. The Chief shook her hand, patted her back.
It turned out to be a good day.