Pleasant Surprises: Adding Up the Little Things
Thursday should be a good day. The promise of a weekend with only one casual Friday between you and your free time usually makes the day fly—the operative word being “usually.” I wasn’t having a good day.
After nine hours of work, my agenda included braving rush hour traffic to make it to the pharmacy before closing; then it was off to the grocery store and gas station. Before work, I took time out of my precious morning minutes to drag seven cobwebbed trash bins to the alley, knowing that my neighbors would miss the trash day memo. It had never changed since moving to our funky beach triplex, but I’ve conducted trash-duty-turn experiments in the past that usually ended with the truck rumbling up the alley and me cursing cobwebs.
My Thursday took a hit because the impending weekend was the big finale of the US Open of Surfing, which annually turns my quiet little neighborhood into guest parking for the event. Both my boyfriend and I planned to shelter at my place Friday through Sunday, so if anything needed to get done, it had to get done on Thursday.
I stupidly wore a cream dress to work, practically begging my black coffee to spill, and indeed it did. Then I noticed the mysterious orange spot I most likely picked up gathering the trash. I hate when Thursdays feel like Mondays. Every day of the week had seemed like a Monday. Work stress, coupled with the game of who’s-going-to-call-who-first that I was playing with a close friend, was getting old.
That’s when I felt it. That ball of tension welling up in my stomach migrated to my throat and my eyes started burning. “Oh, no. I really don’t want to be the girl crying in the bathroom at work,” I thought as I started readying an excuse for my watery eyes centering on allergies and the AC.
In the nick of time, a message from my coworker popped up on the screen. “Brownies! Come and get it!” For me, chocolate is a mood stabilizer. Boosted by delicious dessert, I decided to call my friend on my lunch hour. No more grudges. I wanted to talk to someone I love about the terrible tedium of this particular Thursday. There was no answer. I left an endearing voicemail to encourage a call back.
Locked in a downward spiral from my sugar high and failed attempt to mend fences, I was deflated at my desk. The few texts I received from my boyfriend the rest of the afternoon were vague and the final response left me cold. “What do I use to clean up dog vomit?” That just put the cherry on top of my day.
While I battled home through extra traffic with supplies for the home front, my friend called me. We both apologized and we both vented about how stressed we felt this week and, before I knew it, I was lingering in the car to talk after my errands. After all, there was a guaranteed mess to clean up inside.
The instinct wasn’t wrong. My darling boyfriend decided to remove some challenges from my night by starting dinner and walking the dog. In a fit of adventure, he and “man’s best friend” went exploring in an abandoned lot. The curious mutt was accidentally allowed to consume some alien matter. Judging by the amount of cleaning solution on our carpet, the mess was successfully dispatched. It did require some clean up of the cleaner though.
As I hugged my now sheepish boyfriend and promised to show him how to properly use carpet cleaner, he asked me if I had a good day. It was filled with trash, traffic, spills, and stress. The great majority of my day was not categorized as enjoyable.
Still, I ate brownies, talked to a good friend, and the poor guy gave his best effort to surprise me with picking up extra chores. Can three little acts of love erase the stains on my dress or bring the trash bins back in from the alley?
Little things are greater than the sum of their parts. They inspire you to chin up and try for a better day. Chocolate therapy can help you swallow your pride and stop keeping score in a friendship. That helps you spread a little happiness to someone else who might be hurting just as much as you. Little things help you focus on the nervous man and wagging tail over the best-laid plans gone awry on the carpet.
The ugly truth is that I am an emotional person who picks up responsibility when I should take a breather. Sometimes that means a bad day. I’m not going to slow down, but I can change how I add up my day. Cobwebs carry no weight and won’t bring me down. Neither will negative social dynamics or the temporary ruination of my dress. Good food, good friends, and a good man—those things are worth their weight in gold.