Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Very Bad Day and the number "3"

There has always been an unsolved mystery concerning my life. I have no explanation about this phenomenon that satisfies. The mystery of which I speak involves the number “3” and the 24 hour day, to wit, how bad things always seem to happen in threes and all in one day. I often go months between such days, enduring nothing more than minor irritations or temporary setbacks. And then, out of the cosmic blue comes a day of epic reversals worthy of a Greek tragedy….Thursday, for example.


My day was heavy with client appointments so I had set my clock for 5:45. When my eyes opened I saw the blurry outline of 6:46 pulsing in digital blue-green. Although this was not one of the “3”, it did usher number one onto the scene. It took ten seconds or so for me to grasp the gravity of the situation…that my alarm clock had refused to alarm. Once fully engaged with the days’ first reality, I lurched upward awkwardly in a startled spasm of movement. It was then that I realized that I had an horrendous crick in my neck. Apparently I had spent too much time sleeping in poor posture while dreaming about a rabid feral cat who had hidden under the downstairs sofas and would launch himself at my ankles whenever I walked by, which in my dream was every 30 seconds. Terrifying! After a long and very hot shower and three advil, the neck was no better, so the rest of the day would be spent with my head tilted forward weirdly, like a deaf old man straining to hear his wife tell him to stand up straight.


Once at work, there were 9 voicemails waiting since I had been out of the office the previous day. Whenever I see the voicemail box that full, I always fight back a brief wave of nausea. Who knows what bad tidings await behind that sinister blinking light of indefinable color? It’s never as bad as I first imagine, in fact, sometimes the news is good. This batch was fairly benign. There were a couple of administrative foul-ups, a couple of clients returning my calls, and my pharmacy reminding me to pick up my blood pressure medicine, a subtle yet annoying reminder of my mortality. Then it was time for the first order of business. I needed to call several of my clients to set up times for their annual review appointments. The first would be one of my biggest clients, a man and his wife who had been with me for more than eleven years and with whom I had a good relationship. In fact, of all my book of business, I considered this guy to be one of my top 5 success stories. In the financial business sometimes timing works against you. Someone becomes a client at the top of the market and by that quirk of fate his time with you doesn’t go so well for a couple of years. For others, they come to you at the perfect time and for the first few years of your relationship they are convinced that you are a genius. With this man, I had done truly remarkable work. My advice had resulted in many happy returns. In addition, I had talked him out of many of his own ill-conceived ideas that would have led to disaster. So when he calmly informed me that he had made the decision to give all of his assets to another advisor with family connections, I was stunned to silence. I finally managed a, “Are you serious? Wow…”. After several minutes of trying to talk sense to him I resigned myself to the injustice and stupidity of it all.


Literally 10 minutes after hanging up with my disloyal, cowardly, and ungrateful now former client, I get a phone call from my sister telling me that my brother had just been rushed to the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland for emergency stomach surgery. With my neck now in full throb, I proceeded to track down the latest information on his condition. Seems that he had been having stomach pain for a week or so and had gone to the doctor on this, his day off, to find out what the problem might be. A cat scan was done and the results revealed a bleeding ulcer that had recently become a full-fledged hole and so he was rushed to the hospital and had been placed on an operating table at 1:30. My only brother at age 63 was getting cut open, and I wasn’t able to be with him, couldn’t even talk to him.

So, my day was complete. My head was propped up at a painful angle on my cricked neck, I had lost a large and profitable client undeservedly, and my brother was undergoing emergency surgery, all in one mysterious 24 hour day. It is famously said that into every life a little rain must fall. In my life it always comes one day at a time in blinding sheets, high winds, and flash flooding.