When I hit the snooze this morning, I felt rested and refreshed–usually a problem on a week day, because usually that means I’ve already hit the snooze several times and I now have approximately zero minutes to get myself out of bed, de-stinkified, and out the door. On most days this would not have worried me too much. But today is court day and I was very worried.
Most days I make a couple of stops on the way to the office. I stop at a satellite office for my department to pick up some files, then I go to the post office to get the mail, and then I head for the main office. On days where I’m running a little behind its not usually a big deal because the satellite office is about ten minutes closer to my house than the main office, and once I get there I can clock in rather getting to the main office at what would be ten minutes late. On most Monday’s and Tuesday’s however, my routine is slightly different. On those days I’m responsible for brining our attorney’s files to court, which begins at 8:30. On those days I go to the main office first to pick up the court files, drop them off at court, and then make my other stops. In order to get the files to court on time, I try to get to work about 15 minutes early, or at 7:45. This morning, when I hit that snooze button, feeling so rested and refreshed, it was 7:45. As quickly as I could I got out of bed and brushed my teeth. No time for a shower (apologies to any of you I may run into today) I threw on some deodorant, washed my face and ran out the door.
As I climbed in my car and sped toward work, I tried to reassure myself that I was in the clear. Not every Monday or Tuesday is a court day, so the only thing that kept panic from becoming full blown hysteria was the thought that maybe this wasn’t a court day. I tried to visualize my calendar in my head, hoping for some cerebral hint that everything was going to be OK. “It can’t be a court day. I always remember court days. Yeah, I always remember. Everything is fine.” I didn’t truly believe this of course. The only thing I could visualize was me walking into a courtroom full of angry attorneys, T.O.’d judge, and a scary baliff. Without those files, they can’t really do much of anything. I was already practicing my courtroom apology. “Yes, your honor. I’m sorry your honor. You’re absolutely right your honor.”
Miraculously I didn’t hit a single red light on my drive and I arrived at the office at about 8:12 only to be confronted with another horrible realization. In my rush to leave the house, I’d forgotten all my work related paraphernalia. No keys, no badges, no phone. Crap. The keys shouldn’t be an issue. I had an extra key to the van I use to transport the files in my office. The phone wasn’t a big deal either. No one ever calls me anyway. But the badges, the badges, I needed those stinking badges! One gets me into my office, but that one I could get around. I can just go to the front door and they’ll let me in because they know me. But the badge to courthouse, not having that is a problem. When I bring the files to court, I get to use a special elevator to get to the second floor that can only be accessed if you have a courthouse badge. Without that I’d have to go through security and the metal detectors with my big cart and buckets of files and a briefcase. I could try to sweet-talk my way through, but since I didn’t have my normal ID badge all the rent-a-cops would have to go on that I am indeed a County employee is my word. Somehow I didn’t think that would go over too well.
As I started to walk around the office to the front door and all this stuff is going through my mind, I spoted the head attorney making her way to the back door. She obligingly let me in the building and didn’t say anything about the files. I thought, ah, maybe it isn’t a court day. But then I thought, well, she’s just getting here so how would she know if the files have been delivered or not. Not real reassuring. I walked into the room that contains my office and the offices of two other coworkers and made a beeline for my court calendar. Before I could get there one of my office mates greeted me with, “Good morning Andy. They’ve been asking about you, something about court files?” Crap. Sure enough, today is a court day. I dropped my lunch in my office and speed walked down to legal to grab the files, where I meet one of the legal secretary’s, no doubt on her way to find me. “Oh, good. You’re here.” she said, in a pleasant tone.
As I gathered up the buckets, I noticed every legal secretary was on the phone. As I passed each ones cubicle they were all saying something like, “Oh, here he is.” or “Ok, he should be there shortly now.” into the receiver. I get the files in the van and I’m finally on my way. Its about 8:20 at this point. I’d like to think I can make it to the courthouse in ten minutes, but there’s no way I’m going to get pulled over for speeding in a county vehicle, and the way this day has gone so far that’s exactly what would happen if I were to speed. At this point I relax a little because I’m making good time, but then I remember that I don’t have my badge. How am I going to get in in a timely fashion. I was cursing myself for not calling one of the attorney’s to have them send down the law clerk to meet me out front while I was still at the office. Now I had no way to contact anyone. The whole drive I was praying, “Lord, please let there be someone with a badge who just happens to be sauntering by at the moment I arrive.” Even if there was, that was no guarantee because, again, I have no identification! They might think I’m some crazy courthouse bomber with a cart full of explosives beneath all those files. I mean, I did put on deodorant but I hadn’t showered and might smell a little funky.
When I got to the courthouse I moved as fast without running as I could. The room that has the special elevator has glass doors and also requires a badge to access. When I turned the corner to head toward the room, the walkway was deserted. No one in sight who might be able to let me in. Just as I was about to pass the room, someone came out of the door on the other side, inside the room, and then out of the door I needed to enter. As she came out, I turned my cart to head inside, she held the door for me. “OK.” I thought, “try to look like you belong here.”
“Do you have a badge to this elevator?” [flash winning smile]
“Thanks.” [breath sigh of relief]
“And you are…?”
[Oh no. Try to sound authoritative] “I’m Andy, DCSS, I need to take these files up to court.”
Its hard to look authoritative when you’re wearing shorts and a hat that says Bubba on it, but I guess I pulled it off.
When I finally got to the courtroom it was 8:38, which, all things considered, I think is pretty darn good. No one was angry—the judge wasn’t even in the room yet—and my apologies for tardiness were accepted and the whole thing quickly forgotten. I hadn’t in fact held up the entire American judicial system. I suppose the good thing about imagining the worst case scenario is that that is what is probably least likely. However, I will be turning up the volume on my alarm clock.