Secra got her
She was on her
way out the door to
run some errands -- taking the overdue Denis Leary
Blockbuster, dropping off a couple of bills at the Post
Office, picking up milk and coffee at the little
Mom-and-Pop on the corner -- all the basic
day-to-day sort of
stuff she never seems to have time for when she's working
fulltime. She was feeling pretty good about it, too: the sun
birds were singing, she was having an
undeservedly fabulous Hair Day (considering that she hasn't so much as
looked at a bottle of Pantene Pro V in five days). Plus, she
admitted to me, it felt
good just to be out of the apartment for a little while.
"What did I
TELL you?" I said smugly. Puley's Rule #1, during this
temporary period of Career Realignment:
Secra is required to get out of the apartment every
single day, without
fail ... even if it's just a
trip up the street to the newspaper stand.
As she was
apartment building, she
stop and check her mail.
And there it was. The very last Dirt
She set her purse
and her MP3 player down on the ground, for
a moment, and tore the envelope open, right there in the middle of the
mail lobby. The first surprise: the amount was more than
she'd expected. Like three TIMES more,
actually. She'd only worked half a pay-period, just before
she'd quit, so she
she would be looking at half a final paycheck. She'd forgotten
about the vacation time she'd managed to accrue lately. (She and David
had been planning to take a long weekend in
L.A. sometime this fall, to see the King Tut exhibit, so she'd been
trying to build up some paid time off.)
It wasn't a fortune, by any means ... she was still
going to have to dip into her savings, over the next month or two (or
however long it takes for her to become gainfully employed again) ...
but at least
she'd be able to pay her late fees at Blockbuster.
surprise: the painful way her heart hiccuped, seeing four
years' worth of
Dirt Company career summed up in one final paycheck.
It wasn't the
greatest job in the world ... especially towards
when she and Bob The Temporary Office Manager Guy were butting heads
over whether she was an Administrative Assistant or an answering
machine with boobs. (Bob The TOMG: "You're a
powder keg. You're trouble. I want you out of here.") But it was her
and she did it really well, and there were moments when she derived a
fabulous sense of satisfaction from it. Plus there were
people for whom she'd developed genuine affection, over the years.
Now it was over, just
like that, and all she
had to show for it was this crummy piece of paper.
(That, and a
obsolete business cards, and a groovy red stapler, and a little
ceramic plaque that says "Because Nice Matters.")
"Why does my
Hands shaking, just the tiniest bit, she pulled a pen
out of her purse and endorsed the back of the check. Then she
stuffed it into her Day-Timer, slung her purse over her shoulder and
headed out the door of the apartment building, mentally adding a trip
to the bank to her list of errands.
As soon as she hit the
sidewalk, she flipped the switch on her MP3
player and pushed 'random.' First song out of
box: Moby, in all
of his affectedly melancholy glory.
Why does my soul feel so bad?
Why does my heart feel so bad?
Why does my soul feel so bad?"
songs on her player, and THIS is what comes up first? It was like
having someone take a W16 Gauge Pneumatic Staple Gun to what was left
of her heart.
"Hit the button!" I shrieked at her. "HIT
Puley's Rule #2, during this temporary period of Emotional
Realignment: no wallowing in affectedly melancholy
music, especially MOBY.
she reached into her jacket pocket,
found the 'next' button and pressed it for all she was worth.
heart is low.
My heart is so low
As only a woman's heart can be ..."
"Hit it again!" I said. We love us some Eleanor McEvoy, as a general
rule, but today isn't the day for sweetly weepy Celtic songs all about
the trials and tribulations of being a woman.
the Magic Dragon
Lived by the sea ... "
GOD NO!! All of a sudden she's four years old again, weeping
in front of her mother's record player. "Hit it again!" I barked.
Finally -- on the fourth attempt -- the one song that never fails to
lift her spirits, embolden
her heart, put the brisk back in her step. This song literally saved
her life, eight years ago, and it still has a nearly magical effect on
her mood and her outlook.
"I get knocked
but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down!
I get knocked down
but I get up again
You're never gonna keep me down ... "
go," I told her,
and she nodded in agreement, cranking the song up to eleven. And then
she strode off down the street, towards the bank to deposit her final
Dirt Company paycheck ... feeling, once again, just the teeniest bit in
her life and her destiny.
to throw a rock?