Sweating the Details
There’s a strange and peculiar psychology to travel. You go away for a week and it never even occurs to you that something dreadful could befall you. What’s a few days, right? On Saturday Ann and I depart to
Maui for a three-week
vacation. Long trips seem to invite the dread of catastrophe, increase the
chance of disaster.
Goosed by irrational fears we set about getting our affairs in order because, you know, just in case. I assembled all of my personal papers into a binder which I’ve named The Great Big Book of Very Important Documents. I reviewed the beneficiaries of my investments and life insurance policy. Ann and I had our wills updated. I wrote a letter to Ann detailing what I’d like done with my mortal remains should, you know, the question come up. I think of the Internet as a utilitarian tool and we don’t live much of our lives online, still I was surprised by the number of passwords and PINs I had to collate – they’re not stored in the cloud, folks. Passports current? Check. Valid travel insurance? Check.
And then there are the insurance implications of an empty house. And the cats. And the fucking cats, one vomits at random and the other is on thyroid medicine, two hits a day. Ann was able to press-gang a fellow whom we both know very well and trust to house-sit and cat-sit. So I sat down to type up a beginner’s guide to running the Crooked 9, something I’ve never had to explain in depth to anyone because the house just apparently runs itself until you actually pause to think about everything you have to do because it has to be done and, anyway, you don’t give a routine task a second thought.
Ann and I know what’s supposed to go bump in the night in our house but our sitter won’t have a clue. I wrote about garbage and recycling, white bags, black bags, blue bags and clear bags. And the dishwasher? Put the detergent pellet in this basket, not its designated compartment. Remember not to place utensils in that basket. The back gate is broken so you kind of have to do ‘this’ to open and close it. When the weather turns mild be sure the downspouts are down because we don’t want snowmelt pooling near the foundation as we’ve had seepage issues in the past.
The tabbies prefer to drink from the bathroom sink. However this cat will only lap still water from the basin while that cat insists upon running water from the faucet. They will be there at the same time and you can’t accommodate both at once. Don’t leave the tap running and the drained sealed. Oh, the toilet cistern takes a few minutes to fill and if you don’t depress the handle for an extra second the bowl won’t fill properly; it’s one of those inefficient eco-friendly appliances.
And on and on and so on and so forth for three dense pages, a ream of crib notes. Once I had completed the first draft, I realized that the various functions of our household which Ann and I see to on automatic pilot are in fact rather complex, and could appear quite complicated to a temporary minder such as our sitter. I was reminded of my first summer job as a teenager, showing up for shifts in an industry I neither cared for nor knew anything about. I wondered what that experience would be like as an adult. How would I fare if I landed a job I was hopelessly unqualified to fill?
Say my curriculum vitae included a failed airline, a failed board game, a failed vodka, rancid meat, a bankrupt casino, a bestselling book I neither wrote nor read, a popular television show, a matchbook university hawking junk degrees, allegations of sexual assault, a couple of eponymous golf courses and a few gilded palaces, and somehow I blustered my way up the ladder all the way to President of the United States without any comprehension of the roles of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the federal government and its bureaucratic workings while possessing no diplomatic skills and a pronounced guilelessness in regard to the intentions of hostile foreign powers because I’d cocooned myself inside a circle of second-rate sycophants who placate me with comforting alternative facts?