I remember when the owner of the publishing company I work for called us into the conference room and told us that because of the downturn in the economy, we were going to have to take every other Friday off.
Most of us tried to look sad, hurt, depressed, but it was July. In Santa Barbara. And we now had two three-day weekends every month!
Unfortunately, it seemed like I had something to do on every one of those free Fridays – until today. Yup, it was almost a year later, but today, finally, I was free as the breeze blowing gently across my back patio…
“Speaking of the back patio,” my wife said. “I have a surprise for you.”
“A surprise? For me?” I threw open the screen door. There was a large box sitting there. On the side it said: “Adirondack Tete-a-Tete. SKU #414046.” Down in the corner of the box were the words: “Assembly Required.”
“Isn’t it cool? We’ll be able to sit out here and enjoy a glass of wine…”
I whined: “But it’s my First Free Furlough Friday.”
“Shouldn’t take long, besides you love to build stuff.”
I looked at the Assembly Instructions. The only words on the page were: “In Case of Missing Parts, Call Indonesia.” It did have an exploded view and all the parts on the page were labeled with the letters A-Q. The parts themselves, of course, were not labeled.
Fast forward through my “Free Friday Morning.” I was now holding my lower back – and several extra parts that probably went to someone eles’s Adirondack Tete-a-Tete. I hoped their cell phone plan included Southeast Asia.
I looked around. “Where is this going to go?” I asked.
“Right where those two large agaves are,” she said.
Before I could question this, she added: “I’ll get the saw.”
Fast forward another hour: The agaves were gone. Stepping stones had been added, then subtracted, then added, and I had moved several large, really heavy pots from one side of the patio to the other and back, to the all-too-familiar phrase: “You never know until you try it what it’s going to look like.”
But finally, I was done. My wife had gone to run some errands. I found several not-too-old pieces of pizza in the fridge, and popped the cap off an ice-cold beer. Ahhhhh…
The microwave beeped that my pizza was reheated to perfection at exactly the same time my phone rang. I hoped it was the guy looking for the missing parts to his Adirondack Tete-a-Tete, but I knew it wasn’t.
“The Escape won’t start,” she said. “I think the battery is dead.”
I recapped the beer and grabbed the jumper cables. I glanced at the clock. It would have been afternoon break if this had been a regular Friday.
We got the Escape started and I followed my wife all the way across the road to where it died again. We decided to call a tow truck. The guy hoisted our Escape onto his flatbed truck and said he would meet us at Sears, which had one battery in stock that would fit our car.
“We’ll meet you there,” we said. Three blocks later, I noticed the little gas tank icon on my dash was glowing. I remembered I was going to fill it up on my way to the driving range after my First Free Furlough Friday nap.
By the time we got to Sears they had already hooked up the SUV to a diagnostic devise and told us: “Battery’s dead. One hundred eleven dollars out the door.”
My wife patted her pockets then smiled, “Can you put it on your credit card?”
I checked my watch. All those folks who hadn’t gotten a Furlough Friday were home from work lamenting about their tough day. Oh well, at least it was Friday night. I could kick back and watch the ballgame
When we got home, I noticed a familiar car in the driveway.
“Almost forgot. We’re babysitting tonight,” my wife said. “Oh, and tonight is lady’s night, so I’ll be going out for dinner. But I think there’s still some pizza left.”
That’s when the grandkids stepped out of the house eating… you guessed it.
Next Furlough Friday, I might just go to work.