Oftentimes my life seems beset by congruences of events, as though all Creation has lined up for purposes either great or small, to destroy my plans, or set me adrift, or, to speak colloquially, to just screw me over in general.
Today was such a day. I left work early for the purposes of taking one of my children to the doctor. Normally, the trip to this doctor's place of work takes about half an hour, but I have made the trip in twenty minutes. Today we had the strike, and also some late winter bad weather, so I doubled te amount of time I normally would need to get there. I gave us a comfortable hour. Even with the storm and the strike, we should still arrive on time.
Perhaps I should explain. I assume anyone can tell why the storm would slow us down, but you may not be aware of why a strike would. The reason is simple: The municipal buses will not cross a striking picket line. The strike means that buses will not enter onto the campus where I live, so I must catch the bus outside of campus. Worse, the bus must travel along city streets- during rush hour- during a storm- rather than the dedicated bus routes on the campus.
Driving down the road was far slower than I thought, but I believed that once we reached a second dedicated bus lane that runs between Keele and Dufferin sts we would be home free. I would be at the corner of Dufferin and Finch in plenty of time to catch the second bus that would take me to my destination.
Except we didn't take that lane. There is a rail crossing on that lane, and, for some reason, the crossing gates were stuck in a down position, so all buses were being rerouted onto the main streets. We were stuck taking Finch. During Rush Hour. During a storm.
My trip was made even more enjoyable by a bursting bladder on my part, and three of the strikers standing close by who were complaining about their working conditions, how the administration got paid more than they did, how they were really doing this for the students, and how this strike was about more pay and better working conditions for them and more affordable education for their students. I have absolutely no idea how more pay for them equals less tuition for their students. Worse, I have no idea how they could believe it. Their lack of self awareness or their capacity for self deception were truly stunning. They had to be Humanities TA's. I found their conversation so vacuous and so utterly annoying I was possessed with a strong urge to relieve my bursting bladder on them.
It took almost and hour and a half to get to the corner of Dufferin and Finch. I waited on the corner there for almost twenty minutes, far back in a line that would easily fill the next bus before I had a chance to get on it. Nearby was a pay phone. I left my place in line- after all, what did I have to lose?- scrounged through my pockets to call the number given to us when the appointment was made. I wanted to know if the doctor would still be in the office when I arrived. Would she still be able to take me in even though I have missed the scheduled apointment?
But the number was not the number of the office: it was the number to a call center. The person there had no idea if they would be there or not, and wanted to know if she could call me back when she found out. I told her I was calling from a pay phone. She asked if I could call back. I checked my pockets. No, I could not. I had to decide what to do. I could see no bus coming in this glacially slow traffic. I cancelled the appointment and hung up, and went to find another bus to get me back home. That one got me home in about half an hour.
As I said, perfect confluence of events. Remove any one element, and I would have arrived in the nick of time. No strike, I get there on time. No bad weather, I get there on time. No broken rail crossing, I get there on time. The idiot who answered the phone was merely irritating. Missing the doctor's appointment should be no big deal, except it was an appointment for Frodo. It was going to be an assessment for a speech pathologist. That is always the final detail of the perfect storm: It has to be about something important. My trivial plans go through utterly unhindered. But when something is important, when something is at stake, at a time when I pray that the heavens will make a clear path for me, just this once, I find all doors shut, every way is blocked. It just figures.