Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Also available on Smashwords and for NOOK!
It started out such a glorious day!
The sun was shining. The birds were singing, and all was right with the world.
Well, maybe everything wasn’t exactly right with the world, but most things were doing okay in my world.
I was laughing. I, too, was singing. I was looking forward to my chock full of appointments day.
No, really, I was. Would I lie to you?
Well, okay, maybe “looking forward” is a bit strong, but I wasn’t exactly dreading anything.
All right, I was dreading that one thing just a little bit, but after all, what woman wouldn’t?
Blissfully, I slathered Nutella on a sesame bagel, picked up my second pitcher of espresso, and headed for my dining room table where my cordless phone awaited my orders. All I had to do was make a teeny little adjustment to Annie Acorn Publishing LLC’s long distance service.
An hour and a half later…
Yes, I said an hour and a half later I had managed to outlast the technical difficulty that my phone company was experiencing.
Now, I ask you, would the fact that your phone company was experiencing that kind of technical difficulty at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time not concern you? I mean, if they can’t keep their own customer service going smoothly during a quiet period when most of the country is asleep, how are they going to maintain mine on a minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day basis?
Oh, and did I mention that this is the same company that provides my cellular phone service? You know, the service that is completely nonexistent inside of my home, except for that one spot you can attain only by cramming your body between the toilet and vanity in the guest bathroom. The service that required me to have a landline for Annie Acorn Publishing LLC’s needs in the first place. Sorry about that, but I needed to vent – not much, but a little bit.
Most people, yes, MOST PEOPLE, would’ve been just a little bit upset that particular morning, but then I am not most people. I took my 33rd deep breath, thanked the customer service rep despite the fact she had offered no compensation for both my left ear and my left arm now being so asleep that they were both snoring, and gently returned the cordless receiver to its cradle – still humming a nice tune.
After all, the sun was still shining, the birds were still singing, and things were still pretty good in my world. I headed out into the gorgeous day on my way to my next errand – a pass through my bank’s outside service lane that would probably include a quick chat with Emily, one of my favorite people, as she processed my deposit.
There was one person ahead of me when I arrived, but the drawer was slightly outwards, so I wedged my vehicle in behind them, just as another eager customer pulled in behind me. Then, to my chagrin, a hand reached from the car and put something else in the drawer. On and on it went. The drawer pulled in, and the drawer pulled out – repeatedly.
I turned off my car, as there was nowhere to go and no way to do it even if I had wanted to. I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and tried not to think about the sign by the receptionist’s window at my radiologist’s office that clearly stated, “If you are five minutes late (FIVE MINUTES!), we will reschedule your appointment for you.” After all, this was the next stop on my itinerary.
I put the smile back on my face and tried to hum a snippet of my favorite tune, as I wondered what in the world was Emily doing?
Finally, the turtle in the car in front of me finished the way more than his allotted “Please limit yourself to 3 (THREE!) transactions at our outside window” items of business and removed his vehicle from my way. I pulled ahead and discovered an earnest young man whom I didn’t recognize behind the window.
Hope springs eternal, as we all know, so I allowed the moveable drawer to swallow my deposit. Then, as the earnest young man amused himself by learning to count to one hundred thousand, I passed the time by looking at all of the cartoons and funny sayings that Emily had had the forethought to tape to the inside of what should’ve been her window for my reading pleasure. At long last, my eyes settled upon a saying by one of my favorite people that read:
Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established. – George Carlin
Now, ever since I was a teenager back before time, George Carlin has been one of my favorites. Back then, he seemed so much older and wiser than the rest of us, and I’m not sure that my opinion formed as a half-finished human being ever changed much with the advent of my so-called maturity. Even in death, George seemed to have struck the proverbial nail on the head.
And then it hit me.
Did my mentor’s wisdom imply that I was destined to repeat my lengthy call to the phone company and my extended wait in the bank’s drive-through lane over and over again? “Emily!” I cried. “Where are you?” But the moveable box made its way towards my car’s open window, and I was left to hurry towards my next appointment, knowing full well that I was now cutting it VERY close, when it came to their promptness requirement.
I arrived at my radiologist’s office, gasping for breath from the 400 yard dash I had completed on my way in. With my glass-half-full attitude, I looked frantically around for a clock that was running slow and would therefore confirm I was only four (FOUR!) minutes late. Alas, I could find none, but to my surprise, the receptionist glanced up with a sadistic grin on her normally pleasant face.
“I see that you are here for one of THOSE.” She rolled her eyes. “Room 29 along the hall there is clearly marked for those of you whose time it is.”
Feeling a bit nervous, I took the clipboard that was loaded down with forms and releases from her hand and headed along the hallway as instructed. Approaching the Gothic print designating “ROOM 29,” I told myself that the odd script in no way signified my fate, but rather represented only that someone had felt a bit creative.
Resigned, I followed the leftover assistant from the Spanish Inquisition into the tiny, darkened room that was my destiny.
“Leave the front of the gown open,” my guard directed me and left me to partially disrobe because, that’s right ladies, on top of everything else I was NOT at the radiologist for a follow-up foot/ankle x-ray. I was there for my annual screening mammogram.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in having a screening mammogram – once a year, every year. I have a sister, who is a 15+ year breast cancer survivor, and she is with us today because of this procedure. But still…
I was taught when I was a small child by both of my grandmothers, as I helped them do laundry in their wringer washing machines, that squeezing parts of your body through two hard surfaces was NOT one of Life’s recommended activities. So to insure my survival of the process, as normally rounded parts of my body were flattened into two 6’ X 3’ X ¼” platters, I let my mind wander, and not surprisingly it wandered right back to my longtime friend, George.
Was I even now, by having my yearly, establishing the need for another?
As I was released to the changing room, where I could slip back into my sweater, this question haunted me, but then a lightning bolt of understanding struck me. George hadn’t meant for us to stop dusting.
As was so often the case with his subtle humor, there was a bigger picture. It wasn’t just bad and drudge-filled things that could be established in this way. By the simple act of doing a kindness, we were establishing a habit that would self-perpetuate itself, too.
I sent the receptionist a wave and a smile as I passed her, guaranteeing that if I were to be six (SIX!) minutes late the next time, she would remember me fondly. I held the front door for an older man using a walker and stepped aside for a child in a wheelchair to pass by me. I stopped at the organic store and picked up a treat for my elderly neighbor on the way home. Each time I reminded myself that I had now established the opportunity to do another good deed.
Problem solved. Things seemed to be better already. All was again right with my world. The sun was shining, and the birds were singing – thanks to Emily and George having pointed the way!
A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn
Also available in print, A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off!,
and for NOOK!