At the end of William Goldman’s 1960 novel Soldier in the Rain, Eustice Clay, a beleaguered soldier who’s been on a run of appallingly bad of luck, looks up into a stormy sky and expresses his true feelings.
“Fuck you,” he says to the angry clouds.
After the week I just went through, I know exactly how he feels.
I, too, was standing in the middle of deluge, only I was outside Pennsylvania Station, and instead of directing my rage up to the stratosphere, I aimed my anger straight into my smartphone.
And I wasn’t talking to the Almighty, the Fates, the weather gods or any other such supernatural being.
I was shrieking at a car service dispatcher who just told me that there would be no car to pick me up on this horrific night—even though I had reserved a vehicle the day before to take me and my luggage the hell home.
This was a fitting climax to my three-day business trip to Philadelphia. Nothing seemed to go right during this conference. I was bouncing in a dozen different directions, I was making bonehead mistakes and I was so worried about something going wrong that I focused almost exclusively on surviving rather than excelling.
I hit the panic button too goddamn much, choosing to freak out as a first resort—as opposed to carefully analyzing the situation, attempting to come up with a logical resolution, and then freaking out.
I even forgot to pack socks—socks, for Christ’s sake! Who in the holy flying fuck forgets to bring socks on business trip? Luckily the Pennsylvania Convention Center had a gift shop that happened to sell socks, among other things, so that was one less screw-up to worry about.
I didn’t get a chance to see any of the sites or meet up with my awesome Philly friend, Ron. I barely had time to look up from my laptop.
Now to be fair, these conferences can be stressful, but I also did a lot of dumb stuff, real rookie errors, and as the bloopers piled up, I became more and more frustrated and, of course, I allowed the anger took over.
Even the weather went to straight to Hell, as sunny skies soon gave away to a storm system that seemed determined to outdo Noah’s 40 days and 40 nights schtick. By the time the conference was over, I staggered to the train station and prayed for a quiet trip back to Brooklyn.
Wheels in Motion
And then I called for my car.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from this fat schmuck. Of course, I don’t know if this dispatcher is fat, having never seen him, but I imagine him as bloated and unshaven, stuffed into a stained wife beater with a rancid toothpick shoved between yellowed, rotting teeth, and clouds of flies buzzing around him.
I know this is childish but I can’t help it.
After detonating the F-bomb, I called another neighborhood car service and learned they had a driver near Penn Station, who picked me up and got me home. I sent a nasty email to Fat Fuck Charley at the first outfit and filed a complaint with the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
On Saturday I got my new favorite car service to take me and my old computer to the Apple Store in the World Trade Center so I could get out the old files and put them into a new machine.
There was a breakdown in communications, however, because upon my arrival I was told the Apple geniuses couldn’t retrieve information from a busted computer—which makes no sense to me whatsoever, seeing as how if my computer wasn’t busted I wouldn’t be buying a new one, would I?
I then had to lug this 27-inch corpse on to the R train and take it up a few stops to the geeks at the Best Buy at Broadway and Houston.
I started having a conniption fit on the train—I can’t take it, I can’t take it—but then I recalled one of my first big stories when I covered the arrest of a man charged with murdering his wife.
That night was completely out of control and I almost had a nervous breakdown, but I got through it. And I was determined to get through this day, too.
So I bought a new Apple from Best Buy and I’m scheduled to pick it up on Monday. And when I bring it home, I won’t be calling Fat Fuck Charley for a ride.