The cards were being dealt fast and furious.
First card up – a new client for some dictation via telephone. He and I had been evaluating his project and technical needs for about a week prior to us actually putting things together. Now we were working through a table that he’d e-mailed me, adding content as we went. How great to feel my brain come alive and intuit so quickly and freely what was needed to move his project forward! My first paid work in over three months. Yet, one card is not a game – or a hand.
The next card was the background noise from my grandson and our house guest, the son of one of my daughter’s friends. Sudden afternoon hunger – no doubt driven by my need for minimal background noise – took over their beings which then took over the kitchen a few feet away from where I worked. Several passes at the microwave, refrigerator and squeaky-hinged dishwasher and they were done and back in front of the tv – also, within my project’s audio zone. My finger snappings and glares prevailed so I could finally focus more on what my client was saying than what was going on around me.
That is, until the next card was laid down.
Just when I thought the crew would sit quietly and eat in front of television, my grandson bolted upstairs to visit my 90-year old mother in her room. I could hear them talking and listened subliminally for words from my mother like “go”, “get”, “mail key”, “I’m going back to Oregon,” as I continued to transcribe. Nothing stood out. As I continued plugging content into my client’s document, I was aware that Mother was nearing the top of the stairs. This didn’t concern me since my grandson was right there with her.
As my client and I finished the first table and were continuing to the next one, I heard a faint ‘oh’ followed by Mother’s scream. I looked up from the desk to see my mother – 90 years old and counting – do a full on somersault down the stairs and land in a heap at the bottom of the first tier of steps to the living room.
In spite of the shock and horror of the moment, I couldn’t bring myself to ask the client if I could call him back. Social anxiety aside, I didn’t want to lose a brand new client over family dysfunction and a potential trip to the E.R. We’re talking a LOOOONNNNG time with no work. I asked my client to hold for a moment because my mother had fallen down the stairs. There was a slight breath intake on the other end. “Hold on,” I said as I stayed on the cell and walked to where Mother lay, By now she was lifting herself off the floor with the help of my grandson and now my daughter who had also been upstairs. Other than being somewhat shaken by the fall, Mother seemed fine. A total bona fide miracle of a landing!
I let the client know she seemed okay and that we could continue working for the time being. This felt supremely unnatural but since she landed okay, we picked up where we left off – so to speak.
The next card up – the dogs.
One dog’s bark in the universe is its validation of presence. One dog’s bark in our ‘hood and it’ll be at least ten minutes before the universe even becomes relevant again. ‘Nuff said because after our neighbor’s dog barked, our dogs moved the moment into Mach 5 ‘bark-a-thon’ status. After some vicious finger snapping and verbal instructions to be “nice”, I quelled the dog uprising so that my client and I could continue to continue.
Thankfully, my client and I were concluding our work session as the final card got laid down. RuPaul’s show was about to air and, in anticipation of the animated groupie commentary that would begin shortly, I did a quick verbal checklist with the client of the remaining changes needed and then briskly but warmly ended our call.
Sometimes you win a hand by knowing when to fold, you know? (Did I mention my social anxiety?)