Highlight of My Day: A Short Story

Sitting in this awful traffic. I know I should have followed my iPhone’s map directions. Why did I go with my gut? This street’s usually free flow.  No traffic.  Or very little of it.  Today?  Looks like a crash up ahead, sirens blaring, restless drivers inching forward.

I down a 5-hour energy and blame my internal state of low energy on the 5 stellar blog posts I wrote last night for $30 a pop.  Thanks, freelancer!  Underbidding isn’t fun too often, but really fun when it is.

Oh great, she’s staring at me now.  Shifting in her seat, brushing her long yet bobbed hair with a grimaced face.  She told me she’s “traveling on business”, so I guess she’s important or something.

“Crazy nice weather we’re having, right?” She looks up less with her head, more with her eyes, which peer through tortoise-shell glasses. “I guess. I’m not from around here. I was invited to speak at a conference.” “What kinda conference?” I query. “The kind related to tertiary degree smoke.”

Before I ask, what the hell is tertiary degree smoke?, she explains in Kindergarten terms, “it’s the smoke that’s trapped in the paint in people’s houses, in their drapes.”

Kennedy Bridge overflows, a glass of bubbly spilling over, each bubble an exacerbated driver in a metal cage.  I picture the cars ahead of us careening off the bridge,  a parting of the metal boxes to reveal blessed, open asphalt. “I’m really sorry about this”, I offer in sincere tones. “Uh huh” she replies, piercingly.

Over the bridge at last. A quick zip up the aptly named Grand Central Parkway and we enter the LaGuardia zone.

I don’t bother handing over my silly business card.  A loyal customer I have not won.  “Alright”, she mutters, “only 40 minutes before I need to be at the gate.”  Bag handed over, gaze looking elsewhere, a swivel on high heels and she’s gone.

Idling in my black Lincoln Towncar—stocked with bottled water, chewing gum, my friendly face, and my sensible style of dress—I’ve hit on all the Uber recommendations, mind you—my phone’s Remind app tells me about my TaskRabbit appointment.

“Damn it! Almost forgot.”  Just then, Uber informs me how Ms. professional rated me a 2.  I see my average score has slid down to a 4.4.  Please don’t  deactivate me now dear, Uber, I plead in silence. Sort of.

Okay, so I gotta pick up flowers for this oxford-loving business guy who’s too drunk and strung out after 9 holes of golf to pick up flowers for his own wife.   And oh, they “must be delivered by 8pm!” Yes, sir!  And of course, the flower shop’s in the lower east side. Wonderful.  Guess no dinner out tonight.

Good thing I had the sense to sign up with Instacart a few months ago.  And Blue Apron? A godsend!  My mind drifts toward the ribbons of lasagna or chicken bouillon or fancy, spicy butternut squash empanadas I’m scheduled to prepare tonight.  Just me, my Netflix, the champagne of beers, and my Paxil.

Pausing in my Yonkers apartment hallway, I reflect on how today, all things considered, I got pretty lucky. I got the flowers delivered on time. I mean, right on time, and ran 4 outta 5 solid Uber drops.  Not a bad day.

Turns out I was to make pan seared chicken tonight. And 5 Miller High Lifes in, I burned the chicken a little.  Chicken char-char.

My pesky Remind app tells me it’s time to do what my mindless psychiatrist “prescribed” me to do: “every night, describe, in detail, the emotional highlight of your day.  It could be big or small, just something that really stands out as especially uplifting or happy.”

Okay man. I’ll try.  I guess he thinks the Paxil’s not enough to “calm the demons” so to speak.  Okay.  Let me settle down a bit. Take a stab at this.

Seated at a fake wood grain desk, I arch my back in scholarly style, wielding sharpened No. 2 pencil in hand—a green one with striations too.  For a moment, I feel like I’m back at the college I dropped out of.

I shake my leg. Tap my pencil. I stare ahead out the window. Too dark to see out. Instead, on the century-old glass, I see my undulating reflection.  A wide-eyed confused face, replete with 3-day stubble.

Like a disobedient dog or child, the so-called “highlight of my day” won’t come to me.  I know I did a lot today, but it’s all sorta cloudy. Not a cloudy day.  Just a cloudy mind, I guess.

I check my phone.  Instagram.  Enhanced pictures of mountain gear-clad youth on perilous cliffs taunt me.  I’ve posted only 30 times today.  Should be easy to find something in here.  My selfie while stuck in Manhattan traffic scored 120 likes, booyah!

Oh, here’s one: another selfie of me delivering flowers to a slender, blonde-haired lady.  She has her hands on her hips and a furrowed brow.  I’m smiling though. I guess that’s the one, that’s the highlight.  I’m smiling in that one.