The last week probably should have been really challenging and annoying. On Thursday I was laid off from my job of six and a half years. On Friday night my car snapped an alternator belt somewhere between San Francisco and LA, in the middle of nowhere on I-5. On Sunday I had a flat tire. Sunday night I had a hotel fiasco that involved someone else's luggage in my room when I arrived, having to change rooms at 2:30 a.m. due to a loud transformer hum coming through the wall, and a stray 6 a.m. wakeup call.
On the job: I figured out a day or two ahead of time that it was happening. Rather than freaking out, I found the person who I thought would be most affected by it, and forced her to come have coffee with me. No, not tomorrow, not next week, today. "So here's the deal. I'm 99% certain I'm getting laid off tomorrow. You rely on me for X, Y, and Z. What do you need from me in the next few hours?" I faked a headache to my boss, went home, and spent the rest of the day pulling together data and documentation for her. That night, I dropped a USB thumb drive on her desk, then cleaned out my office. On Thursday I went in for the ceremonies, then spent the rest of the day in a pub with coworkers.
Friday evening I drove down to Irvine for my friend's law school graduation on Saturday morning. Well, I tried to at least... somewhere south of Los Banos I heard a noise that sounded like debris in my wheel well. A minute or two later my alternator light came on. "Hmm. I guess I snapped an alternator belt." The car was driving just fine, though, and wasn't overheating, so I drove carefully to the next exit, checked into a hotel, and called AAA. "Here's what happened. What do I need to do tomorrow?" The next morning I called them and we found a shop that was open, then had the car towed.
I had a good time riding with the two truck driver, and we spent the 30-mile ride joking and laughing. "Most people aren't nearly as happy as you are when they're sitting in that seat."
"You know, I can get stressed out and grumpy about it, or not. Being grumpy is less fun than not being grumpy, so I choose not to." Nate Silver and I spent a few hours hanging out together in Los Banos, then I was on my way again. I missed graduation but I got to have dinner with my friend and her family.
Sunday morning when I got to my car I noticed that one of the tires was quite low, and when I checked it the pressure was 10 PSI. I found a tire shop that was open Sundays, carefully drove the two miles, and when I got there I spotted metal sticking out of the tread. Ten bucks and twenty minutes later I was on the road to Vegas.
When I got to my hotel room, I noticed someone else's luggage in the room. A quick call to the front desk was enough to sort that out-- a bellman showed up a few minutes later to take it away. I got back to the room around 1 a.m., and noticed there was a really loud hum coming through the wall. I called the front desk, and they sent someone up to check then called me back and said there's nothing they could do. "Can I switch rooms?" "We only have smoking rooms available." I decided to try to sleep through it.
Around 2:15 a.m. I wasn't sleeping and wasn't going to. I got up, dressed, packed, and stumbled down to the front desk. "Please just give me a room that's quiet enough to sleep in." She eventually put me in a suite, but said she could only authorize me to stay in it for one night and asked me to talk to the manager the next morning. The suite smelled vaguely of smoke, and there were ashtrays everywhere, but screw it... I'd deal with it in the morning. I had to be somewhere at 10 a.m., and I was exhausted. I was not amused by the unscheduled 6 a.m. wakeup call, but just went back to sleep.
In the morning, I had a polite conversation with the manager about it. He said he'd move me, gave me a $50 food credit (since the room was comped already) and asked me what I cared about in a room-- close to the elevator, high floor, view, etc. "Soft horizontal surface, hot and cold running water, no smoke smell, quiet enough to sleep in." He seemed surprised that I wasn't being either rude or fussy about it, and we sorted it all out.
Many people would have gotten cranky, bitchy, stressed out, or otherwise unhappy and unpleasant about most of these things. I'll admit that I was less than cheerful when I was standing at the front desk at 2-something in the morning, but that's primarily because I was exhausted. Other than that, I've been pretty cheerful and pleasant about all of it.
A while ago I was talking to an extremely-good high stakes poker player, and we were chatting about Full Tilt. I asked him how much money he had on the site, and he responded that it was in the neighborhood of a million dollars. "If I get it back, that's great. If not, that's OK too." He shrugged. "It's all good." That's really stuck with me. Sure, he's taken millions of dollars out of online poker, but I don't think I know anyone for whom a million dollars isn't a large sum of money. That he could be so unfazed by possibly having that much money stolen from him was truly impressive.
So yeah. I lost my job, my car broke down in the middle of nowhere, I had a flat tire, and I lost half a night's sleep over a hotel fiasco. It's all good.
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