It’s never the big disasters that test my resolve. The little frustrations have much more of a chance to wear me down. You know the stuff: printers that go on strike the moment you need a printout in a hurry, a comb that breaks or a heel that snaps off when you’re already running later, turning around in the kitchen at a sudden noise and knocking over two pints of milk when you hadn’t screwed the cap back on yet… those sort of things can push you just that little bit too far when you’re already having a day and a half.
Then there are the little frustrations that eat up your time before you know it. Case in point, I must have spent an hour this afternoon trying to work out the text-to-speech function on my kindle app. The PC app at least has that function – I couldn’t even find it on my tablet or phone! – not that I managed to get it to work. It only works if I sit there doing nothing else. As soon as I move my mouse, or change screens, or even click on another part of my screen, it stops.
Since I wanted it particularly to listen to a book (that doesn’t have audio) while I work on a rather tedious spreadsheet, the failure didn’t make me happy. And yes, it’s definitely a form of procrastination. Now I’m not only an hour behind on my daily workload, I’m also annoyed that I’ve wasted an hour I could have used to write or edit or knit or… anything but trying to make something work. (Weirdly enough, if I had gotten it to work, the fact that it took an hour wouldn’t have mattered nearly so much.)
We’re just weird that way. A bit like Chris Henderson, who is the MC in today’s WiP Wednesday snippet, who has his own share of little frustrations to deal with. He works long hours. He’s struggling with a bad breakup. And he’s happy to go without dinner, rather than come home and head back out to the shops when he realises there’s no food in the house. With a couple of exceptions…
He carried the cat down the stairs and to the kitchen, glad that Roger hadn’t laid claim to Tiger, too. He couldn’t imagine coming home to an empty house at the end of each day, of not having the cat curled up beside him at night or draped contentedly over his lap while he watched TV.
He cuddled the cat closer and buried his face in the soft fur. “I wouldn’t have let him take you. I like you too much to be without you, big boy.” He set the cat on his feet and opened the cupboard where he kept the cat food. “What do you fancy for breakfast this morning? Nice tuna or a bit of dead cow?”
The cat only cocked his head and sat expectantly by his mat. If Chris dawdled any longer, he’d stand up on his hindlegs and wave a paw at Chris. The move never failed to make him smile and he could do with a smile that morning. He opened the food packet, emptied the contents into Tiger’s bowl and then just stood there, waiting.
Tiger stood up. He placed his front paws on the cupboard door and stretched on paw up in a long high five. He even mewed his request for breakfast.
“Aren’t you lovely?” Chris stroked the striped head and the tiny button nose, before he finally set the plate on the mat. “See? Nice Tiger breakfast. Right on time.”
His own breakfast wouldn’t be so easy to procure. His cupboards were bare. So bare, he’d gone without dinner the previous night. He would need to find time to go shopping before he headed home, or at the very least pick up a kebab on the way. His stomach growled agreement and Chris ignored it. Not having a cup of tea to start the day with was worse.
It had been one good thing—towards the end the only good thing—about living with Roger. He’d never failed to wake Chris with a cup of tea. It had made up for a lot of Roger’s shortcomings. It had also kept Chris from throwing him out long after he should have done so.
Chris pushed the memories away. He climbed the stairs to get ready for the day. Finding food on the way to work wouldn’t be a problem since his daily commute led past a Tesco Metro and a couple of cafes. The real problem was finding a decent cup of tea. The stuff in the station canteen was stewed-to-death undrinkable and Chris hadn’t yet sunk so low that he’d consider coffee an adequate substitute. He added milk to his mental shopping list, mourning the loss of milk floats and the clink of milk bottles in the early morning air.