I often feel sorry for my clients. And why not? By the time they reach me, they’ve usually suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Still, I can’t help but view some of them as masters of their own misfortune, with this morning’s subject being a prime case in point.
Thirty-five-year-old “Leonard” has lived alone in a small, one-bedroom apartment since his divorce two years ago. He’d love to get back together with his ex. If not, at the least, he dreams of acquiring a two-bedroom residence so he can regain joint custody of his daughter. He plans to do just that, once he wins his intended lawsuit against “the bastards who fired me.”
As he explained, until recently, he’d performed weed spraying for a lawn care company. His employer allegedly severed their ties because Leonard “used to be” a drug addict. “But I’ve been working my twelve-step program hard and been clean for a year now, so isn’t it discrimination to fire me?”
“Your boss told you that’s the reason for your termination?” I inquired.
“He said I’d sprayed the wrong properties four times in the past month, and he’d had enough. But I’m sure that was one of them … whaddya call ’em? … ‘Rejects?’”
“‘Pretexts’?” I offered.
“Yeah! So, whaddya think?”
What I thought was that he’d confirmed my suspicions from the earliest moments of our meeting: to wit, he’s the type of guy who’ll dive into an open septic tank to keep a single bird from crapping on him. When I’d found him waiting to see me this morning, he’d irately called me a number of uncomplimentary names before adding: “I’ve been waiting here an hour, and when you finally said you’d see me, you didn’t even apologize; it’s like nobody’s time but yours means anything!”
I’d finally gotten a word in edgewise and responded: “Slow down a minute. Didn’t we have a ten o’clock appointment?”
“Damn right we did!!!”
“It’s five to ten now,” I’d pointed out. “So don’t get mad at me when you’re the one who showed up an hour early!”
It turned out the mixup was easily explained, if unbelievable. Surprisingly, Leonard hadn’t set his clocks forward for daylight savings. Given his solitary lifestyle and current unemployment, all news of the annual event had somehow escaped him, for an entire week! His meeting with me served as merely the last in a series of events inciting rage at the consistent, hour-long delays perpetrated by others. Yet critically, the scathing barrage of words he’d reserved for me paled in comparison to those he’d leveled at his ex-wife over the weekend, after she too arrived an hour late for a custody exchange.
Leonard confided to me: “Crap. She’s the last person I want to make amends to right now, but I guess I have no choice.”
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“When I yelled at her for being late, she flipped me the bird and said ‘spring ahead, you idiot!’ I thought she was telling me we’d never get back together, and I didn’t realize she was talking about daylight savings. That’s why I answered her: ‘I have moved on, you fucking cunt!”