My children’s fondest aims for a long day with no school is to go with Mom to work.
Mostly because I work in cafes with a computer. And my favorite cafes have both donuts and burritos. Life is good.
So Tuesday morning the darling five year old packed his briefcase with Richard Scarry, notebook and pen, and a pair of matchbox trucks. For work. He settled in next to me, in the place I know way too well but am very productive. He waited for his bagel, and stared at all the MacBooks around us.
My coffee had just cooled to perfect temperature when the neighbor to my right needed more space. I moved my coffee and laptop a bit and offered to help Butter take the dust jacket off his book.
He struggled and his hand slipped. My stainless steel bottle tipped and fell. Twenty ounces of 110 degree coffee and frothy almond milk flooded into my keyboard.
(Shut it, environmentalists. Dairy takes just as much water to produce, and almond milk is what I want for eleventy reasons, none of which are your beeswax.)
All the Mac users gasped as the coffee fell, pooling in my keyboard. I gasped. And grabbed a towel from Charley, the mom of three who had just made my son’s bagel. I sopped and wiped coffee. I checked in with other customers to make sure we hadn’t ruined their electronics. I tilted my laptop to the side to release another eight ounces, swirling and perfect, onto the table.
I smiled at my son, who looked worried or shocked; I was too horrified to note which.
“Whoa. That is a big spill. Are you hurt? I’m not hurt. These people aren’t hurt. My laptop is probably broken. But we can go to a computer mechanic to find out. Come with me, please.”
In the car we talked about how some things cost a lot of money, but they’re still just things. That being healthy and together is more important than my work, even though I would now have more work to do. I told him when things break it doesn’t matter as long as we have each other.
And I did the math in my head: taxes already submitted. Two client deadlines and a conference paper submitted the night before. A week since last backup. Copies of all photos on SD cards and backup drives.
I wasn’t happy. But I wasn’t scared or mad. I was grateful.
Butterbean started to say something, then changed his mind.
“It’s okay,” I said. “You can tell me anything.”
“Well, I’m a little glad your computer broke. Because I want you to stop working.”
Should have seen this talk coming. I never, ever used the computer when Peanut was little. If he was awake, I focused on him. Not true of this little man. This one gets full attention when he asks for it. But he really does have to ask.
“Yeah,” I said. “I understand that I’ve been working a lot lately and you don’t like me to ignore you. But the nice thing about my work right now is I know it’s coming, so I’m going to work away from home and a babysitter will play with you and pay attention to you. And then, when I’m home, I will be really home. And with you. And not my computer.”
He seemed satisfied.
The computer is fried, but the data is intact. The tech says he’s never seen anything like it. Clearly submerged in coffee, but retrievable information.
Hello, metaphor for my life right now.
Similarly drowning, but similarly available to recall the important stuff.
Kind of nailing it, despite being a hot mess.