It should have been a good day.
Not that I had any particular expectations for it - sure, I can be dumb sometimes, but I'm not a complete idiot; I've learned a thing or two about expectations over the course of nearly four decades - but, overall, in general, for the most part, barring anything unforeseen, it should have been a good day. An okay day. A so-so day.
At the very least it shouldn't have been a massive shitstorm.
I'll back up.
It was Wednesday. After a restless night's sleep, it was off to a rocky start, but nothing too terrible or unusual. No matter what else happened it was going to be my last day physically at work until the new year, as I would be working from home on Thursday, and then burning up the last of my vacation so as to avoid pointlessly driving in to the ghost town that work always is at this time of year.
It didn't really start to go awry until around 9:45, when I was talking to my boss. We were supposed to meet that afternoon to have a sort of strategy session for a project I'll be working on once the break is over. She mentioned that she might be a bit late, as she had to go to a holiday lunch with another team. She then asked me if I wanted to go as well - "It's free food" - and forwarded me the invite.
The lunch was set to start at 11:30. I got to the place - a local pool hall/sports bar; it was the second time this week that I found myself at a pool hall, as my Director had thrown a holiday party for our team on Monday at a different pool hall - at around 11:35 and found it almost abandoned. I went up to the bar to ask if there was an area reserved for the party. The girl said she didn't know of any reservations, but went to check with her manager. She returned shortly and said that there were no reservations, but that she would set aside two pool tables for the group, should anyone show up. A few minutes later the phone rang; it was the Director of the team who was throwing the party - the one set for 11:30, mind you - calling to make a reservation for noon.
At least I was somewhat vindicated, inasmuch as there actually was a party.
Eventually people trickled in. I hung out for a while, ate some food that was really bad for me, then headed back to work to pack up and call it an early day.
Because I didn't want to have to venture out into the world on the last two days before Christmas, and because my usual Saturday world-venturing wouldn't be taking place, I'd decided to stop at the comic shop on the way home. I also needed to get gas, and my car, covered with salt and sludge from last week's snowfall, really needed to be washed. So I decided I'd gas up and get a carwash at the station near the comic shop, but once I got there I found that the carwash was closed - there was a large van parked in front of the entrance to prevent people from even trying to use it - so I decided I'd go to another station/carwash that was sort-of-but-not-really on my way.
I got there and pulled up to the pump, only to see a note saying that the carwash was out of order.
Further, after deciding to at least get gas, I discovered, after having initiated the usual process, that I'd misremembered the layout of the place and had pulled up to the diesel pump. I waited and waited for my transaction to time out, and then tried to locate an available pump - I should note that, at 2:30, when I left work, there had been just as much traffic as you'd be likely to run into at 5:00 - and managed to find one - just to be cut off by someone who swooped in and took it. I turned around and, awkwardly, pulled up to another open pump, where there was a note saying that all they had was premium.
Cursing, since gas is already expensive enough as it is,I decided to take a more circuitous route home and swing by yet another gas station/carwash.
I got to the gas station, swiped my card, pressed "Yes" when it asked me if I wanted a carwash, and then found myself kind of puzzled when it didn't ask me which type of carwash I wanted. I shrugged it off, thinking, "Maybe it asks afterwards because it gives some kind of discount based on how much gas you by," which is something I have encountered before. As the gas was pumping, I looked over, ruefully, at the multiple cars in line at the carwash.
Then the pump finished and printed out my receipt and went back to the start screen. What about the carwash?
I have no idea, and by that time I was far too infuriated to even want a carwash anymore, so I just headed home.
I sat around for a while wondering why The Universe was so dead-set against letting me wash my car, and then decided that I might as well head out, as I had to be in Manassas by 6 to meet Scott, Stacy, and some friends of theirs for dinner before heading off to see Tron: Legacy.
I should mention that I've always been kind of ambivalent about Tron. I saw the original in the theater when it came out back when I was 10. It had been kind of cool, I guess, but it wasn't exactly life-altering, and I'd never really had any strong nostalgia for it, and, with all due respect to Scott, who has been eagerly anticipating the movie for a long time, no significant interest in seeing the sequel.
Still, I'd agreed to go, so I punched my destination into the GPS and headed towards Manassas...during rush hour.
Things were going okay until I was about a mile from my destination. The estimated time on the display for me to traverse that final mile was two minutes.
16 minutes later it was still telling me that this time, for sure, honest, it really meant that I would make it in two minutes. Not that it really mattered, since I was going to be a bit early anyway.
After 20 minutes spent slowly drifting in an endless ocean of slow-moving and not-moving-at-all cars, I'd gotten to the point where the GPS told me to "bear right." I did so, and to my right I could see a plaza that seemed likely to be the place.
The only problem was that "bearing right" had brought me onto the freeway, and there was no way to actually get to that plaza.
And as I was pulling into the intersection, my GPS said, "You have arrived at your destination. Your route guidance is now finished."
I had to drive a couple of miles before I got to an exit, and a few miles more before I could find somewhere to pull over and re-enter my destination - you can't actually set the GPS while in motion - and was on my way back, and only likely to be a couple of minutes late.
Or so I thought. As I was nearing the place once more - still unable to see any way to get there, my GPS initially told me to turn left - which was impossible - and then said, "Information is incomplete. Route guidance cannot provide turn-by-turn directions."
Eventually I found myself even further away, so I called Scott to let him know that I'd be a bit late. Stacy answered and said that they were about five minutes away and for me to get us a table. I explained that I was, according to the directions, 20 minutes away.
Eventually I got back into the vicinity, and, once again, my GPS led me back onto the freeway and away from my destination - after telling me that the intersection was my destination.
At that point I was prepared to just go home. I called Scott again and Stacy talked me out of just going home, and tried to provide me some guidance.
Eventually, after missing a turn, I got to the place.
I discovered that, during my initial attempt at getting there, I should have actually turned right several yards before where the GPS told me to bear right.
What my GPS had said would be a 20 minute trip - hell, even with the extra 20 minutes it took to travel that mile, it still would have only been about 50 minutes - had turned into nearly a two-and-a-half hour trip.
Given that I was already in a shitty mood before leaving home, things hadn't improved much by that time.
While the restaurant we'd eaten at had been selected for its proximity to the theater, we'd missed our intended showtime - thanks to me, which annoyed me even further, as I hate to be the source of problems - and would need to kill far too much time to catch the next one, so we decided on a different theater.
As we were leaving the restaurant I had said, jokingly - at least, such was my intention, though it wasn't taken that way, apparently - "If I'm not there, I went home."
On the way to the theater - which I more-or-less knew how to get to, and which my GPS had demonstrated an ability to direct me to in the past - I ended up driving alongside the only cop in Virginia who actually drives below the speed limit, which added considerable delay to my drive.
Also along the way, I'd started to question the directions, because I had thought it was a different theater.
Once I got there, I had to drive around the parking lot multiple times before finding a space a quarter of a mile or so away from the theater.
I double- and triple-checked the movie listings on my phone to make sure I was at the right place, then made my way inside with about ten minutes to spare.
Nobody was there. I tried calling and got voicemail. I sent a text and waited for a response that never came. Finally, as I was about to say, for the umpteenth time for the day, "Fuck. My. Life. Further, Fuck. Everyone's. Life. And, while I'm at it, Fuck. This." My phone started to vibrate. It was Stacy, informing me that no one had been able to get a signal, and that they were actually inside, seated. So I bought my ticket, then bought the smallest "large" Coke Zero I've ever seen, and made my way into the theater. By that time I was a seething cauldron of rage that was starting to boil over. Scott informed me that they hadn't bothered waiting for me because I'd said I "might not be coming."
And it should have been a good day.
A halfway-decent day.
An okay day.
A so-so day.
On the way home, still feeling annoyed, I put the music playing and discovered that, to my chagrin - though by that time how much chagrin could I possibly have left? - that none of the CDs in the changer contained any loud, violent music, which was what I was in the mood for.
Eventually I settled on some Nick Cave, and had to content myself to concluding, as the song Knoxville Girl began to play, "Well, at least it has a murder in it."