Some people make it through their entire lives without incident. ‘Some people’ were not Gloria VanGlidden. No, Gloria was a walking, talking disaster of an incident. Not a day went by without something sidelining her activity. And it didn’t seem to matter how well she kept her day planner organized either.
“Oh, snot on a biscuit!” Gloria said, exasperation at her broken shoe heel made loud and clear to everyone standing at the street corner waiting to cross.
The people standing closest to her looked on with raised eye brows and a few looks of disdain. She stood on her tiptoe and held up the broken high-heeled pump with a sheepish look on her freckled face.
“Broken.” The one word and a shrug of her shoulders seemed the best way to respond.
The light turned, and everyone moved en masse to cross the street, pulling Gloria along in the huddle of human bodies hustling off to work. She hobbled with one shoe on and one off, but the dumpty-dump of her off-kilter steps did more to bring a smile to her face than cause her any distress. If a broken shoe was the worst of her problems today she’d be golden.
Gloria made it to the other side and gripped the first light poll she arrived at, pulling herself from the crush of bodies moving like a steady river down the sidewalk. Once separated from the pack she broke the dangling heel from her pump and put it back on her foot.
“Hmm. Still lopsided. Oh well,” she said and removed the other shoe, breaking off the heel to make a matching pair. “Flats are easier to run in.” In her mind she imagined being chased by a feral dog or monstrous alley cat.
Once she arrived at the coffee shop she waived to her best friend, Denise, and slipped behind the counter and into the back room. Gloria tossed the broken-off shoe heels in the trash. She put her purse and jacket in the closet then promptly slammed her fingers in the doorjamb.
“Oh, for cryin’ out loud! Hhhssss,” she breathed out, the tip of her tongue slammed up against the back of her clenched teeth while she squeezed the offending fingers that throbbed unmercifully under the pressure of her other hand.
Denise peeked in the room. “Glory, keep it down. The customers can hear you yelling over the elevator music Frank’s got playing over the speakers. Hey, are you okay?”
Gloria nodded and shook out her hand. “Yeah. Sorry. I’ll be out in a sec.”
“Make it quick. Frank’s mad that you’re late again. He mumbled something about one more time.”
“He said that about himself when he was late, too, so I’m not too worried. Besides, I still have like three minutes before I’m actually late.”
Denise’s head disappeared back around the door frame, and Gloria looked at her injury. It wasn’t too bad. So far the day had started out pretty well. She just needed to get through a six hour shift.
Frank stepped into the small back room. “Why are you late?”
“I am not late, Frank.”
He looked at his watch then at the clock on the wall. “You’ll be late in thirty seconds.”
“Wow, what’s crawled up your–”
“Don’t go there, Gloria. I’m not in the mood.”
“Sheesh. I can see that,” she said and tapped in her employee number on the small digital time clock.
“If you must know, my parakeet died last night,” Frank said with a hint of tears clouding his voice.
Gloria was sure she’d seen a minuscule quiver of his lip as well but decided to let it slide and not tease him about it. Obviously, the bird was like a son to him.
“Wow, Frank. I’m sorry to hear it. If there’s anything I can do . . . .”
“Actually, there is.”
He was so matter-of-fact it threw Gloria off. She hadn’t really expected him to take her up on the offer.
“Oh-kay,” she said, barely able to mask her skepticism.
“I have a ticket to see my girlfriend perform in Wicked tonight, and I don’t want it to go to waste. Stella understands why I can’t make it to the show, but I promised to find someone to fill my seat because she hates seeing the front row empty.”
“What do you need me to do? Find someone to buy the ticket off you?”
“No, just take the ticket. I was going to go with my friend, but I need to bury Para-Pat, my parakeet, tonight. I’m going to have a little, private ceremony out on the garden roof. My neighbor said I could bury him in her raised flower bed. That way I can keep him close.”
“Uh . . .”
“Do you have plans, too? I offered it to Denise first, but she’s going on a date.”
Frank’s annoyance at Denise having a life outside his plans was amusing, but then Gloria remembered that she pretty much had no life whatsoever, which was a little depressing.
“Sure, I’d love the ticket. Always wanted to see Wicked anyway.”
“Great, here it is,” Frank said as he whipped the ticket out of his pants pocket and handed it to Gloria.
“Thanks,” she said and stared at the long, thick strip of paper in her hand.
Gloria managed to make it through her work day without killing, maiming, or burning anyone, which was what she would consider a successful day at the cafe.
She even made it to the theater in time to find her seat with the house lights still on. Frank hadn’t been kidding about the front row, and Gloria was psyched to be sitting so close.
“That seat’s taken,” a man’s voice interrupted her with her rear end half way to the seat.
She stood and swiveled to eye the man in confusion. “Excuse me?”
He had the sense to look embarrassed and said, “That’s my friend’s seat. You must be in the wrong place.”
Gloria looked at her ticket stub and at the seat again. “No. You must be in the wrong place because this is definitely my seat,” she said and swung back around.
Her purse, in her hasty move, smacked the man in the head, but she was already on her way into the seat and plopped down before she could even begin to apologize for brow beating him with her awkward bag.
“Shooty-darns! Sorry about that,” she apologized and cringed.
The guy leaned away from her, toward the person on his other side, and covered his eye with one hand while holding the other out as if to protect himself from further attack.
“Your friend wouldn’t happen to be Frank, would it?” she asked realizing that her supervisor had mentioned he was seeing the show with a friend.
If that was the case, she would be hearing about this little incident at work tomorrow. Gloria only hoped it wouldn’t be possible to fire her for beating the supervisor’s buddy with her purse.
The lights dimmed. Oh, well, she thought, on with the show.
I think I have a thing for clumsiness. Maybe it’s because I’m a super klutz. Maybe I just find it endearing and hope you do, too. Have a great week y’all!