Itís not fair, really, how our best intentions sometimes come back to haunt us. When I gave the Boss my cell phone number earlier this year, it was because I knew I would be out of the office for parts of several days, and I wanted him to feel comfortable if he needed me for an emergency. I should have known that eventually his definition of ďemergencyĒ would come down to that old standby: Where you at?
No, he didnít use that time-honored phrase of story and song. And anyway, when he called today I was driving between the bank and the post office, and I couldnít answer, not having a hands-free device in my car. I guess what he needed was an emergency to him. It was the fourth or fifth revision of a letter weíd been working on since last night. Itís a million-dollar proposal, so itís not a small deal. But if it had been an actual emergency, he would have kept me on it all night instead of fretting over it on the lunch hour. Such as it was.
After I stopped, I retrieved his voice mail and called him back. To his credit, he did sound frazzled, as if he were in the midst of a real, true crisis. On the other hand, he was satisfied when I told him I was twenty minutes out. (I made it back in fifteen.) And all he wanted me to do was add a couple of cover-your-ass sentences to the proposal before he faxed it off to Rhode Island. (Seriously.) For this I ran red lights and stop signs? (Not seriously.)
Besides, I thought he had enough disclaimers in the original version of the letter. Heís paranoid, though, which is why days like this are more stressful than usual for me. For him, itís just an average day staring shakily into the abyss. One of these days, someone will come along and give him a little push, and the black hole will swallow him altogether. Or so he believes, apparently. If it were up to me, Iíd take a giant step backward and try to get a little perspective.