Saturday, February 19, 2011

The epitome of chaos

If this business doesn't kill me, and Nietzsche's words are true, I will someday be the biggest, baddest, most ripped, "jacked" successful CEO the world has ever seen. FEAR my pecs!

I found a nifty little journal app for the iPhone. I've been keeping little notes here and there for the eventual book I'll write (Haha!). You can tag people, events, places, etc., and you can customize your own tags. I created one called "Crises." I knew it would be a common tag, but I had no idea how often it'd come in handy. Here's another one for the crisis files. It's a doozy.

I guess it started mid-day yesterday when the little "chest cold" I had blossomed into something like full-blown pneumonia. I tried to ignore it, but after a quick stop in to the Minute Clinic, I was referred to an Urgent Care facility in Springfield. I didn't want to drive the big 26 foot Penske I'd used that day, so I locked it up and took one of our smaller company rigs.

Everything turned out fine (no pneumonia, just a flu), and everything seemed fine as all the guys got to the office in the morning.

"Where's the Penske?" David asked.

You know how in some movies they slow the action sequence way down for some sort of effect? It was like that. I realized I hadn't seen it as I drove in, and NOBODY had the keys to it but me, and they were hanging on my hip. For a second I hoped my 103 degree fever the night before made me forget that I'd parked it around the corner, but nope, it was gone. It's kind of hard to miss -- 26 feet of 21 foot, 1 inch high yellow box truck.

Gone. If we were a thousand miles west, tumbleweeds would have blown across the side of the road where I'd left it.

I did a search of the neighborhood for any sign that would indicate who I should call. There were none. I started calling towing companies, but none of them had it. I called the police non-emergency line. Nothing.

I finally realized that it'd been stolen, so I filed a report with an officer who came out, and since we still had a job to do, we jumped in one of the guys' car and headed to Penske for a second truck. But, since all of our equipment was in the stolen truck, we had to go on a shopping spree. I estimated that the stolen equipment came to about $700. On top of an ER visit the night before, the weekend was getting really expensive.

Once we got the new Penske truck, I headed to New Haven Moving Supply to fill up with moving blankets, dollies, stretch wrap, whatever. We pull up and...they're closed.

Not quite panicking, but definitely feeling like the big move wasn't meant to happen today, we headed back to Penske to rent some of their cheap, flat blankets. All we really needed for the job were blankets and straps. There were no long walks or elevators. We could get by carrying everything. No dollies. It'd be a bare-bones, but just-as-effective move.

(I should probably mention that the customer who we were supposed to move was fine with the situation, and very understanding. We'd helped him before, so he knew that we were legitimate movers, and would do anything to make the situation right.)

Penske, as it happened, didn't have the blankets. Rather, they had them, but they were all wet. I suppose it was some sort of leak in the storage room. I wasn't about to slap wet blankets all over the customer's furniture, and besides, the back of the backup truck was so dusty that adding wet blankets to the move would turn the whole operation into a mud wrestling match with furniture.

That's when I realized that the feeling I had about the hopelessness of the move happening was true. We really weren't meant to do it today. I may never know why, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I haven't seen my family in three days. I quarantined myself away from the kids, but little Joseph has been moody, crying "I need my daddy!"

So, I dropped the guys off and came back to the office. I'd been sort of laughing maniacally on-and-off to this point, (the laughter devolving into hacking coughs), but what I saw at the office plastered a rictus grin on my face.

The stolen truck was back.

For the love of all that is holy, the truck was back.

I thought whoever had stolen it must have had gigantic brass ones, but I had no idea. They stole it, used it for whatever criminal job they had going on, and then returned the damn truck?!?

I checked the back -- all of our equipment was still there. It was a disaster, with blankets strewn about, tools everywhere. But, it was all there. I didn't touch anything else and started taking pictures.

That's when the manager of the big bakery that shares a building with us came out.

"I'm really sorry," he said, "But my driver, who's an idiot, kind of borrowed your truck last night..."

I just stood there, grinning at him like a moron, until I finally found the words. "Did you gas it up?"

Apparently, the manager tossed a set of keys to the new driver and said the truck was outside. Miracle of miracles, the keys actually started MY Penske truck. Seeing nothing amiss, HE LOADED IT UP AND DROVE IT TO PENNSYLVANIA AND BACK.

I guess it was an honest mistake, and since he offered to pay for all the charges/fees/mileage/etc. associated with the screw-up, it all comes out alright in the end, although now we have to make up the canceled job on Sunday.

Lessons? I don't even know at this point. We're preparing for the busiest summer we've ever seen, and little wrinkles in the plan cause us a hell of a lot of grief. BIG wrinkles -- tsunamis -- like this destroy me. But what are our options?

1. Quit and get a regular 9-5 job?
2. Keep at it, trying for that rosy future where the business runs itself and we roll around in cash every night?

Option 1 did not appeal to me in the slightest until today. But now it's four or five percent possible that I'll polish my resume in the next few months.

Whatever. I'm going home now to see if I can kill this flu with Tylenol and gin.

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