Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Life

My husband, George, has his own cleaning business. He is fortunate to have commercial accounts that he cleans when they are closed, so he doesn't have to be there at a specific time, but he does have to have them cleaned by or on a particular day depending on the account.

Now I don't memorize his schedule. I basically know the names of his accounts, but I get confused as to where he is at what time. It's a "not need to know" as I only care as to what time he will be coming home as to know what time dinner will be. It varies every day but I have an approximate idea. On his latest night, Friday, he gives me a call when he's twenty minutes away so I can have dinner ready. It's usually 7pm but has been 8pm if he decides to work on another account to free up some of the Saturday work, or once in a while he runs to Home Depot to pick up something or he may stop at the rental units. There are a number of reasons why he could be running late.

This past Friday, we had spoken earlier in the day and I truly believed he'd be home before 7 pm, but I wasn't sure. When he wasn't I did try calling his cell but I just got his voice mail. I had prepared one of his favorite meals and had taken a chance and cooked it and was trying to keep it warm. By 8 pm I was wondering where he was but thought he wouldn't mind if I'd eat without him. I did and turned off the food figuring he'd have to reheat it in the microwave at this point. I was a little annoyed that he didn't have the courtesy to call to say he was gong to be this late. Maybe he stopped at a fast food place and wouldn't even need dinner. That happens on a rare occasion.

Well, as the minutes go by, I'm starting to get nervous. I did try calling several times more and no answer. At 9pm I decide it's time to take action and track him down. One more call, no answer and I knew I had to go look for him. Okay, where should I look? I thought I knew which account he'd be at, but if he had a problem at the earlier account, he could be there. I had to go through his files to find the addresses, and I am not sure if I could have found one place. I've been before but didn't pay attention to exactly where it's located and it is on a back road.

All the horrible thoughts passed through my mind--a heart attack or he'd fallen and broken something and couldn't move and had left his cell phone in the car(which he sometimes does), his car could have broken down and he could be freezing, or as someone worded it, "He pulled a Tiger Woods"--well it was a fleeting thought because I personally know someone who went through that ordeal recently, but just fleeting. I was mostly worried. Of course, your mind goes to the worst and I imagined being a widow and then silly mind, people would come to my house and it was a mess. Well, I couldn't tidy now, I had to save him--if he needed saving.

It was a freezing night and I was shaking from the cold and my nerves. As I drove in the night, I tried to see the vehicles going past me in the opposite direction to see if he was heading home. I knew the shape of his car, but was trying to remember the license number as those reflected in the dark. None of the numbers looked familiar and none of the shapes. It was about twenty minutes before I got to the first account I was going to try. There was his car!

I looked in the windows and saw his coat but not him. The doors were locked and I knocked and yelled. These are heavy duty windows and doors and a big building, so it was not likely he would hear that. I walked all around and looked in as many windows as I could in the hard crusty snow. I tried all the doors and banged on them. Then I pulled my car right up to the door and honked and honked hoping he would hear and come. I did all this before calling 911 because I was afraid if he was just cleaning that the police would fine me or reprimand me for calling when there wasn't an emergency. The police station was only a few miles away and I thought about driving to ask them but I called 911.

Well, it seemed like they were there in less than five minutes without sirens. They proceeded to ask me if he had any medical issues and I told them but I also told them that I thought there had been issues with the elevator in the building. They pounded on the door and yelled. They walked around. The fire department was supposed to send someone too and they found an employee of the company who would come with a key but before the others arrived, the police were able to get through a window.

As soon as the cop went in he yelled George's name and he heard the elevator buzzer. He was stuck in the elevator--for four hours! Soon a fireman came and the employee. There were instructions in an office with a key to some panel that enabled them to free up the elevator stuck between floors.

It was a happy ending. I should have George write a separate blog of his end of the story--cell phones don't work in elevators, there was a spot for emergency call box, but no phone, the emergency buzzer does not go to police station but just in the building which does no good when it's vacant, or he thought maybe if he didn't just push it but tried to spell our Morse Code. He had no fears of a major blackout or end of the world (as my mind would surely have gone) because he had a light in the elevator and he could hear the furnace kick on but he did start getting cold as he had been working in a t-shirt. He was using the elevator to move his cleaning equipment and garbage barrel. He tried to wrap garbage bags around him for warmth. He figured the worst case scenario would be that he would be there until 9am the next morning, so he tried to turn his paper towels into a pillow. There is no way to get comfy in an elevator. He actually had a book on him, thank God, and was able to pass some time reading, but he was hungry too.

George and the police tried to make me a hero. Who wouldn't go out looking for their husband/wife in that case? I feel in no way a hero. I told him that if he ever did "pull a Tiger Woods" that I would hunt him down! He said, "sure and where would you look first?" I said I'd call up his boss and find out all the names of his elderly dial-a-ride customers. We laughed.

Two people from the business did call the next day to check as to how he was doing (he said maybe they are worried about a law suit--which crossed his mind), but I do hope that they do something special for him. He is not quitting this account, but he has figured out that he can put the vacuum and trash barrel in the elevator and let them ride by themselves while he takes the stairs--not pleasing to his arthritis, but I'm sure he will never take that elevator again. Surprisingly, it has not soured him to elevators in general, as I'm sure it would for me, but then again, how often are we in buildings with no one else in it?

As Shakespeare said, "All's well that ends well."

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