I couldn't decide on a title for this post. Mostly because I am dehydrated and sore. Also, the blisters. So many blisters. They mock my near-fail of a promise I made to myself when I became a dad. That promise was that in the event of a catastrophic civilization-altering event, I would be able to protect my loved ones and ensure that we at least would outlive our neighbors. This is the reason I did Muay Thai into my 40's. This is why I endured Crossfit. This is why I have always held myself to the standard of "I need to be able to vanquish anyone within a 100-foot radius of me at any given time." Don't believe me? Watch my eyes if you are ever in a room with me. Those are the eyes of someone plotting the quickest way to neutralize every human being around me, should the necessity ever arise.
That said, I almost let myself down today.
It started with a simple decision I made this morning. I elected to forgo the kick scooter I usually take with me to work in favor of walking the mile from the train station to my office. I was dressed in wingtips, a nice blazer and I even tucked the shirt in. Definitely not scootin' attire. This was important client meeting attire.
The meeting went well, and my choice in clothing was duly complimented by several parties, further validating my decisions of the day. I got back on the train to pick Lessi up from preschool, just like always. Except today was not like always.
One stop away from the train station where I parked my car, the conductor made the announcement that they were kicking everyone off. Structural problems, she said. They made no special bus arrangements, she said. You're all on your own.
I was one of the lucky ones, as I was only two miles from where I was supposed to get off the train anyway. Any other day, this would be a nice opportunity to go on a brisk walk and enjoy a serendipitous walking tour of suburban California. But today, not really. Thirty minutes and counting until the pick-up cut-off at Lessi's school.
No worries, I could just Ubercab it to the next train stop. Whoops. No Ubercab service in suburban California. And the few minutes it took me to reach that conclusion pretty much killed my chances of catching a regular cab. It also killed 10 minutes off that clock. Why did I leave the scooter at home again?
"Twenty minutes. Two miles to the garage. Car parked on the 6th floor. Daughter waiting at pre-school. It's not the apocalypse, but it looks like you're gonna have to put your back into this one." It's been a while since I've done any running, but I thought muscle memory would serve me well. Turns out it did. My form was great. However lungs are not a muscle, and they actually have really below-average memory. Also, my decision to keep my blazer on to keep it from wrinkling wasn't the best idea either. And backpacks with laptops in them are hard to run with. Or maybe it's the lack of sport foam in wing tip dress shoes. Whatever the reason, none of that was working with me on this otherwise beautiful 80-degree day.
At around the 3/4 mile mark (precision courtesy of Google Maps after the fact), my aversion to wrinkled blazers gave way to my aversion to death by heatstroke. The blazer went into the backpack. Quarter mile later, the dress shirt, so exquisitely tucked not more than 20 minutes prior, flapped free in the wind, unbuttoned, even the cuffs. If you're going to look like the mild-mannered protagonist in a spy thriller who just unwittingly discovered a government conspiracy and is now running from the secret police with the incriminating floppy disc in your backpack (movie fantasies can take place in the eighties, you know), I say own it!
Time was running out, things were hurting, and my spirits were low. This was the Presidential Fitness Test version of succumbing to zombies before my neighbors. I decided to capture my farewell on Vine.
But fate works in funny ways. As I was resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it, I spied a lone figure jogging toward me from the opposite direction. He was a tall man with a short beard. His gait was effortless, his face reassuring. As we approached one another, he raised his hand, and I raised mine. As we high-fived mid-stride, he said "you got this, man!"
That was all it took. My rhythm came back, my limbs enjoyed a shot of adrenaline and my burning lungs powered through and delivered. I made it to the parking garage with five minutes left. Three minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of Lessi's school.
"You look really yucky, dada!" was the first thing Lessi said. But her smile, and the fact that there were other kids still there left stranded by the train mishap, made me realize that at least for today, I rescued her from the zombies.