Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Test of the Emergency Living System

Holy God.

I lost my day planner.

I brought it with me when I went to run some errands because I am waiting for a couple of calls to schedule jobs for next week. My new day planner is the size of a regular college ruled spiral bound single subject notebook. It gives me the ability to see the whole year at a glance, plus each week at a glance, plus room to write in activities for each half-hour and then some blank space at the bottom of each day for notes. Plus a column for notes and emails and phone numbers, on the far right, at the end of each week.

Yes, I do use all of its features.

Yes, I did sit on the Barnes & Noble floor a couple of weeks after Christmas (when calendars are on sale) and sort through their variety of sizes and colors and styles of planners before I finally settled on MY planner after about an hour of deliberation.

So, I was driving home from Target when I looked over at my purse on the passenger seat and thought, "Where's my Day Planner?"

I looked under the 8x10 headshots of Fiona that I had just picked up, I looked on the backseat, I remembered that my Target bag was in the trunk. Figuring I just might have to go back to Target to search for it, I pulled over and checked the bags in the trunk. Then I made the around-the-block U-turn required to return to the packed parking lot. My heart was racing; my blood pressure must have been up. But I was concentrating on staying calm, on appearing calm, on being calm.

I looked where I had left my cart. Of course, with literally hundreds of people constantly coming and going I had no idea if my particular red cart was still there. Then I retraced my steps to the second bank of cash registers and waited while my cashier dealt with a customer whose credit card was not working. I kept circling her booth, checking to see if maybe she'd found it and stashed it away. The girl who was next in line seemed nervous that I might take even more time than the no-credit couple and their baby.

It wasn't there.

I retraced my steps through the accessories and socks to the pharmacy and bath and beauty area, where I had had to lift my cart to get out of people's way several times. Maybe it had fallen. Maybe someone had just put it on a shelf so I could find it when I came looking for it. I worked on taking slow deep breaths and let my eyes flit around the shelves while I walked as slowly and normally as possible.

I wonder what people look like when they're about to shoplift.

I wonder if the Target managers train their employees to look for people like me.

Having revisited all of the aisles I cruised the first time, I finally went to guest services and waited. (I had told myself on the way into the store that I had to believe in the goodness of people. That no one would steal someone else's day planner. That it had my phone number in it, so surely someone could call me and give it back. Of course, while I searched I managed to begin thinking that some people actually would steal a day planner. Especially one as cool as mine. They could rip out the old days and use the rest of the year and no one would ever know that they were Thieves of Time.)

It was my turn at Guest Services. "Can I help you?" The ponytailed girl wearing a red vest asked me.

"I hope so. Did anyone turn in a blue day planner," I said it as if I'd been holding my breath for minutes and I outlined the size and shape with my fingers.

She turned and started walking to the back of the room, "Yeah, I think so."

"Oh, thank God!" Again, more air than necessary for ordinary conversation and a bigger smile than usually displayed at the returns and exchanges counter of a Big Box Store.

"Have a good day!" she said.

"I will! Now that I know what to do next! I don't know what I would have done. Thank you so much!" I walked out of the store hugging the book to my chest and congratulating myself for not completely flipping out, though part way through my search I had thought, "Now, this would not be a bad time for an anti-anxiety pill. But I'm doing OK. Just keep breathing." I didn't even have to start counting (a cognitive behavioral therapy calming strategy) or anything!

Then, in the parking lot, I couldn't find my car.

1 comment:

oakmonster said...

LOL! Aww, Olaina!! Poor you. Do we need to get you a bungee cord to tie the Dayplanner to your wrist for a while?

I used to have a chick-lit paperback sized planner/binder thing with daily weekly calendar. Used that thing religiously in college and stopped somewhere when real world daily grind doesn't require me to keep track any more.

But recently things are getting so nuts, I bought a pocket calendar that fits into my purse. Works fine for me. :)