Blindsided at Safeway

Around 10 a.m. my first day on Kauai, the personal injury lawyer I’ve been writing for since June 2013 and have not seen since May 2014 calls to tell me his partner is dissolving their partnership, so “there’s no sense in marketing the firm right now.” This is both a blessing and a bad thing. On one hand, I bought a lightweight netbook on eBay in order to blog for him the next 13 days without lugging my prehistoric laptop across the country from Cleveland, but I really didn’t want to write about death and devastation while on vacation. (Or ever, to be honest.) On the other hand, I can kiss that catamaran trip to the Na Pali coast goodbye, since I only have about $200 in savings, and that will now go toward rent, my Toyota payment, and student loans.

Before Kris called, I’d been snapping pictures of shrimp chips, roasted seaweed, and Maui sugar-flavored animal crackers shaped like sharks and uploading them to Facebook, so friends could see things they may never know existed otherwise. Now, all I can focus on are price tags.

Since Betty Crocker has always been my best friend in a crisis, I leave the grocery store with a $2.99 tub of lemon frosting that I will chill in my hotel room’s refrigerator and savor spoonful by spoonful in the shade of my ocean-view lanai until the shock of losing my job wears off or the sugar high kicks in, whichever occurs first.

While waiting forever for the light to change at the strip mall exit, my brain races through psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of loss and grief, so I can get them over and done with. First, numbness gives way to fatigue. Forget exploring the island. All I want to do today is drag my twin-size bed onto the balcony and let the waves lull me to sleep. At that thought, denial makes a cameo appearance and says, “Maybe this is just a bad dream. You tossed and turned after seeing that gecko in the bathroom, leaving the light on all night, and fearing that his sticky feet would find their way onto your face or get tangled in your hair. Maybe you finally entered REM and jet lag tapped into your subconscious.”

At this point, acceptance shakes its head and leads denial offstage by the hand like a child, so the misnamed bargaining phase can kick me for not seeing this coming and saving more money. After all, six months earlier, Kris stopped asking me to come in for our informal, two-person marketing meetings after I’d begged him to let me proofread the newsletters his paralegal was typing and sending to potential new clients. Even though I’d volunteered to edit them for free, I could tell he’d taken offense to errors (such as the misspelling of Malcolm X’s name) that I’d brought to his attention.

As for the last stage, there’s no sense in getting angry. I mean, I could be a little miffed that Kris doesn’t value my advice and all of my SEO will soon vanish from Google, but he paid me to write and resurrect his rankings, so I wrote and resurrected his rankings. End of transaction.

Instead, I decide to be grateful. In March 2004, I returned home from the Bahamas to learn that I’d been laid off after four years with about 40 other people. When I went in to clean out my cubicle, a salt-and-pepper-haired partner who once told me that I sneeze like his kitten looked at the floor as he said he was sorry and that he’d thought about telling me sooner, but he wanted me to go on my trip and have a good time.

“Thanks,” I said. “But I bought myself a diamond ring at Atlantis. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have.”

At least now I won’t spend money willy-nilly at Nawiliwili. I make a mental note to stay home in 2024.

Having watched Joyce Meyer every morning for years and T.D. Jakes since 2013, I know this is another Christianity test. Why? I failed the last few. And as Bishop Jakes recently said, you can’t spend time in the classroom without expecting to be tested on the material. So now God wants to know if I can stay at peace and enjoy my trip.

Good question. Hopefully he grades on a curve.

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