Let me just start out by saying: Yes, I realize that replacing the word "Christ" with "stress" is a good way to guarantee myself a front row seat in hell. So to those of you who are now worried about my salvation: First of all, thank you for your concern, and/but second of all, there's no need to worry; God thinks I'm hilarious.
So I love Christmas as much as the next guy. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I love Christmas arguably more than the next guy. But I gotta tell ya, this year, Christmas was kind of a beast, and I can't say I'm sad to see it end. Maybe it's because before we reached our final destination of quality time with loved ones, thoughtful gifts, and delicious food, we had to make a pit stop in Stress-Induced Mental Breakdownsville (and this time I'm not talking about Amarillo.)
The trip was all planned out: At one o'clock in the afternoon on Thursday, December 23rd, Gary, Sarah and I would embark on the familiar journey home to Dallas. Sarah and I spent the morning making sure all our work was finished and thanking God we didn't have to drive this time since Gary would be with us and he never lets us drive because we're women. JUST KIDDING. We never drive because we both prefer sleeping in the least flattering positions imaginable - mouths wide open, chins doubled, drool trickling down onto our sweatshirts - to paying attention to the road.
At about 11am when I spoke to Gary, I was surprised to hear he was still at work. On days like this one when he goes in at 4:30, he usually gets off around 10 or so. He told me something was wrong with one of the trucks and that he might not be able to leave right at 1. That was ok though, I told him; Sarah and I would just go grab lunch for all of us and we would leave as soon as he got off.
So at about 1:30, while Sarah and I were standing in line at Smashburger, I sent him a text message telling him not to accept any free food from his boss because I was picking him something up. A few seconds later my phone rang, and I just knew it was Gary calling to tell me that his boss had forced free food on him, yet again, and that he didn't need me to get him anything. Peer pressure, I'm tellin' ya.
I was wrong. What he was calling to tell me was that Sarah and I should go ahead and leave without him because he had no idea how much longer it was going to take to fix the truck, and he couldn't leave until he got it moved off the pad. Apparently the trucks are too big to be towed, and as Gary is the only mechanic on staff in Colorado Springs, he was going to be stuck there until it was fixed.
"Okay," I thought, "it's okay. I'm sure he'll get it fixed in no time, and he'll just be a few hours behind us."
He didn't, and he wasn't. He talked to every mechanic in the company, and no one had any idea what was wrong with the truck.
Sarah and I arrived at el Hotel del Morte at around 10pm, and I spent the next six and a half hours alternating between formulating an escape plan in the event that the scary old dude who stared us down as we tried to find a parking space figured out where our room was and came to deliver the ultimate punishment for accidentally shining our headlights into his window (use the coffee maker to bust out the window -- it's all good, there wasn't a coffee pot in it anyway, so that's the only use it'll ever get); listening to our across-the-hall neighbors scream at each other about how they each felt like they had done more work carrying their bags inside and how they had been cheated into paying for their 72 oz steak over a technicality involving insufficient dinner roll consumption; and trying my damnedest* not to give in to the sheer, paralyzing terror that threatened to overtake me, lest I poop my pants.**
This was all on top of doing everything I could to get Brutus to keep it together. He talks a big game, but when stuff goes down, he's about as useful a protector as a stuffed animal -- maybe even less, because stuffed animals can't run away and abandon their owners with impressive speed at the slightest sign of danger.
We got to our parents' house around noon, and Gary was still at work. He had worked a twelve hour day followed by a fourteen hour day, and was now about seven hours into Christmas Eve, and I was starting to brace myself for the possibility that we might not be together on Christmas day. Of course it would have sucked for me, but it would have been even worse for him - all alone in an empty house without even the dog to comfort him.
So with nothing else to do, I started making plans to steal the Gary Way sign from the mobile home park his family lived in while we were in high school. (Illegal, schmillegal. Sometimes making up for a depressing Christmas alone calls for a little schmillegal activity.) Luckily, neither Carly nor I ended up getting arrested (I asked her to help me because for some reason, she just strikes me as the exact kind of person with whom it might be fun to share a jail cell) because by some Christmas miracle, Gary managed to stumble upon a temporary solution to the problem with the truck. It would only start for 45 seconds at a time, but that was long enough to get it off the pad and set him free.
By another Christmas miracle, my parents are the most wonderful people on earth and bought Gary a one-way ticket home so he wouldn't die in a fiery car crash after falling asleep at the wheel. (This isn't the reason they're the most wonderful people on earth -- I think they might have just been born that way -- but this is one example of the kind of wonderful things they are prone to doing at any given time.)
So in the end, Christmas turned out to be awesome, but it also sorta made me wanna die.
*Damnedest: It's a word. I know that because I initially misspelled it and was corrected by the good people at Apple.
**THIS ENTIRE PARAGRAPH IS ONE SENTENCE! I WIN!!!