“The Squirrel Did It”
I’m driving home from work last week in my sexy ’97 Oldsmobile, when I receive a text from my Dad, “FYI, your mom fell at work. She dislocated and fractured her shoulder. We’re at ER now. Call later.” Even as my initial panic starts to rise, I can’t help but reflect on how inappropriately casual text messages sound 75% of the time (case in point). I try to drive calmly until I can call him back, but just as I’m pulling on to my block, I receive another text. “The squirrel did it.”
Ummm…. WTF? Is this some sort of secret code I don’t know about?
After several confused minutes of back-and-forth texting with my Dad, I finally get a hold of him at the hospital. Here’s what happened (or so the story goes)…
My mother is a property manager for a condominium complex. She works alone in a crappy little clubhouse on the property. For the record she reports to “The Board of Owners.” This board consists of “The Asshole”, “The Douchebag” and “TheBitchHagFromHell”. (These characters will be important later.) Anyway… she enters the run-down shack they call a building that houses her office and finds that she has a visitor: a “cute,” “fluffy,” “innocent” little squirrel. My mother is an animal lover, but let’s be honest, we all know a squirrel is little more than a rat in a cuter outfit. (Stolen from SATC. fact.) This Chanel-wearing rat must have had it’s bowl of rabies this morning because it makes a v-line for my mom. She runs (probably screaming) into her office and slams the door (probably double-locking it). She calls Sam, the maintenance guy, who comes over and searches everywhere for the little beast. He doesn’t find it, however, and reports that it must have gone out the hole in the wall (refer back to the shack-reference). As the day is nearing its end, she has to leave her office, hoping that Sam’s assessment is true. She opens the door very slowly, listening for the tiny evil snicker of the fluffy-tailed villain. Satisfied that she’s alone, she heads down the hall. No sign of it, she begins to relax. She retrieves whatever she was looking for and turns to head back to her office. Suddenly the background music diverges into a minor key… the bass line starts to mimic a beating heart… There, at the end of the hall, with his tiny black cape, twirling his tiny mustache and ringing his tiny evil hands, sits the squirrel waiting to pounce!
No, but for real, she turns around and the same fucking squirrel lunges out of nowhere straight at her. She jumps, turns to run, trips and flies shoulder first into the doorframe. It takes her a moment of trying to get up before she realizes she can’t move her arm, then of course, there’s the pain and the “wellllll…. crap” as she realizes she’s really hurt. She drags herself back to her office and calls an ambulance. Knowing that the League of Extraordinary Shitheads will bitch her out the moment they realize she left early (in an ambulance or not), she throws her dead-limp right arm on to the desk and slowly, painfully types them an email one left-handed finger at a time, explaining that she was hurt at work and is on her way to the ER.
Fast forward several hours. I’m sitting at my parents’ house, after she’s been released from the hospital, listening to the story in disbelief and hearing about how they had to put her under twice in order to re-set the dislocated shoulder because she also fractured the top of the humerus. Ouch…and also… gross. I decide to take the next day off of work so I can stay and help her.
Fast forward to the next morning. I’m running around, taking care of my Mom, and the dog, and the house. We call the specialist and they tell her that she can’t make an appointment until she gets a letter from one of her employers signing off on the incident. I check her email hoping to find at least three concerned notes, best wishes, etc. Open inbox. No new messages. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I mean, look at their names. I write them all a very polite email explaining in detail what happened and what we need from them and how imperative it is that this happens ASAP.
Fast forward 8 hours later. REALLY? REALLY??!! Not a single phone call, email… anything? I finally convince my Mom to call Mr. Asshole. I offer to do it, but the steam coming out of my ears must have persuaded her to do it herself. I listen as she begins to explain. I listen as she is clearly cut-off by whatever Mr. Asshole is saying. I listen as she apologizes, begins to cry, then hangs up.
HELLLLLLLLLLLL NO. For those of you who don’t know me. I’m actually a very nice person. I’m a very nice person until I’m not. I don’t stop to listen to what happened on the other end of my mom’s conversation before I grab the phone and hit redial:
“Hello? Is this Mr. Asshole? Hi, this is Jen, I’m Debbie’s daughter. Oh, you were just talking to her? What a coincidence. I need a minute of your time. What’s that? You’re going through some personal shit? I’m sorry to hear that, but the sooner you stop talking and listen to what I need, the sooner you can get back to that, and yes, I will keep calling until I get what I want. What’s that? I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with your mother. Yes, I do understand. I’m VERY protective of my mother as well, so I’m really going to need you to start doing the listening now. My mother hurt herself at work, at YOUR building, due to YOUR lack of upkeep. She’s VERY hurt. She needs to see a specialist or there may be permanent damage. Permanent damage that YOU will have to pay for for the rest of her life. All I need from you is a signed letter as requested and I can take it from there. What’s that? You don’t have time to think about anyone else right now? Well, then YOU need to get one of the other members of the board to deal with this because your number is the only one I have and you better believe this is going to get settled tonight. What’s that? You’ll have it to me in 20 minutes? Thank you, so much sir. Good luck with your mother and have a wonderful evening.” click
Alright, so that may not be EXACTLY how it went. In fact, I have a gift for sounding extremely polite & professional while at the same time making someone want to piss their pants. The transcript of the actual conversation would probably read very benign and boring, with a lot of “yes sirs”, “thank you’s”, and “of course sirs, “ but trust me when I say that my true intent always shines through. When I go into bitch mode, I get results. Maybe it’s the tone of my voice, maybe my opponents can feel that I could kill them with my mind. Whatever it is, it comes in handy. Fifteen minutes after the click, we received a signed letter on official letterhead, the appointment was set and my mother is on her way to recovery.