How pants without pockets ruined my groceries

Yesterday, I hosted Grand Camp — a day for grandparents and their grandchildren — at work. This day is wildly fun and incredibly exhausting. So I always take the next day (that would be today) off from work to recuperate. Before, I could get to resting, though, I had a fundraising breakfast for Joy’s House to attend. So, I got up early and dressed in a flowy top and my favorite pair of khaki capri pants, which happen to not have any pockets (I’m getting to my point…)

After the breakfast, I had a couple of errands to run and then an appointment at 11am. I would rest after that, I told myself. After the appointment, it was about five hours after my early morning breakfast, so I decided to take myself out to lunch at Panera, which is not too far from Costco.

I go to Costco about once per month, right after pay day, which happened to be yesterday. So, since I was close, I decided to do the Costco shopping. Then, after that, I would go home and rest. Which was exactly my plan, except…

After I checked out at Costco and waved my receipt at the lady by the exit (which, do you know they only draw a smiley face on your receipt if you have a small child with you?), I headed to the van to unload the cart.

I unlocked the van with the key fob on my keys and, because my pants had no pockets, dropped the keys on the front seat. Then, because my pants had no pockets (do you detect a theme?), I had put my phone inside my purse, which I threw onto the floor of the front seat.

$250 worth of groceries in the back of the van later, I closed the van door and turned to return the cart to the cart corral (because I’m responsible like that). As I stepped away from the car, I heard a “click,” which turned out to be the car doors locking — with my keys, my purse, my phone, and several weeks worth of groceries locked inside.

I ran around the van, trying each door, pleading each to open, to no avail. So, I went inside Costco to call Mike to ask him to bring me the spare set of keys. I figured if he saw it was a phone call from Costco, he might pick up. He didn’t.

Costco is kind of like Cheers; ok, maybe not everyone knows your name, but you’re bound to run into someone you know. Except, after about 15 minutes, I hadn’t. Near Costco, there is a McAlister’s Deli, where I almost always see someone I know. Heading that way, I honestly prayed, “Please God, let there be someone at McAlister’s I know who will let me use their phone to text Mike.”

When I saw an old classmate of Annie’s, I almost jumped across the table calling his name. God love Ethan, he was happy to let me use his phone, from which I texted Mike, explaining the situation. Afterwards, I sat down with an ice water and waited.

So, there I was in a McAlister’s with nothing to entertain me. No phone. No book. No pen and paper. So I read the labels on the salt and pepper shakers. I found out that you can change how coarse or fine the texture of the condiments are, so I learned something today. Then I read the table ads. Did you know you can order a mini brownie platter or a mini cookie platter, that is a big platter with bite size desserts? Also, free tea day is July 18.

I tried meditating, unsuccessfully. I checked the clock on my FitBit obsessively, mentally picturing my frozen foods thawing and spoiling in a hot car locked up on a 90+ degree day. I made a mental list of things I was grateful for in the situation. Note: I was not grateful for my pocketless pants, but I was grateful that I have a car to lock my keys in, that I had money to buy the groceries, that I was able to use Ethan’s phone.

Oh, speaking of Ethan…about 45 minutes after I locked everything in the car, I saw that Ethan and his buddy were leaving. I scrambled to catch him before he left.

“Did Mike respond?”

Nope. Thankfully, as I was asking to borrow the phone again, Mike called on Ethan’s phone. He had been meeting with a friend and didn’t notice the text message. He was on his way.

Thirty minutes later — do you know how many black wagonesque cars drive past that McAlister’s — Mike pulled in with the spare key and the saga was almost over. Except that most of the frozen food I’d purchased at Costco was thawing, leaving the boxes soggy. So, tucking the keys into my bra (remember — no pants pockets), I grabbed a cart and took the soggy groceries back inside where I explained to the manager what had happened. Happily, he allowed me to return the potentially spoiled groceries and I went shopping at Costco again.

Three hours after I first pulled into Costco, I pulled out and headed home with my frozen replacement groceries, my keys, purse, and phone, and yes, my pants without pockets. And next year, on the day after Grand Camp, I’m not leaving the house.

 

What am I doing anyway?

I went to lunch with a friend this week and she asked me about my career trajectory. I had to think about it because I’m not sure if I’ve ever really been forward thinking about what I do to earn a living.

When I was preparing to graduate from college, what I wanted was a job. Something to pay the bills and to have something to show for the 4 years and thousands of dollars I’d spent as an undergraduate. A few years into that first job, I began looking for a new challenge. I made what I think was a career move — earning more money in a job that was related to both my degree and my previous job. But in hindsight, I was really just biding time until I could fall into my vocation — being a mom.

After Annie was born, I returned to work for a few months, and then decided to stay home and do some freelance writing, earning a fraction of what I’d been making. It was a choice I happily made and I was glad to have a skill that would allow me to have flexibility and the ability to still contribute to our family income. Today I would say that I had a career has a freelance writer.

When the kids were 8, 6, and 2, I returned to traditional work part-time. Thirteen years later, I’m still working in that job, full-time now. And I’m starting to contemplate what’s next. In all likelihood, barring the winning of a large lottery jackpot, I have about 25 years left to work. What is my career trajectory?

And the answer is, I don’t really know. I’m making a few stabs at investigating that question. I’ve enrolled in a master’s program — Master of Science in Healthcare Management. Before getting my current job, all of my experience was in healthcare, and I enjoyed it. I have an interest in adult day services and in hospice care, but I don’t want to provide clinical care.

I recently took an intensive class in fundraising, with the idea that I might be able to parlay 25 years of communications experience into development work. I think I could be good at it, maybe raising money for healthcare entities, but I don’t actually have experience doing that. Would someone actually give me a chance to try?

Then there’s the fact that I really enjoy working in higher education. I like the pace of the work. I like being where learning is encouraged.

So what is my career trajectory? I feel like I’m just throwing things against the wall to see what will stick. I think of the people who I worked with at my second job — communicators like me who built careers, some in freelance work, some in the pharmaceutical industry where we met. I think of the mentors I’ve had along the way and I wonder if they all deliberately built their careers or if it’s just what stuck for them?

Somedays the question of “what am I doing, anyway” is daunting and makes me feel inadequate. Other days that same question is an invitation and I feel kind of lucky to get to explore the answer.

What is your career? Are you there because of a deliberate path you set out on? Or are you where you are because of a happy accident? What is next for you?