At twenty ‘til nine, Cricket left home and drove toward the interstate. Passing the children waiting at the bus stop, she remembered waiting for the bus as a child, wrestling with her younger brother Bo as they both anxiously anticipated the first days of school. A sudden noise jarred her from her reminiscence, the rare miserable sound of a flopping flat tire.
Creeping to the side of the road, Cricket contemplated her next move. She wondered should she change the tire or walk the half mile back to the house and drive her daughter’s car? To most people, the decision to walk would be a no-brainer, but Cricket knew that such a walk would be trouble. Sam, Cricket’s daughter from her first marriage, had made it clear that the little brown sedan in Cricket’s driveway, the same car that Cricket kept full of gas, was HER car. Her DADDY bought it for her and he had made sure to tell Cricket on more than one occasion that that the car’s insurance policy only covered Sam.
Nevertheless, Cricket began the slow walk up the tree-lined street, briskly pacing herself because she did not want to be late for work, especially today. Her performance evaluation, the one she had worked so hard to pass, was scheduled for Even with rush-hour traffic, however, Cricket knew that the short drive to work would give her plenty of time to prepare for the barrage of questions that would undoubtedly be thrown at her by her supervisors.
One supervisor, Mr. Pressman, had told Cricket, on one recent afternoon, that she was on the way up. Cricket understood that this phrase was simply a way of praising her without giving her a raise, but she could not help but wonder if she really had a chance to advance.
As she continued to walk toward home, she saw the tail-lights of the yellow school bus as it turned left, heading away from the quiet suburban neighborhood toward the large, sprawling metropolis where its passengers would be deposited.
Sweat began to bead on Cricket’s upper lip and she slowed when she realized her heart was beginning to beat rapidly. She knew she would make it to work on time, but she also knew that a shower, however sweaty she may become, would not be in the plans for the morning. This knowledge slowed Cricket’s pace and when she finally approached her driveway, she breathed a small sigh of relief at the sight of the small brown car, the one Sam affectionately referred to as the brown hornet.
Bending down to pick up the newspaper in the driveway, Cricket noticed that small cracks were beginning to form in her driveway. “No big deal” she thought, but made a mental note to ask a neighbor, Mrs. Nellis, if she had the same problem. Cricket then opened the door to find Sam sitting on the couch resting her feet on the coffee table while eating a bowl of cereal.
Strangely, as if she knew what had happened, Sam held out her car keys with her left hand as she kept her eyes glued to the television.
In a hurry, Cricket gently grabbed the keys and said “thanks,” which was followed by a sigh, the same sigh a hiker offers when reaching the half-way point of a long hike.
After opening Sam’s car door, Cricket quickly cranked the car, backed out of the driveway, and sped through her small residential neighborhood toward the freeway, the pulsating artery of commerce that led to the city. Turning off the radio and rolling down the window, Cricket offered up a prayer as she passed her own car limping at the side of the road. She wanted to insure that the morning’s misfortune was not a sign of things to come.
Cricket drove the car down the exit ramp, sped into the left lane of the interstate, and rapidly approached her exit. Five short minutes later, she pulled into the parking garage, stepped out of her car, and trotted toward the stairs that would lead her to her floor, one floor below her parking level.
Cricket halfheartedly greeted several of her co-workers and inserted her keys in her office door when she noticed an envelope in the plastic mailbox that was attached to her door. Because the envelope was not addressed to anyone, Cricket was, at first, hesitant to open it, but as she did, she was greeted by these words:
Regrettably, we will be unable to complete your performance evaluation
due to an unexpected management meeting. We will reschedule when