A Prayer to Competence

Lately I’ve been forgetting things. ‘Lately’ is probably not the right word. I have always been forgetting things, but lately, it’s gotten worse.

There may be a reason for this lapse in competence. Maybe I am more preoccupied than usual with the impending start of the semester. Or maybe, it’s got something to do with the weather. Winter is my least favorite season because there are more  things to forget. I’ve never really been able to track why, on some weeks, I can fully function as a human, and other, I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body.

I hate this expression, because people have said it to me so often. And sometimes I wish I could actually forget my head, and trade up for a better one.

“Do you have our wallet? Your keys? Your phone?” My parents ask me whenever I leave their house. I feel like a 27 year-old toddler.

Yesterday, after my mother found my wallet and glasses in her car, she texted me. “You have GOT to get a system in place.”

This advice was particularly distressing coming from her. My mother’s daily search around the house for her pocket-book often turns into a family game of hide and seek.

She told me she would drop them off in three days when she was in the area, or I could come get them sooner. But I told her I’d wait. I didn’t want to spend the money to take an Uber in order to pick up my wallet. I was already metaphorically paying for the inconvenience of my forgetfulness, and having to pay actual money seemed even worse.

Without my wallet this morning, I didn’t have my bus pass to get to work. And without my eyeglasses, I couldn’t bike there, either.

I opted to take the bus, and borrowed money from my roommate for the fare.

I didn’t remember that I would need to break the 20 until I got to the bus station. And by that time, it was too late. The line at Dunkin’ Donuts was long. The bus was one minute away. If I got on the next one, I would be late for work, and as a person prone to lateness, it was a point of pride that I had yet to clock in late to my new job, even by a minute.

I rode the bus and checked my email, trying to not think about what I would do once I got to my stop and had to pay my fare before exiting. The thought of having to ask a bus full of strangers to break a 20 was too frightening.

“Who gets on a bus with a 20?” the bus driver huffed.  “That doesn’t make sense,” he said. It was 6:12am, but he looked as if he had already worked a full-day and this was the last straw.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he repeated.

“I don’t have anything else.” I played dumb. Maybe I’d never taken a bus before.

“C’mon,” He groaned, his hands gripping the steering wheel. He shook his head, aggrieved by the fact that part of his job involved having to interact with people as stupid as me.

“What is wrong with you?” he asked. “Buses don’t give change.”

“Just get off,” he said finally. Out the door and across the sidewalk, I could still hear his mumbling.

Further down the street, my ears started to feel cold and I remembered I was missing something. I didn’t have my ear muffs. I panicked, certain I had left them on my bus seat. But first, I checked inside my bag.

There they were. White, puffy, warm, and waiting for me at the bottom of my bag. Right where they should have been.


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