I hate being late. I just hate it. I always try to be, not on time, but early. I’d rather be an hour early than one minute late. When I estimate how long something will take, I always pad the estimate to allow myself as much time as possible. And nothing gets on my nerves like other people being late when we’ve made plans. My brother knows this and yet he doesn’t even try to be on time for anything we have planned. Do you know how many movies I’ve never seen the first two minutes of?
You might not know what any of this has to do with the story I’m trying to tell, but it’s important that you understand my mindset going in.
Because on the day in question, I was running late. Not very late, mind you, just not as early as I’d like. For whatever reason, getting ready in the morning had taken a tiny bit longer than usual, which meant I didn’t get ahead of the morning traffic like I usually do, which meant my commute took about five minutes longer than usual which meant that the only way I would be on time (note: not early) would be if literally nothing else happened to slow me down.
I caught a break and made all the lights after I got off the freeway and I was back on track to be early. And that’s when I remembered that I needed to stop for a soda. I don’t like coffee, but I need the sugar and caffeine to get me through my shift so I usually make time to drive through someplace and get a soft drink. But today I knew I wouldn’t have time. Luckily, there was a gas station right across the street from where I worked. I could go in, grab a bottle and still be on time for work…just barely, but I had become so dependent on that caffeine that if I wanted to get any work done, it was not optional.
I’d been in that gas station convenience mart a hundred times and I’ve always been in and out in less than a minute. Today, of course, is the day that the confused old woman buying lottery scratchers had gotten there ahead of me. You know the kind of thing, pointing behind the counter and saying, “No, not that one. Next to it. Yes, that’s right. What does that one under it say? No, not that one. What about that one? No, that one. That one!”
The fact that I did not, at this point, simply yell, “It doesn’t matter, you’re not gonna win anything anyway!” is a testament to my self-control.
Finally, even mercifully, another register opened and I was able to get my soda and get out of there. Now I was power-walking back across to my place of business hoping and praying that nothing would happen to delay me further when…well, something happened that delayed me further.
“Please help!” A woman in what appeared to be a black cloak jumped out at me and grabbed me by the front of my shirt. “You must help me! The Sorcerers of Accatep are after me! They want the sacred orb.” Here she held out the orb in question. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen! It appeared to be made of pure light. Not like it was a glass ball with a light inside it. But as if a glass ball with a light inside it had somehow escaped the glass like a ship coming out of a bottle and was now holding the shape of the glass all by itself.
“Take it!” she begged, thrusting the thing at me. “Take it and run away! Go West! As far as you can go! Keep traveling west until Tees, the Wiseman, comes to you. He will make himself known by the sign of the owl. Then the two of you can use the orb to open the Gates of Galistrova and take the Ferryboat to the Kingdom of Accatep. Only then can the Orb work its magic and bring the bearer fame and fortune. Please, will you undertake this mission for the good of all mankind?”
What did I do? What would you have done? A woman from out of a Renaissance Fair hands you an object which can only be magical and asks you to go on a quest like something out of a role playing game? Would you face the exciting, thrilling adventure? Would you embrace the wonder of a heretofore unheard of world of magic? Would you accept the title of hero and the fame and fortune that went along with it? If you were invited to be the hero of your very own fairy tale…would you do it?
Even if it meant being late for work?
Anyway, the good news is that the next person she asked did say yes and he went on the journey and defeated the Sorcerers of Accatep and restored peace to the world and lived happily ever after.
And me? Well, somehow not being late doesn’t seem that important to me nowadays.