• Richard Scrimger

day off or off day?


Response to unexpected reprieve says a lot about you. I was supposed to spend today at a small community school an hour north of my town, acting as writer in residence. This would be the fifth of five Mondays spent with mostly charming students from Grade 3-7, working them through the elements of story writing from conception to completion with stops along the way at character, story structure, style, and rewrite ... and now it won't be. Thanks to last night's precipitation, my school visit is cancelled. Like my students, I have a snow day. I also have a deskload of work that I should have done yesterday, maybe the day before or, heck, last week. I have a God-given chance to make up for lost time, to make a dent in my In-Basket, to -- in short -- be a responsible person.


So what will I be doing? As soon as I finish this, I am going back to bed.


Isn't that always the way? I recall slaving like a slave (hmm, if I ever edited this thing I'd make a note to come up with something better here) to think of an extension-worthy excuse for the weekend-late handing in of a university essay, getting that extension ... and then dashing off to go toboganning. You'd think that, having gone to the trouble of wrapping my leg in an old soft cast, and walking across campus and up three flights of stairs on borrowed crutches, I'd use the extra time wisely. But I didn't. As Harold Skimpole (that's him over there -- I feel quite cultured pulling up a PBS image) would have observed, a weekend saved is a weekend gained. Monday morning 4:00 a.m. found me surrounded by notes, candy wrappers and cold coffee. I finished a scant hour before my extended deadline. Halfway up the three flights of stairs on Monday morning I remembered the cast and crutches. An embarrassing interview followed, my contribution to which was a muttered reference to Lourdes. The prof's sad and superior smile haunts me still.


So now I have an extra day to finish a lesson plan/book review/zombie chapter ... but I will doze instead. There's always tomorrow to work. And anyway, what kind of person plans their goof-off days? If you can schedule the time you're going to skip work, you're way too organized to be a proper goof off. You might as well plan your impulse buying, or your binge drinking. Half the fun of these things is the surprise. You can't plan to surprise yourself.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada