Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The butterfly effect

There’s a saying related to chaos theory that a butterfly flapping its wings over the Pacific can start a hurricane over the Atlantic. It’s obviously not meant to be taken literally but essentially means that a small or meaningless act can potentially have a much greater effect than previously foreseen. And today I know exactly how that feels.

My mother came to visit. Luckily only for a few days as I’m not sure I can handle any longer - she’s perfectly fine in her own home where she has her routine but ask her to do anything that deviates from the norm is like asking a hyped up toddler to behave - it’s just not going to happen.

Within 24 hours of arriving she’d driven me mad. Deciding to do some vacuuming she almost smashed the vacuum cleaner through the TV screen (it was a sports filled Sunday so I really would have lost it had she actually broken the screen), then broken the vacuum cleaner, whined about who to support in the rugby, refused to eat what we were all having for lunch and taken 2 hours to tell me about a 10 minute walk to the park with the main gist being that she saw someone with a dog. She also managed to have the washing machine on constantly for a whole day - did she bring laundry with her?

Then without me realising she’d fucked around with the heating controls so when I woke up at 6am on Monday it was about 3,000 degrees in the house but there was no hot water. What a great way to start the week.

But I’d given her a job to do on Monday that she surely couldn’t fuck up. Stay in the house and sign for a delivery. It was going to arrive before noon so it’s really not that difficult. It usually takes her this long to get up, have her breakfast and moan about everything on the news so it wasn’t going to be a major inconvenience.

Now the delivery I was expecting was important - nothing valuable but a client was sending me some papers which I needed to read ahead of a meeting on Friday. So the plan was to do my reading on Tuesday, head to Belgium to pick my beer up on Wednesday, finish my reading on Thursday ahead of meetings on Friday and picking Mrs AC up from Heathrow as she’s heading over from NY.

So when I get home on Monday eveningthere are 2 surprises waiting for me. There’s no package been delivered and there’s a cat sat on my sofa. I don’t own a cat and have never, in my entire life, owned a cat.

Upon asking my mother where my package is I’m told “You’re out of cat food. I had to go and buy some.” Another one of her problems is that she just can’t answer a question directly, no tangent is too bizarre for her to deviate onto - I think the weirdest one recently has been the answer to “If we get pizza what do you want?” involving her wittering about where her best friend used to live 40 years ago.

So anyway. Where the fuck is my package? (I don’t actually swear in front of my mother - any foul language is only in my head and used to emphasise what I’m thinking during this whole conversation).

“Well I had to go out to get cat food and they must have come whilst I was out”. Why in fuck’s name did you have to go out to get cat food? “Well you’d run out and he was hungry”. Even for her this is batshit insane.

“Why would I have cat food, I don’t have a cat” I reply.

“How was I to know - I just presumed he was yours” pointing to the cat that is about to get ejected from my sofa. “If you’d told me you didn’t have a cat then we wouldn’t be in this mess would we?” Yes, this is definitely my fault and there’s no way of this conversation continuing without me spannering you around the back of your head.

So anyway - I now have no papers, an irate cat who is being kicked out of the house and a cupboard full of cat food.

Tuesday morning and I get a call from the client - did you get the papers? Err no but there’s no way I’m telling him this batshit idiocy. I tell him no and they’ll have to resend them to me, “Fuck (he really did swear on the phone to me), that means we can’t have the meeting on Friday. How does Monday work for you?”

Not good to be honest - I’m meant to be on a plane with Mrs AC back to NY then with another client all next week. They can wait. We rearrange the meeting to Monday and I go about sorting this mess out.

I’m not getting the papers till Thursday, so Friday and then part of the weekend is going to be spent going through them so part of my weekend is ruined, Mrs AC is going to need some retail therapy to get her out of the way whilst I work and I need to reschedule our flights back to NY and make sure the other client is ok with my revised travel plans.

All because I never thought to tell my mother that I don’t have a cat!!

Edit to add extra bonus batshit insanity:

My mother was scheduled to go home on Wednesday and I’d be out all day so I ordered her a cab from a very good local car service to take her to the airport. All she had to do was pack her suitcase, sort out whatever she wanted for breakfast and wait for the car to arrive. How hard could that be?

I was driving through France and Belgium and missed a call from her so got a very panicked voicemail asking me to call her. About 5 minutes after I’d received the call I phoned and could barely hear a thing as there was an alarm going off in the background - my burglar alarm at home.

“What’s the burglar alarm code?” she eventually asks. I tell her and eventually the alarm stops. It turns out she’d tried to set the alarm by guessing the code which eventually set it off. Why in the name of insanity she would do this I have no idea. I’d specifically told her not to worry about the alarm as I only use it when I’m away for more than a day or so. She’s been numerous times and never tried to set it before.

She tells me the cab is there to pick her up and off to the airport she goes - no doubt to witter at the driver all the way to the airport so I’ll have to make amends next time I use them.

A few minutes later I get another call - this time from another number that I don’t recognise. It’s the alarm company who are investigating why the alarm has been ringing. I try to explain the situation but in order to proceed they need the 2nd and 4th digits of my security number. I have literally no idea what this number is so they can’t confirm my identity and tell me the police will be on their way. Oh joy.

Turns out that someone came over, could see no evidence of forced entry and just files a report which might cost me money due to wasting their time.

Friday morning I pick up Mrs AC from the airport and we spend the day at home - Mrs AC is looking for something in the cupboard and asks “Why do you have cat food, did you get a cat?” to which I reply “Honey, it’s a long story. You’d better get me a beer!”  


  1. Live and learn. Next time, don't forget to mention that you don't have a pet elephant -- just in case.

    1. Haha. That exact thought came into my mind whilst I was listening to her nonsense but I didn’t say it to her because logic and my mother barely meet.

  2. Haha, what a story. You see, this is where a photo of the cat would have been the icing on the cake :)

    1. Thanks Ace. I think any photo would have been blurred anyway with the speed I ejected it!!