It could have been worse!
Does this sound familiar to you? Do these particular words form a phrase which you find yourself repeating or agreeing to? No matter what story someone is relaying to you, whether their skin turned a frightening shade of green, or perhaps their dream holiday ended when the aeroplane landed in the middle of the ocean, you sympathise but then repeat or agree, “It could have been worse!”
But in reality, what could be worse than your skin resembling the Incredible Green Hulk, or landing on unknown and unexpected water, en route to your destination? Unless of course, your new green coloured skin contained acid which burnt and decayed your flesh, until all your bones were horrifically protruding and your features were completely destroyed. Or the aeroplane which landed on water burst into flames just as you escaped and remembered that you could not swim. So yes, I guess in this case things could be far, far worse.
What defence mechanisms us humans must have. No matter what life or nature throws at us, we count our blessings and declare we could have been faced with our most disturbing nightmare on earth.
I suppose thinking the worse makes us feel better, grateful even, for small mercies sent from heaven above.
But sometimes maybe it’s a teeny bit annoying? What about those of us who want to feel sorry for ourselves regarding the tale we are telling? We want pity and tea and sympathy. We want someone to throw their arms around us and agree, “That’s terrible, you poor thing!” Yes it may not have been a living nightmare, but hey it was bad enough!
I was thinking about this scenario the other day, and how easy it is for us to imagine worse predicaments than the predicament we find ourselves in. That defence mechanism. And to be honest, personally speaking, when I was in the middle of a rather troublesome time, this rather helped me from going mad. Although afterwards, I must confess, I wasn’t adverse to my audience feeling my anguish and feeling a tiny bit sorry for me. (Okay, I admit it, I wanted them to feel my pain whilst they had merrily spent the day in their happy, safe environment.)
I shall start from the beginning, dear readers. I have a little story to tell you regarding myself, a faulty lock, a mobile phone, and a grill. And last but certainly not least, my boyfriend’s father.
It began as a normal Saturday morning. Boyfriend was due to play football for his local team, and I was cooking him a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and tomatoes, to provide him with protein and energy to run around a football pitch. After eating, I grabbed my mobile. Huh, at least I remembered that, the story of my Saturday could have been a lot worse if I had forgotten my mobile!(See what I mean about this could have been worse dilemma.)I placed my keys in my hands, plonked a hat on my unkempt hair, and my coat tried to disguise the tracksuit which boyfriend always mistakes for my pyjamas, and I drove my boyfriend to meet his football friends.
I then drove home, ready for my Saturday to begin. I had tasks to complete. I needed to clean the flat from top to bottom in preparation for our dinner guests, walk to the shops to purchase the food and drink for the evening, pop into the bank to sort a little financial matter, and then make myself look beautiful (ahem) for our guests, and finally, I had candles to light and chilled music to choose for the CD player. And then nothing else to do but await for the fun to begin.
I parked the car, ran up the steps to our home, turned the key in the lock, but nothing. The door would not budge. I tried again. And again. I shook the door. I pushed myself against the door. I took the key out of the lock and tried again. And again.
I began to panic.
I rang the doorbell to the landlords flat, the flat above us. I rang it again. But no answer. I tried the key in the lock again.
Nothing. I was panicking big style now. I had no make up on, what may seem to a passer by as pyjamas, no money, a million things to do, and I could not get into the house.
I called boyfriend.
“I’m locked out!” I screamed. And then guess what happened? My battery ran out. So, I now had no make up on, what may seem to a passer by as pyjamas, no money, a million things to do, I could not get into our house, and to top things off, the battery on my mobile was dead.
Despite screaming at my boyfriend I knew he was probably miles away at this point, stuck on a motorway, trying to reach his football match. Even if he did come back, how could we enter the house? I had reached the conclusion the top lock, which the landlord had never given us a key for, must have locked from the inside.
What else could I do but sit on the steps and panic again?
I had landlords number on my mobile, but the battery was dead, the charger was in the flat, and I could not get into our house!
I then realised how stupid it was that I was the only person who had the landlords number. Not that boyfriend could call me with the number, if he did have it, as my battery was dead, and the charger was in the flat, and I could not get into our house!
I was really panicking.
I could not even walk to the shops to buy tonights food and drink, or sit in one of the many coffee houses sipping a cafe latte and reading a book, as I had no money with me (or a book)! Not to mention no make up, what would seem to a passer by as pyjamas, oh and how could I forget the fact that I had not even brushed my hair that morning, just placed a wholly hat on it to disguise the mess.
Things were bad.
I didn’t even know a neighbour, or have a friend around the corner, whose warm house I could sit in and watch television and eat biscuits until boyfriend came home with money and good ideas. Or the landlord returned from wherever he was.
Things were really bad.
Then, like a knight in shining armour, boyfriend's dad arrived in his car, with a can of oil and a big smile.
“Mark called me and told me what happened!” he said, whilst pouring oil into the lock, convinced that was all was needed.
It didn’t work.
Boyfriend called his dads mobile. “Have you got in yet? Is Nikki okay?”
I needed the landlords number. I needed that key to the top lock. I needed my mobile phone charger but the charger was in the flat, and I could not get into our house!
Boyfriend then suggested something which could be the solution to the problem. Next, I suggested something which could have been viewed as crazy, but anything was worth a shot.
We decided to grill my mobile phone. Not because we were hungry and thought plastic would taste nice on a piece of toast. We needed a power surge, as suggested by boyfriend, we needed the battery to produce enough energy to display landlords number. We needed to grill my phone, as suggested by yours truly.
Off to boyfriends dads house I went. Shaking my head in disbelief in how my Saturday was turning out.
But guess what? It worked. We felt pretty stupid in the process, but we grilled it (not for too long, a melted mobile would have been useless to the plan) but we managed to turn the phone on and display and write landlord AND landladies numbers.
I called the landlord, apologising profusely for disturbing him at work on a Saturday, and explained I needed a key that I had never been given.
He didn’t have the key that I had never been given. And he was out of the area and would not be back until very late. Horrible images flashed through my mind of hosting my dinner party at boyfriends dads with no make up on, what may seem to a passer by as pyjamas, a wholly hat to disguise my hair, owing boyfriends dad money, and a long wait until landlord came home and then decided we would need to take the front door off because he didn’t have a key either!
I was beginning to suspect everything was hopeless.
Until another suggestion was made. The best suggestion of the day. Landlord told me to knock on the door of the guy who lives in the flat downstairs, because he has spare keys, including the key I was never given!
We got back in the car, this time shaking our heads in relief, and knocked on the door of the guy who lives in the flat downstairs.
He had a key! But you will never guess what happened next. I learnt the guy who lives downstairs is a miserable, rude, and very suspicious man.
Despite telling him my misfortune, and that the landlord had informed me he had a key, and despite offering to call the landlord again whilst we stood on his doorstep, to confirm who I was and that I had permission to use the key, the guy downstairs waved the key around and declared with a red face that he was not giving it to a stranger! (We had never met before.)
I was now feeling very desperate.
I called the landlord again, on boyfriend's dad's mobile, thrust the handset into rude neighbours hand, and pleaded with the guy to speak to him to confirm identification and authority.
Reluctantly he took the mobile, spoke to landlord, tried to trick the landlord with trick questions about my name and address, and then reluctantly shoved the key in my hand.
Thank you Lord! At last.
But then guess what happened?
The key did not work.
I tried not to cry.
I decided to call landlady (on boyfriend's dad's mobile) to see if she had an answer to my problem. In other words, the correct key!
Fifteen minutes later she walked up to the house with a big bag of keys.
“Hopefully one of them will fit!” she nervously said.
Boyfriends dad and I watched with baited breath, hardly daring to move or believe that soon I may be able to walk into my own house!
The door opened on the fifth key.
The landlady explained the inside lock must be faulty and she must remove it.
You're telling me!
Four hours later, four hours behind schedule, my Saturday could finally begin.
I’ve never been so happy to enter our house, to charge my mobile, to put my make up on, and to wash and brush my hair. Not to mention the very quick cleaning I had to do, and running to the shops to hastily buy food and drink, so I could return home to light candles and choose music, and entertain our guests with my story.
Oh how they gasped and giggled when I explained my adventure. But I praised boyfriend for calling his dad, for boyfriends dad driving to assist me, and providing his grill to kick start my mobile telephone.
What would I have done without these actions? I would probably have wandered the lonely streets for tweleve hours, after I was physically removed from a shop after being mistaken for a tramp by an erratic sales assistant. The soles of my shoes would have worn out, exposing my bare skin to the dirty streets, where I would have caught a nasty infection from a diseased dog who decafated on the pavement which I had collapsed on due to no food or water for twelve solid, exhausting, awful, hours.
So yes, in theory, now I come to mention it, I guess you could agree, it could have been worse.