So, my friend ZLite over at CHTTRZ.COM wrote “10 Worst Things That Can Happen On The Way To Work” – and all I could think was that these were either the worst things that could happen, period, or merely a sign that you were about to have a pretty crappy day. Quite literally, in the case of #2. Hah, #2. Cute, Z.
Without some actual constraints – things that could really ruin the daily commute, things that could happen to me between home and work (as opposed to disasters of national or global or strictly personal proportions), the title is, as they say, “click bait.”
With only a four mile commute to work, what can go wrong? Never ask that, you say…
- I could get hit with a block of blue ice dropped from a low-flying plane on its way to IAH.
- A black-headed vulture could swoop down and accidentally land in my open sunroof. (Disturbingly likely, but moreso during times of drought.)
- My car could overheat. I could blow a tire. Or break a timing belt. (All of these have actually happened. Makes for a bad start to the day.)
Someone could dart out into the street in front of me without space to slam on my brakes. (That’s definitely #1.)
- Nearby fracking could result in a major earthquake, diverting the flow of Cypress Creek straight down a man-made bayou and into my back yard. It would create a massive traffic snarl on all sides, blocking me from getting to or from work. (That’s probably #2, but far less likely than blue ice from above.)
- I could get all the way to work, and realize I’d forgotten to put on pants. (Probability of that is relative to the amount of caffeine in my bloodstream and only slightly more likely than blue ice.)
- A tornado could pick me up and drop me in a competitor’s parking lot in Austin. My brains would be so scrambled I’d put in six hours’ work before noticing the cubicles were arranged differently. (Toss a coin – this one’s about on a par with the blue ice. But given the tornadic activity in northeast Texas this past week – not outside the realm of possibility.)
- I could forget my lunch, then get booked in all day meetings. (Happens at least once a week. Boring, but disastrous for my diet.)
- I could forget my laptop, on which is the killer PowerPoint I have to present in ten minutes. (It’s happened.)
- I could encounter road flooding and have to detour. (It’s happened. As has complete flooding of one or more of the parking garages at work. I once had to wade through ankle deep water to get to my car. I was glad I’d parked on the ground floor, not LL2.)
- One of my loved ones could call me, while I’m driving, and tell me that any of the above had just happened to them.
What about you? What are 10 of the worst things you can imagine that might happen to you on your way to work? Try not to make this a disaster flick – it’s not about the 10 worst things that could happen, period. If work doesn’t exist anymore, it’s hardly worth mentioning in the headline, right?
This is something to keep in mind when writing fiction, as well. Much as I want to watch San Andreas when it comes out – out of nostalgia for having seen Earthquake (in “Sensurround” no less) as a kid – I can’t stress enough that sometimes the best disasters are disasters on a much smaller, more manageable scale, driven more by character than by plot or special effects. Hugo and I would like to demonstrate this, with your help. From the list above, pick your favorite and leave the number in the comments below. One of my short stories, this week, will be based on the choice that gets the most votes between now and tomorrow at noon.