Monday, August 15, 2011

Reason #2: Looong Days at Work

I worked three out of my four years of high school at an equine stable as a stable hand. My responsibilities mostly included cleaning stalls (that is, shoveling horse crap), feeding, throwing hay, taking general care of the horses and cat, and moving the horses from the barn to the pasture and back in again. ‘What a fun job!’ you say, ‘How on earth did you find such a lovely job at such an early age in your life?’ Well, let me tell you.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted a horse. I took riding lessons for about five years and even showed (once) and won (second place). However, it was hard to continue my lessons knowing that I would not be able to put them to good use, seeing as I didn’t have a horse to show with or even to just ride for fun. Seeing that the lessons were going nowhere, my parents and I made an executive decision to quit the lessons (which also saved my parents a butt-load of money).
But don’t think I was deterred from my goal! I still asked constantly for the horse. And my parents still said no.
One fine summer day, our family was enjoying a pool party at the house of the brother of my dad’s boss (stick with me here), who’s wife owned a barn and horses. Seizing the opportunity, my father introduced me and declared that I was ready to work. He somehow seemed to think that working at a horse barn would quench my desire to own a horse. It did not.
It did, however, get me three years of demanding physical labor and a lot of good stories (most of which involve torture that the horses have inflicted on me). It was a long three years. ‘Tell me one of those stories!’ you say, and I will, of course, oblige you.
At the barn, we have multiply outdoor pastures along with a nice stable (which is not air-conditioned or heated, and makes for crappy working conditions year-round because it’s either super toasty, or I’m-wearing-seven-pairs-of-pants cold), which we move the horses in and out of with the weather. As I arrived at work on this particular summer day, the horses were all out in the pasture, and I was supposed to bring them in for the night.
I went out to the front field first, which held two newer horses that I had not had a lot of experience with yet. I grabbed the younger one first, a two-year-old named Amir*, figuring that the older gelding would wait patiently. Unfortunately, I was wrong. When I swung open the gate, the gelding, Estevan*, bolted out and took off. Cool as usual, I simply stood there and called his name until he came back… NOT.
“CODE RED, CODE RED!” My brain flashed. Trying to move quickly but without freaking him out, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to get Amir into the barn first and then chase after Estevan. As I was making my way towards the barn, I saw that Estevan had run off the property and was now trudging steadily though the neighbors sprouting cornfield. I whipped out my phone and clicked through my contacts as fast as I could, all the while still trying to hurry back to the barn with Amir.
I found my boss’s name and punch the Call button.
Stranger on phone: “Hello?”
Me: “Estevangotout!AndIhaveAmirandIcan’tchaseEstevanuntilIgetAmirinside!”
Stranger on phone: “… … …Who is Estevan?”
Me: “What?! Estevan! He got loose! He’s running down the hill!”
Stranger on phone: “I… what?!”
Me: “Ohmygod! Wrong number! Sorry!”
I quickly hung up and scrolled through my contacts again, not bothering to check who I had just called on accident. When I reached my boss, I relayed the same message. She calmly told me that she would be right down.
I reached the barn with Amir and threw him into his stall as quickly as I could and ran back outside to meet my boss. “Where’d he go?” she asked. “He’s right over—“But when I turned to point to the field that Estevan had been frolicking in moments before, I saw that it was empty. I looked left. I looked right. My boss followed my gaze as my breathing became deeper and more panicky, and I started thinking things like “Oh shit, oh shit!” and “I’m going to have to buy my boss a new horse!”
We both continued to stare at the field where Estevan had been. My boss muttered that I should calm down, but I couldn’t. I spun in circles, noticing how melancholy the horse behind me looked. He was hanging out the large Dutch window, bobbing his head as he watched me. I did a double-take and then gave a feeble laugh. My boss turned too, and we stared, dumb-founded, at each other as the scene unfolded before us. “He must have snuck into the barn while you were with Amir.” my boss stated. In response, I gave another feeble laugh and marched back into the barn to close the door to the stall that Estevan stood in.
Thankfully, my boss is a good-humored woman and seemed to think the situation was more funny than anything else. Before she went in, she even helped bring in the rest of the horses as the clouds overhead darkened and the wind grew steadier. I had just shut the barn doors when it began to downpour, and I finally allowed myself to smile.
I laughed. I even started to dance. What a ridiculous day! All of that panic over a horse that had been safe in the barn the whole time! And now, I had escaped the rain in just the nick of time! Ha!
And then I got a text message from my boss. It stated simply,
“If rain is coming in Dutch windows, please close them.”
Sure enough, the rain was coming in sheets through the windows, and the only way to close them was from the outside. I ran around the outside of the barn, slamming window after window until they were all closed, gulping for air through the pounding rain. It took me less than thirty seconds, yet by the time I was back inside, I was soaked. My shirt was three pounds heavier and my boots were squishing with two inches of water.

Me, after the rain

Just when I had thought I’d outsmarted the universe, I was proven wrong. The whole situation does make for a wonderful story though. What’s your worst-day-of-work story? I’d love to hear about it!
P.S. I later checked to see who I had called the first time I was attempting to reach my boss. It turned out to be my friend Mary, who thought my phone call was extremely funny.

*Indicates that names have been changed to protect the identity of the horse/horses

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