Parky Persistence

Here I recount the events from a day that took a little persistence to see something through. Persistence despite living with a chronic illness. I’ve been living pretty hard lately. I offer this story to say that despite Parkinson’s, it IS possible to live fairly intensely. As for how long I can keep this up? Who knows?

The day started out relatively normally (no ripped corneas)*. As usual on a weekday, I put in a few hours of work in my home office before getting my son up to catch the bus to Middle School. The “telework boom”, a byproduct of the unfortunate pandemic, has been good to me in that it gives me the flexibility to be productive and simultaneously be more available for my family. Having returned from Temporary Duty (TDY)** from one of our contractor’s facilities earlier in the week representing my groups interests as the Lead Mechanical Engineer, I was putting the finishing touches on a trip report that was due. Seeing that it was already 6am, I got my son up for school and chatted with him a bit over breakfast.

Once back to my home office I start to plan for the rest of the day. Next week, I’m traveling to a test site to give a demo on something we have developed for our potential customer. You see, we haven’t secured the funding yet, so it’s only a potential customer at this point. I know a successful demo will go a long way towards securing the funding. I have worked very hard on this effort to even make this demo possible. We didn’t have much time to prepare the prototype, which makes it that much more impressive if we can manage to show up with it next week. I’m not the only one who has worked hard. I have “allies” at work that have put in extra effort to make this possible. They did it partially because the project has a lot of value and it was the right thing to do. But I also know they put in the extra effort because they want to see me succeed. I have no intentions of letting them down.

Even with all the efforts made, the prototype was just completed yesterday. So it hadn’t even been shipped yet. The overall “package”, I’ll call it, that needs to ship out, includes the prototype and everything else needed for the demo. It’s a large palletized crate weighing roughly 250 lbs. And it needs to ship today.

So I head into the office to meet some young engineers at the fabrication shop to get the equipment gathered up and prepare it for shipment. Not long after we got started getting everything prepared, my middle schooler called me from the school nurses office. He is sick, and needs to be picked up. I can’t reach my wife so it’s up to me. Now, I’m scrambling a bit to get a few more things packed and explain to the young employees at work what needs to be done for a smooth demonstration next week before I head off to pick up my son. Once home, I continue coordinating with the youngsters at work to help make sure everything gets done. Everything is going well, so I relax a bit.

Now at home, I decide, it’s “me time” for few minutes. So I squeeze in a quick workout. As every Parky knows, this is essential business. Soon after the workout, I’m getting ready to get back to work when I get a call from the shipping department. “Hey man, we got F***ed on the pickup”, are his exact words.

After a quick three-way phone conversation with him and an employee at the shipping company, I learn there was a paperwork mix-up that prevented the driver of the truck to pickup the the package. It was an honest mistake, but seeing that the conversation was currently focused on finger pointing I say, “I don’t care what happened, what do we do now to get this package where it needs to be”.

After a few tense minutes the course of action becomes clear. Our shipping guy needs to redo the paperwork ASAP so I can go back into the office, pick up the package, and rush it over to Dulles Airport about an hour away before the shipping company closed for the night. This would be tight on a good day. With Friday evening rush hour in full effect, it was going to be really tight.

I call my supervisor and explain what has happened and my plan. Since the shipping department is closed for the evening I need him to pull some strings with the facilities manager to get me access to the crate. Plus someone needs to meet me there to help me get it into the back of my truck. With the plan now fully in place, I blast over to work as quickly as possible to get the package. Once at work, I discover that the package hasn’t been properly banded***. So I calmly work with the shipping guy to get the package into the back of my truck and get it banded up properly, which burns at least 15 valuable minutes. Once everything is secured in the back of my truck and banded, I head towards the airport.

By the time I figure out where the shipping place is located within the large industrial complex near Dulles Airport, I have 15 minutes to spare. As I watch the package disappear into the warehouse on a forklift where it will be sorted, loaded on a plane, and ultimately meet us on site early next week, a rush of relief washes over me. It’s been a hell of a ride, and I’m more excited than ever about the demonstration next week and really, life in general.

*I posted in Facebook recently my account of a very painful experience where the cornea on my left eyeball tore upon awakening due to very dry eyes.

**Essentially work travel

***When shipping large packages on pallets, strong strap-like material is tightly wrapped around the package to keep everything securely affixed together and to the pallet itself. This is commonly referred to as banding.

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