Tomorrow will be a better day. You say this to yourself while looking out of the living room window. Despite the forecast saying it would be blue skies today, it is now raining a steady gray drizzle that casts everything in a faded, drab light. You shake your head and collapse onto the single sofa, maybe pouring a glass of wine first, and try to speed up the last few hours of the day by flicking through the television channels. It offers some background noise and a distraction from the day if nothing else.
At 8.00 AM your alarm goes off. Pouring cereal, or making some toast after you get out of bed, the morning news is talking: It looks like a sunny day, with a steady temperature and light breeze. The kettle boils and you make a tea or coffee, glancing at the calendar on the fridge while finding the sugar, or milk, or even both. You have a lunch appointment at the nice new local restaurant with your colleague. It looks good, and your colleague is paying as thanks for covering one of their shifts a while back. Then in the evening, your son is going to visit. Yes, you promise yourself, it will be a good day.
With a deep breath, you finish breakfast and get dressed for the day. Catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror you smile slightly, it is a professional look. Business fashion might not be exciting, but it is more effort than a lot of people can muster, and that small effort is commendable. ‘Dress for the job you want,’ you say to yourself, heading out the door to catch the bus.
The phone screen says 08.50 AM. The bus was supposed to arrive at 08.40 AM but for the last 20 minutes of waiting, it has not shown up. The sky above is overcast, clouds covering the forecasted blue skies. You shake your head - the haze will burn away and the bus will show up. The forecast did say sunny, after all. You are right about one of those points, but it takes another 15 minutes, and the phone is already showing several texts from the office asking if everything is fine. Maybe you reply, maybe there is no point since you will be there shortly anyway. Ultimately, it does not make a difference.
Arriving at the office there seems to be far fewer people than usual.
“There’s a cold going around, half the office is off sick today.” your colleague explains, sniffing loudly. “You know what that means...busy day for us.” They give you a smile, but you know it is forced – no one likes working with only half a team. “But we’re still on for lunch!” they finish, disappearing to their desk. You are not convinced. They sound sick enough to be off themselves. With your coat hung up you try to get started as quickly as possible. There are 3 hours until lunch, and then 5 more to the end of the day. You can make it. There is a lot to get done, but the restaurant menu is available online, and a quick look over that is motivation enough for the morning. At least the time will go quickly.
In fact it seems to go very quickly - too quickly really, and you are approaching lunch without anything from the morning complete. There is only 40 minutes until your reservation. The delicious menu has now turned from a motivation into a taunt, mocking you from near the ever-growing mountain of unfinished tasks. To top it off, the overcast skies outside seem to be making their way into your head, and you fight to manage the fog in your brain. Another cup of tea or coffee gives you a temporary boost, just enough to get you to noon. Your colleague appears and you open your mouth to ask them to wait just a few more minutes. That is enough time to finish the task you are on before leaving, but they speak first.
“I’m sorry,” they say, blowing their nose so hard you have to wonder if someone just started up a chainsaw. “Boss is sending me home. He doesn’t want me getting everyone who’s left sick. I should be in tomorrow, hopefully, we’ll do lunch then? I’m still buying.” You nod, your shoulders dropping. It has to be admitted that they do sound terrible. You tell them to go home and get some rest, and thank them for their help already. It is not their fault.
A glance around makes it clear the whole office is behind for the morning. There are too few people in, and there is far too much work to do. Everyone is hunched over their desks, brows furrowed. You sigh, perhaps make another cup of tea or coffee, and decide that lunch can be short today. There is no one to enjoy it with anyway, so what difference does it make? You work for another 30 minutes before the hunger gets too much to ignore, and there is no sense to putting it off further. As you leave the office alone you notice the cloud cover has increased. The sky is darker and the temperature a few degrees lower. The forecast for today was definitely wrong.
Lunch is a simple affair at a nearby food stall. There is not enough time for a proper meal, so you get a hot pasty, or a box of noodles. Something simple that won’t take long to prepare or to eat. The wind is starting to pick up, blowing dust around in swirls, so you hurry and get back to the office. At least the office is warm.
You return to work. It is 1PM and chaos now reigns. Orders have been delayed, paperwork is not filed, and somehow even fewer people are present than before lunch. The manager has rolled up his sleeves and is helping wherever he can. At least he tries, even if it does not help much. You give a glance to your clock. Only 4 and a half hours to go. Time for another cup of tea or coffee for a final boost. The sky outside has turned a thick, dark gray. It will definitely rain today.
For the next few hours all you see is the work, trying to ignore the ticking clock as you try to get as much done as you can. Anything left will only be there tomorrow. The phone vibrates, breaking your flow of work, and on the phone screen your son’s face is showing. The clock says 4.30 PM. Strange, why is he calling so early?
“The contractors have brought the wrong cabinets, naturally, so they need to return them and re-deliver this evening instead,” He says, clearly unhappy. You know what this means. He will not be visiting today. “I managed to get free labour from it though, and tomorrow they are going to set up the whole kitchen for us as compensation for the mistake! So, maybe you want to come over for dinner this weekend when it’s all finished? See the final kitchen, we will cook, if that would be ok?” Of course it would, even though you had been looking forward to seeing him today. It is not his fault. You close your eyes tight for a moment and agree to the new plan.
With the phone hung up you glance around to make sure no one is looking and let out a long sigh, letting your head fall into your hands. Keep it together. Slow breaths. There is only one hour to go, you can manage. As it turns out, the manager gives up early today anyway. He says there is no need for anyone to stay past 5.30PM, despite how little has been completed. Maybe you wonder if he has his own reasons to finish on time today, maybe you admire him for not trying to push a clearly hopeless day. Not that you were planning to stay even after your own plans had changed.
As you sit on the bus home the rain starts to fall in earnest. You look out the window and, not for the first time, think about how wrong the forecast had been. You sigh to no-one in particular and pull your coat a little closer to keep what little warmth there is around you. Maybe you get off a stop early to get some takeaway for dinner, or maybe you microwave something from the freezer. You just want the day to be over now, and cooking a full meal is just too much effort. It is unlikely you would eat it all anyway.
The television provides background noise but not entertainment as you rub your head, taking a few long, slow breaths. Tomorrow will be a better day. You repeat it several times. You, and hundreds, even thousands are saying exactly the same thing. You are not alone though. At some point it will be true. Maybe not tomorrow, or the tomorrow for a while, but eventually a tomorrow will be a better day.