The first thing to go, when a person is sleep-deprived, is not concentration, judgement, or reflexes. The first thing you lose — and people have studied this — is your temper.

At work we are re-arranging everything. We are moving furniture, redistributing shelves, cleaning, and unpacking. We are up on ladders, down on our hands and knees, and burrowing into boxes. We are arranging the store so that people will walk through it, irresistibly drawn to the next enchanted glade full of nymphs and luscious fruits — or rack of test tubes and petri dishes, but the emotional effect is supposed to be the same. 

Into this fairly fraught scene comes a High Maintenance customer.

Some of our customers really need a lot of help, and I am glad to help them. And some of our customers are fun to chat with, and over time have become (or will become) friends. These people are not HMs. The HMs are the ones who want us to follow them around the store, listening to them deciding between yellow and blue pocket charts. Sometimes they want to haggle (we don’t do that) or whine, but they all mostly want an audience. Some of them are lonely; they have gotten themselves into a situation in their lives where no one will listen to them except those of us who get paid to. Some are not entirely compos mentis, and the decision between yellow and blue has an importance to them that I cannot expect to grasp. I try to be kind to all of them, and to listen patiently. I debate the pros and cons of yellow and blue, or, if they appear to be stuck in a dither, I tell them firmly which color to buy, with some spurious reason (“Blue is calming.”).

But yesterday was Friday, I was sleep-deprived, and I was deeply engaged in jigsaw-puzzling games into an unlikely space. I avoided the HM. I attempted to palm her off on the other workers (I never win at that game, for some reason). I got this close to saying “who cares which one you buy? You’ll just return it anyway!”

I got home and cooked dinner, refused to take #1 son to a friend’s house (his friend came and picked him up) and, when my husband came in two hours later and asked “What’s dinner?” I answered, “Over.” I also redistributed the stitches of my sock toe as though it were a heel. Fortunately, I realized what I was doing before I got too far, and finished the sock successfully. I would post a picture, but xanga is not in a picture-posting mood today.

In any case, I had intended to sleep in this morning until about 8:00 in an effort to improve my mood, but thanks to the alarm’s going off at 4:16 and a blanket-hogging husband, I gave up and got out of bed at 6:30. That has helped a little. However, while I know there must be housecleaning and grocery shopping today, I hope also to manage some napping and lolling around on the couch reading and knitting.