I am an optimist. I live on the bright side. If I were a comic book character, you would see bubbles, rainbows, and lollipops drawn around my head. I like to keep a smile on my face, a bounce in my step, and the attitude that things will generally work themselves out. However, sometimes lots of things go horribly, horribly wrong at the same time. I had a week like that last week. It all started with a complete technological apocalypse within the unsuspecting walls of Neena. At first it was a spotty internet connection. Okay, no big deal, I’ll just turn the airport off and on, whatever. Then, our point of sale system decided to tell us that a customer’s credit card was rejected. This poor woman, in a panic, begins to defend the integrity of her credit card. We tried punching in the number instead of swiping it. NOT ACCEPTED. So, we resorted to Plan B: the backup credit card machine that hides in the office and makes uncomfortably loud beeping sounds. Beeping sounds that test the very limits of your humanity when you swipe a card that is set to expire in 2014 and the little machine reads CARD EXPIRED. Seriously? You little beeping jerk. Plan C, the part that occurs just before we need to go into the control room and turn two keys at the same time, is to write down all of the customer’s information so that we can send her on her way instead of making her stand around watching us be defeated by machines. Seeing that Neena is still a relatively new business, my job description as manager has been something of a work in progress. Something that found its way onto the list of responsibilities early on is making long and frustrating phone calls to troubleshoot technological problems. After the credit card crisis, I knew that I had two of those calls to make. One call to the point of sale people, and one to the credit card processing people. I picked up the phone, and my staff gave me solemn looks and gentle nods like a soldier going off to battle. I will not bore you with the details of these conversations, but suffice to say that one issue was addressed with “hmm, that’s weird” and the other was addressed by telling the little beeping jerk that no, honey, it is not actually the year 2020. Her credit card is not six years past expired. After the phone calls, Deneen did the next round of troubleshooting by telling the staff that she was taking their twitchy broken-spirited manager across the street for some fresh air and gelato. The technology at the store was behaving itself again and everything was happy and fine and bubbles and rainbows again OH WAIT MY AIR CONDITIONING BROKE WHEN IT WAS 95 DEGREES OUTSIDE. For a week. The hottest week of July. The late night on-call maintenance dude at my apartment complex temporarily solved this by installing a window A/C unit in my bedroom that blasted icy air at my face and poured water out of the bottom so aggressively that I’m really quite proud that I didn’t wet the bed in my sleep. Oh, and the gap in the window that existed from not being a window made to house an air conditioner was covered with flattened cardboard boxes and green duct tape. To go with the new theme, I began to park my car on the front lawn and point a shotgun at passers by. At this point, I propose a Neena Essay Contest. The subject of your essay should be the description of how you imagine it went when the office told me we were not in fact allowed to have the temporary unit in the window, and I removed it (keep in mind the weight of such a unit and the dripping water) and replaced the screen myself. Please submit your essays to firstname.lastname@example.org After a very warm week, the air conditioning was fixed. When I was not at home. To remove the obstacles in my closet which blocked the access to the parts that needed fixing. Therefore, I arrived home to the contents of my closet dumped all over my bed and bedroom. The temperature was pretty nice though. And finally, to cap off the week, I was called “sir” in an email. By someone who I have actually met in person before. Weeks like these are the ultimate challenge to an optimist. A series of irritating issues swarming around like mosquitoes, trying to cover you in itchy pessimistic welts. Not this time, universe! I work at the coolest store in the world, I have the best staff, friends and family in the solar system, and gelato is always just a crosswalk away. And I’m moving to a new apartment in two weeks.