When the Caregiver Calls

We call it her “croaky voice.”

When the caregiver calls using her “croaky voice,” I know I’ve got to scramble, I know I’ve got to hustle.

“Hey, Dave,” she’ll say. “I’m sorry, I’m not feeling well today, so I don’t think I’m gonna be able to…”

But she needn’t elaborate. I know what’s coming. She had me at “Hey Dave.”

Busy as I thought my day was gonna be, it just got a hell of a lot busier.

Along with this blog (and my book-writing and script-writing efforts) I also write for magazines and newspapers.

Magazine deadlines, I’ve found, are somewhat flexible. Magazine editors will smile quietly and indulgently at a humorously worded plea for just one more day, I’m begging you, please, just one more day, my babysitter– oops I mean caregiver– was sick today and I’ve got to do the kids…

“Oh, you writers,” they’ll say, jokily. “Always begging for more time.”

And they’ll give you the day.

But newspapers aren’t messing around. They’re talking hours, sometimes minutes. Once, I kid you not, I phoned my editor at the Globe and Mail to tell him my babysitter had cancelled, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make my deadline of noon that day.

He was sympathetic. He said he understood, that child care issues were tough.

And he gave me until 12:15.

True story. When I’m on deadline and the croaky call comes– and it always seems to come on the worst days– my first move is always: speed-dial my mother.

Sometimes, like a septuagenarian super-heroine, she’ll pick up the phone after one ring and come flying across town in her convertible, wind ruffling her hair, a super-determined look on her face.

Other times, though, she can’t do it. On those days, I have to ask myself: “Can I do all my work that I’d planned to do today between 1-3:30?” The window when all three kids are in school.

Doesn’t matter if I can or can’t. I have to. I have to fire on all cylinders. I have to become…Superman.