When Panic Becomes Fuel


Today I drove my boss to a meeting in Greenwich, CT. It rained. It poured. It made me sleepy for a half second, but then the “Engine Coolant Low – Safely stop the car” signal popped up, and it quickly became an adventure:

Would the car overheat and explode?

I’m just kidding. I knew we’d likely see smoke first, or because the car is a top-of-the-line luxury SUV that must be able to post 100+ warnings, I figured some kind of “engine is about to explode” or “light on fire” signal would come on when death was imminent. That, and I figured that it was low from a leak, as I had topped the coolant reservoir off with premium 50/50 coolant just 40 days ago, and it had not been driven much since. I figured I could complete the drive, let the engine cool, replace the coolant, and not completely throw off my boss’s schedule. Stopping to address the signal would have resulted in a 35 minute delay as we waited for the engine to cool, before being even able to take off the coolant reservoir cap.

What woke me up on the ride home?

While my boss was in her meeting, I spent the 80 minutes answering emails, pacing around a bathroom, 6 or 7 stalls long, on the bottom floor of the office campus building she was in. There was nowhere else to walk or sit without the security guard questioning my pacing, so the bathroom became my office/treadmill.

Wildly I can spend 80 minutes just working through emails of the last couple days! It’s sick how much work I do through my email – how much time I spend dealing with email. Although maybe it’s a positive sign that I’m able to remain social despite having no work social life, other than the household staff I encounter when I’m at the home of my bosses.

Anyway, that 80 minutes of answering emails flew by, and then I figured it was time to fill that coolant in the car whose engine had cooled enough to not release toxic fumes when I opened the coolant reservoir. However, it was pouring rain, and of course the hood was a real bitch to open, and then it was hard to locate the coolant reservoir, and then at the same time my boss texted, “I’m out front.” And then she called. 

How had I allowed for the timing to work out so poorly?

Working as a Personal Assistant, I’m paid to be accurate and prompt. Immaculate if I can muster it (something I cannot yet claim and has delayed me asking for a review and its attending raise). So when I am not 100% ready when she needs it, I kind of panic, but oddly I saw the panic as a good thing.. because the panic rose me from the sleepy, gloomy glaze that overrides one’s face/mind.

When panic becomes fuel

So the ride actually was quite nice! I was alert when the flash flood provoking rains hailed down, causing pools of water for our cars to skid through, hydroplane, and crash. I drove like a boss, and we made it home in one piece.