Mar 17, 2021

When You’re Told You Had “Just One Thing to Do”—And Didn’t

A Moron’s Mini-Memoir

By Ed Goldman

One of my all-time favorite insults is, “You had just one thing to do.” It’s usually followed by meaningful dots, also called ellipses if your aim is to impress. If it is, here’s another tip: Never pronounce “niche” as “nitch.” Instead, say “neesh.” Your social status will improve immediately (unless you have one of those ill-fitting-denture-caused spray lisps, like the late Dear Abby or her sister, Ann Landers, who used to urge troubled correspondents to “stheek profethshional help—and while you’re at it, get yoursthelf a towel”).

So: Why do I love that expression?  It’s because of its damning implication—that you had “just one thing to do” but couldn’t even do that. I’m often guilty of this—or at least fear I always will be, which may cause an equal amount of anxiety.

Edgy Cartoon

One is the loneliest bummer

For example, after receiving my first COVID-19 vaccination in February, I was handed a registration card and told it was mandatory that I take this with me when I went to get my second shot three weeks later. Beginning at the precise moment I was handed the card and issued the order I began wondering how quickly I’d lose the card and therefore unintentionally disobey the order.

I therefore stapled it to the appropriate paper-calendar page. But because the appointment was three weeks away, and in that tine I had to ink in a number of other meetings and deadline reminders, the page was being constantly jostled. This eventually and predictably dislodged the card from its staples. The day before my second shot I nonchalantly opened to the page to find the card and called myself so many bad names until I got exhausted that I still have some left over if you’re planning on loudly quitting your job or marriage anytime soon. (Lest you think they’re all profane, not so. The surplus list includes such stalwarts as ignoramus, blockhead, dunce, dolt and brainless. I also might have said something to imply I never knew my father and my mother was a member of one of the 34 species in the Canidae family, also known as canines.)

I found the card in my trash can, thanked every city I could think of for not having let me empty the trash that day (when the city’s garbage trucks were due) and this time, placed it in my wallet, right next to my drivers license. When I arrived to get my shot, the receptionist asked to see my license. I confidently produced my wallet, opened it up and could find neither my license nor my registration card. I began to experience the sort of flop sweat so profuse a mouse could take a long, relaxing shower standing under my jaw. Then the receptionist said, “I think I see your license four cards in, and the registration’s probably attached to it.” I now realized the vaccination jamboree was also an unbilled psychic fair and handed both items to the receptionist. 

I said, “You should change your name to Nostradamus.” 

“What’s wrong with Lucille?” she said, pointing to her name tag.

Losing things at the last minute is a regrettable pattern for me—not as regrettable a pattern as you find on golf slacks, aloha shirts and mid-1960s wallpaper, but disturbing, nevertheless. (Oscar Wilde’s deathbed words have been reported as, “Either that wallpaper goes or I do.”) It’s even more loathsome than having misplaced your car keys moments before your child and all her friends pile into your back seat to attend a Justin Bieber concert (especially if it’s part of his “Live! And So Talent-Free!” tour) or when you’ve volunteered to drive an elderly friend to an urgent medical appointment, the semi-finals of an international quilting competition or a seance.

I did it the other day after receiving a $52 ticket for joining a line of cars queued alongside a neighborhood park. Apparently we’d all missed the ominous sign (which I recall, perhaps faultily, as saying “No Parking Anytime. ANYTIME!”). Seeing that the curb was painted a noncommittal  oatmeal color—as opposed to hospital code blue, panic red, confusing yellow or deceptive green (the one that lures you into thinking you can have lunch or buy all of your week’s groceries in 15 minutes)—we all opted to park alongside the path created for ferocious running, frantic bicycling and, subsequently, nervous walking. 

It was a beautiful faux spring day, one of those that make you forget winter isn’t done with us just yet. Stir-crazy families, octopus-limbed young lovers and leash-less (as well as possibly mouth-foaming) dogs frolicked around the algae-themed pond, causing the ducks to consider forming a militia unless they were mollified with torn-up chunks of Wonder Bread®.

What kind of nefarious mind, I thought, can view a scene this preposterously joyous and write out $52 tickets? 

That was my complaint when, within a half hour, I lost the ticket, and figured: Okay. Rather than quake in fear of the city’s revenue officers coming after me to collect, I’ll lodge an online protest in the name of aesthetic outrage (the kind that objects to certain wallpaper patterns). It will be to protest the city’s parking police for having had the bad taste to ruin an idyllic day for so many people, dogs and ducks.

Then I realized I just didn’t have the wherewithal to carry off a mini-revolt of this sort—you know, photos of me in William Wallace blue-and-green makeup and a hat with antlers, both constituting the mandatory ensemble this year for getting your cause included in the 24/7 news cycle. 

Worst of all, my having abandoned theatre acting decades ago, I just didn’t have the pipes to bellow for hours on end. And nobody will cower from someone with laryngitis unless he’s being played by Marlon Brando or Christian Bale (with the Batman cowl on. When he took it off and resumed his identity as Bruce Wayne, his voice was clear enough to have been an endorsement for the curative power of Chloraseptic® Spray and Lozenges).

So I decided I’d better call the city, tell the clerk what I’d done and make arrangements to pay for the ticket by credit card over the phone. I decided to do this on Monday, then again on Thursday, and will likely get to it next week sometime. I mean, it’s not like it’s just the one thing I have to do.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

I’m very pleased to announce that Golden Pacific will soon be acquired by digital personal finance company SoFi, Inc.

This acquisition is a result of SoFi’s goal of becoming a national bank in order to help more people—with enhanced value and more products and services. After a review of hundreds of banks, the company feels Golden Pacific Bank is the right partner to both accelerate this pursuit and help expand their offerings to serve local communities.

The proposed acquisition is a key strategic step in SoFi’s path to obtaining a national bank charter. As a result of the proposed acquisition, SoFi will switch its current de novo bank application to a change of control application. If successfully granted a national bank charter by the OCC and Federal Reserve pursuant to its change of control application, SoFi plans to contribute $750 million in capital and pursue its national, digital business plan while maintaining GPB’s community bank business and footprint, including GPB’s current three physical branches.

Once the transaction is complete—which is anticipated before the end of 2021—GPB’s community bank business will operate as a division of SoFi Bank, N.A., which is a renaming of GPB’s bank entity. I’m delighted to acknowledge that I’ll continue to lead the GPB community bank business.

We’re excited for this new partnership with SoFi and the strength and ability it will provide us to serve our customers at the highest level. And we’ll continue our commitment to bringing more services and convenience to our individual customers, small businesses, and the communities that we serve in Sacramento and surrounding counties.

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