I’m staying up late to get a paper done for work. While I’d rather not pull late nights and long days, in reality I have an extremely high amount of flexibility and self-determination in the day-to-day details of my job. The flip side of that coin, however, is that I keep that freedom as long as I produce the deliverables I have been assigned by my deadlines. Having the freedom to take a bit longer lunch break and go on a walk with my wife, or work from home, or not have set hours that I have to be in front of the computer working, means that I have in turn committed to putting in the time to get stuff done.
In a way, I think I would do superficially better with a more strict office regimen, but I think my production would suffer accordingly. (One of my bosses seems to agree; last time I was in the office and we chatted, he mentioned that he’s seen my productivity climb noticeably since I’ve been working from home again). Not having to toe the line means I don’t have any excuses for bad performance. The end result is that I’m developing routines and better work habits because I want them, in order to avoid late nights and long hours. It’s an ongoing process.
Every now and then, my late nights have an unexpected side benefit. A few minutes ago, I heard what sounded like a heck of a catfight in progress out in my carport. After it continued for a few minutes, I realized that, no, it sounded like a dog — some small yappy thing — and a cat. I got a flashlight and went outside to break it up. At this point, I’m in pajamas and sandals.
About 10 seconds after I get outside, the flashlight is useless. Great, dead batteries. The dog is cowering directly under our car, giving out weird yips. It’s been hurt, I think, and I have a momentary fleeting sense of admiration for the cat (since I really don’t like small dogs and I love cats). But something is breathing very heavily, and I realize that it’s not the dog. So I walk around to the end of the car to take a look, because I’m starting to get the bad feeling what we’ve got is a poodle getting beat up by an enraged possum. Sure enough, I get around to the end of the car and look on the other side (still waving the useless flashlight, because it is large and has a comforting weight), and there’s a large shadowy figure that’s too large to be a cat. This thing is panting and hissing and is paying absolutely no attention to me; it’s fixed on the tasty treat that is probably busily pissing itself all over the concrete underneath my Ford Focus.
It’s about this time that I finally realize what is really going on.
I’ve wandered into the middle of two very pissed off, fighting raccoons. I’m standing out in my carport with a dead flashlight in plaid flannel pajamas and open-foot sandals at 3:30am in easy striking range of two big, nasty, energized scavengers who are more than willing to take a swipe at me if they feel that’s their best way out of danger. A year or two ago, we had a raccoon get treed in our yard; when the cops came to deal with it, the not-so-little bastard charged one of them. These are junk-fed raccoons with a sense of entitlement. So what the heck am I going to do?
Okay, yes, I spent a couple of seconds wishing I’d followed my impulse to grab my thick quarterstaff before coming outside. At least then I’d have a long stout stick to try to beat them with and gain precious seconds before my toes get gnawed off by the rabid little berserker sizing me up from the driver’s side of my car. And then I decided turnabout was fair play and started yelling at them. I wasn’t yelling too loudly — I really didn’t want to wake the neighbors up — but it was enough to get their attention. The raccoon under the car stopped his “Shit, I’m BLEEDING!” yipping while his opponent looked over at me and growled even more loudly (don’t worry, buddy, I don’t care if you beat him up, just go do it in someone else’s yard) as if to say, “Zip it, you wimp.” I refused to be cowed (and here’s where I do NOT believe myself) and even stepped closer to him.
At that point, he backed up. Trapped Raccoon saw this as a great opportunity and took off like the fat waddling bastard he was, running to his freedom across my front lawn. Mean Raccoon is justifiably pissed at this turn of events; garbage day was a couple of days earlier, so pickings have probably been slim for the past few days and here some dork in pajamas just chased off his midnight snack. He and I get into a real macho staring match; he’s growling and telling me nasty things about my parents while I’m doing my best crazy Walter impression trying to break his nerve. Eventually, he realizes there’s no point in standing there arguing with me; I’m too big to eat and Trapped Raccoon has a heck of a head start. He finally breaks off and heads back around the back of the house. Within a minute, I hear the fight break out again, but this time it’s a running fight that is half a block down and moving farther away all the time.
Mission accomplished. Crap, that was some adrenaline.