Xander Harris' Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
O'Toole's Law: Murphy was an optimist.
Xander Harris was having the worst day imaginable. And he hadn't even left the house yet.
First, his alarm hadn't gone off on time. Luckily, he set it so he would have an extra twenty minutes in case of an emergency.
Unluckily, he hadn't woken up until he'd gotten an extra thirty minutes of sleep.
He was already running late, and that could have been remedied if he'd just hurried through his morning routine. But alas, his shower had decided that it was an opportune time to break down; the hot water heater wasn't heating, so he'd had to take a cold shower.
The only pair of clean underwear he had was the pair of tiger-print bikini briefs that Buffy had bought as a gag gift for his last birthday. They always gave him a wedgie halfway through the day, no matter what he did.
Then his car wouldn't start. It was almost fifteen years old and looked like it was falling apart. He'd spent most of his weekends since he bought it making sure the engine worked like he'd just driven it off the lot with the 'SALE' sticker still attached. Xander had been meaning to take a look at the alternator, but he'd been so busy with the new building contract and setting up the new job site that he'd kept putting it off.
"Procrastination gets you nowhere," Xander muttered darkly under his breath. He turned off the engine and got out of the car, locking it behind him before pocketing his keys.
Luckily, he still remembered the bus schedule from back when he didn't have a car, and the #13 came by right outside his apartment building at 9:25. Sighing, he jogged up the incline of the underground parking garage towards the street – and the bus stop.
But that wasn't the end of his morning's trials and tribulations. Oh, no. He'd forgotten he was out of Pop-Tarts and hadn't had any time to fix something, so he'd grabbed one of the Nutrigrain bars Buffy had left in his pantry. On his way to the bus stop, he unwrapped it, hoping to down it before his bus arrived, only to discover it was inedible.
Not because it tasted like cardboard – that was nothing new – but because, not only had it somehow spoiled, there were mealworms infesting it.
Making a grimace of distaste, Xander threw his bugged breakfast into the trashcan next to the bus stop. He turned back to towards the street to watch for his bus…
Only see the #13 almost a mile away and turning the corner.
Whimpering, Xander leaned forward against the bus stop sign and thumped his head gently against the metal post holding up. His day was going terribly.
And it was only 9:30.
When he finally made it work – only twenty minutes late, since the #7 bus came by nine blocks away at 9:40 – his boss chewed him out for another fifteen minutes and then shoved him out the door to supervise the work on the scaffolding.
He hated heights with a horrible passion normally only reserved for vampires. The odds of him falling were…well, normally, not actually all that likely. For all that he hated heights, he was pretty graceful, light on his feet even in steel-toed workboots. And the scaffolding had half of the preliminary flooring up as well. But considering how his day had gone so far…
He wasn't about to make any long-term plans or cash in his life insurance policy.
Thankfully, lunchtime rolled around and he was still alive, having avoided becoming street pizza. Xander was just starting to breathe a sigh of relief when his boss assigned him to oversee the ground crews.
And then things went to Hell in a handbasket.
He spent his entire afternoon dealing with supply problems. Supply problems. As if it wasn't bad enough that he didn't get to do any actual work, he had to play secretary for a bunch of redneck idiots who couldn't be bothered to go down to the supply stores themselves.
"If one more guy comes up to me complaining about the hardware…" Xander swore.
"These screws are no good!" came a Scottish-accented shout from behind him.
Spoke too soon. Turning around, Xander caught sight of Murphy O'Toole storming towards him, face as red with rage as his hair was with pigmentation.
"What?" Xander asked exasperatedly, having not heard the other man's words over the screeching of the jackhammers.
McMurphy came to a huffing and puffing stop, and, after quickly catching his breath, repeated, "These screws are no good!" as he held out a handful of shining metal bits.
Taking a quick look, Xander said, frustratedly, "They look fine to me, Murph," before going back to spotting the new crane operator. He was rather slow, but he hadn't dropped anything or swung his load of two-by-fours into something.
"They're the wrong size, Harris!" McMurphy roared, once gain garnering Xander's attention. "And I can't use these on steel girders – they're aluminum, they won't even hold up to the stress of being screwed in."
Xander froze, his frazzled wits coalescing into reminding him just who had ordered that shipment of screws – and consequently, must have screwed the order up.
His answer was not heartening.
"Fuck," he said numbly, mentally whimpering at the tongue-lashing his boss was going to give him for screwing up so big.
From there, the day could only go up – or so Xander had hoped. He'd gone and ordered the right screws – and breathed a sigh of relief once he'd found out that the supply company had simply shipped the wrong screws; it wasn't his fault – but the work on that part of the office building had had to be halted because the screws needed for the current project wouldn't arrive for another two days. His boss had blamed him for not catching the error earlier – even if it wasn't his fault the wrong screws were shipped – and he'd been sent down to perform preventative maintenance on the tow trucks.
Normally, working on the company vehicles wasn't all that bad of a job, even if it wasn't construction. But the parking lot was right next to the johns, and the stench from the Port-A-Potties was nauseating at the best of times.
And the parking lot was downwind from them.
And, to top it off, those tiger-print bikini briefs? They were riding up into places the sun didn't shine.
When the whistle was blown, indicating the end of the workday, Xander was tired, sweaty, extremely smelly, and every muscle in his body ached from sheer weariness, despite the fact that he hadn't really had a chance to use them. He punched himself out of the time clock and, realizing he had twenty minutes before the next bus came by, decided to clean up a bit before going home.
He managed to get a semi-shower by rinsing himself off with one of the industrial hoses in an empty lumber shed. With the help of some of the industrial-strength (yet gentle enough for use on human skin) cleaning soap he kept for getting hydraulic fluid out from underneath his fingernails, he started to feel somewhat human again, even if the coldness of the water did have his teeth chattering. Dressing in a pair of clean jeans and a T-shirt from his locker – and finding a crumpled pair of boxers that, after a tentative sniff, he judged clean enough to wear, so he was able to get rid of the bikini briefs – Xander trudged wearily off to the bus stop to catch a ride home. Once back at his apartment, he planned to fall straight into bed – after making sure his alarm clock was set! – and sleep until morning.
Douglas Adams was right – Tuesdays really were the worst day of the week. His had downright sucked.
Xander walked into his apartment, hung his keys up on the hook, by the door and his jacket up on the peg next to it. When he turned around, intending to head straight to bed as he'd planned, he stared in shock at the sight that met his weary eyes.
He expected to see his usual empty living room. What he saw instead was his girlfriend, Buffy Summers, waiting for him on the couch. The lights were turned on – but she'd used the dimmer switch, so they only gave off a soft glow instead of a harsh brightness – quiet music was playing at just the right tempo to soothe his raging headache, and a dinner of what looked to be her great-grandmother's recipe for chicken noodle soup – accompanied by warm mugs of the late woman's famous and equally tasty hot chocolate – were on the dining room table.
Buffy smiled. "Hey," she said tentatively. "Willow called – she said she and Tara would take over patrolling tonight so we could spend the evening together." She blushed and ducked her head. "I, ah…kinda forgot it was our anniversary."
It all came rushing back to him then – one year ago today they'd started dating. He actually had managed to get her a present – a rather nice leather jacket to replace the one she'd lost to the claws of a Shredda demon on patrol four months ago – but he'd ordered it through a catalog, and it had been back-ordered for another week.
"I, ah, sorta forgot, too," Xander admitted mostly truthfully, hoping that it would make her feel better, since she wasn't the only one who forgot, instead of making her angry since he did.
Buffy chuckled. "That works out well," she joked.
"Yeah," Xander agreed, smiling back as he looked over all the simple, yet meaningful preparations she'd made. He knew Buffy hated cooking – and her great-grandmother's chicken noodle soup took forever to simmer, not to mention the hot chocolate – so it meant a lot that she'd done it for him.
Even when a day was as bad as his had been…if he could come home to this, no day could ever be bad.
Though he'd probably still end up going to bed early – but with much better plans than to sleep.