How Bad Can A Person’s Day Get?

The Background

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seemed able to go right? My wife and I had one of those yesterday.

Tuesday, my mother-in-law phoned to say that my father-in-law had been taken to hospital, and that the doctors were doing a series of tests to determine what was wrong with him. He’d had a series of infections that would clear up, and then return, and his doctor had insisted on him going to hospital following a follow-up examination. So that was the start of the bad news.

Then The Bad News Starts Coming In

Yesterday was when things went crazy…

Wednesday morning, my wife and I both had the day off, so we didn’t set any alarms to wake us up. I’d worked late the night before, so we wanted to sleep in. 7am comes around, and my mother-in-law is on the phone. The doctors have diagnosed my father-in-law with some form of leukemia, but they’re not sure what kind, without running further tests. The plan is to move him 10 hours drive away to a hospital with cancer specialists on-staff, who can perform the necessary tests, and work out a treatment plan.

As you can imagine, my wife and I are pretty hard hit by the news, and have to find something to distract us from thinking about it, or doing too much online research. So we go out to do some chores.

So.. We Tried To Distract Ourselves

We had breakfast/brunch on the road, checked out movie times, and found nothing on, then did our chores. Driving home, we decided to stop at our local post-office and mail out a letter, then pull into a parking space, and check our post box.

So you’d think that’s simple enough, right? WRONG! As we start pulling into a parking space, a huge truck reverses out of the space next to the one we’re driving into. There is a car behind us, so we can’t reverse back out, and the bottom of his tail-gate takes out our driver side headlight, dents the hood, and pushes several panels out of alignment.

To make matters worse, we’d only just got the car back from being repaired. The car already had a new roof panel, and windscreen, after high winds had whipped up, caught a roof-top tarpaulin, and thrown the cinder blocks off the roof and onto our car. We’d had the car back about three weeks, and the repairs had taken almost a month, because they had to order the panels in.

Thankfully, the driver of the truck took full responsibility, and admitted to not having been looking out of his rear window, while reversing. But that meant yet another round of calls to insurance companies to organize the repairs.

Then Things Get Worse…

When we get home, we phone my mother-in-law for an update, and find out that they’re in an ambulance, on the way to the specialist hospital. So we’re about to breath a sigh of relief, when she tells my wife that her grandmother is seriously ill, and probably has only a week to live. By know we’re in complete shock, and emotional breakdown stages.

So Just How Bad Can Things Get Before A Person Breaks?

This got me thinking about what a reader would think if I had done something like this to one of my characters. Here are some thoughts:

  • I suspect that so many things happening to one person, in the space of one day, would stretch the suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.
  • Anyone who pulled this with one of their characters had better have one hell of a pay-off before the end of the story.
  • A series of events like this would probably cause a severe amount of emotional stress, and likely break the character down entirely.
  • However, if you are going to break down a character to that degree, you have to build them back up. Events might conspire to bring a character down, but we all have hidden strengths that we can draw on, as needed.

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