The Mast-Head: One of Those Days

Carissa Katz, The Star’s managing editor, pointed out that February was the time when things just start to go bad in general.

    Tuesday shaped up to be one of those days early on. Shortly after I climbed out of bed, at around 5:45, I noticed a smell like burning plastic. By the time the sun was over the horizon, the odor had gotten stronger, and I had pinpointed the problem to the oil burner, which was shooting raw flame out of one side with exhaust rising not up the chimney but through the house.

    As we hurriedly packed two of the three kids off to school and roused the other, snow began to fall. Rushing out the house with the heat off and the door open, I took the eldest, who was on vacation for the week, to her grandparents for the morning. On the way out of the in-laws’ subdivision I stopped to drag a stuck appliance company van off a pile of snow, pulling it nearly sideways along Red Fox Lane.

    That done, I headed for the office. At work, I remembered that The Star’s delivery van needed engine work in a hurry, and that Russell Bennett, who is usually counted on to deal with such things, was at home, sick. Greg Bullock, who works in our production department, took my truck and followed as I headed east in the van.

    It was not clear if we were going to make it all the way to the Amagansett repair shop. Idling at the Pantigo Road light, the shaking whup-whup-whup coming from under the hood sounded like a Blackhawk helicopter. Then there were the potholes, which from the high vantage point of the old Chevy seemed deeper and more threatening than ever.

    When we got back, Carissa Katz, The Star’s managing editor, pointed out that February was the time when things just start to go bad in general. Winter drags on, and systems have to work harder just to do what they normally do, she said. I replied that I was fully prepared for smoke to start pouring out of one or more of the office computers by lunchtime.

    Things quieted down thereafter, though a call on the police scanner at a house in Northwest brought on a resumption of my general anxiety. Spring cannot come soon enough.