How best-laid plans get derailed

If you’re a parent like me, you learn pretty fast that things in your life with kids rarely go according to plan. And even more frustrating than that, you learn that most of the time, the actual plan is not only undesirable, it can be downright inconvenient and uncomfortable! But you’ll do it anyway, because, well, you’re a parent!

There I was yesterday afternoon, having dropped off my eldest Jaedon at his violin teacher’s place for his weekly hour-long lesson. I was all set to make off to the nearby mall to print a passport-size photo of Caleb, then use it to make his new student photo concession card, which will allow him to pay reduced fares on public transportation in Singapore. Simple enough right? And I knew my end goal in that one hour (while Jaedon was having his violin lesson) was to return with said card firmly in hand. 

After searching the mall in vain for ten minutes for a photo shop, it occurred to me that since the place I was supposed to make the concession card was just two train stops away, why don’t I go there directly and kill two birds with one stone (since I know for a fact the mall over there definitely had a photo shop I could go to to get his picture printed)?

So off I went, praying that I’ll still be back in time to fetch Jaedon when his lesson ends.

After two stops, I alighted from the train and made straight for said photo shop in the mall. Upon reaching it, I learned that customers must print a minimum of 6 pieces for passport-size photos (even though I only needed one piece), and that it will cost almost $10! Sighhh…so I dutifully paid up, since I had been told by the school I needed the photo to make Caleb’s concession card. 

I had to wait some 15 to 20 minutes for the photos to be ready, so I knew I was beginning to run out of time. Needless to say, once I had the pictures in hand, I made a beeline for the transit office at the bus terminal next door. I had been told by Caleb’s school admin officer that the transit office there could do up the card.

Lo and behold, the transit officer on duty said no. I had to return instead to the train station and take a train one stop back to the regional bus terminal to make the card. At this point, I was ready to shake a proverbial finger at Murphy and his cursed Law!

Without bothering to argue that I was the innocent victim here of an information miscommunication between school and transit authority, I dashed off to catch the train. I consoled myself that at the very least it was the train stop in between, so at least it’s along my way back to Jaedon anyway. I was concerned that since it was the regional bus terminal, it might be crowded and I might have to wait in line for a bit before I could make the card.

True enough, there were at least 8 other folks in front of me in the long snaking line by the time I walked-ran to the terminal after alighting from the train! Surprise surprise. By then too my one hour was up, so I had to quickly call the violin teacher on my cell to ask if she could let Jaedon stay put with her til I returned. Thankfully she was ok with that.

And so there I stood in line, perspiration dripping from my forehead and seeping uncomfortably through my thin T-shirt, noises of people and buses all around, the smoky scent of the haze in the air (thank you Indon!), waiting impatiently for my turn to come. When finally it came, after what seemed an interminable time (cos that’s how even ten minutes can feel like when you’re on a deadline), I quickly handed over photo, duly-completed application form signed and stamped by the school, and Caleb’s birth certificate, and waited for the officer on duty to process the deed.

I took the opportunity to question why the application form listed the bus terminal I first went to as one in which I could get the job done, when in reality it couldn’t. The officer calmly explained that the school had used an old outdated form. Well yeah of course they did! Why didn’t I think of that? Silly me isn’t it, guileless customer making needless trips up and down the train lines today when all I had to do was call first to verify before setting off on my fool’s errand?!

With a disgruntled tone, I muttered just under my breath that if school and transit authorities would just keep each other updated, parents like me won’t need to waste all this time flitting from one place to another…but of course what’s the use? The only thing that mattered now was that I get what I started this journey to get: his new concession card.

Thankfully, nothing else went amiss and I was finally rewarded with his brand new card, and also the picture I first gave the officer. So really all she did was scan it?! If no physical copy of the photo was needed, couldn’t they have stated so in the form? Couldn’t I have just emailed or airdropped a soft copy in my application and save the $10?!! Of all the $%$%##…

With no more time now to dwell on that despicable revelation, I dashed back to the train station and to Jaedon as quickly as I could. In all, I ended up spending nearly 40 minutes more than expected. Sigh again…Not so bad I suppose, all things considered. At least I had what I came for, I told myself, clutching tightly to the card like it was a grand trophy I had won for a hard-fought race against time!

So there it is, another instance when a parent’s best-laid plan got derailed and adjustments made along the way in directions unexpected, inconvenient and uncomfortable too!

But that’s just the way it is. And how it will always be. 

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