"Oh, no!!!!" the shriek of those two words spilled out of me.
Actually, I'm ashamed to admit a choice word or two hardly suitable for a family newspaper followed, all because the bedroom clock read three minutes until 6 a.m.
That's about the normal time that I'm throwing my lunch together and heading out the door for another day at the Herald-Star salt pit.
It's not the time I'm waking up, conscious that it's hello, Mr. Morning.
It looked to be a stale start to a fresh day.
"I'm late!!!" I half muttered, half seethed, mad at myself as I hopped out of bed and started rushing around the bedroom trying to make up for lost time, but all I seemed to be accomplishing was making a lot of noise and getting nowhere fast.
I am NOT a tardy person, so waking up late for work once every 10 years really makes the old O positive blood boil.
From under the covers, Better Half took this scene all in - all my whining about being late, all my worrying that surely the newspaper world would stop revolving, all my grumbling and self-scolding about how I should have my stuff all ready the night before in preparation for this sort of thing, as rare as that is.
In his usual laid-back fashion, Better Half stood ready to offer support, love and encouragement.
First came a few chuckles, then a little mocking.
"Oh, no!!!" he said with feigned alarm, his hands to his cheeks in Macauley Culkin "Home Alone" fashion.
"You're going to be fired, axed, let go!!!"
In mid-pursuit of pantyhose, I responded with an exaggerated, annoyed heavy sigh, but then came a laugh that I couldn't contain. A big one.
I hate it when he's right.
So began that day's reaffirmation that Better Half and I are very different in the sense-of-urgency department.
I'm "Oh, no!"
He's "Relax, so what?"
I'm the fretful one.
He's the cool cucumber
I'm "Hurry, hurry, hurry!"
He's "What's the rush?"
I'm Chicken Little. The sky is falling.
He's more Foghorn Leghorn.
I'm the hand-wringing "What'll I do?"
He is the "Will it matter five years from now, much less tomorrow?"
He brings clarity to what I cannot quite bring into focus.
But I was still late, still mad and still rushing.
And Better Half was still offering his style of support and encouragement.
I was about to back the car out of the garage when he stopped me, motioning that I'd forgotten something.
He opened the back door and threw in a box.
"You'll need something to bring all your belongings home in," he said.
There was no pink slip on my desk when I arrived that day. Just a pile of work faithfully awaiting me, late or on time.
And when I got home, there was a new alarm clock.
(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer with the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)