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Scheduling Conflict

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Leon Stamatis was about to do something drastic.

For the first time since junior year of high school, he was about to make a major change to his schedule. And not only that, but he was about to do it voluntarily. The last time he’d had to make such a big scheduling change had been when he’d caught the flu, and he’d been unable to leave his bed for days, let alone accomplish any of the tasks he’d set out for himself.

But this time there wasn’t even the physical limitation of illness forcing him to change his plans. No, he was doing this entirely of his own volition.

His neighbor, Michael, was vomiting in the bathroom for the third time this week. His sickness was not due to his classmates’ proclivity to attend class despite being ill, thus ensuring any illnesses quickly spread throughout the school. Nor was it voluntary, except in the sense that Michael’s decisions earlier that night had definitively lead to his current predicament.

No, Michael was vomiting because he was hungover. Michael spent a concerning percentage of his time drunk or hungover. Leon had checked, and Michael met the formal definition of an alcoholic.

Leon had planned to hold some sort of intervention for Michael next weekend. That would give him plenty of time to research the best methods of helping someone get sober and to get ahead in his homework enough that he wouldn’t have to worry about managing the conflicting demands of a neighbor going through withdrawals and homework.

Leon could still hold the intervention next weekend, of course. By now, he was entirely confident there was nobody who was going to beat him to it, and Michael was definitely going to still be an alcoholic next weekend. But Michael didn’t need an intervention next weekend; he needed one now.

Leon did not particularly want to hold an intervention now. He wanted to finish his psychology homework. It wasn’t due until next Monday, but he’d planned to do it now. And Leon wasn’t the type of person who changed his plans.

But Leon could hear Michael throwing up in the bathroom. Leon knew that there was nobody who was going to stop Michael from getting drunk again tonight and ending up in the same situation tomorrow. Nobody but him.

Leon didn’t have time to physically change his schedule. Making all the modifications necessary to shift as much work as possible to next week, so as to give him the maximum amount of time with Michael, was going to be time consuming, and Michael needed him now.

So Leon did what he he’d done when he’d had the flu. He visualized his next move, and then the one after that. It was like chess. He couldn’t plan the whole game out in advance; he had to wait to see what the other player did, and react accordingly. He’d have to see where his next move left him before planning the one after that in any detail, but he had the broad strokes of a strategy, and the specifics would flow from that.

Leon didn’t know precisely what he’d be doing two hours from now. But right now he was going to go to the bathroom, and then he was going to stay with Michael during his hangover and provide a reasonable alternative to the so-called “hair of the dog”.

Leon’s schedule still said that he was going to work on his psychology assignment, but sometimes schedules had to be changed. Leon took a deep breath and set aside his homework.