Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Please stop wasting my time!

We all know one.  Maybe she's your friend.  Maybe your relative.  Maybe it's even your spouse.  A Time Waster. Someone who, for some unknown reason, seems incapable of managing their time, which then makes if difficult for you to manage your own.

First up, the Late Comer. I  am not talking about someone who is occasionally late, we are all guilty of that.  I am talking about the person who tells you they will meet you at the movie at 7:30 then arrives at 8:15 for a movie that starts at 8.  Meanwhile you are pacing the lobby, seeing everyone else file happily into the theatre for the movie you have been waiting to see for weeks, knowing that by the time you get into the room there won't be any good seats left and you will end up with a crick in your neck from staring up at the screen from a distance of about 6 feet, because you were silly enough to agree to let them buy the tickets ahead of time to avoid the box office line.

My boss is an Under Estimator of Time Required. I recognized the signs immediately upon going to work for her....I grew up with the Queen of Under Estimating.  It's irrelevant that the actual drive time from one city to another is about 15 minutes, 10 if traffic is light.  What matters is time involved. To the 15 minutes of drive time, you have to add at least 5 minutes to get yourself and all of your stuff out to the car, another couple of minutes for running back in for that file you forgot, then at least 5 minutes for that one last phone call before you buckle up, and another 10 minutes because you forgot you were almost out of gas. Assuming there is no traffic, that 15 minutes you think is sufficient suddenly mushrooms into 30 minutes.  My mom is fond of saying she is only 10 minutes from the Mall.  I am fond of reminding her that she can't get herself out the door and into the car in 10 minutes.

Then there is the Dawdler. Years ago I was the assistant manager for a large bookstore in our local mall.  We closed at 9pm every week night, after which upper management allowed us 30 minutes to count the cash, tally the receipts, reconcile the checks and credit card slips, make out the deposit for the morning, straighten up the cash wrap area, vacuum the floor and do a dozen other housekeeping tasks they frowned on us doing while customers were in the store, then lock up and be out of the store by 9:30. At 8:30 I would begin going thru the store, checking on the stragglers, reminding them that we close in 30 minutes.  At 8:45, I would lower the gate across the entrance to half way, make another walk thru and announce the remaining time. Another walk thru at 8:50, then again at 8:55.  Occasionally there would be one or two people who really pushed the time limit, but usually they were apologetic as I gently herded them toward the front of the store.  But one evening, as I made my sweep, two well dressed women lingered over the magazine section, deciding between a couple of choices.  They ignored repeated warnings of lapsed time, not even budging when at 9:00 I lowered the front gate to the floor and told them I needed to shut down the computer.  They were indignant when I tried to hurry them along...they were, after all, Paying Customers.  Finally I told them that the computer was shutting itself down in 3 minutes and they would have to return the next day.  Champion Dawdlers, both of them.

Last week I observed a Time Waster who defied labels.  I was scheduled for a haircut at 2pm.  I arrived at 5 minutes till, took a seat and grabbed a magazine while the stylist called out a greeting to me and then turned to put the finishing touches on the hair of the woman occupying the chair. I was busy catching up on the life and times of Jennifer Anniston as interpreted by the paparazzi, when I glanced up and noted that it was now 2:15 and the stylist and her customer were involved in a weird dance.  The steps involved the stylist making a minuscule snip from one side or the other, after which she would offer up a handheld mirror for the customer to check the 'do. Then she waited and waited and waited...while the woman, who was texting madly on her smartphone, finished the current text, took the mirror, examined the results, then shook her head. While I watched, they repeated this snip/text/look routine 6 or 7 times before the woman nodded, finally satisfied, then proceeded to remain in the seat for a few more texting rounds, while the stylist swept up her cut hair, straightened the station, sent me apologetic looks, and generally hovered miserably, clearly torn between trying not to offend either her current client or her next one.

Now that I think about it, that woman in the salon?  She wasn't really a Time Waster...she was just rude.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Going from 30 to 60 with a flip of the channel

I was watching The Good Wife Sunday night (love that show!) and was happy to see her no-good, cheatin' husband finally kicked to the curb!  While I was enjoying that turn of events, I noticed Chris Noth's almost-completely-gray hair and realized that thru the wonder of television, we have seen this wonderful actor age right before our eyes.  He went from a skinny, young, brash detective on the original (and best) Law & Order, to the suave and studly Big on Sex and the City, to this newly gray haired, handsome governor. I know he is the not the only actor we have watched grow up or older over the years...Shirley Temple, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael J Fox.  But I don't recall ever being able to flip thru channels and see other stars in all the stages of their lives at all times of the day the way we can with Chris Noth.   

We all have photos of ourselves when we were either skinnier or chubbier or makeup-less or hair-challenged.  I have one particularly horrid photo from the 80's where my hair was permed to the rafters and I was wearing what appears to be a sofa slipcover in a lovely blue/pink/purple/green floral.  In it I am at some function, wearing eye glasses large enough for 3 people, at a table with 9 other banquet attendees. The only thing that makes me happy about that photo is the shot of the guy next to me in burgundy and blue plaid pants with a tie the width of his chest and mutton chops that almost meet in the middle of his face. My dad was stylin'.

The difference is we can turn those photos over, close the album or take that awkward 8th grade school picture right off the wall.  Honest, Mom, I have no idea where that one went. But when you have lived your life in front of us on TV, you really can't escape.  Last week I was watching Hollywood Game Night and Michael Weatherly was reflecting on his 12 seasons on NCIS.  He said the problem with it being in syndication while the show is still running is that people must be wondering why they replaced him with an older, fatter guy who looks just like him.

There are a lot of reasons why I am happy I am not a celebrity.  Sure, the money would be great, but I can't imagine having people snap my photo as I struggle to get my 35 lb dog, who no longer jumps, into my car as I leave the vet's office.  How awful to see online video proof that yes, I really did dance with that very young college guy at that bar on St Patrick's Day. It's bad enough to have friends with long memories...I don't need those moments immortalized. And I really cannot imagine having to watch myself age from my 30's to my 60's nightly on any number of TV channels.

Cary Grant retired from films in 1966 when he was only 62 and, at least to my eyes, still an incredibly attractive and virile leading man.  He retired in part to spend more time with his daughter, but also in part because he wanted to be remembered as he was in the films he had completed. He said he didn't want people to watch him as a character actor in his 80's and say "wow, he used to be so good looking".  I believe he sold himself short there.  I have seen photos of him in his 80's and I have to say that sentiment did not occur to me.

As for Chris Noth, I will continue to watch this man in his many and varied roles for as long as he wants to continue acting.  As Jennifer Garner said recently of her Draft Day costar, Kevin Costner, "there's still a lot of handsome there".

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I am never going to be a rocket scientist

When my daughter was in her 20's, she and some friends were sitting in a bar taking turns deciding if each person was a glass half empty or glass half full type. When they got to my daughter, one of her friends laughed and said that she was not only a glass half empty type, but a yes-my-glass-is-half-empty-and-which-one-of-you-drank-it type. I was reminded of that story this weekend. Like many women who write, I also read a lot of blogs. Some are quirky, some helpful, some are relevant to me, some are so completely removed from what I do and where I am in life as to be fairly hilarious.  Most of them, however, are upbeat, fun to read, inspiring, glass half full blogs. But every so often I read a blog that is not only a little sad, but downright depressing.

The surprisingly sad blog was by a woman I have been following for about a year. The author is a great writer and I have really enjoyed looking at the world thru her eyes via her keyboard.  But in this entry she talks about goal setting and asks the question what do I do with the time I have left? That question took me aback. What an odd way of looking at your life, I thought, at time left rather than as time yet to come.  It's as though she has a use by date that she somehow is privy to. Yes, I know we have a finite time here on planet Earth, but that has always been the case, we were never promised a forever Earth life. She said her goals now were not to improve herself, not to make any advances or changes, that is for the youngins. We mature folk should strive not to lose what we have. Well, I have news for her, if that is your only goal in life, to not lose, then you are sure to be disappointed. We will all lose things, some big, like loved ones, some minor, like the ability to do 50 jumping jacks, and some inconvenient, like our hearing.  Some of these losses will creep up on us slowly and some will pour over us like waves at the beach.  But lose we will.

Yes, we are all growing older.  Yes, sad things happen in life.  But at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, if you are focused on the sad or lost, then your head is turned the wrong way, my friend. If you don't snap your head around quickly enough, you are going to miss what is coming at you, and make no mistake, there is stuff coming at you.

Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Don't miss it by looking backwards, hanging on to something that happened in the past, regardless of its impact on your life, or regretting the road taken or the number of years that have passed. Focus on what lies ahead. Sure, there comes a point in your life when you realize that you will never be a rocket scientist or discover a new planet. But the chances of me doing that in my 60's is just a little bit less than me doing that in my 30's...it just isn't in the cards for me.  That doesn't mean I can't do a lot of things in the coming years. As to goals, I have a bunch...learn to speak French, travel to Ireland, bake a perfect cheesecake, laugh with friends, drink wine, watch more sunsets and maybe some sunrises, hug my kids, teach my dog not to lunge on his leash (yeah, that's not going to happen), sit on the porch swing with my mom, and most of all, do what brings me joy.  The only thing most of us leave on this Earth is the memory of who we were and what we did in the minds of those we love and were loved by. I want to be remembered as having a glass not only half full, but spilling over and dripping on the floor full.  Hopefully of a nice Pinot Grigio.