Thursday, July 03, 2008

Trying to remember everything in a busy day

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Pg. D5

When a person gets older, it's natural to sag a bit here and droop a bit there. That six-pack of abs you once had has likely gone the way of the dodo bird. Some us, who never had a six-pack, permanently shelve the dream of ever having it. Hey, just remembering my name when I wake up is a major feat these days.

With that said, I have to admit that, "It's official!"... I think I've recently started showing the first signs of senility.

It happened last week, a few days after the company I work for moved to a new building. After months of planning, the day finally came when we packed our bags and set off to sharply renovated new digs.

Besides the usual little things here and there that need to be finished when a major construction project is being completed, overall it's a great new location for us and everyone is quite happy to actually have windows -- a nice change from our outdated, claustrophobic former setting.

One of my pet peeves about the old place was the sharply peaked stucco on the walls. I'm not sure whose idea that was, but it was along the lines of lining your walls at home with cheese graters. Rub up against the wall accidentally when you were walking by someone and a nice chunk of your arm was grated away by the stucco... literally. Didn't do wonders for your clothing either!

Several days after we moved, I got up like I do every morning, fed the cats, showered, made breakfast, packed a lunch, checked e-mail and then headed off to work. I was on time and everything was running smoothly. With school out for the summer, traffic was light... something we'll all get to enjoy until the kids go back in the fall.

Arriving at work, I entered the paid parking area with my card and the gate opened automatically. It was only then that I figured out that I had made a crucial mistake that morning.

Forgot my lunch? Nope. Forgot to turn off the stove at home? Nope.

Well, I'd been daydreaming the entire way into work and was on autopilot, causing me to drive to the wrong office. Here I was all ready for the day and all spiffy. The only problem was that I ended up at the wrong building.

I hope this is common for people who either move homes or move offices. We all get in routines that are so ingrained that we just don't pay enough attention. I just hope that the parking lot attendant didn't notice me arrive... and then leave 30 seconds later, my face red with embarrassment at having such a "senior" moment at ancient age of 44.

Yup, this was right up there with last summer's faux pas of walking from the parking lot through the downtown to arrive at my office only to discover that the polo shirt I'd worn that morning was on inside out.

I know that I shouldn't feel too badly. We all have those moments when we can barely remember what city we're living in. For those of us who are online a lot, especially, the overload of information filling our brains is sometimes almost too much to bear. At work, I'll find myself in conversations quite often with people who are talking to me about something I should know -- only to find myself asking them to kickstart my memory again. "Just a minute -- refresh my memory on this again."

After only a word or two, my brain then reaches into its bevy of memories to pull out the right information that I need to carry on the conversation. It may seem a bit odd to some, but in my own defence, I've been so crazily busy in the last few months that I hope people are generous enough to give me some slack.

I've also grown extremely dependent on my electronic calendars. I run two computerized calendars -- one at home and one at work. Both are identical, but only my work one is synch'd up to my Blackberry, so I run two so that I am constantly being bombarded with reminders of upcoming events -- on my work computer, home computer and Blackberry. If I've forgotten to put it in my calendar, chances are that it's a virtual certainty that I'll forget.

As a backup system, I usually have a few pieces of paper in my pocket on which I'll find a grocery list and a few other things that I need to accomplish that day. Thankfully, I can read my own writing. In recent years, my once neat and tidy style of handwriting has gone so far downhill that I'm even starting to have a hard time reading it myself. I used to pride myself on how legible my writing was. These days, I force myself to slow down when I'm leaving myself a note so that I'll be able to understand it later.

Now, I really don't think I'm going senile. I'm just super busy.

I can tell you one thing, after I showed up at the wrong office I sure as heck made sure that I drove to the correct one the next day. After all, I'd hate to think that it has come to the point that I'll have to put "show up at the correct office building" in my digital calendar. Surely it will never come to that -- at least I hope not, huh?

I guess the days of relying purely on memory for everything that I have on the go are long gone. The digital calendar has been a godsend. I set up meeting reminders to start a week ahead of an appointment -- especially something important like a date with the dentist or doctor. Difficult to forget an appointment after being reminded 100 times!

We all know that sinking feeling of suddenly remembering something -- like the friend who we left sitting alone at the restaurant because we forgot about a lunch date. Hey, with the way my memory is lately, perhaps I should write my own diet book: "Lose weight by having lunch with Brian: He won't show up. You won't eat. Problem solved!"

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