Everybody Works (2022)

Everybody works.  Some work harder than others, some work smarter than others, but as each of us wanders along life’s incredible journey, we all have a relentless series of jobs to do.  Just to clarify – I’m not talking about gainful employment; I’m talking about all those nasty little tasks that haunt our otherwise leisured existence — everything from filling out income tax forms to assembling a Fridekgloben bookcase from Ikea.  This is the work that torments our souls.

Having survived on this planet for – uh – a number of years, I’ve done my share of personal chores and, without bragging, I’ve gained some valuable experience.  Here are just a few bits and bobs from what I’ve learned along the way.

1 – Every job takes longer than you think.  No matter how simple it looks or how comprehensively you’ve prepared, the task at hand is going to eat up more minutes than you bargained for.  (See items 4, 5, 6, 7 and sometimes 8 for a detailed explanation.)

2 – The rule of quarters.  No matter what you do, the first 75% of the job takes 25% of the time and the last 25% takes 75% — or more.

3 – Do as much as possible before lunch — cuz after lunch, you’re going to be useless.

4 – Something you need isn’t going to be there.  Whether it’s a particular medical receipt, a pinch of coriander, an account number or an oddly shaped one-use-only tool, there will be one item, that’s absolutely necessary to the task, which you either don’t have or can’t find.  This means you have to stop, search or go buy it – no other choice.  And, BTW, this never happens at the beginning of the adventure but always more than halfway through — when you’ve got everything torn up, half assembled, disassembled and/or spread out all over hell.

5 – There will be an essential piece of information missing.  Assembly instructions are notorious for this – the placement of Lock Washer #3 is a mystery known only to God.  Meanwhile, the Federal Government will not accept your tax return without an entry in Box 906a even though its purpose is a bigger secret than the contents of Area 51.  But the very worst are online forms that demand an encyclopedia of personal information and, after you’ve entered it all, flash the big red “Error” warning at you — while slyly refusing to tell you where the error occurred.

6 – The thing that’s supposed to fit … won’t.  Carpenters and plumbers know this and are skilled in Improvise, Adapt and Overcome, but the rest of us are utterly stunned when the last bolt’s too big, the connecting rod’s too short or the brand new muffin pans don’t fit in the oven.  The result is an extended period of swearing and weeping.

7 – The experience you gain from one task does not translate to anything else.  What you learned trimming the hedge doesn’t help you buy car insurance online.  Painting the porch and making a soufflé are straight chalk and cheese.  Every task demands a particular expertise, so whatever you attempt to do (unless you’re a poly-skilled professional, or spend your life watching YouTube) you’re going to waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel.

And finally:

8 – You can’t get there from here. – This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens regularly enough to be included here.  Basically, there’s always a danger that the first touch on any project will set off a chain of disasters, each more expensive and time-consuming than the last.  The leaking faucet that eventually becomes a $5,000 plumbing job.  The birthday cake that ends up with a new stove.  The computer upgrade that resets your Netflix account to Serbia and your banking information to Good Shepherd Savings and Loan in Azerbaijan.  Seriously, I have a friend who tried to buy a paper shredder and is locked out of Amazon forever.  (Even they don’t know why.)

Yeah, we all have jobs to do, but I’ve discovered that only paid professionals and enthusiastic hobbyists get anything out of these mundane tasks.  The rest of us just have to grit and bear it.

Summer Thoughts 2022

We’re not even halfway through summer yet.  OMG!  It’s hot.  I’m grouchy.  There are motorcycles.  The guy down the street still believes everyone in the neighbourhood loves classic hip-hop.  And I wish there was an Advent Calendar for the Autumn Equinox – but there isn’t.  Anyway, here are some random thoughts to occupy your mind while Mother Nature tries to broil us in our own oil — again this year.

Life is not a bowl of cherries, a river, a journey or a process – life is a ski jump.  You start off slowly, gather momentum and just when you reach maximum velocity and think you’ve got it all going on – oops! – you’re sailing fifty metres in the air, and there’s nothing underneath you.

Isn’t it totally convenient that most of the people you know — from the woman you see on the bus every morning to that best, best friend you’ve known since university — go into suspended animation when you’re not there?

That great subversive Winnie the Pooh is still banned in China.  Which proves that if you want to upset a dictator (I’m lookin’ at you Putin) laugh at him.

One of the coolest things about getting older is that, when people talk about you behind your back, you can’t hear them.  And this works on so many levels.

In fashion, sometimes the only difference between faux pas and faux posh is about $500.00.

This is the best way to explain the difference between movie audiences in Europe and North America.  In North America, people want to see Gary Oldman play Macbeth.  In Europe, people want to see Macbeth played by Gary Oldman.

In the small town of Union Bay, Canada, a 95-year-old woman, Anna Stady, chased a bear out of her kitchen.  This says a few things about wildlife in Canada and a whole bunch about Canadian women.

And speaking of …  They’ve reintroduced European Bison to Britain.  Someplace in Kent has a whole pile (herd?) of them.  They haven’t been around in the wild since the Middle Ages.  Good on ya, Brits!  Is this the short road to Jurassic Park?

And finally:

Young people spend so much time using their phones to “interact” with their friends on Social Media, one would think that teenage pregnancies would be somewhere around zero.

E-Friends – 2022

One of the coolest side effects of our society’s relentless technology is Social Media.  It has allowed us to turn our world into one gigantic village — which means we’re all cyber-neighours.  Everybody on this planet is now one tap, swipe or click away from everybody else, and billions of us have taken advantage of this.  Think about it!  We all know someone we’ve never talked to, never touched, never smiled at, or even seen.  These are the strangers who are our friends – our e-friends – and in the 21st century, we all have them.  There is still some debate over whether these e-friends are as good or even the same as IRL (In Real Life) friends, but in a couple of generations, this won’t even be a question … because … and here’s the best bit – e-friends are way better than real ones.  Let me demonstrate.

E-friends never waste your time with long, boring stories.   Regardless of how drawn-out their particular tale of woe might become, you don’t have sit there and listen.  The truth is, most people just scroll down to the end, type ‘awesome,” and move on.

E-friends never drag you off to places you don’t want to go.  When you live on the other side of the world, this never comes up on the panel – thank God.  So you don’t have to sweat the oboe recital, the fishing trip or what’s-her-name’s graduation – just to be polite.  All you have to do is make the right noises when your e-friends post the pictures.

They’re never mean to you.  E-friends are notoriously good-natured, and if they ever do go off the rails, all you have to do is delete them.

When e-friends talk about you behind your back, you’re never going to hear about it.

You don’t have worry about cleaning the house when e-friends come to visit.  In fact, you can talk to them in your pajamas if you so choose – and people frequently do.

You never have to put up with your e-friends’ annoying spouse, or know-it-all sister, or idiot dog who peed on your carpet or any of the other baggage IRL friends always bring along with them.

E-friends don’t force you make hard decisions like “Does this dress make me look fat?”  Normally, those photos are deleted long before they ever get to you.

E-friends never give you the flu.

E-friends don’t make promises they can’t keep.  Ganjit, from Chennai is never going to volunteer to help you move and then disappear the day the boxes are packed.  (I’m looking at you, Sam Newton!)

E-friends always listen.  When you’re talking to them they never get distracted by their phone – cuz you’re the one on the phone.

E-friends don’t borrow your stuff and forget to give it back.  You never have that awkward moment when you discover your e-buddy Betty is serving cake off a plate that she borrowed from you two Christmases ago.

But the best thing about e-friends is:

Age, gender, race, religion, nationality, income, etc., etc., etc. don’t make a damn bit of difference to e-friends.   They are the most egalitarian groups of people on this planet.  So, while most of the world is shouting and swearing and calling each other names, there are tons of little groups of e-friends, kicked back in various small corners of cyberspace, trying to get to know each other.  And that’s totally cool!