THE PLUS SIDE OF
BEING A SLOB
5 October 2002
One of my strongest traits in younger days was my ability to juggle
a dozen tasks at one time and manage, somehow, to get everything done, and in a relatively
The older I get, the more problems I have with multi-tasking. It is,
unfortunately, a quality at which Dr. G excels. And as someone who is always running on
several cylinders at once, he naturally assumes that I, too, can keep it all together and
remember a stream of requests, and process them all simultaneously.
It was such a relief, therefore, when he went off for a conference
this week. Three glorious work days in which to get caught up on all the things that,
while buried in lab requests, surgery scheduling and authorization, medical assisting, and
all the other things that make up the day to day job around here, I somehow never manage
to get to.
Well...so much for "in theory."
I figured I was at least safe on the day he was in transit. He was
flying to Chicago. It's a many-hour flight. How could he possibly interfere with my
He called as the plane was loading and talked until it taxied onto
the runway and passengers were requested to turn off their cell phones. He gave me enough
to do to last until he got to Chicago, when he would check in again.
It wasn't that he loaded me up on things. Really only two things:
banking and surgery scheduling. But both of those activities were quite time consuming and
by the time I'd done it all, it was time to go home, with all of the backed up work left
So today was the day I would get to that. But shortly after I got to
the office, he called again. In fairness, this was in response to a message about a
patient that I had left for him, but while I was on the phone he had a few things he
wanted me to do--like see about getting 7 chapters of his book up on the internet by next
week, and send him proof that I had pre-registered him at the hotel, since they had no
record of that.
Well, that part, I thought, was at least easy. I remember the charge
coming through on the last bank statement. I'd just fax that to him.
Between the last time I worked on the bank statement and now, we had
the big office reorganization, when I got my new desk, and tried to get things organized
so that my messiness would no longer be a blight on the waiting room landscape.
Somehow in the reorganization, I seem to have lost the bank
See...there's a basic problem with getting things
"organized." This is my philosophy: When you live in clutter....when your whole
life involves looking through stacks of things...when everywhere you look you see another
stack...when you look through those stacks frequently trying to find something...you get
used to stacks. Somewhere in the back of your head, you know that the receipt for the
computer part you bought 5 years ago is in the stack of papers that is holding up the file
cabinet in the back of your office and that your blue sock is under the January issue of
Rosie magazine which is under the Quicken for Dummies book under the box of floppy disks
behind the wastebasket. You can lay your hands on it almost instantly. It's a great
BUT, if you organize all of that stuff. If you find a place
for everything and everything is in its place, then if somehow you forgot to put something
vital in the proper place--there's nowhere to look!
In the office I now have a slot for patient billing, a space for
charts to be filed, a space for bills to be written, a place to put the appointment book,
a place for telephone messages, a place to put Pap smears. It's all (relatively) neat, or
as neat as a person such as myself can be. So when I go to look for the bank statement, it
is no longer in the tall stack under my right elbow. It's "somewhere" in the
neatness--and I can't find the bloody thing.
Consequently, the day was spent tearing the office apart trying to
find the bank statement and by the end of the day I still had not made a dent in
all of the work I was going to catch up on while he was gone.
The story doesn' t end there, though. I finally called the bank and
learned they could run me off a duplicate statement, showing that the hotel had been paid,
which was a huge load off of my mind. I went to the bank, got the statement, came back to
the office but when I got back, I couldn't find anywhere the piece of paper on which I had
written the FAX number of the hotel, or Dr. G's room number.
I managed to get the hotel phone number on the web, called them, got
the FAX number and all was eventually OK, but it was a ridiculous day. Oh yeah--and in the
tearing apart of the office trying to find the FAX number, I found the errant bank
statement, but I never did find the FAX number.
I don't suppose that "excessive neatness" will be an
excuse that will fly with Dr. G. I probably won't even try it. But I've got to find some
way to get back to stacks of documents again. It's the only way I have any hope at all of
keeping this place organized.
I think I need a drink.