If you ever doubt that time, in the form of days of the week or months of the year, is a human construct, try being off from work for a few days.
I was off from work this past Friday for the Fourth of July weekend. As a result, Friday seemed like Saturday to me. That, in turn, made Saturday seem like Sunday.
Nothing too weird so far. I am usually off on both Saturday and Sunday, so the worst thing that happens when I am off from work on a Friday is that I might shop for groceries on Friday instead of Saturday, or feel the urge to go to church on Saturday rather than Sunday. However, since they are not actually holding mass these days, that also is no big deal.
But where things will start breaking down is today (Sunday).
I will awaken on Sunday thinking it is Monday and that I should get up and go to work. Except that I don’t have to go to work. And no one would be there if I did. And while the absence of co-workers would make for a very pleasant day at work, I’m not one to go to work out of a sense of altruism. I only go because they pay me.
So I will spend all of Sunday in a constant state of discombobulation.
Should I be buying the week’s groceries? Should I be mowing the yard? Should I be going to work? Is my dry cleaning ready? Who am I? What planet is this?
And if that can happen after a mere two days, imagine the state I would be in after a week or a month?
There are those who know me who have openly worried aloud about what is going to happen to me after I retire. It has been suggested that I may need a keeper. And the reason they say that is because I am a creature of extreme habit. I have routines for everything. Very rigid routines. I have specific ways of doing things. I developed those routines out of a sense of self-preservation and also so that I can function in society.
The thing is, break one little element in any of my routines and I instantly become lost.
There is a scene in the movie “Bugs Life” that perfectly describes me.
Do you think I am exaggerating? Here are a few examples.
- I have gone to work without shaving because I brushed my teeth before I put in my contacts.
- I have left the house without wearing a belt in my slacks because I put on my shoes before I buttoned my shirt.
- I have stared into a kitchen drawer for upwards of a minute, unable to remember what I was looking for, simply because the thing I was looking for had been moved to the other side of the drawer from where it usually is.
- I have lost my car in parking lots because I allowed myself to be talked into parking somewhere other than where I always park. I mean, so lost that I ended up walking up and down each aisle looking for my car. Thank heavens someone finally invented remote-locking key fobs that allow you to honk your car horn remotely!
- Forgot where I was going because someone stopped me in the hallway and chatted for 20 seconds
These things have nothing to do with getting older. I was that way at 18, too. That’s why I began to rely on routines in the first place.
I know all these things sound minor, and sound like things that everyone does from time to time. But I do them all the time. Constantly. If I get out of my routines, I am lost and often need to stop, go back to the beginning of the routine, and start over.
Or have someone talk me around the leaf.