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Thursday, 1 May 2008

Post #12 Hire a Hall/Nothing (Fugitive Possessions)


Yesterday, I locked a set of keys inside my home. It was the set that included my keys to my home. And I locked them inside from outside. I didn't discover this until I arrived at another premises and realised that they weren't in the pocket of my jacket. I figured out, by racking my memory, that I must have dropped them as I was packing my briefcase. I've always been wary of leaving keys hidden in yards and so forth. I've relied on making a routine of being absolutely sure of having those keys before I leave the premises. On this occasion, I'd been rushed...yeah, the same old story. Plans for war don't survive the first shock of battle and routines with keys don't survive being hassled.

After the mandated period of cursing my folly (Why didn't I bury a jar in the garden with a key in it? Why didn't I stick to my checking routine? What gods did I offend?) I got to the main point: How do I get in? I was contemplating how to break in while doing minimal damage when the good old subconscious mind did its trick: I saw an unbidden mental picture of a key in a zippered compartment in my briefcase.

I checked it out and, sure enough, the aliens had put a key there!

No, just kidding. I'd put it there, a week before. It had worked its way off the slip-ring in the key-holder pack and I'd put it in the case until I could get around to reattaching it. It was the key to a door which I usually don't use, so there was no apparent urgency. Well, that was a brilliant piece of procrastination. When I arrived home I tried the key with confidence - and the bastard wouldn't turn. After some jiggling, I hit the sweet spot and a lock which hadn't been key-operated for more than 10 years clicked open! Then I remembered/discovered that I'd put on the chain-lock and the door would only open about 15 sems. Fortunately, I have various gadgets in what I call a JIC bag, carried in my briefcase. (That's Just-In-Case). I found a screwdriver, squeezed my hand through the aperture with the driver pointing backwards and took out the two screws holding the base-plate for the chain to the door-frame. Then I was in. My first task was to head for the room where I'd packed my case. Sure enough, there were the missing keys on the floor next to my desk. As I was reattaching the chain to the door-frame, I played "That's good! That's bad!": If the key hadn't come loose, (which I thought was bad) and I hadn't put it in the briefcase (which I thought was slack) I would have been stuffed. The key would have been with the others, trapped on the other side of locked doors. Was this some kind of weird Providence at work? It was lucky I'd put that key in the very case I took out the door that day. But the whole thing would have been obviated if I'd just taken 2 seconds to do my normal check. Is it a last warning from some deity of keys, complete with eye-catching coincidence? (I shall take measures o god! Believe me!)

Anyway, all this got me thinking about concentration, methodicalness and the like. I started thinking about a pattern of behaviour I've observed in supermarkets. Women's behaviour.

I'm often made impatient as women who are ahead of me at a checkout go through a studious ritual of checking their wallets/purses to make sure their plastic cards are all in their proper places, then carefully place the wallet/purse in their bag/trolley/whatever and check the bags in their trolley before they proceed on their way. They block me from getting to the place where my purchases are piling up, waiting to be bagged (self-serve here, boy!) and I wonder at their complacent indifference. "These (epithet) women", I think. Well, maybe those women are right. Hell, they are right. They won't lose keys/cards, forget bags of shopping they've paid for and all the other dopey things that I and heaps of other men keep doing.

Now that's strange. Men are supposed to be the aggressive, assertive types, according to the old stereotypes. Why do we feel pressed to get moving quickly in those situations? Are we afraid of being considered obstructors/ditherers? I know, on one rare occasion, I waited behind a fussy man who did that "Check it carefully" routine and became really exasperated. When he finally moved off, I snarled to the checkout chick, "I thought he was going to crochet a doily." Perhaps that's it. Real men grab it and go. Wimps hesitate.

It's the same with "reading the instructions". Any real man does that as a last resort. I've made many tasks harder for myself with that approach. And I keep using it. There's something there. Part enculturation, part genetic predisposition. It would make a good subject for a scientific study. Perhaps someone's already done it. I can't be bothered looking for it. I'm too impatient.

2 comments:

Anastasia Fitzgerald said...

Aggressive and assertive? Ha! Most men are wimps! Hi, Retarius. Here I am. Anastasia

Retarius said...

Welcome aboard!