Saturday, July 11, 2015

No, it's not a purse!

March 1996

It started with the cellular phone. They were being marketed like crazy and like most habitual technoconsumers, I suddenly found my life empty and horribly inefficient without one. So I whined and pouted, and, with these time-tested instruments of unassailable logic, convinced Jan I needed one.

I soon found out, however, that a phone was just the beginning. For instance, with my randomly accessible memory, how could I call someone without a number? About 50% of my bill was for calls home to get a number I really wanted to call. Add the problem of making notes when you are talking so you won't forget the conversation. I mean, if the call was important enough to make out in the middle of the field, it is probably important enough to remember.

So now I needed a phone list, a note pad, and a calendar to write down appointments/deadlines/due dates I had just agreed to on the phone.

Enter my good friend Steve. Steve is a nice guy, and, other than the fact that he is a farm manager, a really smart dude. We were together at a meeting in Chicago and I noticed he was carrying around a little notebook, into which he inscribed notes sporadically. I, of course, gave him a hard time about this, the approved "Guy's Response to New Things". Steve has a thick skin, arranged oddly, and shrugged off my jibes good-naturedly.

"You really ought to get a day planner", he opined, "especially considering your organizational skills". He showed me his little volume, explained vaguely how it worked, and before I knew it, I was in a store, plopping down an obscene amount of money for a similar device. To make matters worse, in a moment of foolishness, I also let loose of a not inconsiderable sum of money for a Course on how to use it and bring Meaning and Purpose to my so-called life.

When I arrived home and sobered up, I began to try to get some use out of the day planner. I entered a few phone numbers, started making notes in it, and in general, tried to replace the sticky-note empire that I had built. Having more hard info with me that (unlike my brain) I could revisit when needed soon became a welcome change to my heretofore normal state of agriconfusion. My phone bill skyrocketed with meaningful dialogues, all duly chronicled.

The best was yet to come. The Life-Changing Course was coming up and I was anxiously awaiting the Deep Secrets (prepaid) that would be revealed to us true believers. On the appointed day, I gathered with the other sincere neophytes. I could not help but notice the crowd consisted, with three exceptions, of young (25-40) women, earnest and well-dressed, each fiercely clutching her little book. The thought that Steve had set me up ran uncomfortably through my mind.   

This lopsided ratio troubled me. What if day planners weren't "guy" things?   What if being organized is somehow, well ... you know? About then the perky young woman next to me introduced herself, occupation, and vision-of-life in a single sentence. "What do you do?", she asked sweetly. "I'm a lumberjack." I snorted. She nodded and slid discreetly to the far end of the table.

The audience must have been typical, because when the instructor entered, it was apparent that he was the right bullet for this target. This guy exploded into the room with more teeth than Charleton Heston and Major-League Hair to boot. Within seconds he had induced more sighs and soft looks than all my Valentines gifts stacked on end. He was good. And he knew it. I genially hated him. Ignoring the three men completely, he proceeded over the next hours to imprint a SYSTEM on our lives, bringing ORGANIZATION and hence, FULFILLMENT and DEEP PERSONAL MEANING to our inept lives. In fairness, some of the stuff did help, but heck, 3x5 cards stapled to my forehead would have been a major improvement.

I began to use my day-planner more and more, discovering ways to adapt it to farm use. Crop maps, cash flows, repair lists, beeper/fax/phone numbers, and all kinds of be-here-at-this-time-or-be-in-trouble info started filling its pages. The planner itself, however, was taking a brutal beating from being thrown on the floor of the pickup/tractor/combine, splashed, smeared, and generally treated with the same tender care I give all my working tools.

I discovered the answer in the weekly Overpriced Catalog of Day-Planner Attachments: a genuine cordura-skin cover that zipped up and protected my planner, plus gave me pockets to hold keys, checkbook, M&M's, fuses, floppy disks - all kind of debris that go with work. It has a handle that makes it easy to carry, and looks a little like...well...sort of a....OHMYGOSH - I'M CARRYING A PURSE!

No comments:

Post a Comment