By George Shuman
At this writing, it was only a week ago that it happened. It was Friday evening and I was on one of my many runs to a local supermarket, for some thing or other that I needed to get for some late-night meal or other I was planning. (My wife works evenings. I don’t. I enjoy cooking, and I’m not sure she does anymore, especially after work. It works out well.)
What happened was that as I approached the store’s entrance I saw the rack for the local paper that I write for and it stopped me in my absent-minded tracks. Wait a minute! (I said this to myself, but out loud, and the lady walking past me at the time was likely not impressed with that. In fact, she seemed a bit shaken.) At that moment I had realized the awful truth! I had missed the deadline for getting the next week’s column sent to the paper!
This all might not seem earth shattering to you, but it did to me, and maybe to that lady that I frightened. You see, it’s been over 24 years since the paper’s publisher graciously allowed me to place my very first column in its place. The written evidence of my ever-advancing lack of sanity has since appeared right there, every other week, for all 24 of those years. Come heck or high water, sickness, vacations, wars and rumors of wars, tragedies, triumphs, spats with my lovely wife, and a million other ‘life can suck’ sort of things, the column has always made it to the editor on time. That was until now. Now I had missed my deadline!
I do hope that this is not just the beginning. If memory serves, (pun intended) I know that it’s not the beginning at all. I missed the deadline for my column here in The Sturbridge Times only last month, by three days, after writing here every month for over five years. (Five years… wow! Time flies when you’re having fun, and I AM having fun!) The great guys who publish this magazine somehow squeezed my stuff in at the last minute anyway, which I very much appreciated.
I don’t think my memory is slipping, is it? I’m hoping that we’re all just very busy these days, and there’s not something wrong with me. I guess I would have to ask my wife. Oh, remember, I did that a few evenings ago, after serving her one of those late-night meals. She was polite in her answer that of course there is something wrong with me. That scared me just a little.
You see, I changed the oil in one of the cars the other day. (Talk about a sudden change in topics, but not really.) Yes, at 63, I still usually do this myself, partly because it is cheaper than having someone else do it, and partly because it’s one of those things guys do when they are young, and I will never admit to not being young. After all, my memory isn’t slipping yet, is it? Oh, I guess I already asked you that. The thing about the oil change was that the next day I noticed that oil had dripped a little onto our driveway. As someone who has performed this humble oil-change chore nearly countless times, I knew I couldn’t have neglected to tighten the oil pan plug. I then put the car up on my ramps and found I had neglected to tighten the oil pan plug. If you know anything about cars and engines, you know that this was, potentially, a very expensive mistake to make. That also scared me just a little.
I also waited about fifteen minutes one morning a few weeks ago for my coffee to get done brewing, before realizing I had never turned the coffee maker on after getting it ready. Coffee takes a long time to brew if you don’t turn it on. (It’s not like I make coffee the same way every single morning of the year or anything.) That gurgling, groaning, phlegm-like sound the thing always makes at the end of the brew cycle just never happened. Yes, that too scared me a little.
I’ve heard that if you forget where you put your car keys, it’s no big deal. Also, that if you forget where you left your car in a big parking lot, it’s still not a big deal. (I push the alarm button on my key fob to find mine. It’s easier than using a long piece of string.) But, if you forget that you OWN a car… that might be a big deal. So far, I know that I own a car… several of the things, in fact.
So, the next time you misplace your keys or forget to turn on the morning coffee, I don’t think you should worry a lot about it. At least you didn’t miss a deadline… or two.