I once had a boss who told me I had just gotten on her last nerve. She told me I was so disorganized it was almost sinful. She said being organized was a virtue. And I was lacking in virtue. She warned me that I better organize my life and my classroom because I was on the road to perdition.
Basically she thought I was damned and going to hell because I couldn’t organize my life.
She said I was making her life hell, too, because I couldn’t organize mine. She fully intended to make my life hell until I got my act together.
She made good on her threat.
She said my lack of organization got on her nerves. She was over 50. I was 30. I thought she was just old and didn’t understand me.
There was a short, happy period when I did organize my life. I found that being organized had its definite advantages although there were disadvantages as well.
The advantages were being able to find things when I needed them and having more time to do what I enjoyed because I spent less time looking for things I misplaced.
The disadvantages were that I had to keep picking things up and continue consistently putting them where they belonged, time after time and day after day . And well, that took a lot of self-discipline, another virtue I lack.
Now that I’m over 50 myself, I see what my old boss meant. My lack of organization gets on my nerves, too. I can see that being organized now that I’m older could work for me. Maybe I could remember where things are if I consistently put them where they belong. I’d just have to remember where they belonged.
I must confess that just last week I got on my own last nerve. In fact, the incident exposed my lack of virtue and made me examine my shortcomings.
Here’s a not so brief summary of the incident that has caused me to go into a full blown depressive episode and to feel sinful once more:
- I bought two locks with matching keys a few months ago.
- I put one on my back gate and put the key on a piece of wire on the fence.
- I put the other one on my locker at work and put that key in the plastic thingy attached to the lanyard I was required to wear.
- At some point, I removed both from where they belonged and put one on the kitchen counter and the other in my car.
- I don’t remember why.
Last week the gas company put new gas lines in my neighborhood after jack hammering up all the old ones. It was necessary for them to go in my yard to check the meter and the line for leaks.
No problem, I said. Just let me unlock the gate. Then I couldn’t find the key on the kitchen counter. I looked everywhere, searching through every kitchen drawer. The key just wasn’t in its place or anywhere else it seemed.
No problem, I said again. I’ll use the one I put in the car.
Then I couldn’t find the key I had left in the car. I looked in the floor. Not there. Neither was it in the console, glove compartment, back floorboard, between the seats or under the floor mats. I found old lottery tickets, a metal spoon, a plastic spoon, a sticky note with two phone numbers but no names, three loose CD’s, and way too much other junk to mention.
But the key? No chance.
No problem, I said once again. I have a bolt cutter.
Of course I couldn’t find it. I tore through my garage throwing stuff everywhere, becoming more unorganized by the minute. When I finally found the bolt cutter, the kind man from the gas company used it to cut my lock then handed it back to me. I put it back where it should have been.
Benjamin Franklin said, “ A place for everything, everything in its place.” He would be so disappointed in me. I’m sure I’d blow his last nerve, too.
I’m still upset about it all and considering anti-depressants. I feel depressed and guilty. Maybe I would feel better if I just confessed my sin and did penance for it.
I take some comfort in knowing that lacking organization skills is only a venial sin and no matter how disorganized I am, I will not go to hell for it, no matter what my former boss said.
Frankly, having to clean out my car and my garage seems like punishment enough.
St. Francis of Assisi said: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” He makes the virtue of organization sound easy…
FYI: Today, when I was cleaning out my car, I found one of the missing keys. It was under the removable section of my beverage holder. A place for everything….?