Posted on the inside of the front door at my house is a list of all the things I need to remember before heading to the airport. I’m laser focused on some things like computer security, which is good because that’s my job. But at the basics of life, I’m totally scatterbrained. My executive function never was much good and I have to resort to building rigid routines like posting lists on the door in order to compensate.
Many of the items are on the list because I have at one point gone off without them. If there’s one thing my wife hates, it’s overnight shipping a laptop power adapter to me. she did it once, then added it to the list. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s seeing how much it costs to overnight ship something to me. When I saw the bill, I invested in a docking station so I never have to use the power cord while at home. If it stays in the backpack, I can’t leave it behind.
My alternate strategy is to keep multiples of most important things in my backpack in case I leave one behind.
- Extra eyeglasses? Check.
- Extra USB cables and charger? Check.
- Extra pens? Check.
- Extra batteries in AA, AAA, Samsung galaxy, and Sony N? Check.
- Extra medicine in case I can’t get home? Check?
You get the idea.
My wife is keeper of the list. I get to scratch stuff off occasionally. Like the bluetooth headset that never seemed to hold a connection between my ear and my belt holster. But she’s in charge of adding stuff. After this trip, I think I’m going to see a few new items on the list.
“Your trip go okay?”
“Well, sort of. The flight and hotel were fine but I have a good news/bad news situation.”
“What’s the good news?”
“No ironing at the hotel!”
“And the bad news?”
Yes, that’s right. I’m on a consulting engagement, working at a client’s office for the next 4 days, and I have exactly one shirt. At least it’s winter and I won’t stink it up before replacements arrive. The good thing is that with Amazon Prime, I can get new shirts in two days and pay less than one FedEx shipping fee. It’s a purple shirt, too. If I’d worn the white one it might not even be noticeable.
So, what happened anyway? My wife had done the dress shirts the night before and left them hanging in my office for the final dry. She does this thing where she takes them out damp and hangs them and they never wrinkle. I stuff them into a suitcase and compress them so that by the time I arrive at the hotel they appear to be heavily pleated. Then I iron them in the hotel on the first night.
Normally, I pack up right before I leave. I do this 30 ~ 40 times a year so it’s routine and takes about 10 minutes. Except this time I knew she’d be napping right up until I left so I packed in advance and had everything except the shirts ready to go. The idea was to grab them when they dried, stuff them in the suitcase and hit the road.
That little wrinkle in my routine – packing in advance and not all at once – totally threw me. I know that next week before I leave there will be a few new items on the checklist inside the front door:
- Socks? Check.
- Underwear? Check.
- Pants? Check.
- SHIRTS? Freaking shirts to wear to the office?!?!?! Check.
Which is fine as far as it goes. That list saves me from something almost every time we review it. But it’s her list. The item on my list that isn’t really new but is newly refreshed is a bit more generic: don’t break the routine.
Come to think of it, there is one new item on my list. If the collapsible suitcase seems remarkably small and light, if it zips closed without complaint, if it seems to good to be true… it probably is.