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Be prepared… or else
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
Some people who know me tell me I’m negative and pessimistic, but I prefer to see myself as being more of a realist. As a believer in Murphy’s Law, if something needs to be turned in by a certain time, I try and get it in ahead of time. When Michael Summers, editor of the Reader, sends me an email saying he needs another column from me, I usually have an idea for one. I write it up and send it in within a couple three days of the request.
It’s one thing when it’s up to you, but it’s another thing when you rely on someone else to keep to a deadline. Several weeks ago, I needed to have some papers turned into someone. There was an absolute deadline, and I worried this person would have some sort of accident or other calamity, and all my hard work would be for naught. It didn’t happen, but the way my life was going at that point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had.
I always assume something is going to go wrong. So if I’m faced with a deadline, I try not to leave it to the last minute, just in case. If something needs to be over-nighted, I send it a couple days in advance.
However, it seems like the rest of the world doesn’t think the way I do. I get asked questions by customers who want an impossible answer RIGHT NOW. Some companies have customer service available 24/7, but some don’t. “Well, don’t you have anyone else you can ask?” Uh, no. “Well, why not?” Because the doctor treating your case at Charge-You-More Hospital may work there, but may not know where the cafeteria gets its ice cream from. A customer service associate at your typical big box store cannot possibly know everything about the store. That’s what managers are for.
That’s why I always assume there will be a traffic jam, a slow computer, incompetent staff, a last minute patient the doctor ABSOLUTELY had to see, an earthquake or some other sort of failure that will screw things up.
Of course, this philosophy applies not only to projects or plans, but to life in general. You can plan out your life, but random events can change your path, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better. But you can only plan and prepare for so much. Having an ordered life takes the fun out of it, but a life of chaos isn’t healthy either. After some bad decisions these past few years, I look warily to the future, ever watchful of what MIGHT happen.
My mom, a worrywart, tried to advise her daughter, also a worrywart. “Don’t go borrowing trouble,” she used to say, whenever I pondered possible disasters for a given scenario. So I look ahead, assuming disaster around every corner. And for God’s sake, if you’re in a store and it’s near closing time, don’t ask questions. Just buy your stuff and get out.