Speeding Up to Slow You Down

Yesterday afternoon, my husband asked me if I would take the car in the morning and go get a few things from the store for him. "Sure," I quickly replied, since I needed milk and creamer anyways. I didn't give it a second thought.

This morning, as we were getting ready to leave, I grabbed a pen and asked my husband what other things he needed from the store besides creamer for his coffee. "Oh, no," he corrected, "I need you to go to the HARDWARE store."

Those last few words, in my mind's eye, came out in slow motion, and at the same time my insides were screaming, "NOOOOOO!!!" really dramatically. Ok, maybe not that dramatically. But I definitely tensed up.

I am a very intelligent person. I've always done well in school and I feel like I'm pretty capable of holding an intelligent conversation. I am, however, a complete DOLT when it comes to common sense. Ask me to do a small thing like "Get some pickets for the gate and enough sod to fill the bare spot on the lawn," and I freak out. I over-think it, get nervous that I'm picking the wrong thing, and completely lose the ability to speak coherently, which means asking for help is difficult.

So I trudged through the yard, half listening to my husband and writing down measurements so I could pick up what we needed. I was irritated at being asked to do this seemingly simple task, and so I wasn't totally paying attention. Maybe this is part of why tasks like this are so hard on me. I rush through the thinking process and then get to where I'm going and have NO IDEA what's going on.

When I got to the hardware store, my pulse began to race and I started to sweat a little. I probably looked like some deranged mental institution escapee as I stalked the aisles of Home Depot, searching for the right size of lumber. I looked at so many different sizes of lumber and couldn't seem to find the one my husband had asked for. And let's not forget my stress-induced speech impediment. Every time an employee walked by, I would clam up and just sort of smile vacantly, not realizing I should have asked for help until they were gone.

Luckily, my husband called me on his break. I had already been in the hardware store for half an hour, and I still had nothing in my cart. As I talked with him and told him what I had found, inundating him with a lot more information than was necessary, I realized I could have easily solved this problem by myself. You know, if I had been paying attention in the first place. I know how big the gate is. It should have been a simple thing to find boards that would fit, even if I just judged it based on my knowledge of the fence that's already there. Simple critical thinking, right?

I had the same issue when I went out to look at the sod. Suddenly, simple algebraic equations were too difficult for my muddled brain--even with a calculator. But when I calmed down and actually THOUGHT about the area I needed to cover and compared it to the sod, the job became much easier.

After an hour of toiling, I walked away with 14 fence pickets and 8 pieces of sod. This whole thing should have taken 15 minutes tops. But it was sort of worth it, because I realized something really valuable. It's not that I'm incapable of handling this kind of thing. It's just that I shut myself down before I even have a chance to get started. I doom myself from the beginning.

Here's to getting it right next time. The next time I'm faced with one of this silly tasks that makes my heart race and my mind spin, I'm going to tell myself to SLOW DOWN. Because in the long run, it saves time.


Rudri said...

I think if it is a task or action we dread, we automatically predetermine that we are going to fail. It is hard to sometimes separate the emotional component of a task, especially if it cause anxiety. I think you are a great wife, picking up these items from the hardware store. I have relegated that realm to my husband.

Jewel said...

I think it is also known as "More haste less speed".

If it was me, my husband would have told me exactly how many sods and pickets and given me a detailed explanation of how he worked it out, plus a full run down of how the task would be done once the materials were bought. Luckily, though, he is the one insured to drive the car, it would be him that had to do it anyway.

TKW said...

That is funny! I loathe the hardware store! Even big ones like Home Depot where they have a bazillion employees around to help you.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. The hardware store is not my friend, so I refuse to do errands for my husband. Actually, I'm kind of weird. I do enjoy exploring the hardwarde store (or at least the big box ones), but I REFUSE to shop for him, because I never get it right.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic point.

But I have to interject on behalf of Home Depot. I LOVE Home Depot. Maybe I have an unusually good one in my town, but it's seriously one of my favorite places to go - and I'm not super handy. Everyone is so nice and unbelievably helpful.

If anyone's ever in the Northwest Chicago 'burbs, stop by the Home Depot in Carpentersville and make a strange request of the first employee you see. Guarantee they'll get it done someone. :)