Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 10/19/2017

IT skills and whose mess is this anyway?


19087739I know what skills are in my wheel house. I run at an alarming deficit in technology know-how. Embarrassingly so. I am very adept at typing, email, cutting and pasting and using the italics for emphasis. That is it. I am a constant, nagging source of frustration to my husband who just doesn’t ever lose patience with computers, modems, internet or servers (I do know some computer lingo). If I can’t remember a password I go into automatic blame mode. Apple is sabotaging me, I’m sick of this password society, why does this all have to be so complicated, I’m just going to use one password for everything and just take my chances on getting hacked, and on and on. I just don’t stop. My husband, completely unruffled by my nonsense, patiently tries password after password without even a sigh. And maddeningly enough, he always comes up with it. Every. Single. Time.

I was born with several extra sets of cleaning genes. Sifting, sorting, organizing?  I can do that. I also am very good at telling others how they should organize. To some, this could probably be construed as slightly bossy. I love sticky notes, bulletin boards with magnets, to-do lists, multi-colored file folders and multiple methods to store things. Containers and More is one of my favorite places to shop. For example, our important papers are in wicker baskets, in file folders. Yup. Freezer repair? I can lay my hands on the manual before you can say “Yuck, there is ice cream melting all over the freezer”. Income tax return from 2011? No problem. Safety deposit key? Yup.

I do have one drawer in the kitchen that is my intent to appear flexible, laid back, go with the flow. It’s a mess. And it is only a mess because there is no way to organize a 3.5-inch deep drawer that has no theme – it contains a tape measure, some white plastic thing that no one knows where it came from or where it goes. Six hundred forty-two 39-gallon blue plastic ties, which I never use because I prefer to tie a knot in the top. Three two-cent stamps that have lost their stickum, gorilla glue, a rusted outdoor hose nozzle/diverter, 26 AA batteries, a 9-volt and 2 D’s, a broken ruler, in two pieces, severed at the 8 and 3/16” marking, one chop stick and 7 stale candy corns.

Dishwasher organization is another area that I am pretty laid back about. I see no sense being militaristic about getting dinner and salad plates in some kind of symmetry in the suds. If it doesn’t come clean the first time, I just run It through again with the next load. See that throw caution to the wind attitude?

I’ve perfected this skill of mine over the years. Need a stamp? I know just where they are. The charger for the Fitbit? That, too. It’s really something I can’t help. I can’t walk through a room and walk by stuff that isn’t in the right place. I have even gone so far as to straighten up a counter at a doctor’s office while the receptionist is busy doing something else. Unconsciously rearrange the paper/pens and the sign that says, “Payment is expected at the time of your appointment”. You know, so it’s a little more of a House Beautiful look.

It reminds me of when all eight kids were at home. I would tell one of the ruffians to put something away and that was their shorthand for put it on the bottom step. Then I had to readjust my vocabulary to “put it away away.” That usually got whatever it was that needed to be relocated, upstairs. Where it belonged.

I have exactly two kids who have been the recipients of this genetic stuff. Mary threatens just about every day to throw her computer out the window because it isn’t doing what she wants it to. Meghan has a spic and span apartment in Topeka. No gloppy jelly jars in her refrigerator. No stray cat food crumbles on the kitchen floor. 25% of my kids got that genetic bonus. The other six? Not so much.

We’re empty nesters now. My husband likes to roll up his sleeves every once in awhile and use his limited culinary skills. Oh boy. The kitchen quickly turns into a tsunami. Nothing in the dishwasher. Every counter evidence that he has commandeered the area. Me? I clean as I go. Done with the measuring cup? In the dishwasher. Egg shells in the sink? That’s what the garbage disposal is for. It’s not as though he leaves the mess for me to clean up. Nope. He’s a good man. It’s just that he doesn’t see an expeditious clean up as either necessary or laudable.

But that’s just how we roll. Somehow messy and scoured and scrubbed co-exist.

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