have this concept I call geographical oddities. Thought about
it enough that it’s a theory really. But the concept itself seems
to apply to several situations.
all began when Terry and I bought our first house. We noticed…
somewhat quickly… that it was forty-minutes by car from anything.
the parents? Forty-minute drive. Work? Forty-minute drive. Movies…
malls… home improvement store… everything… forty-minute drive.
of course, the drive time estimate wasn’t flawless. It wasn’t
truly everything. We had a grocery store down the street. And
Walmart is all over the place. But it’s those smaller exceptions
that unveil the realities of experience… if you paused in our
house after grabbing the car keys—for a brief moment of though
because “if I’m driving that far, let me think if there’s anything
else”—you were preparing for a forty-minute drive.
the forty-minute drive is our theory. A story of geographical
oddity is the foundation. The assorted side notes become the corollaries
to the theory.
you ever noticed something that you do, perhaps a routine, that
always ends at exactly the same time? For instance, getting ready
and I had a routine in the morning when it came to getting clothes
ironed, dogs fed, showers, breakfast and everything associated
in the process of waking up to heading off for work. The amazing
thing to me was when I noticed that we were always in the car
and leaving the driveway at exactly the same time.
say it was 8am that we usually left on our drive.
could wake up early… we’d be getting in the car at 8am.
could wake up late… we’d be getting in the car at 8am.
my sister and her family in Australia to wish someone a happy
birthday… we’d talk for a bit, and be getting in the car at 8am.
day… cleaning up from the overnight accumulation of a foot of
remember one fall day when some wind overnight had knocked down
a few heavy branches. I actually needed to break out the chainsaw
to cut one of them, and then dragged them off to clear a path.
You got it… we were in the car and moving when I flipped on the
signal before turning left out of the driveway onto the main road
really strange part for me though was when we would get an early
start. I think waking up late… or having some errand or obstacle
in the way… created a focus, where you tend to just move from
task to task without much wasted effort. But on those days when
we would wake up thirty minutes or an hour early, I still don’t
know what happened while I was in the yard with the dogs or eating
a bowl of cereal that resulted in us suddenly realizing we needed
to grab the keys and get moving or be late.
of mine laughed about it once when we grabbed a cup of coffee
at work and the subject came up. It had been one of those late-start
days, and I had been a bit out of sorts all morning. At first,
he just joked that mentally he shuts down a bit when he notices
he’s ahead of schedule. But then…
and I had worked the evening shift together for years. Moved to
a day shift within a few weeks of each other. Since going to day
shift, he was finding that he sat down for dinner at the exact
same time every day. The scary part for him about the observation
was he could make something complex, stop to grab takeout, reheat
leftovers, or basically do anything that required thirty-seconds
to an hour of preparation, and if he had worked that day he would
still be putting a plate on the coffee table and flipping on the
television at the same time.
led to that, and as the conversation continued he presented what
he referred to as The Today Show effect. (Really. He
said that. The Today Show effect.) His contention was
that we are all creatures of habit. We have certain things that
we do certain ways. For him, getting the weather forecast each
morning was the information he wanted. And so, when he woke up,
he turned on The Today Show. Over time, he reached a
point where he could more or less measure his progress toward
leaving for work based on the television he really wasn’t paying
much attention to. How?
local affiliate break that occurs every half-hour. When he heard
Frank Coletta and Kelly Bates, the local team during the pause
from network programming, he could… most often unconsciously…
judge where he was supposed to be in his morning routine.
friend is retired. He claims that the mail delivery can disrupt
his afternoon beyond what he ever would have considered possible.
According to him, the mail is always delivered to his house… six
days a week, year-round on those Monday through Saturday dates
when mail is delivered… by 10:45am. Now, he isn’t crazy about
that 10:45, but his morning chores and activities manage to bring
him to his front door pretty much right at 11am. He opens the
door, grabs the mail, and steps back inside. On the amazingly
rare days when the mail isn’t there… perhaps once or twice each
year… he claims he becomes annoyingly aware of that mailbox. He
notices all sorts of sounds, and things just seem completely off-balance
until the mail arrives.
said there were two days when he didn’t receive any mail. Just
two. No letters or flyers or bills or whatever. Empty mailbox.
Darn near drove him crazy. He spent most of those afternoons trying
to figure out if there was a holiday or anything else he was forgetting.
me, the geographical concepts prove the funniest. Terry and I
have since moved. We’ve cut that time to anything basically in
half… twenty-minute drive now. But, there’s a great little movie
theater in town and that’s not even five-minutes away. Few restaurants
nearby as well. Even a Walmart down the road. So, it isn’t twenty-minutes
to everything, and it’s a few hours to family.
the feelings linger. After all, we are creatures of habit.