Friday, April 26, 2013

Who said it was going to be easy?

Choices, choices, choices
When I began this particular blog, Sidetracked Charley, I had come to something of a crossroads in my life - face it, a damn switching yard - and it seemed like an apt title with lots of possibilities. Okay, maybe just a bit too many possibilities. And I began looking for a photo to use as a banner for the blog and Googled Images of sidetracks. Now I am wondering if I should have named the blog derailed.

It has been a rough month with really few choices. It has been rather like the bear in those old arcade games where when shot its only option is to turn around and head the other way. Then of course it is shot again and must again pivot. It keeps moving but does not seem to get anywhere. Seems to always stay in the frame to be shot again. There have been the new tires, and the water pump, the blood test on Mardi. Coming up is the semi-annual business insurance premium, various professional organizational renewals. The progress I had hoped to make in April has been thwarted again.

This morning as my beloved standard poodle had yet another episode tied to liver disease I could not help but wonder if she was being punished for my neglect of not just her but of my late husband. Why is it I persist in believing I am the one at fault when things go wrong? Yes, I was number one child - the family savior - and I clearly failed at that.

I have friends that see my life as next to perfect. Here I sit in the mountains I love surrounded by my fur kids and endless photographic subjects to capture. But at times like this morning before dawn I found myself exhausted by the effort it takes. Either Dad, who informed me countless times that life was not fair, failed to also tell me it was not going to be easy or I failed yet again in not listening.

It all seemed so impossibly difficult this morning, in the midst of hamster wheel thinking, to even make the simple choices presented to me. I was feeling like a shocked rat in a Skinner box experiment. I just wanted to sit and be shocked and cry rather than risk a jump to another box.

Dad, story teller extraordinaire, used to tell the story of the potato chip factory and its problem with keeping a long term employee in the sorting position of the assembly line. They hired an efficiency expert in to review the position and made some "hardware" improvements in lighting and seating. And added more frequent breaks and perks which resulted in employees not quitting or requesting a new job in the factory as quickly but turn over was still higher than it should be. Definitely higher than any other sometimes mind numbing and repetitive job in the process of making potato chips.

One employee finally made it almost 30 days as a sorter before requesting a transfer to another position. He was invited into a meeting with the efficiency expert and his supervisor and the CEO.

"Is there anything we can do to make your job easier?" the efficiency expert asked.

"No," said the employee, "I just have to sort into three sizes, small, medium, and large, for the peeler. Joe, upline, has already sorted out the bad potatoes."

"Is the job too demanding?" the shift supervisor asked. "Would it be better if there were two of you?"

The employee thought for a while, "Probably just get in each other's way."

"A raise?" the CEO asked well aware of how much constant retraining and rehiring was impacting the bottom line. The employee shook his head.

"I just cannot take it any more," he said after some thought. "All day long it is decisions, decisions, decisions."

I feel a bit like the sorter. And have you noticed that the choices change all the time? And ergo the decisions that have to be made? Just when I think I have the budget figured out for the month I need three new tires. Time to reshuffle. And then something else. At least I had the money as mother just to say. But the choices what to spend it on have vanished with the water pump.

I have a friend that it is all about priorities. But isn't that a whole other set of choices? And meanwhile the conveyor belt keeps moving.


  1. Sorry to hear life is tough again. People who have enough money totally under-estimate how much the constant worry about its lack can strain life. Why do we feel responsible when we are not? Maybe it is Oldest Child Syndrome:). Hang in there!

  2. Oh, duh. I just realize I left a comment meant for this post on an old one from last year that I had missed. I ended up there after reading this. Never mind, my heart is in the right place.
    Quite frankly, going by what I know of you, you'd get bored stiff if life was too easy...
    Is that too cruel? Not meant as such, meant as a salute to your strength.
    Decisions, decisions! Great story. I can relate to the potato chip employee.

  3. I'm not sure how I missed this but then again, I don't think I had any choice. Over the last few months I have tried not to 'think things through' but rather 'go with the flow' because doing the former is injurious to my health. Your father's story is a good one. Decisions, decisions but some most of us don't have the option of quitting.

    Feeling guilty is something that was bred into us from small! I know about that only too well and I'm an only child! I wouldn't think for one minute that you neglected either your husband or your fur kids - shit happens.


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