Saturday, August 04, 2007

Inspiring a Felony

I was having writer’s block with the deadline for this column looming over me, so I did what any normal person would do: I looked for any and every excuse to walk away from the keyboard and do something else. This is not a new habit of mine.

Among the many things I learned in college (business management, communications, statistics, humanities, the proper manufacture of a dry-ice bomb, etc.), perhaps the most useful skill I acquired in my collegiate career was Procrastination. Sure, I had an entire semester to absorb the material and make it a part of my consciousness so I could not only recall the pertinent points for the final exam but use my new knowledge throughout my life whether I was in a business setting or auditioning for Jeopardy. That was the plan. However, the reality was I would wait until two days (or two hours) before the exam and start memorizing as much as possible. I would then approach the test in the hopes that I could, figuratively, unlatch the upper part of my skull and pour out the answers onto the paper before me. Although it’s a reality that many have trouble understanding (much like Stonehenge or the Electoral College), I somehow graduated and got a degree, so it worked.

I’m the youngest of four children, and there were a lot of things that my other siblings were better at doing. However, I excelled at complaining about having to perform any type of manual labor. It wasn’t that I thought such work was beneath me – I was just lazy! With that said, my well-developed talent of Procrastination helped me overcome that childhood tendency yesterday. I saw my neighbor had just begun the chore of moving six tons of decorative rock from the street to his backyard, and I made a beeline to my garage to grab a shovel and help. Deliverance from having to think about the looming deadline!

However, after about the third or fourth shovel full of rock, I quickly realized that the beautiful Siren song of Procrastination had lured me in and crashed me into the very rocks I was scooping. (Oh, the irony!) At any rate, I was stuck until we were done with the pile. Noting that we only had one wheelbarrow between us, it was obvious that we needed a second one to move things along. While some might say this new-found virtue of helping others through manual labor was quickly replaced by a vice (or a felony for that matter), I choose to look at my next move and say that Procrastination spurred me to think creatively: I hopped the fence of another neighbor who I knew was out of town and “borrowed” his wheelbarrow. The addition of this implement moved things along and helped me preserve just enough energy to handle some of the more pressing matters of the evening, namely hold the remote control in one hand and a Coke the size of Delaware in the other while I sat in my recliner (and continued to avoid finishing this column).

Between yesterday’s rock-moving experience and now, I have continued my efforts to avoid writing this column. I came up with a list of ten questions men should ask themselves at the end of each day (#6: Was it really wise to eat that?) and seven retirement options for Bob Barker (#4: Herbalife distributor). Benjamin Franklin is said to have “discovered” electricity by flying a kite in a lightning storm. Don’t you think he knew the dangers of this? Sure, but he was probably putting off writing another Poor Richard’s Almanac entry.

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