Saturday, February 16, 2013

What's Your Routine?

I'm a creature of habit. I have certain routines that I follow on a regular basis. Routines make me feel in control.For example, I have the same morning routine, down to the minute.

Once, I had let my hair air dry a little too long and had to quickly blow dry it before I ended up with fluffy hair. Never a good look. Fast forward to 3 hours later and I was sitting in a meeting waiting for everyone to come into the room when it hit me that I had forgotten to put make up on. Every last stitch of it. I immediately started sweating buckets and spent the entire meeting looking down so as to avoid eye contact with anyone. You might be saying "I'm sure it wasn't that bad" but let me say this.....flourescent lighting + no makeup = bad. The whole thing happened because I deviated from my routine.

For the last two years I have parked in the same parking spot in the commuter lot. With the exception of the early morning there was a snowstorm and I wanted to get closer to the train rather than trudge through the snow. That was my choice, though. And I'm not sure how it happens but everyone has their own spot/area where they park. I back into my spot every day. I wait until my clock says "7:53" before I get out of my car. Then I walk the 4 minutes up and over the bridge to the other side of the tracks to catch the train.

Two weeks ago, I worked from home for 3 days in a row. Imagine my surprise when I showed up the following Monday morning and someone was parked in "my" spot. And not a new guy's car. It was the car of a "regular" that I recognized. What the what?! Even when I have gone on vacation in the past, I have never come back to find someone has taken over my spot.

I was literally paralyzed. What was I going to do?! Ah, any logical person would just park somewhere else but I couldn't think. And then I thought too much. I had to go through my mental parking rolodex to try and remember where everyone parked so I could figure out an empty spot...because I didn't want to do the same thing to someone else.

Finally I parked but I felt out of sync. And I was mad. I knew exactly whose car it was. He usually parked at the other end of the lot....why, all of a sudden, did he decide to move and take MY spot?! For a split second I thought of putting a note on his windshield that said "This isn't your spot. Please move." But, of course, we don't have assigned parking so this wasn't true.

Four out of five days a week he gets in his little red car, drives to the restaurant in the lot, backs in, and goes in for what I imagine is 3-4 beers, or perhaps scotches, before he heads home. At first I thought maybe he was single/widowed but then I saw his ring. He's married. He looks very beaten down. I imagine his wife thinks he is working a little late, but instead he is in this stinky, old little bar, drinking his liquid courage to go home. (Side note, this is totally made up... I have no proof of this but I'm pretty sure I'm right).

This continued for 2 more days. On day 3, I realized he was sitting right in front of me on the way home. It took all my self-control not to whisper "Get out of my spot" in an exorcist voice. "Get. Out."
On the way to our cars, I gave him a look, right in the eye. It said, "Don't come back".

Apparently, my look of death worked because the very next day he was not in my spot. He had moved over one. Damn straight. By the following Monday he was parking in a completely new location. Closer to the front door of the restaurant. Took him a year to figure out this might be a better spot for him. Now he doesn't have to move his car every night. He can save himself 5 minutes and walk straight to the bar.

Did this little incident teach me anything? Did it give me pause for a moment to ask myself if it really mattered where I parked? Did it give me the opportunity to switch things up? Nope. I feel better now. "My" spot is my own again and my routine is back in action.

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