This is unimportant. I know that. But the unimportant things drive us crazy, I think because there are so many of them, and because we’re supposed to not let them bother us. They all bother me. There’s a book called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Well, sorry, but I sweat the small stuff. In fact, the smaller the stuff is, the more I sweat.
For example, when I look for something and it isn’t where it’s supposed to be and I have to spend fifteen minutes searching, the thought of that needlessly lost time pushes me ever so closer to the edge of my sanity. Now before you get the wrong idea, I’m not one of those people who draws the outline of his tools on the garage wall so they all get put back in exactly the right place. I don’t even have a garage, and our tools are mostly piled on top of each other in boxes. I’m talking about something like the ongoing stapler crisis in our house.
I keep my stapler on my desk, somewhere to the left of my computer monitor. The stapler doesn’t have a precise location, but it’s supposed to be somewhere over there on the left. That’s where I always put it. And because that’s where I always put it, that’s where everyone else in the house finds it when they need a stapler. We have several staplers and the people I’m referring to actually have their own, but they don’t put things back and so they have no idea where their staplers are. But that doesn’t matter because they always know where my stapler is: just to the left of the computer. It’s faster, in fact, to go get my stapler than it is to look for their own. They just take the stapler and use it and then they put it down wherever they happen to be at the time. They don’t return it. Now here’s the injustice of it all: When I (the responsible one who puts things back) goes to use my stapler, it isn’t there. It isn’t even on my desk. Sometimes it’s in another room. I don’t know which room. I only know it isn’t in this room because I’ve torn the place apart and it isn’t here. Neither are my tape dispenser, scissors, and calculator. But it isn’t just the stuff I refer to as mine. The vacuum cleaner. Is there ever any reason to spend more than one minute hunting for the vacuum cleaner? The blender. Shouldn’t it at least be in the kitchen? The lint brush. I see that thing every single day in the same place, and I use it maybe once a decade. But the last time I tried to find the lint brush, it was in the car. In the car.
At the end of the year, I’ve spent hours looking for things that I always put back. Meanwhile, all of the other people who never put things back spend no time at all looking for them. This seems to be some fundamental law of nature, and I suppose I should take comfort in that fact. It’s unchangeable, widespread, and it’s never going to stop. Furthermore, it’s unimportant. It’s small stuff. I already know that. And I’m getting sweaty just thinking about it.