Small Steps

It began like everything begins: with laziness, which is the true mother of invention. Let me just say that there came a time when I was tasked with moving a small appliance from one room to another room, and by sheer coincidence I realized at that exact same time that to subject myself to said mission would literally liquify my brain. What could be less engaging, after all, than picking something up from one place and putting it back down in another place? Material transferral has got to be the most cripplingly banal task a person could ever perform.

So it was only a matter of time before the light of reason revealed an alternate path: if carting items from one spot to another is the absolute dullest thing one can do, then carting an item only half way to its terminus must be merely half as dull. Of course it doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it does allow one to take a break from one’s vapid existence long enough to participate in, say, a distracting game of Tetris.

But, armed with an obsessive nature, I’m never fully satisfied until I’ve exhausted every opportunity for behavioral refinement. That’s not about laziness, but it has everything to do with efficiency. In fact, because of my aversion to inefficiency, I quickly devised a way to perform the most meaningless tasks in such a way as to be transparent to my otherwise enthralling existence. Here’s how: If the new door hinge needs to get from the garage to the bedroom, and I happen to be on my way to the dining room anyway, then I’ll carry the hinge half way down the hall—to the point where our paths would naturally diverge—and just leave it there, and then continue on my way. The thinking is that if I move things in very small increments I can actually get work done without expending a precious ounce of surplus effort. The only flaw with this is that it can take a tremendous amount of time before any given task is complete.

Still, even if I progress at a glacial pace, you can well imagine how many small tasks I’m getting done at the same time. Indeed, you might say that my life has become a kind of immersive tile game, with each tile sliding into the next vacant spot. And there are the social problems that arise from moving at what is, essentially, stop-motion speed. Most obviously, my house looks like an absolute dump. I say “looks like,” mind you, because it’s not actually a dump, unless you haven’t taken the time to appreciate the order of things. Ichor-crusted babies sluicing from mothers’ wombs aren’t much to behold either, but when those same babies grow up to be your manager ordering you to move something from one place to the other, you can finally begin to appreciate the universe’s plan, and your part in that plan.

It’s not all wine and roses though. Everything I see before me is in a state of gradual transit. Grommets, mixing bowls, batteries, bills—these I’ve deposited at their respective junctures. At the same time, I’m picking up other items that I left along the way who knows how long ago. Keeping track of where everything needs to go exerts a great cognitive burden on me, and I’ve been known to forget which direction a given object was meant to go, carry something the wrong way, throw things into the air to foil myself, smash my left fist through a plate glass window, run down my block wearing only socks, setting progress back by a month or more. Also, I’ll sometimes overlook something entirely, perhaps because it has become obscured by something larger, or because squirrels have come in through the vents again. Diabolocal squirrels—they live to thwart me, but I am, eventually, assembling the parts for a varmint trap. By the time I’ve completed the trap, squirrels will have evolved and formed their own government, and will no longer care about pilfering shiny objects from me.

There are times when I do wish that I weren’t so lazy. I don’t know how people manage to break from what they’re doing just to convey an object to another room without feeling like there’s a wet towel wrapped around their heads. But whatever it is, I don’t have the facility for it. I need to take small steps. I’ll pay my toll as I go… in itemized micro-payments.

Related Tales

» “Being You” (01 of Jan, 2005)
» “A Hero's Lament” (09 of Dec, 2004)
» “Failure” (14 of Jun, 2004)


  • I do the same thing - but I tend to find the total time usage not as efficient as one job at a time, not to mention the large amount of incompl

Armed with an obsessive nature, I’m never fully satisfied until I’ve exhausted every opportunity for behavioral refinement