Monday, 17 June 2013

How to be in the wrong place at the wrong time

I admit it – I am perpetually showing up to meetings at the wrong time, on the wrong day, in the wrong location. I blame it on my brain’s unique filing system, in which any kind of identifier associated with a plan (“Tuesday” or “San Francisco”) causes that plan to be stuck into the “totally planned and ready for deployment” section of my memory. This is why, for instance, I look up—and even sometimes write down or print out—directions, then leave them behind as I drive aimlessly into the sunset.

I am currently sitting on the floor in the lobby of a particular building (because my laptop was running out of power and the heavy wooden benches are not close enough to the outlets), where I thought I was supposed to meet a particular person at a particular time. And, of course, they are not here. Probably because, as I noticed when I re-checked my email just now, I decided on this meeting time with myself, and not the other person. Yep: instead of the embarrassing accidental-reply-all, I replied to myself, only. I vaguely wondered why I hadn’t heard back from this person in several days, but chalked it up to them being busy and assuming there was no reason to confirm the appointment. Awesome move.
Another good strategy: get your navigation information from a 1-year old
Let’s review some other ways to put yourself in this kind of inconvenient situation:

1. Forget to send the email/text message in the first place.

2. Don’t look at the calendar. Sure, it’s Tuesday, but your meeting is next Tuesday.

3. Rely on your memory for the address. You’ll totally remember whether it was 9344 Via La Jolla or 9433 La Jolla Village Drive.

4. Assume there will be signs. No need to bring a map if you are going somewhere major, like Charles De Galle Airport outside Paris—there are signs! Unfortunately they are also in French, conflict one another, and don’t tell you which of the three very separate terminals houses your particular airline.
Better yet, let the 1-year old drive you to the incorrect location
5. Don’t ask for clarification when people are imprecise, like scheduling a meeting at “lunchtime.”

6. Exchange the address and the meeting time in your head.

7. Write down all of the pertinent information on a small scrap of paper, and then lose it immediately.

8. Write down all of the pertinent information in a professional, organized notebook you always have with you. Never glance at it again.

9. Text yourself the information. Lose your phone.
Use your camera to take a photo of a map, but fail to check that the photograph accurately duplicates the pertinent information on said map--say, trails, for instance.
10. Email yourself the information. Forget that your phone doesn’t have a data plan, and you can’t find a wireless connection.

11. Make plans over the phone, and recall the information later from memory. This is a great option if you are talking on the phone while doing the dishes and handing apple slices to a child, who is yelling “mama mama apple mama apple…”

12. Don’t write down the full address. For example: 1234 Willowspring. How likely it is that in one town there would be a Willowspring Drive, Willowspring Court, and Willowspring Avenues, North and South? (Answer: unfortunately, very likely in regions where neither willows nor springs exist anymore, but did occur before tract housing developments were placed on top of them).

13. Remember only something vague about the street name. For instance, recalling that the street was named after a tree in Kitsilano or Fairview, Vancouver will lead you to approximately 17 possible consecutive blocks. In California, San-something-or-other is similarly completely useless.

So, next time we plan to meet at Andale’s in Los Gatos, and you don’t see me there? Try the identically-named restaurant across the road.

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