I recently got to thinking of all the stupid, awkward and even dangerous situations my Manic Impressive behavior has gotten me into over the years. This was a long thinking session. As many embarrassing and regrettable chapters of my life flashed by, I noticed a theme. All these incidents were caused or triggered by Procrastination.
Like the time I knocked off a dry cleaner.
Back in the mid ’80’s, when I’d elevated Procrastination to an art form, I spent three months convincing the good folks at Xerox that I would make a great addition to their sales staff.
They had a dress code. Suit and tie everyday, no exceptions. So I’d gone out, bought a whole new wardrobe, and took everything to the dry cleaners at the mall. Gotta look good for the first day.
Being a master of Procrastination, I of course waited to the last minute for all this. So the night before my first day of the new job I’m heading back to the cleaners to pick up my clothes. Due to good planning, I walked in a whole ten minutes before closing.
Only the lights were off and the closed sign was lit. The door wasn’t locked, but when I walked in the girl said she was closed. I responded that it was ten minutes to closing and I had to have my clothes for my first day on the job. She said she couldn’t help me and turned away.
That’s when I looked over and saw my clothes on the overhead rack.
Okay, so what would you do in this situation? Cough politely and leave? Vent your anger on Yelp? Show up for your first day of a fancy sales job in jeans and a t-shirt?
Or break the rules and take your clothes by force?
Yup, I was breaking my suits out. I strode behind the counter, reached up and grabbed my clothes (amazing luck they were down low enough for me to reach).
“Hey, you can’t do that!” said the girl.
“What do I owe you?” said I, pulling out my checkbook.
“I’m going to call the cops!” she said.
“You do what you have to do. I gotta have my clothes” I said, dashing off a check and leaving it on the counter.
I hustled to my car and headed for an exit. But not quick enough. A mall security car lit me up to pull me over. Damn! They’re not real cops, are they? Can they leave the parking lot? They don’t have jurisdiction on the city streets – I’ll make a run for it!
Yeah right, and when they call the real police with the address off my check, I’ll miss my first day of work sitting in the county lockup.
Better face the music now.
So I pull over and a renta cop comes over ready to break the case of the century. He’s really going at it, playing tough guy with me, until I figure out how to get in his head.
“Tell me something, what if it was your uniform in there? Could you show up to work without your uniform? What would you tell your boss? I wasn’t stealing anything. I was getting my own clothes that I’d paid for. What kind of criminal leaves a personal check?”
That got to him. He let down his guard and let me go. But not before I learned a valuable, if not humiliating, lesson.
Procrastination can lead to really bad things.
When we’re jammed up against a deadline, or we’ve let a small problem turn into a large one, we set ourselves up for trouble. We set the stage for failure instead of success.
Think about all the times you drove recklessly because you were watching TV instead of packing your stuff. Or when you didn’t do your best work on a big assignment because you had to play Words With Friends. Or when you had to use Kleenex instead of toilet paper. Nuff said.
Small bills procrastinated give birth to late fees and penalties. Small leaks procrastinated turn into wood rot, then thousands of dollars in termite damage. Small pains procrastinated turn into torn ligaments, then surgery and weeks on crutches.
Eventually, we habitual procrastinators will box ourselves into a corner. We’ll turn everyday events into desperate situations, and end up throwing caution, and law-abiding, to the wind. Causing us to act out and do things we normally wouldn’t.
Like committing break-ins at dry cleaners…