Tuesday, December 25, 2007

...Give Pace a Chance..

In the time it took Jordan to pack one bag for her Christmas vacation, I carried five giant bags of trash down around the corner and up six flights of stairs, three times. When, exhausted from the unexpected morning exercise, I dragged myself into her room, she was still deciding what shoes to take. "Mom, as soon as I finish this I just have to straighten the kitchen a little, and then we can go." There had been a party two nights prior to my arrival and saying "straighten it a little" was like my pal Phoebe commenting on our adventures in Calcutta by saying "if only they would tidy up a bit." So while she was deciding which shoes would go with which pair of jeans, I "tidied "the kitchen. I mean I was like a whirlwind, wiping and washing and drying and decimating the dirt. But we really needed to get going because we had to stop at Emerson so she could fill out employment papers, (there was no way that wasn’t going to happen), and I wanted to drive to Plymouth to see Zach and his parents. In addition, we had to drive to NY in order to get to a 6:30 dinner meeting.

"Jordan", I said with all the calm I could muster, "I'm going to get my stuff, get the car out of the lot, and I'll be outside your apartment in five minutes. Be there!” And miracle of miracles she was.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with making thoughtful decisions about clothing or shoes, or vacations, it's just that because people operate at different paces it often can cause problems. David operates at about the same pace as Jordan. He takes about five times the amount of time I do to get anything done. He thinks and thinks and thinks about everything. I never think (there are plenty of people to attest to that) I just do whatever I need to do to get it done. This can sometimes lead to being less thorough, but it presents a conundrum, because even when I do think, it is impossible for me to move slowly. I don't do it when I drive, walk, or work.

So here it is, the holiday season. A time when many things have to be done. Presents need to be wrapped, packing needs to be completed for vacations, houses need to be cleaned for celebrations, and ends need to be tied up so there is a sense of freedom from what was, before delving into what needs to be. These are all menial tasks but when combined they can be overwhelming, especially if you take your time to think about completing them. My oh my, is all I can say-- and it is the one of very few things I don't need to say quickly.

What determines pace? Is it either genetic or it it geographic? My guess is a bit of both. It seems to me that people in the northeast move faster than people in the south or west. Especially people on the NY subway. However, most of my female cousins operate at a quick pace. I always used to say we were all genetically perfect advance people. And in fact, when I directed security for the 1980 Democratic Convention, I hired (without pay and for the glory of the nation and our grandparents) my cousins, and Marthena to work with me. Marthena is from Georgia but she was somehow able overcome the pace at which many Southern Belles seem to operate. (She has also overcome the Belle factor but not if she has to use it to get something done). I think her sister is the same so maybe it is genetic in some families.

As long as I brought up the subject of big garbage bags and the holidays, I might as well share this as more of an example of my inability to move slowly, and other people’s ability to adapt their pace. I have begun to pack my mothers stuff. Most of her clothing is too big or out of style—and my mother would never be anything less than stylish. Anyway, I packed about eight black garbage bags full of clothing and decided that in this, the season of giving I wanted to donate them to more than a dumpster that claimed to be a charity. Henry, the Super in our NY building said he would donate them to his church. So after we returned from Boston, I went out to NJ and loaded all the bags into the car—again moving quickly and this time in a torrential downpour. When I got back to the city I was lucky enough to park not far from the entrance to the building, but the doorman with an attitude was on duty, and when I carried the first big bag into the lobby he hardly looked up. It was clearly necessary to call in the big guns. “Gee Juan” I remarked, “These clothes are all for Henry (your supervisor) and I bet he would hate it if everything got ruined.” With that he jumped up from behind the desk and quickened, what is usually a turtle's pace, to get the stuff into some shelter. Sometimes pace is not only genetic and geographic, it is job dependent.

Anyway, maybe pace is a combination of threats, practice and genetics. Political Advancepeople don't have time to think through the hundreds of tasks that need to be completed for a political event. Once the planning is done and you have asked and re-asked the same questions about a million times (to be sure everything is in order –on the right track), and the the event has begun (events have a life of their own) the Advanceperson operates on auto pilot. The only thing anyone can do once the event begins is try to save it from any disasters – like President Clinton at the supermarket. And the pace at which you work somehow will define your ability to respond in a more than timely manner. Having worked that way for so many years, it is difficult to accommodate my family by not moving quickly, asking the same questions over and over and seriously driving them crazy.

Oh and here’s the ‘pace’ kicker, if someone dares to tell me to take it easy, I will put them through a wall—if not physically then certainly verbally. This does not make me a bad person. It makes me a nutcase. But it’s part of my charm – you just have to be quick enough to catch it. We’re just sayin...Iris

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As my good friend Diwan says about my life in the country, "Walt, I love it here, your life is so fast paced."

I said "Don't you have this backwards? You live in the city."

"No, no,' countered Diwan. "The city is slow. You've got to wait in traffic, you've got to wait in line, and you're got to wait for people to get out of your way, or wait for them to help you. This makes people rush to get to the next red light, or rush to the next line to get coffee, or rush to the next meeting to get an answer."

"Here where you live, you can simply do want you want to do. No waiting, thus you're life is some much more fast paced. Plus you can get more done because there are no lines, or traffic, or idiots you have to rely on to get an answer."

So if you want a change in pace, according to Diwan you must leave the environment that puts things in your way.

Very good words of wisdom.

Life in Westminster. It gives everyone a change in pace.

Class dismissed.