Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I really stepped in it

If I can claim any unique "turf" here on the internet, realm of a brazillion overlapping perspectives, it is that I show the not-so-good as well as the other.

I don't sensationalize.  None of the demeaning stuff of "reality" shows.  Nope.  You will get pictures of weedy gardens, potato bugs, raggedy cuts, blisters and 3 MOA target shooting.  This is life in real-time.

I really stepped in it last week

Let me take you back to last Thursday.

I had received a mailing about a sale in Dimondale that I did not want to miss.  The sale was 10 miles away from home in a direction I usually do not travel.  What I did not pay attention to was the time window, 3:00 PM until 7:00 PM.

I took Belladonna out to breakfast (in Dimondale)  at 9:00 AM...but the sale was not in progress. That is when I learned about the time window.

...later that day...

Mrs ERJ brought Kubota home at 5:30 PM.  I asked if I could use the van for an hour.  She said, "Yes".  I jumped into it and drove off.

While driving to the sale I decided to combine another errand that was in the same direction.

I had completely forgotten that we had planned to get Mrs ERJ to Belladonna's Track Recognition/honors dinner at 7:00 PM.

I did not get home in time.  Compounding matters, my phone was not in my pocket so Mrs ERJ was stranded at home with no way to get to the event.

Why do "Accidents" happen?

Failures in planning

A good plan covers the seven "W"s.

Who is going to be Where, When will they be there, What will they be doing, HoW will they be doing it and Why?  Just like planning a deer drive.  When conditions are adverse there must be a strategy for the drivers must zig-zag for the purpose of generating frequent "hand-shakes" to keep all drivers behind the firing line.

We had a plan but I spaced it when I focused on efficiency.

Failures in communication

I did not have my cell phone.  Forgetting my cell phone became more common when the flip phone died and I got a QWERTY slider.  I had a recharging station tor the flip phone set up next to the door.  That, coupled with the habit of taking one, quick glance a the charging station as I walked out the door saved me many times.  The QWERTY did not fit in the charging station so it was charged in one of several different places.

Mission creep

Mission creep and Failure to Plan are the Yin and Yang...two sides of the same coin.

In industry, one often hears the victim of an accident claim "And then I decided to do one more thing..."

The victim had probably pulled off that "one more thing" a bunch of times in the past.  But the accident occurred when the victim's new task took him out of the safety-lockout envelop, or he did not have the proper tool for the added task, or the floor became slipperier, or....

In my case, mission creep bit me when the second errand grew to be more than a commando strike purchase.  I had barely enough time to drive to the second destination.  I could have pulled it off if the item I needed to purchase was in stock, I had bought it, jumped in the van and headed straight back.

However, it was not in stock in the size I needed at the first place I checked.  Nor was it in the super-mega-enormous mart in the same shopping  center.  So I went back to the first place and purchased several of the item in the smaller size.


Mrs ERJ was deeply disappointed in not being able to see Bella honored.  She was deeply hurt that I had "ditched" her.  It was necessary to make changes to not let it happen again.

Failures in planning

I bought a small pocket planner that fits in my pocket.  I did that at work.  I did not think that I needed that level of organization in retirement.  The discipline of writing things down seems to plant the plan in more places in my brain.  More places = more likelihood that I will trip on it as my thought process wanders around.

Failures in communication

I cleared space at the charging station near the door for the QWERTY cell phone.  Even though it has a universal charger I don't charge it any other place.  This has saved me a couple of times already...and it has only been a few days.

Mission creep

This comes down to priorities.  At its heart, mission creep is often driven by a "sunk cost" analysis.  The thinking is, I have this much already invested in drive time, or job set-up time, or money invested.  I might as well push and get as much return on this investment as possible.  In my case I had the sunk cost of the 5:30 PM drive and the sunk cost of having already driven there in the morning. 

In fact, drive times were a major component of my failure.  In fact, I had enough time to do the tasks.  Or I had enough time to do the driving.  But there was not enough time for me to do the tasks, do my driving and then get the van back in time for Mrs ERJ to do her driving to Belladonna's event.

Sidebar:  While non-PC, many people will agree that women are better at multitasking while men seem more capable of jobs that require hyper-focus.  Evolutionary biologists suggest that the human race would have quickly become extinct if "mom" was not wired to automatically search for food and keep the fire going while simultaneously keeping an eye on little Thog and Eula.  Conversely, humans would have become extinct if big Thog noticed minor inconveniences like biting ants and cactus thorns while stalking a trophy Wooly Mammoth.
This does not excuse my screw-up.  But it serves as notice that guys have to be more vigilant about hyper focusing and taking our eye off the prize:  The important people in our lives.

Did the plan work?

So far, so good.

One specific "for instance":  Bella and I went into Lansing (one hour road time) to give blood.  We had appointments for 3:00 PM.  Bella double-checked her schedule and saw she was scheduled for work at 4:00 PM in Charlotte (a half hour away).

She called work (communication) and informed them that she might be a few minutes late due to a prior appointment.

We walked in and there were four people ahead of us(mission creep).  We talked through the timing (planning) and determined that if they did not in-process us in the next fifteen minutes that we would have to leave.  Ten minutes passed and none of the four people ahead of us were in-processed.

Bella said, "OK, dad.  Let's go."

As we walked out the coordinator apologized.  He said that they had computer problems.  We also noticed that 3:00 PM is the peak of the rolling "break" time for their workers.

Bella made it to work on time.


  1. Time is NEVER on our side... That and over-committing, either accidentally or purposely 'thinking' you can get everything done almost never works... Glad you've got fixes in hand!

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