Monday, March 31, 2008

The Price of Distraction

Lately I hold off stopping to get gasoline until the last possible minute, wishing to spare myself the possible heart attack at seeing the price du jour. When it can't be put off any longer, I keep waiting until the next gas station, because surely there's a cheaper place to buy.

I held off today until I reached the Exxon mini-mart just outside the entrance to the subdivision, which turned out to be the cheapest price I had seen all the way from Round Rock to Bastrop. The automatic shut off had performed as it should, but I was pumping that last little bit you can fit into the tank to top it off, while being distracted by a brand new car that had pulled up to the next pump. For some reason the second auto shut off did not kick in and I spilled about a 1/3 of a cup of gasoline onto the ground. That never happens to me and I pondered for a second on how to sop it up and wring it into the gas tank. At those prices, you don't want to waste a drop.

Oh, well. It's not the first case of the high cost of distraction this week. Last night I made a casserole dish full of pork chops and vegetables and after we had eaten, decided to pop the leftovers back in for a little extra cooking. The veggies had been just a tad on the underdone side. While that was in the oven, I decided I had better make the soup kit that was about to expire its "use by" date. I had reached the "simmer for 15 minutes, covered" stage, which was just about how much I wanted the casserole to continue cooking. Patting myself on the back for being so efficient, I went to check something on the computer.

I don't remember quite what happened next, but awhile later I realized I was smelling something that had cooked too long. When I looked at my watch, I had let both cook for an hour. The pork chops are probably inedible, but that's what I'm taking for my lunch tomorrow. Teach myself a lesson, you know. The soup will be my supper tonight, cooked to death or not.

This distraction thing is getting worse and worse. Another sign of middle-age, I guess. I can remember a time when I could juggle a half-dozen tasks and not lose track of any of them, finishing each one with a flourish and on time. Nowadays I find myself getting distracted so easily and completely forgetting that I had something else going that never got finished.

It can get expensive sometimes. Like, for instance, the pound of hamburger I threw into the trashcan last night because I completely forgot it was sitting in the refrigerator. I had intended to cook it the week before, changed plans, and then forgot to put the rejected hamburger into the freezer. It was not a pretty sight when I came across it.

I recently installed a little pop up reminder software application on my home computer to wave a big flag in my face on the mornings I have a chiropractor appointment. I've missed two of them in recent months because I'm thinking of something else when I drive by their office on the way to work. I can tell myself as I get in the car to remember I have a doctor's appointment and, in the space of driving the 2 blocks to their office, completely forget they exist until I get to the office in Round Rock and open my calendar and see the notation.

I would worry about myself, but it seems to be a common problem among my friends. Too much on our minds and the accumulation of a load of exhaustion dealing with life.

Where was I? Oops, something in the kitchen is smelling burnt....


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