Cow Swapping

Jersey cow in western United States. Whitney m...
Image via Wikipedia

Ever have one of those days when you have a zillion things to do, but you can’t get them done?

Because you start one thing, but then you think you should be doing another thing, so you start that, but you remember you need to do something else?

So you stop starting anything at all?

And the next day, you face the same tangle, except worse, because another zillion things have piled up on top of yesterday’s zillion, and now you’re even more overwhelmed and hopeless?

And then one day, the Mt. Everest of multi-zillions topples over and flattens you?

And you lie under there all squashed and miserable, wallowing in the knowledge that all you have to show for the past year is the unframed honorable mention certificate they sent you from the national Bejeweled contest, senior citizen division?

Neither have I.

Because I am not merely efficient. I am effective.

That’s Franklin-Covey language. I picked it up in the Franklin-Covey seminar where I learned how to use my Franklin planner. (Covey hadn’t joined up when I went to seminar.)

I learned to use not only that Franklin planner, but each succeeding Franklin planner: the black one with the zipper, the teal one with the zipper, the little red one with the clasp. There might have been others.

Two were later stolen. I left them in a tote bag on the front seat of my car, and while I slept, certain parties (“I know exactly who it was,” said the constable, “but we’ll never prove it.”) smashed a window and made off with the bag. They also got a can of asparagus and a couple of tins of sardines.

That was in August, the first day of in-service. I called the insurance company. I called the school and said I would be along as soon as the deputy had dusted for prints.

My prints, as it turned out. No others. But that made no difference. When juvenile offenders, both alleged and convicted, have completed their respective judicial processes, their fingerprint records are destroyed.

The deputy shared that information. Up to that point, I’d been calm and resigned, but on learning the fingerprint fact, I expressed righteous indignation. At length.

In my father’s day, the boys around town celebrated Halloween by turning over outhouses. People expected their outhouses to be turned over. The next day, they stood them up again.

My uncle once swapped Mr. Langley’s and Mr. Mercer’s milk cows. On November 1, Mr. Langley and Mercer went out with their milk buckets, found alien Jerseys, laughed, and walked them back to their rightful barns. No cows were harmed. They might not even have noticed they were waking up in the wrong bedrooms. Bovines aren’t famous for their powers of observation.

But that’s kid stuff. Breaking into a car and trying to hotwire it is not the same as swapping cows. (Franklin planners were just the consolation prize.) Nor is burglarizing a house several blocks north (one new television set) or stealing a cell phone and tools from an electrician’s van around the corner from me.

A childish prank shouldn’t cloud anyone’s future. But it is my considered opinion that the second time a juvenile ends up in court, his fingerprints should be kept on file. Just in case.

Oh, never mind.

After the dusting, I scraped glass out of the driver’s seat, draped it with towels (deputies do not clean up after themselves), and proceeded to commute. I met the superintendent coming out of the general convocation. He expressed amazement at my calm demeanor. I said if he wanted to see fireworks, I’d be glad to explain about fingerprints.

Well. This started as a lament over mental paralysis, and it’s ended up as a nostalgic tour through the good old days of cow swapping, plus a diatribe on the juvenile justice system.

Back to the present. There are books to be written, blogs to be read, comments to be replied to, software to be learned, and a sink to be blessed. Franklin-Covey would tell me to make a list, prioritize, and get busy. They would tell me to use a Franklin planner for listing and prioritizing, of course, but somewhere along the line I discovered a sticky note would suffice.

So, Dear Readers, I’m off to find a sticky-note and scale–effectively–Mt. Everest.


Image by Tlarson at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons