Thursday, March 31, 2011

Five Universal Laws of Running Errands

We feel like we spend all our time running errands. And, no matter how many times we go, the same stupid things always happen that cause us to fail miserably. For the longest time, we couldn't understand what was so freakin' hard about getting a couple things done, but now we've figured it out. It's the Universal Laws of Errand Running. And it's doing to our time what gravity is doing to our boobs. Dragging it so far down that, one of these days, we're just going to trip over 'em.


Rule #1: Mom Errands vs. Dad Errands

Dad leaves for the grocery store. Alone. With a list that includes easy things like milk, eggs, bread, lunch meat, broccoli and toilet paper.

Six hours later, he comes home with a new tool box, 14 boxes of wood screws and a delivery slip for a half a cord of wood to "build a deck", a case of Gatorade and popcorn from Costco, a half dozen pamphlets about big screen TVs delivered with a "what? it was next door to Home Depot." and, from the grocery store, two packs of Ding Dongs, a 25-pound bag of frozen chicken, the Wedding Crashers DVD and yogurt.

Mom leaves for the grocery store. With all the kids. With a list that includes easy things like milk, eggs, bread, lunch meat, broccoli and toilet paper. Return 15 minutes later with said items. Dad says, "See? It isn't so hard."

Rule #2: The Phone Call Errand Killer
I'm on my way to Costco and the Rec Center to get some much needed toilet paper [we had moved beyond both Kleenex AND paper towels...yes, it was that bad. Kate] and other super bulky cheapy things, and then to go register the kids for summer camp. I was twenty-seven feet away from the school before the phone rang. "Mom, I forgot my clarinet, and band class is in ten minutes, so I need it now." Really? This after the twelve minute routine I do every morning that somehow includes this exact phrase, "Do we have what we need? Books, food, bags and reeds?" I actually say this, all rhyme-y and stuff. Astonishingly, McGee somehow can -- well, most times -- remember her clarinet, but not the reeds that are required to play said clarinet. [I keep asking her if her band is a mime band. She doesn't think it's funny. Odd. -Kate]  She says, "But mom, I remembered my reeds." Wait. What? Aren't they IN the clarinet case? Never mind. So, I head home, grab the clarinet, return to school, only to be stopped by the PTA mom, the school nurse and the Choir Teacher. When I leave, it's 45 minutes later.

Then I curse my way back to my car, which is actually pretty cathartic. Left, right, left, right, stupid, time, left, right, wasted, f**k, nowI'mlate, right, left, jackhole, left, nothing, else, to, do, right, left, stuff, for, you, left, mur, thur, right, fur, ker, left, right, left, right, where, are, furkin', keys, left, sh*t, SLAM!

Then I get to Costco and McLovin calls and says, "I forgot I had an important meeting with the King of Siam and I'm not wearing a suit. BRING. ME. ONE. The meeting is in a half hour." And slams down the phone. Huh? Siam has a King? "Kate, stop googling King of Siam. Bring me a suit. Oh, and the blue tie with the little star looking things on it. I think he'll appreciat---"


Oops. Funny how my phone hangs up right when you're about to make a stupid point about some guy I'll never meet. My phone is smart. Back to the house, drive into the city, deliver suit. With the pretty red tie that looks like a vagina. Awesome.

I'll go to Costco tomorrow. Until then, I've stocked the bathrooms with Post-It Notes.

Rule #3:More People Does Not Mean More Efficient
One day I had all three of the IHPs with me at the grocery store. They wanted lasagna, and I needed eight things to make that happen. In my math-y brain, this was two things per person. Happy got the easy task: tomatoes and parsley. Lefty: ground beef and garlic bread from the bakery. McGee, because she can read, got lasagna and shredded mozzarella cheese. And, because I'm no idiot, opted to get the eggs and ricotta cheese. The former because of the break rate; the latter because it kept me close enough to keep an eye on Happy.

I might as well have sent in a drunken horde of howler monkeys on a weekend in Cabo.

Happy, in a quest to find the perfect tomatoes, ummm, bit into them. Seven were deemed of exceptional quality. Thirteen -- THIRTEEN -- weren't. The produce section resembled what I imagine Forks would look like after the Volturi arrived in the produce department. You know what he used to try and clean it up? The parsley. Yeah, no amount of washing is going to make me forget it was used to sweep the grocery store floor.

Lefty played bumper food with the RAW meat and freshly baked bread. Guess who won? Well, the bread was bloody, so let's just say for the sake of argument that it lost.

McGee came back with cheese sticks and farfalle. Because, and I quote, "this seemed more fun."

Dinner is going to be fun too. In that no one is going to eat it.

Rule #4: The 33 1/3 % Failure Rate
Just be prepared that, no matter how many or how few things are on your list, a full third of them will not get done. Definitely not today, probably not this week, and possibly never. Things like:
  • write thank you note to neighbors for walking beagle last Saturday
  • mail back shorts that don't fit right
  • gym
  • wrap gift for Liz's birthday that was eight weeks ago 
  • also, buy wrapping paper
Face it, it'll take less time to just clean up the pee the next time you leave the dog home for too long than it will to find the cute little monogrammed notes, and a nice pen and have 2 minutes of uninterrupted time to write the note, much less mail it or walk it down the street. Put the shorts on the shelf for that day when you can fit into them -- and write a note to yourself to have the Someday I'll Wear These clothing shelf extended because, jeez there's a lot of stuff up there now. Laugh that you actually wrote the gym thing down, and congratulate yourself on the .25 calories you burned writing G Y M. Take that, Jillian. I can soooooo lose 80 pounds. All I have to do is write freakin' War and Peace. As for Liz, hand her the TJ Maxx bag and a bottle of wine. She'll totally forgive you. Especially if you teach her how to make a goat. 

(Editor's note: Look at the list. - Lydia)

Rule #5: The Birth of the Baby Errand
What happens when I leave the Costco list in the car with the Old Navy cargo pants that are a size too small? Do they put on Barry White and make little mini errands? Because I'll walk out of the grocery store and look at the list and the pants and realize that I need to go to the Dry Cleaners. Or, even better, Costco will have a bushel of avocados for 49 cents, which I immediately purchase...and then realize on the way home that what in the name of Maude am I going to do with 25 pounds of avocados? Guacamole comes to mind, which of course means that I have to go back. to. the. grocery. store. for tortilla chips.

I would send my husband. But there's a good chance he'll come home with the King of Siam.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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