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Nancy's Notes

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 02:04
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Deadlines schmeadlines

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“I love deadlines; I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”


English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist, dramatist and self-proclaimed atheist March 11, 1952 to May 11, 2001 (died of a heart attack)

I had never heard of Douglas Adams before I saw the above quote, but I was intrigued enough that I wanted to learn more about him. He didn’t get very many years to do the things he enjoyed doing, the long list of “-ists” that described him. I’m sorry to see that, unless he made a death-bed plea, he probably isn’t enjoying his afterlife; but then, I’ll not be the judge of that.

Here are a few additional things he was passionate about. Adams was an advocate for environmentalism and conservation, a lover of fast cars, technological innovation, and the Apple Macintosh. Adams was 6-feet tall by age 12, and stopped growing at 6 ft. 5 in. He definitely would have stood out in a crowd.

As a writer, plus all those “-ists” that describe him, he certainly knew all about deadlines. And therein lies the only thing Mr. Adams and I would have in common. Although I fully support environmentalism and conservation, I can’t consider myself an active advocate for same. And I get really excited and amazed by technological innovation, although at my age, the word “innovation” sort of sends goosebumps up and down my spine. And even though, somewhere in storage of my personal museum pieces, I have one of the first Apple Macintosh computers ever made, that does not qualify me as an innovator.

So back to that deadline thing that Mr. Adams and I share. Here in the newspaper office, we get to take a breath every Tuesday afternoon after that week’s issue is sent off to the press. When the last page has been sent, we collectively pause for a few moments and listen for the very last “whoosh” as all of that week’s deadlines fly by. And then we take turns going to the bathroom because we can finally take the time to do so. Perhaps we get something to snack on, refill our water bottles, or do some simple stretches, but then it’s time to get back to our desks, sort through all the stacks of paper, putting everything of that particular issue in a tray or a trash can. Finally, we take a deep breath... aahhh... and then start the process all over again. I mean, after all, we’ve allowed ourselves maybe all of five minutes to regroup! It’s time to get crackin’ on next week’s paper!

I’m sure there are jobs somewhere that don’t have deadlines to worry about, but I’ve never worked there. In fact, I can’t imagine what it would be like to work at a job that had no deadlines. I’ve never worked in a job that didn’t have deadlines, with many of those deadlines being unrealistic for the amount of work to be done. Without a deadline, I’m not sure I could accomplish a thing. Does that mean I am not self-motivated? Perhaps, but I’d like to think not.

During the pandemic, millions of people have been working from home, and students have been “remote learning,” a term that sounds more intelligent than home-schooling. Although there are probably deadlines placed on these types of work situations, for me to work at home would not be good. First of all, I can’t lock my kitchen. Enough said on that point. Also, when I’m at home I tend to be a multi-tasker, and I don’t mean that in a good way. This type of multi-tasking is to start one task, such as a load of laundry. Of course, while that’s going, I will do something else, such as go through the stack of magazines and catalogs, deciding what to pitch and what I still want to look at; then I’ll get stuck in a magazine; and so on. Two days later I go to put something in the washer, and there’s that load of clothes from, when? No, it would not do for me to work from home. Does this mean I lack focus? Perhaps, but I’d like to think not.

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