Burial at Sea(t)

“My plate’s pretty full right now.”

You probably hear or say a variation of that phrase every day, and I say it myself sometimes. We’re not at the China Buffet when we say it, of course. We’re likely talking to someone who has just asked us to take on a project for work or church or community or school or whatever. It’s not that we don’t want to do it; it’s just that our plate is already full of projects for work and church and community and school and whatever.

And while I might say that my plate is full, that’s not the truth. What I mean is my seat is full. My chair at the table in our breakfast room is the repository for all the stuff I need to deal with: bills to be paid, mail to be handled, receipts to be filed, magazines to be read, and items to be stored.

This system was created by my wife, who has a knack—and a need—for neatness. At some point Mary Beth must have dropped off my daily mail on the table in front of my seat, probably after finding the mail-sorter-thingy already filled with bills to be paid, mail to be … you get the picture. After a few days of mail piled up, she must have asked me to go through my stuff, and I possibly/probably moved it from the table to the seat. Out of sight, don’t you know. After a while, Mary Beth just started adding to the stack of stuff on the chair.

So my system has come to this: Periodically I’ll stand by the chair and sort through the stack-o-crap and see if there is anything that requires urgent action. Naturally, the non-urgent stuff just stays on the stack. You might be asking—as my wife does with increasing intensity—why I don’t just handle these items as they come in. Just pay the bill, read the article, file the receipt, etc.

That’s like asking the manager of a restaurant why you have to wait for your food: If they’d simply cook it right after you ordered it, you’d be fed and gone much sooner. But like the kitchen at a popular restaurant, I get a little backed up.

You should see me sit in the damned thing. On any given day the seat could be loaded with three newspapers, a legal pad with notes from Wednesday’s meeting, a pack of light bulbs I need to return to Kroger (wrong size), and forty-three pieces of mail, so I have to perch my butt on about an inch and a half of wood. One day soon, the chair will flip forward and dump all that stuff on top of me. I’ll be buried beneath my backlog.

If you’d like to discuss this situation in person, feel free to stop by the house and come on in. Oh, don’t sit there, though.

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