A lesson for efficient living: Penciling in time to waste
Everyone is in such a rush these days. They all do things as efficiently as possible. No one wants to waste any time. Sometimes, if you walk around the business district of my city, you can see the stress rising from the crowds like steam from manholes. I used to be lost in this crowd.
But not anymore.
You see, for a while, I was getting massages every other week. The masseuse often told me that after sessions with me, she needed a massage. Often, I would find myself grinding my teeth when trying to get somewhere quickly, or thinking about the next thing I had to get done. I did this until I realized the source of the stress. I was working for the most efficient man on earth.
He was a motivational speaker, and vice president of a large company. I was his assistant, which meant that when he needed to be efficient, I had to take up the slack. As it was, I would never have been able to practice the efficient way of living that he preached. I thought I had it made, though. I was doing well financially, I had nice things, I got to go all the places he did, and my work seemed really important. I woke from that illusion the day that he decided to get married - in the office.
He had been dating a woman for a year. She was kind and young, with large eyes and long legs. The thing that impressed him most about her, though, was that she was so impressed with him. She didn't seem to mind making dates to see him over the phone with me. I had never seen her before the day she was to be married. She looked smart in her white pantsuit and white pumps. A real business beauty.
"Nancy, can you come here a moment please?" my boss called from his office. When I went in, he continued. "We don't have much time. I have an 11:30 with Mr. Stevens. So Sally and I are getting married in the conference room. Would you care to be her maid of honor?"
"Uh, uh, well I, uh, suppose I could uh."
"Great. Conference room across from Miller's desk in two minutes. I'm going to use the restroom now."
As shocked and unnerved as I was by this proposal, I complied. I walked down the hall to the conference room. Phil, the head of accounting, was standing by someone I assumed was the judge performing the ceremony.
"I'm the best man. We'd just finished a meeting together and he asked me to be the best man and I thought, well, heck, why not!"
I smiled and stood quietly behind the bride to be. She smiled back at me.
"Isn't this exciting? Hi, I'm Sally. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I know you must be busy." She beamed.
"No problem. I'm Nancy. Assistant and your maid of honor." I chuckled lightly.
Just then, the Boss Man came in. Before fully entering the room, though, he called to Miller at his desk.
"Say, listen Bill, are you in the middle of something? We need a ring bearer."
After what was I'm sure the most efficient wedding ceremony ever performed, I went back to my desk and started looking for another job. It was during that three-minute ceremony that I had decided there was more to life than setting up power lunches and conference calls. There were places out there to see. Big, beautiful, completely inefficient places. Bursting with life and people who decided to take their time. I wanted to see those places. I wanted to break free from my lists and Post-it notes. I wanted to take a phone call, and not write down a message.
Things have changed for me. I work in an office full of people who know how to smile and take the time to laugh. I find myself breathing a little more easily, gazing out the window occasionally, and even daydreaming sometimes. I'm healthier than I've ever been.