Everyday feats that are arguably Olympian

Being the world’s fastest human is one thing. What about other records, like forgetting to bring reusable shopping bags to grocery 216 trips in a row?

Karen Norris/Staff

I read somewhere that a man in California has run every day for almost 53 years. That’s about 19,345 days, not including leap years. I have not done that. My longest running streak is 30 days. In my defense, I’ve managed to do it several times.

But that got me thinking. So here I present a partial list of all the notable streaks I’ve accomplished that I believe deserve some recognition: 

Traffic lights. We have two stoplights in town. One is by the bank; the other is by the supermarket. The one by the bank has never given me any trouble: I feel I have a 50-50 chance of catching a green light there. But the one by the supermarket – the angry traffic light – was red every time I came to it for almost 13 months straight when we first moved here. While it does turn green eventually, it seems never in a hurry to do so. 

Socks. I have been acquiring a lot of complicated socks recently. They are labeled “L” and “R.” I’ve inspected them closely and have not been able to identify any structural differences between them, besides the letters. Even so, I’m obedient if nothing else. I won’t wear an L sock on my R foot. I estimate I have put on these socks more than 300 times. To date, I have guessed the proper sock-foot combination three times. In other words, on 297 occasions I’ve had to take off the first sock and put it on the other foot. Yes, I realize there is a simple solution to this. 

Banks. I have never, in several decades of conducting transactions in bank lobbies, selected the right line.

Airline flights. Once, while flying standby back from Europe, I was bumped off a flight 41 times in a row. 

Apologies. I have told people whom I seem to have upset to “take it easy” on at least 1,618 occasions. It has never worked. I am zero for 1,618.

Grocery bags. I’ve forgotten to bring reusable shopping bags to the store with me 216 trips in a row, at least. The last 209 incidents resulted in my buying still more reusable shopping bags. We have about 600 reusable shopping bags stuffed in our pantry, now known as the “bag closet.”

Cellphones. I have failed to unsilence my cellphone after church for a consecutive 106 Sundays. I miss a lot of calls on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and some Thursdays.

Fast food. In an admittedly modest but still remarkable feat, I have ordered a McDonald’s Big Mac the last three times I’ve been in the drive-thru at Burger King. Similarly, I have ordered a cinnamon donut at Dunkin’ every visit for the past six years, even though it discontinued cinnamon donuts six years ago. I’m not an idiot. I just refuse to go down without a fight.

Names. I referred to my son’s pre-K teacher by the wrong name 11 times in a row. What makes this more noteworthy is that I tried 11 different names.

Toothpaste directions. I have purchased 288 full-size tubes of toothpaste in my adult life, not counting travel-size or hotel-giveaway toothpastes. I have yet to squeeze from the bottom of the tube and flatten it as I go up. 

Shaving. On June 7, 2002, I began shaving with a blue plastic disposable razor. I shaved with that same razor 91 days in a row. It still worked, but I lost it on the 92nd day.

Hardware store trips. Since moving to Maine, I have gone to the hardware store on 27 Saturdays to buy materials for 27 distinct fix-it projects. I’ve also had to return to the hardware store on 27 occasions later on the same day to buy the rest of what I needed to finish the project. I am proud to say that only 14 of those projects required a third trip – on the same day.

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