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March 1998 Issue
A Good Idea, But . . .
by Krafty
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We all do it, don't we?

Even if we always pay all our bills on time, even if we never fail to sew on that button as soon as it comes out of the laundry, even if we book and keep our health checks every six months, we all put something off - don't we?

With me it's cars, and homework. I justify my frenzied activity at 10 o'clock on the night before class with the thought that I work better under pressure. I might, but cars don't. Ask mine.

Before I know it, that tiny dull spot on the paintwork has turned into a pretty red-brown clover leaf shaped blotch on a background of metallic pale blue, and 15 minutes' work is now hours of aching arm and sweating brow, not to mention the hole in my pocket where money used to be. And what about that almost inaudible rattle which I convinced myself was a loose spanner in the tool box? I still wasn't worried when the car suddenly started to roar instead of purr. I put it down to my ears starting to clear after a particularly bad cold. It was only when the neighbours started complaining that I took a look at the exhaust, and the car to the garage.

I even wait until the last minute to put fuel in the tank. For miles I watch the needle sneak slowly through the red part of the dial, trying to work out how far I can go before I really have to do something about it. I see it as a challenge, like a video game where you hold your breath until the very last monster has been shot down, and then gloat.

You see, I have this theory that machines should work. Unreasonable of me, I know. I accept that I am getting older and therefore cannot do the things I used to, at least not as well or as often as I used to. But machines don't have arthritis, or high blood pressure, or flesh that can't (or won't) defy gravity any more. Some people disagree, and state the scientific parallels, but try as I might I can't get around to thinking along those lines. Despite my tendency to get rather fond of my cars, even to the point of getting tearful when it's time to change them, I find it difficult to treat them with the respect I would pay to a person. If I could call a car "she", pamper her with a Sunday wax, gently buff up her upholstery every now and again, send her in for a medical every six months, and generally tend to her every need, then perhaps we would both be better off, but I'm afraid I might start introducing frilly cushions, and lose my soul.

However, I concede one point to anthropomorphism. I think the car makes plans.

Here we are, nearly into February, and I have just remembered that I meant to get the car serviced in October for the winter. (Not quite true. I didn't forget. In fact I remembered quite a few times, I just didn't get around to doing it). The car has waited until now to have a puncture, drop it's heater hose, blow a reversing light, and develop a short circuit affecting the indicators and rear screen wiper. It couldn't have waited for summer, could it? At least this car doesn't grow a pool of water under the driver's feet during wet weather (like the last one). I must lift the rug and check that out some time.

"Procrastination is the thief of time", they say. I say, "Once a thief, always a thief", so what can I do about it? For a while, it seemed that a friend of ours in Texas had a solution to my problem. She keeps a file on her PC with a list of all her jobs in order of urgency - adding and deleting as she goes along. She said it worked really well for her, and it sounded really good. I printed a version for us and put it in the Useful Drawer, with every good intention to look at it regularly. I probably would if I had the time. Perhaps I will - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon . . .



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