Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Signs of Senility? Or The Dangers of Distraction?

I was shutting down my PC on Monday evening when an email popped in, a reminder that Jim needed to renew his driver's license within the next few days. J. has held a CDL for decades, first when he was a long-haul trucker, then retaining it as he has continued to drag around heavy equipment on a trailer.

During December he had the physical exam required for renewal of the license every two years.
 On Tuesday morning I mentioned the email which had stated that licensing could be renewed by mail or online, however none of the links provided on the state's website were functional. J. announced that he would go into town and renew his license at the courthouse.
'You can't,' I replied, 'That is no longer a possibility.'
'Well, then, fill out the online application for me!'
[Jim does a number of things online, but filling out a form is not one of his many skills.]
'I can't fill out the form--the online links don't work!'
I was feeling rather cross!

I do not like to be presented with demands or unusual circumstances first thing in the morning. 
I had chosen to read until between 2 and 3 A.M.--a historical novel I wanted to finish. 
I realized that trying to deal with the problematic government website on minimal sleep and before breakfast was detrimental to my temper.

Muddling about online I found the phone number for the new licensing location in town, handed it over to J. and stomped off to the kitchen.
Yes, he could renew his license there in person but there was often a waiting line so the earlier his arrival the better chance of not sitting [masked] until a clerk was free. 

My license is due for renewal in March, so by going along  [breakfast-less]  I could save a later trip.
A sign on the street pointed us toward a hodgepodge of office buildings, most of them with no identifying designation. After approaching several, J. went into a nearby diner and asked for directions.
There were only a few people waiting when we arrived, and the receptionist, an acquaintance of our daughter, quickly filled out preliminary forms and guided us to a cubicle.
J. had by now decided to relinquish his CDL for a regular license which required, of course, an additional form to be signed. 
There was a general milling about and only one clerk who seemed totally familiar with the new procedures.
We both opted for the 8 year license--hoping that we are still sound of mind and body when time rolls around for another renewal.
It was as well that J. decided we were heading to the little restaurant for a late breakfast.
As we tucked into our omelets he asked, 'Do you need anything while we are in town?'

I have been wanting to set up an LED fixture to tend some of my plants for the winter.
It took no time at all to locate them at Wal Mart along with a sack of cat kibble and a few other quickly gathered items.
Jim prefers the self checkout stands--I'm not fond of the small space allotted for the scanners.
The hand-held scanner gun, useful to scan heavy or awkward items without removal from the shopping cart, was not working. The 4 foot long packages of lights had to be balanced on the scanning unit, followed by the 18 lb bag of kibble. Thinking to speed checkout and get out of Wal Mart [I have a 15 minute tolerance for the place!] I began scanning the smaller items while J. lifted out the heavier ones. We were getting in each other's way. 

When the total was tallied J. began feeding bills into the required slot. Several were accepted, the last one shot back out while the machine reminded us that another dollar was owed. When the final bill was swallowed and change clanged into the receptacle I pushed the shopping cart at speed toward the exit. In the parking lot J. towed the front end of the cart along the bumpy asphalt while I pushed. I loaded bags into the back seat of the car while he stowed the larger items in the luggage compartment.

At home, opening the trunk, he asked, 'What have you done with the lights?'
We spent the afternoon puzzling how J. could have left two 48 inch light fixtures in the shopping cart.
He phoned the store--a cart hadn't been brought in with the light fixtures in it. Our son, alerted, went into the store to inquire and generously bought two more light fixtures for us.
I spent much of the evening concerned that J. was seriously losing his mind!

This morning, showered and dressed, I was waylaid on the way to the kitchen by J. demanding, "Do you remember exactly what we bought yesterday at Wal Mart?"
Glaring at him, I reeled off the list: the lights; 2 extension cords for installing said lights; 2 jugs of anti-freeze; 4 cartons of half and half; a large carton of eggs; large bag of cat kibble; bag of grapefruit, a package of cherry tomatoes.

J. announced gleefully that he'd had a brainstorm at 2 A. M.
'We never put the light fixtures back in the cart after having trouble with the scanner! Neither of us noticed that when you detoured to the vision center to make an appointment, we didn't notice going across the parking lot or unloading the cart.!'

Another phone call to the customer service desk revealed that the lights had been discovered at the scanning unit--propped against the wall, brought to the service desk and logged into the 'left behind' ledger. We could come and retrieve them!

We did just that--torn between the resolution of the dilemma and the realization that we had both become so distracted and impatient that we didn't notice we were leaving the store without the main item for which we had shopped.
While in town we stopped at the local liquidation warehouse--always a clutter of items but sometimes very useful things at reduced prices. 
We found nothing we wanted, until I noticed several pallets of potting mix in the yard.
Pointing them out to Jim I wondered if the price was good enough to buy them for topping off the new raised bed containers in the spring.
Jim came back to the car with the details and we decided it was a buy!

Back to the house to exchange the car for truck and trailer to haul the pallets, first stopping to treat ourselves to a meal at Subway.
Home at last in a better frame of mind.

'My'  light bar has been installed in the middle room of the lower level, African violets and my smaller rosemarys arranged on the counter. 
Jim will install the other three lights in his shop.

The pallets of soil mix have been unloaded and stacked alongside the garden.
We have discussed yesterday's incident, deciding that we are not quite senile; if we shop together at Wal Mart again [hopefully not soon!] we'll come up with a better, less distracting way of checking out. 
One person can remove items from the cart and place on the scanner; the other will bag items and stash in the shopping cart. We will check to see that all is accounted for.

I'm reminded of the old Monopoly game: Do not pass 'go'--do not collect $100--go directly to jail!

We are not yet [praise God] demented, but we have proved that in certain settings we share the ability to be distracted!



  1. Glad that the missing lights turned up - lovely to have those plants thriving indoors over winter. Sometimes I think I am going mad when I know I have bought something, but cannot find it although generally not items as big as your lights!

    You have reminded me that I need to get some more compost for tubs here, so I shall - hopefully remember to - do that this morning.

  2. The African violets look so happy, so it was a worthwhile shopping experience. And, I know you are happy with all that potting mix. I did enjoy your story and couldn’t help smiling at the thought that the two of you could have well been us!