Monday, July 9, 2007


I try to be nice. I don't steal or kill or covet other men's wives. So I rarely feel guilty about anything, with occasional exceptions.

One exception was about a week ago. I went home for lunch and realized that I was way overdue to take the garbage out. We don't have curbside pickup in Gloucester Point, so that means you have to take your trash to the dump. I was sort of in a rush to get back to work because I had already taken a very "leisurely" lunch, watching the noon news, reading a windsurfing magazine, etc. So I decided instead of going to the dump, I would sneak into the apartment complex where I used to live and throw my stuff in their dumpster. This was something I did every once in a while. I'd say I only made it to the actual dump about 82% of the time. Well, just after I had disposed of my trash, the apartment superintendent, who knew me, came out from around the corner and asked me what I was doing. I froze for a minute, then opted for honesty. "I'm trying sneak my trash into your dumpster. You caught me." Fortunately, he was nice about it, and didn't actually seem to care to much. But it was really embarassing, and I'm definitely not going to try it again during daylight hours.

The things that I most regularly feel guilty about, however, are not naughty things that I do, but good things that I NEGLECT to do, due to laziness, carelessness, and / or absent-minded distraction. There was a good example this weekend, which I am still feeling guilty about now. I forgot to "backwash" the outdoor aquarium water system at our laboratory. You have to backwash every day or the filter gets clogged with plankton and silt, shutting off water delivery to the tanks. Fortunately, the water just slowed down this time - it didn't stop completely so I didn't ruin anyone's experiments or anything. But it COULD have been worse. So I really felt stupid and my labmates were a bit upset with me, too. I need to use some kind of fool-proof reminder system for myself when there's something VERY important that I need to remember. The calendar doesn't work because I'm not in the habit of looking at it every day. I think I will actually try a string around the finger next time I have to backwash.

On a deeper note, I may need to think about adding a little more regimentation to my current modus operandi. The effort of organizing might add a little stress, but if it saves me the stress of guilt and saves others around me the stress of dealing with a disorganized person, it could be worth it.

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