If Type A personalities are workaholics, my wife complains that Iím a Type Z. ďIf you moved any slower, Iíd have you reupholstered,Ē was how she put it this morning. It wasnít always that way. I used to be one of those guys who worked two jobs and would go raving mad if there wasnít something to do every single waking moment. I would come back from vacations more tired than when I left. If it took most people seven days to see Europe, I would try to do it in three. The Eiffel Tower? Done. The Vatican? Done. Buckingham Palace? Done. Bye. Next!
If we went to a ball game, I was one of those jerks who gets up in the seventh inning and heads for the exits so they can beat the traffic. Waiting in line for anything would make me twitch. What are they doing up there? What could possibly take so long? I would lean out as far as I could to see what was holding everything up, I would stand on my tiptoes to try and give the culprit the evil eye. Then Iíd turn to the guy behind me and tell him in great detail how much better things would be if I ran the place.
A traffic jam? I would invent swear words. I would dream of one day owning a car that had a heads-up windshield display and weapons on it like a fighter jet, preferably those air-to-air missiles. Iíd acquire the target, usually the car directly in front of me, lock in and blast him to smithereens.
After a lifetime of this, no one would travel, go to a ball game, go grocery shopping or even ride in a car with me.
I had forgotten that the whole idea of a baseball game is to get out of the house for a few hours and forget your cares. Why was I in such a rush back to whatever it was that was making me crazy that day? The whole idea of a vacation is not to run around like a crazy person, but to relax and take a break from the normal routine. You donít even have to get on a plane to do that. Go to a movie. Bake a cake. There are enough people out there trying to make you crazy, you shouldnít do it to yourself. Waiting in line doesnít bother me at all any more. Iím never in a rush. Iíll be there when I get there.
A close friend is getting married this summer and sheís making herself crazy with all the details, sheís called us 50 times Ė will there be enough booze? Are the hors díoeuvres correct? Does the dress fit right? Should we write our own vows? What about the bridesmaids? The list goes on forever. Finally I said, ďMonica, if this wedding isnít perfect, Iím not coming to your next one.Ē She is so caught up in making it perfect that sheís forgotten why sheís having a wedding in the first place Ė because she loves the guy. Nobody is coming to her wedding because it will be perfect. They are coming because they are her friends, they could care less what flavor the punch will be.
Iíve decided Iím a recovering workaholic. I tell Sue that if I ever do even one little job, I may have a relapse. Thatís why I canít mow the lawn, why I canít weed the garden, why I canít clean the bathroom. Letís go to a movie. The trouble is, this new me isnít making Sue as happy as it is making me. But she wasnít happy when I was working two jobs and stumbling home at 4 a.m., either. Especially when she found out I got off work at 11 p.m.
Jim Mullen is the author of ďIt Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple LifeĒ and ďBabyís First Tattoo.Ē You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.