Steps to complete a simple task are typically as follows:
Step 1: Get thing needed for task
Step 2: Do task
(Step 3: Relax and bask in feeling of accomplishment)
I’m speaking in terms of everyday tasks, of course. I won’t be referring to the steps needed to acquire a doctorate degree or buy a house. These are complicated undertakings and we’ll set those aside for now. Simple jobs. Day to day stuff. I’ll start with a few examples.
Goal: Send e-mail.
Step 1: Log on e-mail account.
Step 2: Type e-mail and send.
Goal: Hang up a picture.
Step 1: Get hammer and nail.
Step 2: Hang picture.
Goal: Eat breakfast.
Step 1: Cook eggs.
Step 2: Eat breakfast.
This post is not about the mundane moments of my life, though I’m sure that’s what you were hoping. I’m talking about a heavier topic here: resources. What happens when your resources get taken away or changed entirely? The past 2 months have been a roller coaster of my resource supply. Resources I have lived with were quickly removed (both against my will and by choice), and others became provided through drastically new and different outlets. While I can appreciate the fact that I am clearly a person with many resources that others do not have, I have also enjoyed watching the process that develops as my circumstances twist the steps of my everyday life in frustrating and hilarious ways. Here’s a taste of what I mean:
Goal: Send e-mail. (while camping and training in Michigan)
Step 1: Look for signal. None found.
Step 2: Check again for signal. Phone dying.
Step 3: Charge phone at outlet in garage.
Step 4: Write out e-mail on paper while training session is going on.
Step 5: Copy note to text on phone once charged.
Step 6: Save copy to Notes in case gmail doesn’t work.
Step 7: Check for signal. One bar found.
Step 8: Attempt to send e-mail with one bar until it fades.
Step 9: Walk around area in between trees, trying to find service bars again.
Step 10: Attempt to send e-mail with spotty signal.
Step 11: Wait several minutes while gmail says mail is sending.
Step 12: Check outbox for any mail.
Step 13: Find 1 message in outbox. E-mail was not sent.
Step 14: Decide to try again tomorrow.
Step 15: Find time during training day to charge phone in garage.
Step 16: Realize that phone charging cord is missing.
Step 17: Alert the group that cord is missing.
Step 18: Come back to garage and cord has been returned.
Step 19: Charge phone.
Step 20: Attempt to find signal at new tree area.
Step 21: Click send and wait for loading bar to cross the screen.
Step 22: Check outbox for any messages.
Step 23: E-mail sent.
Goal: Hang up a picture (at new apartment in Colombia)
Step 1: Go to large shopping center.
Step 2: Ask sales clerk where hammers are.
Step 3: Google translate how to say ‘hammer’
Step 4: Ask another sales clerk where hammers are in Spanish.
Step 5: Wander to the back corner of large shopping center past several aisles of not-hammers.
Step 6: Find back wall of hammers.
Step 7: Begin decision-making process of purchasing a hammer.
Step 8: Calculate estimated Colombian pesos to US dollars for each hammer.
Step 9: Find cheapest hammer that appears to still function as a hammer.
Step 10: Ask a sales clerk for the ‘thing that is used with this hammer’ in Spanish.
Step 11: Get brought over to other sales clerk to help understand and make awkward motions for what a nail is.
Step 12: Get brought to nail aisle by second sales clerk.
Step 13: Begin decision-making process of purchasing a nail.
Step 14: Rule out any nails too thick or short for hanging items.
Step 15: Rule out any ails that only come in packages of 3,000,000
Step 16: Decide to purchase nails that are a little too thick but seem like they might work okay.
Step 17: Purchase hammer and nail with pride using Colombian pesos.
Step 18: Go home.
Step 19: Attempt to nail into wall.
Step 20: Discover wall material is very thick and will not allow nails to pass.
Step 21: Set down hammer and nail on side table with despair.
Step 22: Brainstorm other ways to hang items on the wall.
Step 23: Decide to try using double-sided tape instead.
Step 24: Investigate where double-sided tape might be sold in Colombia.
Step 25: Take metro downtown.
Step 26: Walk through winding booths and browse for a shop that may sell tape-type items.
Step 27: Walk up to a Ferreteria and ask for ‘tape that sticks on both sides’ in Spanish.
Step 28: Ask for tape hooks to use for hanging as well by using finger motions to signify ‘hooks’.
Step 29: Have colorful exchange with vendor who tries to get an extra 1,000 COP from us instead of giving us our change.
Step 30: Purchase two more tape hooks instead of receiving change.
Step 31: Take metro home.
Step 32: Put sticky tape on back of item to hang.
Step 33: Remove backing.
Step 34: Stick item to wall.
Step 35: Return 10 minutes later to find item 1/2 fallen off.
Step 36: Attempt to re-stick using nail-pressing skills ‘like in Korea’
Step 37: Item hung.
Goal: Eat breakfast (at new apartment in Colombia)
Step 1: Look for grocery store.
Step 2: Find small store 2 minute walk with mostly bread products and chips.
Step 3: Look for larger grocery store.
Step 4: Find medium-size store with sad produce but a few options.
Step 5: Look for larger grocery store.
Step 6: Find large-ish store.
Step 7: Explore produce section in back of store.
Step 8: Inspect egg choices.
Step 9: Decide to purchase 6-pack of large eggs.
Step 10: Look for spinach in produce section.
Step 11: Find several lettuce options other than spinach.
Step 12: Look over produce section again, more thoroughly.
Step 13: Find package of ‘espinaca’.
Step 14: Estimate price by dividing COP by 3,000.
Step 15: Decide to buy spinach.
Step 16: Begin search for cooking oil.
Step 17: Find aisle of oils.
Step 18: No coconut oil within reasonable price.
Step 19: Decide to purchase olive oil instead.
Step 20: Mull over olive oil choices deciding whether to purchase and carry home a more authentic-looking but heavy, glass bottle or cheaper, plastic bottle.
Step 21: Choose plastic bottle with Spanish/Italian-sounding label.
Step 22: Begin search for salt and pepper.
Step 23: Find spice aisle.
Step 24: Awkwardly inspect spice choices behind employee who is refilling shelves.
Step 25: Choose expensive pink Himalayan salt because I’m worth it.
Step 26: Look for pepper grinder.
Step 27: Find ground pepper in plastic bottle and bag form.
Step 28: Struggle to ask employee for pepper that ‘does what this salt one does’ in Spanish, unable to remember the word for ‘grinder’.
Step 29: Join team with employee to hunt for elusive pepper grinder.
Step 30: Determine together that no such pepper exists, despite the wide variety of salt grinders.
Step 31: Choose super cheap bag of ground pepper as a temporary solution in hopes of finder a grinder later.
Step 32: Complete 10 minute walk uphill back to apartment, regretting the glass-bottled pasta sauce weighing the backpack down and increasing sweat output.
Step 33: Use electric side of stove because I haven’t yet used the gas side which requires one to start up with a lighter.
Step 34: Cook eggs in olive oil, with spinach, pepper, and salt.
Step 35: Eat breakfast.
To leave you with a cliff-hanger, we are currently in Step 49 of hanging up a hammock on our balcony and the task is not yet complete. Here’s to more steps and counting!, because I’m learning to appreciate my resources more and take joy in the extra effort. I know it makes that final step even more satisfying (she says as she pictures herself lulled to sleep in the gentle breeze of the hammock).