Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Past Deadline: Beeps and Flashes

When I was in high school, I had a part-time job at Burger King. It was great fun – despite the polyester uniforms of the early days (it got better). My friends were there, I learned lots and we had a grand time.

Sometimes, though, there can be too much of a good thing.

Working lots of shifts on a weekend meant a bigger paycheque, but there were drawbacks. I’m not just talking about the things grown-ups would worry about, such as less time for school work and the possibility of too much fast food and getting home safely after night shifts and such.

I’m talking about the beepers in one’s head.

I remember some times when I’d work a couple of long shifts in a weekend, and if they were particularly busy – maybe on a holiday, for example – I’d come away from it in a bit of a stupor.
Then I’d dream about the sound of the beepers: timers indicating when the fries, chicken, fish or onion rings were ready. Not to mention the ping of the microwaves and the beep of the drive thru.

That place was full of beeps.

When I’d dream about beeps and then have to get up and go in to work the next day—those felt like really loooong nights.

Then there’s Tetris. In university I occasionally felt compelled to procrastinate. I know...that’s hard to fathom coming from someone who writes a column called “Past Deadline.” (I seldom was actually past deadline with anything, but I was frequently working to deadline.)

Anyway, back in those heady days of computers equipped with DOS (that means the olden days, kids), the height of procrastination games for me was called Tetris. Little coloured shapes would fall from the top of the screen and the player had to spin them around so that they would fit into available spaces at the bottom of the screen. With each passing level, the speed of the game would increase.

I like to think this was a way to practise manual dexterity, not to mention brushing up on geometry, which is really important when one is taking an arts program. It was also a great way to unwind before starting on some great, lofty essay or assignment, unless, of course, you did it for hours and hours, and then it’s just plain straight stupid procrastination.

Tetris was my “beeps” for that era. I would go to sleep (often short sleeps since I would be cramming after wasting so much time) and in my dreams, dancing across my eyelids, would be innumerable coloured shapes falling at varying speeds.

So. Not. Restful.

I would love to report that my addiction for this era is something like vegetables or swimming or yoga or horticulture or reading classic literature or finding the cure for cancer...but, no. In my world it always seems to come back to light and sound.

So my current addiction? Can you guess? I introduced “him” a couple of months ago.

Yes, it’s George. Or, as I like to call him, Mr. George BlackBerry, my executive assistant.

CrackBerry, indeed.

I do love George. He has a calendar that alerts me when I need to be somewhere. I can be away from the home office and still get important messages. I can get a little work done while standing around in line. I can chat with friends when I feel lonely. He cheerfully pings and dingalings when he has messages for me.

I play with George. Probably a bit too much. I’m still learning about some of his interesting features and apps. So far there is no Tetris.

I’ve been at a few meetings and gatherings recently where questions have arisen and George has been able to answer them. “What was the theme song for CHiPs?” someone asked the other night. George found it and played it. “How long does it take for a robin’s eggs to hatch?” was another recent question. George’s query revealed it is 14 days. This is important stuff!

Yes, I am addicted to George. Some days he feels like too much coffee. Some nights I feel a little queasy as I shut him down.

If I start hearing beeps or seeing colourful shapes in my sleep, I’ll be certain.

Published in The Perth Courier, May 12/11.


andrea frazer said...

Try having a kid with Tourettes. YOu'll have more beeps and sounds than you know what to do with. But hey, it does get endearing. I can't complain about it too much. Hugs.

Christine said...

I had a good time catching up here last night. You are so good at what you do! Blogger wouldn't let me comment last night. Take care. Enjoy spring!