Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Particular Challenges of Being an Idiot

Last week, I was paying bills and balancing the checkbook and making sure receipts were recorded in the check register. Yes, I still pay bills the old fashioned way, keeping all the relevant materials in a folder near my's a symptom of idiocy as well as loyalty to a bank that doesn't have online banking. Well, not loyalty. Laziness. It would be a huge pain in the butt to change banks at this point.

Anyway, overcome with an AR/OC tendency to be hyper-organized, I decided to separate all the receipts for Christmas stuff into their own envelope. I even labeled the envelope "Christmas Receipts" because the idea of just separating them out wasn't AR/OC enough. After I wrote the label, however, I realized that Nick might see it and snoop through it, so I put the envelope someplace safe, out of sight.

Monday evening, when I was bagging up some items to return to Target, I thought, "Now, where did I stash that envelope?"

Y'all know where this is going because chances are good that you have been there yourself.

It turns out that our brains are actually really bad at remembering where we hide stuff. Squirrels might remember the locations of thousands of nuts hidden away for winter, but humans...well, let's just say our memories for hiding places are not the best. Consider the case of a man named Tom who hid $4,000 worth of gold coins in a dried-out paint can. Years later, when a friend came over to help him do some painting, he and the friend tossed all the old cans of paint in a dumpster. Months later, it popped into Tom's head that the gold coins had been in one of those cans.

Tom's story is included in a wonderful book titled Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Above Average. If you want to understand why you commit idiotic mistakes, read this book. It's entertaining, informative, well-written, and extremely comforting while you're reading it. It will not, however, help you learn to avoid these mistakes because we're hardwired for them. When I realized I'd lost the Christmas receipts envelope, this book was the first thing that popped into my head. At least I hadn't thrown away $4,000 worth of gold coins.

That didn't, however, make me feel any better as I fretted over the location of the envelope. And boy did I fret. I must have asked the universe twenty times, "Where the heck is that envelope?" I asked it so often even George pitched in to help me find it. As is so often the case, I was doing the dishes when suddenly, the location of the envelope popped out of nowhere into my frontal lobe. I shed my rubber gloves and opened the folder I keep bill stuff in. There it was.

God, bless me. I am an idiot.


  1. yesssssssssssssssssss!!
    where to start?
    forgot what i wanted to say while i opened up the comments!!!!!!

    that book sounds great. have you read BLINK?
    fascinating about how our minds work.
    i was thinking the other day about a family who were friends of ours when we lived in buffalo. they have 3 kids, mostly grown now. i couln't remember the middle child's name. after "interviewing" random boy names to see if i could find it, i just said to'll come to me. 4 or 5 days later i am walking with my sister in philadelphia. we are talking about our mother who is struggling right now with her health, and i blurt out "matthew. his name is matthew." WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?????!!!!!!!!!!! we laughed soo hard!

    love, love, love visiting with you every day. my favorites are my days off when i sit on the couch in the morning with my coffee and read your notes.
    thanks so much and enjoy your thursday,

  2. big 'loss' this week has been a pair of mittens that I printed, colored, paper pieced, and fun flocked, for a GDT spot on Saturday. One really good thing is that my craft table is REALLY clean! No, I didn't throw it away, and I didn't remember where I put it to dry. I will find it someday... Thanks for another wonderful post! Off to make another pair of mittens...

  3. I "lose" things all the time. I finally read an article about where to hide things. They said to hide things where it would make sense and not where it would be hard to find or get to. What makes sense to you may not make sense to anyone else. I have a cheat sheet of all the passwords I have to use to everything. It's a hard copy (don't keep in on my computer) and it my secert place. :)

  4. I've found it's helpful to say outloud, "I am putting ________ in __________. I will not forget that I am putting __________ in __________. Somehow the auditory reinforcement helps my crazy brain.

  5. Um, yes. I have been there. Lots of times.
    I bought some Christmas cookie cutters 2 weeks ago and now can't find them. Also some other decorations I had bought.
    I'll find them after Christmas.
    The book sounds very interesting. Thanks.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!