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Suburban Island

Timing and Cold Drinks
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2003, 1:53 p.m.

QUESTION: Why rent when you can buy?

WHAT I LEARNED: Timing is everything.

Priorities, priorities, priorities. Sometimes it’s hard to do the right things, at the right time, to get the right result. I came across a choice example recently in my own daily life. It may be just a small failure woven into the fabric of my day but it is also a useful lesson in personal priorities and timing.

It all started with 2 simple requests, which became 2 seemingly simple chores – get a video at the video store and pick up frappacinos at the coffee shop. I bought the fraps first, not for any sensible reason such as proximity or efficiency. I did it this way because, between leaving the house and driving down the road, I momentarily forgot about the video. Yes, that’s all it took to empty my mind.

I was happy in the coffee shop and proudly walked out with my carrier of coffees for the family. After one sip of my frosty frap however, the fog lifted from my brain. Maybe it was the sudden influx of caffeine – or a moment of non-driving, non-talking, non-multi-tasking – but suddenly I recalled the video request.

I knew immediately I had made a big mistake. Still, I drove to the video store, parked the car, and left the fraps in the container inside. It was a warm afternoon but how long could it take to run in and get a copy of Spy Kids 2. All I had to do was run in, pull it off the shelf, pay for it, and get back in the car.

Not quite.

The store was empty but I could not find the Spy Kids 2 movie. I walked from end to end of the new releases wall with no luck. Family section – nothing there? Adventure shelves - nope? Where? Where? Where was it? My fraps are wilting, thank you. Finally I asked the lone employee lurking in the back and he pointed me to an obscure corner of the store where only the NEW kids movies are – versus the old kid movies that are somewhere else on the other side of the store.

All this time a whiny wailing din was emanating from some small citizen of the world. This irritable child was with a frazzled mom and a couple baby-cry-immune siblings. They were asking the sales person in the shop many questions and he ran off to the back room. This was bad because I needed him to come back out of the back room and ring me up.

I had my opportunity to monopolize his time and had tried to grab the Spy Kid movie myself. Now I had it in my hand and was standing at the register but there was nobody there to check me out. I imagined the fraps melting down like Frosty the Snowman on a bad day and there was nothing I could do except continue to impatiently clutch the Spy Kids 2 box in my hands and try to block out the noise of the fussy screaming toddler stressing out in the video store. I did understand his frustration and I certainly felt sorry for the mom but I am not used to fussy kids anymore. I have teenagers and they have their own drawbacks in video stores. The best I could do was give her a reassuring smile and look a little harder for the cashier.

Finally the employee returned to his station. I know he had been hiding back there behind the door that said employees only, stuffing cotton in his ears. But no matter because he was at the register now and I was handing him my free video card which had exactly one movie left on it.

Sadly, the late return of a prior rental cancelled out the free film. More discussion ensued.

Finally, I took my movie and headed out to my melted fraps. The persistent sobs of a tired toddler followed me out the door and drifted out onto the sidewalk.

As I slide into my car and observed my unfrozen fraps, I realized that timing, was indeed everything.

And the Spy Kids 2 movie – we never got a chance to watch it. It went back to the video store late due to our repeated insistence that we were just about to watch it every time that my husband offered to take it back.

That’ll be another $4.50 please and oh, have a nice day. Another day, another movie rental gone awry.

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Redesigning the pyramid...

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