Friday, January 11, 2019

something I realized

Yesterday, I ran a bunch of errands: I needed a couple of things from Ulta, I wanted to make a Target run, I wanted to go to the natural-foods store. The weather today was supposed to be (and is) crummy, and Saturday is also supposed to be cold, so I decided to go on a Thursday.

Guys. There is something almost-decadent and wonderful about going shopping on an ordinary (i.e., non-holiday - so people are neither off work nor are rushing around to prep for some future holiday) weekday midday.

There was NO ONE around. Parking was simple. The clerks in the stores were more relaxed and happy, I presume because they weren't peopled-out and hadn't had to deal with the "I want to speak with a manager [over some petty inconvenience that doesn't deserve such]" brigade.

I took a lot of time at Target because there were a number of things I needed, and some (like unscented tealights and the stickum that holds throw rugs in place) were a little tricky to find, and also I kept thinking of things not on my list but that I could use and that would be convenient to get then - a fresh package of athletic socks for working out (somehow, I seem to keep losing these, and usually wind up using a mismatched pair because that's all I can locate). And some school supplies for the coming semester. And all that.

And I took some time at the other places, just looking, because I rarely have the luxury of doing that - my usual Saturday runs are more "I'm nearly out of powder, so I need to just grab that and scram" and most of my time in the Ulta is spent waiting on line to check out.

(I didn't go downtown, though I did toy with the idea of going to the little yarn shop. Good thing I did not because there was apparently a kerfuffle where a "suspicious envelope" was mailed to some Representative's office in or near the courthouse there, and traffic got snarled, and they may even have tried to chivvy some people out of the shops out of extreme concern for their safety)

I was able to get everything I needed, pretty much (I couldn't find the right size furnace filter at Target - it takes an odd size, 12 x 20 - but I know I have a spare one at home).

Perhaps one of the future marks of luxury is being able to do things like avoid the worst of crowds? I once opined that the future mark of luxury, instead of having the newest fanciest new-fangled cell phone* was to be someone who didn't *need* one because they are not someone at the beck and call of others.

(*I am old enough to remember the days of "Trading Places" and similar movies, where the big, old late-80s brick-type cell phones or car phones were the absolute hallmark that This Guy Is Very Rich and Very Important)

And yeah, I stand by that. I have heard too many stories of people in the Hell Economy of some forms of retail where they would get called in the morning if they were "needed" (and were going to get paid) that day. Or, some or the worse sorts of for-profit online colleges where supposedly the "faculty" are supposed to be reachable 24/7.

It used to be being "on call" was for people like general practitioners or obstetricians. And even then, there were times when they weren't "on call," at least in practices where there was more than one doctor. (And also, I guess, people like firefighters, but then again: there are times they are "off call" and cannot be called and someone else would cover for them).

I make a point to my students that "if you e-mail me after about 4 pm on a day, I will respond the next morning, usually before 8 am." I think that's fine, and I think it's fair to set boundaries about when you can be reached.

(Something I read elsewhere: "The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the people who felt entitled to your constant time or attention before" and I think that's true)

I also tell people I need 24 hours lead-time on things. (Well, there are a very situations where it'd be enough of an emergency that I'd be okay with dropping everything for a meeting on shorter notice, but those situations are so rare I don't bring them up, because I don't want people thinking their minor inconvenience is actually a major emergency, and WHY DOESN'T SHE SAY SHE CAN COME TO THE MEETING I CALLED IN THE NEXT HOUR?)

But yeah. I think the future hallmark of "luxury" will be "my time is more or less my own, and other people cannot call me up and tell me 'you have to be in a particular place two hours from now to deal with  my problem'"

And that includes things like - being able to set your own schedule (I have a little leeway on my teaching schedule. I usually go along to get along with what's proposed, but I'd give a hard no to being asked to teach a 8 pm to 10 pm lab, for example). And not having to dance like a puppet when someone else has a problem they could solve themselves, but they want you to do it. And being able to go home for meals, at least some of the time. (And of course that also includes the luxury of living close to your workplace. There are a few things about my house that are not ideal - not enough storage space - and about the neighborhood I'm in that aren't ideal, but being 5 minutes from campus IS pretty ideal).

And also stuff like being able to run errands when not-everybody-else is. Man, that's nice. I forgot how nice that was. If I could get over  my feeling of "obligation" about being on campus during "business hours" every week day, I'd seriously consider taking the occasional Tuesday afternoon (I get out of class at 12:15) and running my Sherman errands THEN, and maybe coming in a couple hours on Saturdays to make up. No one would say *anything* to me if I did that, but still, I feel the sense of obligation to be here.

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