December 18, 2008

Efficiency vs Laziness

The other day my teenaged son and I were folding laundry on our ping pong table together. He has recently graduated from having his mom do his laundry to doing it himself. And as any loving mother would do, I corrected his technique from time to time. One technique I found, shall we say... interesting, was his start... stop... way of getting the job done. It could have had something to do with the fact that the television was on. Is there any other way to fold laundry then in front of the television I ask? It's one of the only times I allow myself to watch TV is while I fold.

After a time I said to N, "look at how much laundry I have folded compared to you. It's because I am efficient."  I love efficiency btw. I used to be a dental assistant before going to hygiene school and loved passing off instruments in that efficient way. Anticipating the tool that the Dentist would need next and handing it over before being asked, saving that extra few seconds thrilled me. I loved reading the book 'Cheaper by the Dozen' where the father in the story is an efficiency expert. He knew just how to do everything (down to the minutest thing) in the fastest most efficient way. Buttoning one's vest from the bottom to the top is faster than from top to bottom was one thing I learnt from that book. Now if I only had more vests... If I can be doing two things at once I always do. Watching bathing children while cleaning a bathroom. Taking on the phone while doing dishes.  I will spare you what I do while sitting on the potty. (floss.... perhaps? Before the final stages of coarse!)

My kids are always being told that the way they are doing things is not the most time efficient way.  I am sure this is annoying to them.  Especially N who is already prone to argue with me these days.  So when I told him that he wasn't being efficient at laundry he told me that another word for 'efficiency' is 'lazy.'  Which made absolutely no sense at all to me.  His argument was that I wanted to be done with things in a hurry so that I could sit around and be lazy.  I must be afraid of a little work and taking my time to do it right.  Oh where have I gone wrong with this first born child!? How can he not see the beauty of getting things done quickly so there can be time for more work. Done efficiently.  

After a bit of thought, I realized that sometimes my methods of getting things done are a bit on the lazy side.  I push things into drawers so it looks tidy because I am too hurried (lazy) to be bothered to organize everything all the time.  My stack of junk mail is always heaping.  I'd rather things look neat than actually put everything in place.  Don't ask about my filing cabinet and the 'yearly purge.'

So I shared this theory of N's with some friends of mine while over at their place. I was helping them tidy up after dinner.  I thought they would find his analysis amusing.  

Then we got to the double broiler that needed hand washing.  Both pieces.  And the conversation went like this:  

Me: "What did you use this for?" I asked going over the menu items in my head.  Nope, no melted chocolate for dinner.

TC: "Oh, we used that to steam the corn"   

Me: "You mean the frozen corn we had?"

TC: "Yeah"

Me: "Hmm... that's fancy.  I usually just throw mine in a bowl with some water and nuke it in the microwave"  (Efficient I am thinking).

TC: "Well, my husband has this thing about the corn being steamed, he thinks it tastes better that way"

Me: "Yes but it's just frozen corn- and it takes you so much longer this way.  Does it really taste better?"

TC: "I am not sure- but he likes to go through the extra work, so I let him"

Then her husband went into a long explanation about the skins of the kernels staying intact, sealing in freshness, etc...

"Well" I teased "that's not very efficient..."

"Well" he teased back "Your way is just lazy!"


Melody said...

Hmm, steamed corn. I'll have to try that. Never mind, I'm way too lazy.

BTW, I love Cheaper By the Dozen! I just finished the sequel, Belles on Their Toes, and it's just as cute. Totally recommend it.

Dallas said...

Must say, it does get you thinking.

Melinda said...

There is something in male DNA that makes it impossible to fold clothes while watching TV. The male person watches TV for several minutes, remembers to fold one item, and then watches more TV. Multitasking these two things seems impossible somehow!

Eileen said...

I'm just impressed your oldest is doing his own laundry.

And I believe you've talked to me on the phone while using the potty. Very efficient.

Kelly said...

I recall that recent phone conversation and you will be pleased to know that not only was I talking to you and doing my business, but I was wiping down the dirty sink getting the toothpaste from the morning out of it. When I can pull off a triple I am especially pleased!

Also, making correct change at the store makes me happy. Seems an efficient use of coinage. Should I see a shrink about this?