Jun 29, 2012

A System in Everything

Common interests and common features are the things that bring people together, and these often become the glue of a relationship - be this as friends or as partners. It happens then that, as the relationship evolves you either find out that the common things cease existing, or that they multiply. Then there are certain things that might look weird, so we are adamant about sharing them, but once we do, when we realize that our friends or our other half also shares these weird treats, we feel not only relieved by not being the only weirdoes in town, but also feel even more connected to them. Well, I'm about to tell you about one of my weird features: I'm quite obsessed about order.

It might not look like it if you look around my desk - be it at the office or at work - or my dresser, the counter at the bathroom or even the way I keep my closet, but I am. When I'm not with my boyfriend at the supermarket - or any store, for that matter - I place every single item in order. It might take a lot more of space than if I would simply dump the whole contents of the shopping basket on the counter or the moving strip, but I take the time to sort every product by type (frozen products, fresh products, canned, sweets and salty, beverages, hygene products, cleaning products... and so on) and arrange them orderly, by size and how they display better on the counter. (Then I tend to collect all the baskets other customers haven't put away, and put them all away ORDERLY!) I would do the same with clothes and books if I could, and I know I have tried, except that the sales people always extend their hands for whatever I have in my arms and grab it before I can give it any sense.

It happens also that - when buying and trying out clothes - I also use a "three hanger system". I would think that the system is quite normal and everybody use it, but who knows, right? Well, as you know by now, the changing rooms are the last stop I make at a given store. I start the experience by searching all over the store for all those clothes that look like pretty to me. In an average good day, this can mean up to 7 pieces, though I have carried over 20. Sometimes the stores don't allow you to carry so many clothes into the changing rooms, so I make a salesgirl wait outside with all of those pieces I've selected but are over their limit. Often the success of the shopping depends also on the changing rooms. Dirty cabins, or cabins evidently used to store things are very, very discouraging, and often get me in a bad mood, which reflects then on my opinion on the clothes and I end up buying nothing. However, the biggest matters about a cabin are the pegs or hooks where I can hang my bag, my own clothes and the clothes I brought in for trying. A bench is nice, it really is, but pegs or hangers are better so my bag keeps from falling over and my stuff from spilling on the floor.

Aside from the pegs, hooks or space for my stuff, I need three pegs or hooks, or at least two pegs and a low door over which I can fling clothes.

The clothes get sorted in tops and shirts, pants and skirts, and finally dresses. This way I don't have to stand half naked in a cabin trying out clothes, or putting on and of clothes. (I always try out tops and shirts with my own pants, to make sure they look good together. After all, I might not like any of the bottoms, and trying out the new tops with them would not be a good idea.) From the original peg (these are always on a peg) I start trying out and deciding with the clothes are up for buying (left) or not to my liking (right).

I guess people has to have a system going on - unless they run to the changing rooms with every single piece individually - otherwise they would forget which pieces are the ones they wanted to buy and which where the ones that looked terrible on them. As an added oddity, for a while it has been picking my curiosity what system do people use to separate the clothes they are trying on, and what are the things they expect from a fitting room.

Have you ever had any such weird curiousity attacks?

Wider than that and far past the fitting cabins and clothes, grocery stores and compulsive behavior, there's the need of a system, and the way in which we normally order our lives in a system. This can be transparent to others or chaotic, can be easy or complex even for ourselves. Our systems make the world around us reliable, and saves us a lot of time. Our bathroom doesn't change location everyday, so when we wake up in the morning - half dead as usual, and with a hell of a mood - we don't have to start the day with looking up for it. We know where the deodorant, our creams or razor and shaving cream. Our kitchen doesn't go missing and the coffeemaker is in the same place, so is the coffee can and the filters. Our system allows us to get a smooth start, shower, dress and have our morning coffee ready. (Or morning tea, morning glass of coke, you name it).

Our systems tell us where we are most likely to put our keys, where we normally put our wallet, what's in it, where's our Driving License or ID documents, where do we keep our public transportation card or our car keys and the radio. Our system records our favorite radio stations, and keep our iPods or mobile phones filled with our favorite music. It selects how we get our news and which news do we want to get. It selects were we prefer to park our car, or at which stop do we get off, even which route we pick, both for going to a place and to come back from it.

Our system arranges how we work our daily schedule, how many activities we set for a day, and how we handle underachieving or overachieving our selected tasks.

The smallest things are also part of our system. There's a system in how we take notes, how we make comments - keep them to ourselves, make small notes in little pieces of paper, draw symbols, scribble on the back of a notebook or an agenda, add them to a note in our phone, or use highlighters, post-it flags and fix the notes in a document with crossreferenced numbers - and even on how we eat. Salad first or along the main course? Mix the main course with the side dish, or eat one and then another, or alternate them (say, stick fries in your mouth while still chewing the hamburger, or you eat first the hamburger and then the frise or vice versa, or you take a bite of the hamburger, swallow and then take a fry. Swallow and then a bit of the hamburger and so on.).

We might agree that we all resource to this, we all have systems like these in our lives, but has ever made you curious to know about the systems others use? I know it makes me very curious. Wish I can research that!

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