Are you an organizer? I am. When I’m feeling depressed in the United States, I go to Target and buy a bunch of cute plastic organizing trays and drawers. Then I feel better. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as too many organizational receptacles.
I hate clutter, but I force myself to live with a certain degree of it so that I am a tolerable person to live with. After all, nobody really LIKES Martha Stewart, do they? A house MUST be lived in. It’s not a museum. Having a family means that clutter must be tolerated to a certain degree. But it’s not in my nature to abide with clutter for very long.
When I receive bad news, whether it be the ordinary garden variety inconvenience or actual tragedy, my first instinct is to clean. It’s like my mind and body separate into two functions. My mind starts processing the details of what I’ve just heard, and my body goes into “fix-it” cleaning mode. I automatically walk to the living room. I brush crumbs off the couch, plump the pillows and fold the blankets. Then I move to the kitchen. I wash the dishes, wipe off the counters and sweep the floor. If life still has not returned to normal by this point, I make my way to the laundry room. I rotate the loads of clothing into their next machine cycle, organize a shelf of cleaning products, carry the basket of clean clothes to my bedroom and proceed to folding.
This coping mechanism even kicks in when I am away from home. I have found myself in hospital waiting rooms or doctor’s offices organizing the magazines either by date or by theme depending on how many tables are in the room. Women’s magazines go on one table, men’s on another table, and children’s on the third table. I can’t bear to sit still with nothing to do. It’s my crazy way of trying to fix my world and make everything “all better” again.
You can imagine, though, how this drive to clean and organize could potentially leave me in an insane asylum if I let it run rampant through this third world country that I live in. Let me give you an example. Fruit smoothies are all the rage here in Costa Rica right now. Smoothie places are popping up on every corner, making them nearly as ubiquitous as dentist offices here. It’s a trend that I am totally loving! I am doing my best to keep the smoothie shop down the street from my house in business. But seriously, that place is totally unorganized.
As I wait an agonizingly long time for my order of smoothies to be prepared, I watch the system of chaos behind the counter. All of the ingredients are spread around the shop in various locations. In order to make ONE smoothie… and there is only one blender in the store so they MUST be made one at a time… the girl has to walk to the freezer and remove a bucket of pre-cleaned frozen fruit. Then she walks to the back room somewhere and returns with the blender tumbler filled with ice. Then she walks to the sink and adds a bit of water. Then she walks to another counter for a scoop of sugar. She finally blends all the ingredients and pours the smoothie into a plastic cup. Her final two steps occur at the same counter where she tops the cup in a machine that makes a cellophane seal on the lid and types in the total at the cash register. Then this entire circuit must be reproduced for the next 3 smoothies that I have ordered.
It drives me insane watching the inefficiency of it all. I am just itching to go back there and rearrange the workspace so that all the ingredients are within arm’s reach. Once upon a time, I worked as a barista in a coffee shop. I could make 6 different drinks simultaneously all the while maintaining an entertaining stream of small talk with the customers waiting in line. This one-by-one amateur operation about drives me bonkers! But the delicious end result seems to be worth the disorganization I must endure to enjoy it, because I keep coming back for more smoothies. It’s “Vale la Pena!” as we say in Spanish- worth the effort.