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The author writes: "I spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor looking for something I’ve dropped. My living room rug has an Oriental pattern, so no matter what it is I’ve dropped, it can find a place that is the same color, and my eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, so it takes a long time to spot it. One trick I’ve used is to put my head right down on the rug. Then anything thicker than onionskin stands out, and I can find it."

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People sometimes ask me how I while away the lonely hours now that I’m retired. Well, actually I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that, as most of my friends are retired, too, but they might sometime. So I started thinking about it.

I spend a lot of time crawling around on the floor looking for something I’ve dropped. My living room rug has an Oriental pattern, so no matter what it is I’ve dropped, it can find a place that is the same color, and my eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, so it takes a long time to spot it. One trick I’ve used is to put my head right down on the rug. Then anything thicker than onionskin stands out, and I can find it.

Luckily, no one has come in when I’m using the Becker technique for finding objects on the floor, or they might haul me off to an institution for people who can’t get their heads up from the floor. I was once using the Becker technique at my brother’s house, and my sister-in-law said, “That’s interesting. Lofty (my brother) does the same thing.” I doubt it’s genetic, but he must have seen me using the technique successfully sometime in our youth.

I spend a lot of time trying to locate my computer cursor. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to spot. I even enlarged it and made it red, but it still likes to hide. I move it back and forth to trigger the vision cells that respond to motion, but it turns out it’s somewhere off the page, probably laughing at me.

I waste a lot of time going on errands and forgetting to take the item I wanted to return, like library books. This is especially annoying in the winter, when there might be only one or two days that are good for driving. I live 18 miles from Greenfield, Mass., whose library I use for recorded books, so going back to get the books is a big waste of gasoline, and as it now costs close to $200 a gallon or so (rough estimate), I don’t want to waste it.

Or I have a long list of essential things to pick up, and I forget the list.

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I spend a lot of time trying to reconstruct some long article I’ve finally finished and then hit Delete instead of Save. I’m sure there’s some clever way to find the deleted copy, but as I’m not so clever, I find it easier simply to rewrite it.

In fact, I spend an awful lot of time trying to deal with a computer problem caused by a bad keystroke, not just Delete instead of Save. I’m working in the middle of an article, and I hit some key that makes it zoom to the beginning of the article, so I have to locate my place again. Or I accidentally hit Close and then have to find the article and open it up again, but because I didn’t hit Save before it closed.

A great deal of time is spent trying to remember where I put things or, giving up with the remembering approach, just walking around the house looking for something. After some time doing this, I can’t remember what I was looking for, although I’m sure I would remember if I came across it.

Things seem to just vanish in thin air. The most puzzling happened about 10 years ago. I had a plastic bag full of small batteries, and I was doing something and thought, “I should put those batteries away or I’ll lose them.” Too late. I couldn’t find the bag. I thought, “Oh well, they’ll turn up.” So far, they haven’t. I’m sure they’ll turn up when I’m cleaning out the house in preparation for moving, but at that point I probably won’t want them.

Not all the time wasters are my fault. I get my medication prescriptions online, and making sure it’s me takes time for the computerized helper. If I just spoke to a human being, it would be a lot faster, although I realize the company would have to pay that human being a lot more than it pays the computer, and the computer doesn’t demand paid holidays and summer vacations.

Gretchen Becker is a former Brattleboro Reformer reporter and editor. Her column appears monthly.


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