Featured Stories

Lists can make you, or they can break you

I don't know when I first became such a regimented person. Hardly a day goes by - in fact, no day goes by when I don't make lists of things to do or groceries to buy. I cross the items off as they are taken care of.

Lately I have caught myself writing down extra things I have done besides what was on the daily list and then crossing those items off. I don't save these lists, and no one else sees them to grade me or anything, so I really don't know what satisfaction I get out of this prideful little action.

My monthly bills are neatly listed in a ledger and checked off as they are paid. I'll save these for years, and it is amazing to compare today's costs with those of the past.

As personal problems go, these things are probably not considered to be dangerous or in need of any counseling or medication. They will have to bear watching, I suppose, in case they get to the point of being obsessive.

Another thing I do is keep mental track of who treated last when friends go out to lunch with me. My sister and her husband often want to pay for my meal at a restaurant. If I say, "But you paid last time," she gets exasperated and says, "No one is keeping score, for heaven's sake!"

The last time my friend Bonnie and I played scrabble, we each won one game and then decided to play one final game without keeping score. Because we chose a theme for the game - and all the words had to relate to "tennis" - it was understandably quite a short game.

It was incredibly liberating, however, and we plan on trying it again soon, with a different, broader theme.

I don't know if I could go a step farther toward my recovery and try going a whole day without making any lists. My memory might be getting too bad to chance that. But I could stop adding things just to cross them back off. That would be a start.

My father was a manager of several Portland grocery stores for the Piggly Wiggly Company. Later, after he moved to San Francisco, he managed the St. Francis Hospital pharmacy.

He always used lists for his employees, and they all seemed to like the system. He made a list of chores that needed to be done and posted it. The employees would pick a job, initial it and cross it off when it was completed.

They never got nagged by him, and I'm not even sure he ever paid attention to which employee did which job. He just trusted that they would get them all done.

It was a matter of pride for everyone that the list was all crossed off by the end of the day, when I'm sure they all got a "Well done" from him. He was funny, and fair, and did his share of the dirty jobs on the list. Everyone seemed to love working for him.

Lists certainly worked for him, so maybe that is where I got the habit. I'll just have to be careful it doesn't become a habit that gets out of hand.

There now. I've written this little something for the Regal Courier. I didn't even have it as an item to do on today's list, so there is nothing to cross off. I promise not to add it and then cross it off. Really! No! I won't!

Lynn S. Turner is a Tigard resident with an adventurous spirit who likes to look at the world in unusual ways.