I find mail stressful, it’s generally bad news, unrelenting demands for money, tax returns, numerous guilt trips that expose my chronic lack of organisational wherewithall. Paper mail (snail mail) is the worst as it’s harder to ignore than electronic mail.
My pile of unread mail is like a window into my soul. It’s Dante’s Inferno down there. It’s a view I try to keep buried deep within, not just from others, but from myself too. I know I need to do a tax return, I worry about it every night. I know I need to renew my insurance, I worry about that too, and so these rude, stark reminders in raw print thrust in front of me each morning just raise my levels of anxiety even further. If I wore a heart rate monitor when I opened mail I am certain I would see a 20% increase in heart rate. I don’t need to exercise. No climbing stairs or joining gyms for me, no siree, to raise my heart rate I just need a pile of unopened post and I know I will soon be sweating like a 10K runner crossing the finish line on a hot summer’s day in July.
Sometimes it feels good to at least open the mail, like the act of merely opening the envelope was all I needed to do, and in a genie ‘puff’ of smoke, all my worries will be gone. The next step is to file the letter, yes that feels good too. But not file properly, in a ring binder, or scanned electronically into a folder on my laptop which is then backed up every 24hrs to a secure vault in the sky (I’m laughing as I type at just how far I am away from such an organised approach). No, for me, merely placing the letter on a pile of other letters marked ‘to be filed’ is the best I can ever expect. The pile isn’t actually marked ‘to be filed’ as that would require some modicum of order and planning, no, mine is just a wobbly pile of papers teetering on the cormer of my desk that is now so high, so tall, so wobbly, that if I were a company I would have been closed down on the grounds of health & safety.
And once the offensive letter is placed atop the Everest pile in my office, I can then go back to ignoring all those unpleasant duties and return to procrastinating my way through life, an art I have honed to perfection over the past 40+ years.
It’s ridiculous, I know that. I’m a grown man, I am university edukayted for goodness sake, and I know that placing a piece of paper on a pile doesn’t actually do anything – forms still need filling, cheques still need writing, standing orders need setting up and so on and so forth, but it’s enough, just barely enough, to allow me to forget the Devil’s work for a little while longer at least.
That is, until something happens, something like we need to get the car MOT’d, but we can’t get it MOT’d unless we have a valid insurance. I’m sure I have insurance cover – fcuk – surely – and so I make my way to my wobbly pile of papers, don my crash helmet and safety goggles and rifle through the pile like a cartoon villain, arms whirling like a dervish, A4 paper flying everywhere. Even the dog hides.
Sometimes I find the insurance and yelp and roar like a US fan at The Ryder Cup after seeing Tiger Woods finally sink a fcuking putt for once, and I am full of goodwill and cheer as I make my way to the car garage proudly waving my insurance vowing NEVER to let this happen again.
But sometimes I’m not so lucky. I once advised a close friend who had been through difficult times and found themselves on their own after a break-up. She asked me for advice on home insurance as her partner always dealt with such matters in the past, so I talked her though the process over the phone as she logged on to a well known and immensely annoying comparison website, and after an hour or so she was the proud owner of cheap home insurance.
I was relaying the story to my wife when she said “who is our home insurance with?”. I think I blushed, went to my office, donned my helmet and goggles and in a Fred Flinstone like manner I scurried my way through my mountainous labyrinthine pile of papers, only to find our policy had expired 10 weeks ago – we had been without home insurance for over 2 months.
So this morning I said to my wife that it’s time to tackle the office paperwork. One hour later, the pile remains, but at least I have a new blog entry. And it’s less than 4 hrs until the Ryder Cup starts.