07 June, 2009

Counter-Clockwise

So here's the thing.

I don't do time very well. No matter how hard I try, I just can never actually get myself organised enough to ever be comfortably on time for anything. On the rare occasions that I actually arrive somewhere when I'm actually supposed to, it's because I had to speed or run, and I'm becoming surprisingly skilled as a parkour practitioner simply because I have to be.

But on Friday I was doing surprisingly well. In fact, I was rather proud of how well I had done. I had parked my car at the train station, put my car keys in my pocket on top of my phone, and was now walking unhurriedly on the overbridge that crossed the tracks. I could see the train leaving the earlier station, it would arrive in about 90 seconds, I was able to just amble along knowing I would arrive on the platform right as the train pulled up, in what was possibly the first example of perfect timing in my life.

As I'm walking, my cellphone goes off. And, since I wasn't running frantically at the time, I was able to reach into my pocket and pull the phone out. A second later, I heard a distictive sound prompting me to turn around. "That's odd," I thought. "I could have sworn I heard my keys falling out of my pocket, but there's nothing there." Check my pockets, no car keys. So where are they? There's definitely nothing that I can see. Then I had a horrible thought. So I glanced over the bridge railing, and there they were. They'd obviously hit the ground right on the edge of the bridge and fallen through the small gap at the bottom of the wall, coming to rest on one of the tracks. Now, fortunately this was not the track the oncoming train was on, but nevertheless the question remains, who drops their car keys onto the train tracks?

Now obviously my instinctive reaction was to break out the free-running, leaping off the overbridge, rolling as I hit the ground, scooping up the keys and dashing for the station, propelling myself in front of the oncoming train, and seamlessly landing on the platform. However, I remembered the $20,000 fine for crossing the tracks, so I thought it was probably not a good idea to do that right in front of an oncoming train and a full platform. That would just be inviting trouble.

So instead, I walked to the platform, watched as the train pulled up, and sat and waited as the train pulled away. The strange thing is, being the "live life on the edge" person that I am, and knowing the next train wouldn't come along the tracks for 25 minutes, I was surprisingly apprehensive going out onto the tracks. In fact it took me a couple of minutes to find my keys, simply because I was so busy looking down the tracks worrying about being run over to actually look at the ground to see the keys. And once I did find them, I had to face the fact that I had a close-to-half-an-hour wait for the next train.

But the main point of this story is that this experience has taught me that I should never be on time. Had I been running late and dashing for the train, as I normally would be, I would have just ignored my phone, thus would not have lost my keys, and would therefore have caught the train I was trying to catch. As it is, I was 25 minutes late precisely because I was on time for the first time in my life. So, lesson learned: if I want to avoid being late, I just have to ensure that I'm always late.

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ADDITIONAL: 8 June 2009

So here's the thing.

I've been thinking a lot about this post over the past few hours, and I'm tempted to just take the entire post down because I don't think it works, at all. But I've decided to leave it up, although I do apologise to you all for wasting your time with it.

Part of the reason why I've decided to leave it up is that I think it's interesting to look at why it doesn't work. I'm not a big fan of much of what I've written on this blog - occasionally there might be the odd piece that I'm actually proud of, but it mostly makes me cringe. But there's nothing else quite as monumentally disasterous as this one.

There are a lot of reasons why it doesn't work. Firstly, there's the fact that there's not a lot to the story. Ultimately it comes down to "I dropped my keys, so I was late for work". Which isn't that interesting a story. I only decided to write the post when I told the story to one person, as a "this is why I was late" explanation, and they made an "only you" comment. So I initially decided to do it as a self-depreciating post. You can still see traces of that in the comments about "who drops their keys on train tracks" or my terror at stepping onto the empty tracks (which was absolutely true). The problem was, it didn't really work. I couldn't make it substantial enough to sustain a post.

So I kept adding to it. The most problematic element I added was the whole parkour idea. That was largely because I've been playing parkour-based PS3 game Mirror's Edge the last few days (great game, by the way), and I was amused by the idea of imagining someone like myself, who is significantly out-of-shape, being a parkour expert. The problem is, it just feels like a not-that-amusing joke in its first reference, and the second reference, where I claimed to consider diving off the bridge to get my keys, just doesn't work. The other problem is that it actually acts against the post - wait, I'm this big fearless parkour expert but I'm nervous when crossing empty train tracks? - and while I did try to hang a lampshade on the problem, I should have abandoned it as a joke that just does not work.
Unfortunately I didn't.

In the meantime, I was having trouble finding an ending to the story, because there really is none - I picked up my keys and waited for the next train. The End. I did toy with explaining how being late was a good thing - it meant I arrived at work literally as the alarm was going off for a fire drill, so I avoided the hassle of having to walk down the stairs - but that was just an additional irrelevancy that didn't actually offer much improvement to the ending of the story. I nearly abandoned the post at that point, until I had the realisation that the whole thing only happened because I was on time that day. I decided that would make an interesting moral to the story, to comment on how being late would have allowed me to be on time, and I reworked the post a bit to incorporate it and make it feel like there was a bit more substance to the post.

The problem is that there were now at least three ideas underpinning the post (none of which would sustain a post by themselves), and so it feels like it's actually three different posts, depending on which sentence you're reading. And because the ideas are all very different and are all intertwined in the course of the post, it becomes uneven and ionconsistent. It's all just terribly messy.

And then there's the title. One of the things I love about writing this blog are the titles for my posts. There have been times when I've had posts written and sitting around for literally weeks while I think of the perfect title. And with this post, I found myself giving up and putting a half-hearted title, "Counter-Clockwise" on the post. It's not that it's a bad title, in some ways I quite like the idea of adding to my Monty Python references a reference to a John Cleese film. It's just that I can feel the whole "let's just get this post over with" element in the title. There are posts where I'm actually proud of the titles, posts like "Juju-flop, Swut, and Turlingdrome", or "Babette Ate Oatmeal", or "9906753", or my favourite, "Dustbustering at the Olympics". There's even a post I'm toying with writing that I probaby will write just because I love the title I've decided on, something along the lines of "Ashley, it's just that I love you so much, it scares me!" Compared to titles like these, "Counter-Clockwise" really is just an "I can't be bothered" name, especially when it really only relates to the one-third of the post where I discuss my habitual lateness.

So as you can see, this post was a complete mess. Still, since my explanation about why the post doesn't work is longer than the initial post was, I hope you found this insight into my severely insecure and indecisive thought process around blogging to be interesting.

1 comment:

Ethan Tucker said...

Haha, Matthew you worry too much. But at least on the plus side you didn't end up having your track exploits filmed on a mobile phone camera and then discovered by your dad, leading him to shop you to the police to teach you a lesson, like a girl in Brisbane recently. How ignominious! I've tried and failed to find the clip on the TV3 website, but suffice it to say when asked her opinion of Dad's citizen's arrest, she replied that it 'sucked'.