Premier’s right, that’s why my desk is tidy
I smiled when I read the premier comment in his year-end interview.
“The No. 1 challenge is the passing of time.”
Maybe that explains the way I am. I hate wasting time.
True story: The man walked in, sat down, and stared.
“Is there something wrong?” I asked.
“This IS a newspaper editor’s office, isn’t it?” Odd question, I thought. “Yes, why?” “It’s so TIDY.” (And yes, he spoke with capital letters.) I smiled. It was true. One of my reporters earned the ire of my publisher one day when he walked by and saw the archive of old reports, newspapers, notebooks and unwashed coffee cups on her desk.
“She needs to clean up that mess,” he boomed.
Before he quit smoking – three packs a day, one smoke lit in his hands, another smouldering in his ashtray, two packs unopened in his shirt pocket – he hadn’t been so tidy. “Can’t do it,” I said. He stared. “She knows where everything is and I can’t risk her losing something.”
“Humph,” he replied and moved on.
Her desk was noteworthy for its pile, but a messy desk is normal in any newsroom I’ve ever worked in. Reporters are pack rats. You never know when something will be useful.
Normal for everyone, except me.
The day my visitor stared at my desk it was empty. Not a stray bit of paper to be found. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ve always been a methodical person. I want to get things done, then move on. Paper on my desk means jobs undone.
When I was in high school and wanted a 10-speed bicycle, I started saving $11 a week from my job pumping gas. Not $10, not $12. Why? Because it was 10 weeks to the spring and the bike cost $110 at Sears, taxes included. Ten weeks, $11 a week, you get the picture.
I decided in 1999 to do an Ironman-length triathlon – I’d never done a triathlon of any length before. It started with a swim of 3.86 kilometres, then a bike of 180.25 km, ending with a marathon run of 42.2 km. I bought a book on how to train for the event.
“Expect to train about 20 hours a week,” it said.
It was 11 and a half months to race day the following October in Florida. I started cycling indoors on a trainer, building up to three hours at a time. The swims started in the pool, increasing until I could do 149 lengths at a time, not 150, as 149 was 3.86 kilometres.
By the summer I was outside, swimming back and forth across the river when the tide was slack. I called my wife one morning just after 7 a.m.
“I just finished my swim,” said, figuring she’d worry.
“I thought you’d just gone to the bathroom.”
A friend heard I was training for the race.
“How long will it’ll take you to do the whole thing,” he asked.
I appreciated his confidence. He didn’t ask me if I thought I could finish.
“Fifteen hours and 55 minutes.”
He smiled. I finished in 16 hours, one minute and 34 seconds. I had a cramp 50 kilometres into the bike that slowed me down.
Oh and this column is supposed to be 550 words long. It is.