Although he's the best I've ever seen, Alan's definitely not the only person who excels at multitasking. A few days ago, when leaving the check-out at the supermarket, the receipt showed that our "super-saver" card did not scan properly, thereby causing us to lose-out on valuable members-only discounts and gas points. We brought the receipt to the customer service window at the front of the store where a heavily mascaraed, high school-aged girl stood leaning on the counter, cracking her gum. "This ought to be excruciating," I thought as I approached her. I don't know exactly what "crow" is, but you can bet I was eating it shortly after I handed "Elvira" my receipt and explained the problem. She said it was easily fixed, asked for my card, and began an extremely involved, yet machine-like efficient process of typing, swiping cards, stapling receipts, filing, and making change. That, in itself, would have been impressive, except that in the middle of her lightning-fast keyboard tapping, she answered the phone, addressed the caller's multiple questions, gestured to a nearby employee to begin her break, and formed a really impressive pink bubble with her gum. I was entranced!! I told her so.
"That...was...AMAZING!!" I exclaimed when she had finished.
"What?" She looked afraid.
"How you did that...with...EVERYTHING!!"
"Ok," she responded, then rolled her eyes, smacked her gum once more and disappeared in the back.
I guess I admire this particular skill when I notice it because I am blessed with absolutely NONE of it myself. When I talk on the phone, even with a friend or family member, I must (MUST) be sitting down, doing absolutely NOTHING else, usually with one finger in my opposing ear so I won't be distracted. If Alan approaches to ask a question, I must hold up a "wait a minute" finger, ask my phone friend to "hold on," then turn back to Alan. Sometimes I'm able to drive and talk, but when I do, I frequently end up lost. It's quite sad, actually. When I was in school, I hated that I could never study with the radio on. Unless I had complete silence, it was all too distracting. Even now, when I read a book or even write this post, I can only have soft, instrumental music playing in the background.
I've always wondered if, like my lack of direction, this is just a genetic deficiency, or if it's actually something I can work to improve. Is there some kind of exercise I can perform daily that will strengthen my talking-while-emailing-and-listening-to-Aerosmith skills? I honestly don't know. Maybe there's a support group for the tasking-challenged that I can join. We can discuss how hard it is to schedule a doctor's appointment when the dog is scratching on the door and whining to go outside -- maddening!
There IS a bright side to my disability, however: remedial tasks are seldom boring to me. When I worked as a temp in NYC, my favorite jobs were the ones where my boss would place several stacks of paper on my desk, along with a stapler. Then, he/she'd say, "These need to be collated, then stapled. Should be about 300 copies there, probably take you all day." I'd usually respond by rubbing my hands together in delight, then proclaiming, "I'm ON it!!" Easy task + no distraction = Joan Heaven! You can say it, I already know...pathetic! But here's the other silver lining to my freak story: if you were to call me right now and wanted to talk, you may rest assured that you will have my full and undivided attention. I will sit down, plug my other ear, and listen intently to every word you speak. I am all YOURS. All yours, of course, until Trixie has to pee...
Thanks for Reading!!