Everyone has some odd habits that help define their personality, whether it be a nervous tick or an inability to filter thoughts in a public situation. Most of these things are boiled down to “quirks” of some sort; some endearing, some pitiful, some annoying and some arguably dangerous. I am no exception, and some who have met me may even argue that I have more quirks than the average reclusive, borderline misanthropic nerd.
Most of my eccentricities come from being a creature of habit. My morning routine is almost tragically perfunctory. As I am normally battling The Grump, it is impossible for me to get anything done if I do not stick to a set order of tasks. Upon gaining consciousness, I stumble to the bathroom, find a towel, turn on the shower (hot water first) test the water, find it to be too hot, turn on the cold water, test the temperature again by splashing the water on my legs, turn on the shower, brush my teeth with my eyes closed, shampoo my hair, blow my nose (one nostril at a time), rinse the shampoo out of my hair, condition my hair, turn in circles under the water in an attempt to wake up, rinse the conditioner out of my hair, turn in a few more circles, gargle, and then turn the shower off. I then receive a towel from Tiffany, step out of the shower, pick up my hair brush, brush all my hair back (50s Greaser style), dry myself off with the aforementioned towel, dry my hair halfway with the same towel, brush my hair again, dry it the rest of the way, brush it again, then stagger into the bedroom to find whatever clothes I am going to wear that day.
This happens every weekday, exactly as listed above, without fail. Occasionally, if The Grump is beaten early, I will sing in the shower. A poorly sung rendition of Don McLean’s American Pie is my go-to (I know like, all the lyrics). I have also been known to bust out a soulful recreation of an 80s classic with my own lyrics inserted. On especially groggy mornings, I have conditioned my hair before I shampooed. Short of these few rare anomalies, my mornings define banality.
As the day progresses, my routine slowly loses cohesion. My commute by its very nature is repetitive, but I do find myself playing, “Cut off the School Bus” or “Shout obscenities at Captain Slow and the Slow-mobile” as I zoom along to work. Upon arriving, I drop my keys on the left side of my desk, unpack my laptop, plug in my mouse, plug in my keyboard, plug in my headphones, plug and unplug my Cat-5 cable until I actually get a network connection, attempt to open Microsoft™ Outlook, open Mozilla™ Firefox, visit my favorite web-comics, look back at my work email once Outlook has finally opened, and lastly open Gmail™ to see what I’ve missed during the hours that I, and everyone I know, was asleep. I then use the bathroom, get a cup of coffee or tea and fill my water bottle. From time to time I will chat with a coworker about something completely random and often nonsensical, just because I am not yet awake enough to do any real work.
My day-time hours have little routine, as my job has little specific definition. The card I was given after several months of working here says, “Business Writer” but I do very little actual writing. I jump from assorted IT tasks, to quality control, to file management or web design. It keeps me on my toes, and starts to tear at the fibers of my structured schedule. By lunch time, my meticulous schedule has been completely demolished. Think “Undone” by Weezer, but having nothing to do with a sweater or being naked.
I make up for a lack of structure by doing repetitive little things throughout the day. Every time I walk out of my office to use the bathroom/get lunch/free myself from the soul-killing monotony, I have to jump up and touch the second Exit sign in the little hallway that leads to my office door. I have to touch the sign. If I cannot, for fear of landing on a coworker or looking “unprofessional”, it eats away at me until I can get back to the sign to touch it. On casual friday, when my attire is less constrictive, I will sometimes do a full olympic style run-and-jump to touch the sign. Even when I am completely encumbered with laptop bag, lunch box (I wish) or sometimes a musical instrument, I will try to feebly hop to touch the sign. One of these days I am going to hit it too hard, break it and be very sad. I probably need some kind of mental help, but instead of seeking it, I will just consider touching the sign “good luck”. Here is a good shot of my approach angle:
I also have to keep everything on my desk very organized and if possible, perpendicular. A book or pile of papers slightly askew will keep me from performing any other task throughout the day. I will even start to straighten things on other people’s desks, without their asking. I feel I deserve a “cleanest desk award” since we have a “clean desk policy” but no one seems to listen when I start talking about it.
By the time I make my way home, my formerly obsessive habits have degraded into complete chaos. I struggle to be organized, unless I have some very specific tasks that have a very specific deadline. I am like a ball of string: tightly and perfectly wound in glorious sphere in the morning; thrown all about with random knots as if an imaginary cat has played with me all day by the evening.
My most relevant major quirk has been with me since the latter days of high school. I cannot, in any possible situation, write anything of any substance if the things around me are not very organized and clean. This probably connects with my desire for things to be perpendicular, but I don’t like to draw conclusions too hastily. In college I would spend hours cleaning my apartment before writing anything, as I knew my papers or projects would be complete drivel if there were any dirty dishes in the sink. I do not feel comfortable committing my mind to something I am passionate about if there are things like dust and bacteria to distract me.
As my brain is unraveling and beginning “weekend mode” early, I do not know how to end this post. In a move of desperation, I will refer to one of my other quirks that appears when I want to stop a conversation that has gone on too long: referencing something completely arbitrary that few can relate to in an attempt to kill the dialogue.