Wednesday, April 13, 2005


If you have half a serious mind, you don’t want to read this. You mean you’re going to continue? I think you might have more important things that take priority. Well, just remember, it was your choice, not mine.

"Prioritizing" is today’s topic. (Note to self. Remember what your eighth grade teacher said, "Priorizing is not a word; the word is prioritizing.)

My first observation is that the world in general has no understanding or ability to organize things in the order of their importance. Every day I see a sad lack of any ability to prioritize. It is so widespread it is even a deficiency within my own home. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

Hub doesn’t understand priorities. He thinks I should tend to the itty-bitty cobweb in one corner of the living room when the dog hasn’t been bathed for three weeks, the laundry needs to be folded, and I haven’t yet peeled potatoes for dinner.

The medical world doesn’t understand priorities either. Efforts are being made and may already be in effect to get pills like Viagra eligible under medical plans, addicts can get clean needles and sometimes even drugs for free, and meanwhile diabetics and others with chronic diseases must keep on paying for medical supplies or aids for living.

And while we banter over insufficient doctors, over overloaded medical facilities, and long waiting lists, television commercials are sneaking into the medical priority line-up. Every day, ten times a day, maybe even more, a voice on the box tells us we may have a problem and for that problem we need to ‘see our doctor’. All day long there is a bombardment of commercials that conclude with – "See your doctor". See your doctor if you feel muscle weakness, if you pee to much, if you can’t be there when the time is right, if you feel down, if you sneeze, if you wheeze, if you itch, if you scratch. If you have diarrhea or constipation, etc. etc. These commercials scramble priorities by encouraging people to look for phantom symptoms that make it necessary to compound visits to the doctor far beyond what is reasonable.

Priorities are scrambled in so many other arenas of living as well. Take, for example, the manufacturers of high-tech gizmos. Just this morning I read an ad for a new camera that has a jiggling transparent imaging sensor that shakes off dust particles at 35,000 vibrations per second. Wouldn’t it be better if my coffee tables did that, or my scatter rugs, or my television set? These are the real dust collectors. In one year these things collect enough dust to fill five dustbins.

In thinking further about these back-to-front priorities, I can’t help but think the time is right for someone to look at the bigger picture and start prioritizing things with a little more forethought and wisdom. For heaven’s sake, isn’t it time men and women could have rectal exams with something as comfortable and natural as a litmus gas, rather than the invasive procedure that continues to be the standard?

And on a more practical front, while I can open my car trunk, or even the hood, and a light automatically comes on, why doesn’t this happen when I open my travelbag or handbag to search for something in it’s depths? And while medical technicians are installing birth control and other medical devices under the skin, maybe more importantly a light installed somewhere else could eliminate the discomfort of rectal and internal exams. It could be. Just spread your legs and the light goes on. No more lost keys when you drop them in the grass on the way home from the New Year’s party unless you still have your underpants on.

And when is someone going to finally market a lazer light that I can flash on a cotton-knit shirt to highlight those bloody invisible grease stains, that suddenly surface as soon as I get to the office or out in the sun? And furthermore, when is someone going to make a product that efficiently removes those stubborn stains without rubbing and scrubbing them with laundry treatment, only to find that the next time you wear that shirt under florescent lights in a busy mall, that you still missed a spot.

Politicians don’t understand prioritizing either. They make laws about trivial stuff to distract us from bigger problems. Education Institutions don’t understand either. They teach Living Skills, Political Science, Women’s Rights, Organizational Behavior, Critical Thinking, and more recently, courses in Ethics. But with respect to these subjects, the things they teach are more damaging than helpful if the masters and students of these theories cannot wisely prioritize the real-life situations relevant to these studies. That’s the important piece that is missing. Within each of these subjects, there needs to be a well-polished and understood ability to prioritize the factors that come into play – children’s needs, personal relationships, individual responsibilities, tolerance, acceptance, understanding, peace and war strategies, etc. Come to think of it this paper is probably the first and only preliminary draft for a course in the skills of Prioritizing. And I think if you give it some thought you might agree that such a course is long overdue.

The general public doesn’t understand it either. Special interest groups rage about their own small circle of concerns rather than the good of all. And in the past few weeks it has become apparent that society is letting the business of dying take priority over living when I think it should be the other way around.

The list could go on and on. But I pride myself on having a reasonable grip on priorities. And right now an itty-bitty cobweb in the living room takes priority over these dregs.

I suppose you’re saying that while I might think I have prioritizing skills, these skills are not evident in the stuff I write. I wander here, I wander there, putting the reader in a climate of annoyance and confusion. Well you are wrong. This paper was prioritized. It is more important for me to laugh than cry, so I made silliness a priority over seriousness. So you see, I do have my priorities right.

Lots of stuff to comment on here – grease stains on cotton, the medical system, wish list for new products not yet developed, views on prioritizing, criticisms or atta-girl’s. So let me hear what you have to say. This is a rather long rant, and it seems a shame that you spent that much time reading it at the expense of some other priority and then didn’t even comment.


Anonymous Aurora said...

Dawn dishwashing detergent works wonders in getting grease stains out of clothing... even if they're old. Some people treat just the spot, others pour about 1/4 of a cup or so into the laundry and wash as usual.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi aurora. Thank you for that simple if I can just find the spot on this dark shirt in this basement laundry room.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

Of course I'll comment! I've been meaning to sign your guestbook for quite a while now..... I so love your essays. You are a wonderufl writer.
And your insight on 'see your doctor' for 'this and that' really hit home for me. I am outraged that people who 'feel a little blue' should take some new just-developped perscription for anti-depressant. Yes, depression is a real disease... but life, too, has its ups and downs. Sorry it can't all be perfect and happy all the time. Sometimes one just has to live through the blue times. And the idea of taking a new drug for constipiation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol infuritates me. What people need to do is CHANGE THEIR DIET. Sorry! No more Big Macs! No more pizza! They're gonna have to eat an apple, and some fresh carrots, and some brown rice and a little bit of baked chicken and then perhaps a handful of grapes. That'll cure what ails them...
OK. I'm done ranting. I'll leave a calmer comment next time.

7:27 AM  
Anonymous chasmyn said...

I hardly know which part to comment on. I'l just say that I think you are right on the money about priorotizing.

3:18 AM  
Blogger RP said...

What to comment on? There is so much. Let me content myself with noting that while your observation about keys, grass and underpants was genius, I enjoyed the whole post.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While all the serious subjects hit home, I'll comment about one of the lighter ones.

I was moaning to my quilting bee about the fact that Dear Husband had an entire wardrobe of bacon grease stained polo shirts. They said one word: "Shout." I tried some, and it worked so well that DH has a brand new wardrobe. Give it a try. Buffy

8:09 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi Molly. Glad you got that off your chest and there are worthwhile thoughts in that spiel for all of us to consider. Thanks for the comments.

Chasmyn, good to see you. I always looks forward to reading your notations.

rp, I take it some of this gave you a chuckle for the day. Glad you enjoyed the read.

Anonymous and aurora, now with two easy cures for laundry stains, I can avoid the dreaded trip to town even though my shirts will all be sparkling clean in sunshine or in shadow.

12:19 PM  

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