Every morning when I get to the office, I approach the door, tap my key fob on the pad with my right hand, carry purse in the left. I go to my desk, type the direct access code into my computer. Once I see that it connects, I grab my coffee mug and water cup and head to the kitchen. First I tap my selection: Coffee 3, Large into the machine. Then I turn and fill the water cup, greeting anyone who is in the kitchen or passes through with a smile and a “good morning.” Twist the lid on my water cup, turn to the fridge to grab one cream. By then the coffee is done I pour the cream in, toss the little cup in the trash and take my drinks back to my desk to type in my password and check email. Then I verify my credentials with a PIN. (That was one key, and three passwords for those keeping track at home. The fourth password is entered when things slow down).

I noticed I have this routine over the last couple weeks because I was working a different shift. Usually I’m the first of my group in the office. The past weeks, I was the fourth one there. I wondered if “my boys” noticed my neuroticism. Probably not, but I noticed I forget things when I don’t have my order.

Case in point: I decided to go running after work today. The usual road I take – N. 36th, past the Fremont Troll – is closed. So I took Woodland Park to Aurora instead. Whoops! Forgot the turn to the lake. I turned back and got to the lake fine. I even pulled off an above-average run – not bad considering I haven’t been in two weeks. When I got home, instead of putting my iPod in the docking station for some music while I stretched like I usually do, I turned on my laptop to stream KEXP. After a quick shower, I came back looking for my water. I know I got water. Where did I put it? After a few seconds of searching, I gave up and got a new glass. After dinner, I went to close my laptop. Oh, there’s the water blocked by the screen. I felt like I was going crazy – quite like I did over the past couple weeks when I worked a different schedule.

This is so embarrassing to admit. My new goal is to break these routines and make myself more adaptable. And maybe next time I’ll spend a whole minute looking for my water glass before calling it lost.

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