The Gippy Pages


The order of things

Jun 5, 2005 | Life | By Shawn Parker

Though I’m not a particularly suspicious person now – I’m more a creature of habit than anything else – when I was younger I often wondered if the order in which actions were performed would have any bearing on the outcome of the event. My clearest memory of this is in reference to G.I. Joe action figures and comic books.

At the time we were living in Europe. We lived just outside of Brunssum, NL. My father was a Navy Commander attached to what was then AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe, Netherlands). I was about 11 when this takes place.

A ritual treat to me was a regular trip to the Air Force Base just across the border in Germany – the name of which escapes me now – where we’d do the whole station-wagon full of groceries thing. But before going to the Commissary we’d hit the PX and the book store. This is where my little pea brain would start to wonder: would the outcome be different depending upon my choice of initial destination?

Where to go first?

At the time the hot ticket items for an 11-year old were G.I. Joe action figures and comic books. Not necessarily just G.I. Joe comic books, pretty much any Marvel title – I didn’t run with a D.C. crowd – though we did tend to gravitate towards G.I. Joe, the Uncanny X-Men and SpiderMan as favorites. The anticipation of a new arrival in either stock was almost gut-wrenching. I wanted to badly for each trip to net a new comic book and a new action figure. Sadly this was the exception.

So after a while of not getting one, the other, or either, I started to wonder if I was doing something wrong. Should I go into the book store first? Or check the toy section of the PX? And if I went one direction would the end result have been different had I done it in the reverse order? It was almost too much for my brain to handle.

What did I realize?

Getting older I realized that it was more timing than luck or order of execution. However I think it may have contributed to my sense of order that is needed to do things. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an anal clean freak or have any kind of order fetishes, but I do have procedures. I have things that I always do. Habits that I think can be attributed back to my questioning the appearance of my wanted items based on the order in which I searched for them. I got to the point that I’d always go look for the action figure first.

I realized today that I’m pretty set on the way I like to do things. Could be that I feel that there’s only one way to do it, or that to do it right it has to be done a certain way. I have my own way of doing something, on my own timeline, and I don’t typically like change. It bugs the shit out of people too.

Get to the point, Gip!

I guess my point is that I like a certain order in the way I do things. But often times my order is upset by things around me and by my bad memory. Take cooking for example. I like to gather everything up, start mixing what I need to put together, and put away the ingredients as I’m done with them. If I need a little more of something. I’ll take it back out and use more. However coming back to take care of any leftovers gets overlooked more often than not.

Another thing is that I like to come home from work and put my iPod, keys and sunglasses in a certain spot. Sometimes I forget to do this and end up searching for these items the next day. Most often times its for my sunglasses.

I also like to be given work a certain way. I like it when the person who needs the work done can be descriptive and provide hardcopy to support the request. If we’re on a proofing stage I like to see changes made to a hardcopy so its easy to track them and get them incorporated back into the computer document.

At work some people like to take a web piece that I’ve done, take it into MS Word, edit it and give me back a document with Track Changes turned on so that I can search out and decipher each little change that was made.

In case you’ve never worked with MS Word and Track Changes let me give you an example of how it is a pain to deal with. To change the capitalization of a word it will record the deletion of the first letter and then the addition of the new capital letter. So I look at a document and see that a ‘t’ was deleted and a ‘T’ was inserted. It could just be me but that seems a mite counter intuitive. I’m so accustomed to seeing a ‘uc’ typesetting mark that the whole Track Changes routine seems absolutely useless to me. Especially when crossing versions of Word where some people don’t see notes that others have left. Which leaves me in the position of having to track down the person who was supposed to read that note, hand them a hardcopy (because their version of Word won’t show them the note) and have them mark the hardcopy.

A lot of extra mips just to get something done the way it should have been done to begin with. I was told that the reasoning behind this was to ensure that the most recent copy is always available in digital form. This cracked me up because I’m given Word docs that are technically ‘final’ and just need to be repurposed for the web.

But what ends up happening is that after I format everything for whatever end use, someone will copy and paste that into a new Word doc, save it along side the old Word doc, and call it the new working document who is now to be considered the master document. Does that make anyone else cringe? Am I unreasonable in thinking that if my reformatting is going to be copied and pasted for the purpose of ensuring the proper versioning of a document that they should be concerned with my final product and not one that contains changes made from unanswered notes and redundant change markings?

Ok, what the hell is this all about?

Really, I have no idea. I’m babbling.

But I digress a little bit. Lets get back to Storm Shadow. My little routine between the PX and the books store probably had another effect on me. I’m very task oriented when it comes to shopping. I like to get in, find something, and get out. I’m not one much for dawdling in a store. Unless its a book store and then I could go from book to book soaking up whatever the book is about (just so that I can forget it 10 minutes later). But at the supermarket I’m in and out. Zoom. I’m pretty sure it bugs Andy. She likes to mosey a bit when shopping. I think this was a side effect of running from one place to the next in search of my prize. Speed was of the essence – the action figures and comics were hot when they came in so I had to be quick to get to both spots and secure my loot.


Nope. You’re not gonna get one. The mystery continues… or is that the stupidity goes on. Either way, thanks for suffering the story.

Tagged as: order, habit, memory, change, working, process