People do not always believe me when I say I am absent-minded. It isn’t that I’m a hopeless case, so maybe people think that my occasional lapses fail to extend far enough beyond the realms of what is ordinary and expected to be considered unusual. Maybe it is because, when I give an example of something dumb I’ve done, they think “well, that happens to everyone now and then.” And hey, maybe they’re right. Perhaps the only thing that makes my little incidences of forgetfulness memorable is that I comment on them.
And really, why does it matter? Well, for me it matters, because every now and then, when I forget something, people bring it up to me as if it is a major fault. As if I were somehow a careless or inconsiderate person, or as if I weren’t listening to them when they asked me to do something, and that makes me feel bad. What doesn’t help my case is that in other areas, I consider myself to have a very good memory. For instance, I am usually very good at remembering how I met people, or things they have said to me (not that I’m perfect at this either, only I’d say I’m better than average.) Occasionally, this will come up, and I’ll start saying something like “Oh yeah, I first met you at x time, when I was doing x thing, and you said to me this, and I thought that, and then” etc. etc. until the person I am talking to starts backing away, and I have to assure them that no, they aren’t special, I remember odd details about most people in that way.
So maybe it seems a contradiction, after being able to clearly demonstrate a good memory for some things, for me to then claim to be absent-minded. I mean, how much sense does it make for me to be able to remember that I’ve been asked to do a thing, only to forget to actually do it? All I can say is, if you feel annoyed with me for inconveniencing you in some way, rest assured I inconvenience myself far more often.
Which brings me to this afternoon, when I decided to do my laundry.
I cannot emphasize how often it happens that I go to do laundry, and realized I’ve forgotten to wash something. For starters, I don’t wash everything straight after I use it once. Jeans, for instance, or my button-up shirts, or my towels, or my bathrobe, or the sheets on my bed. And usually, when I go to do my laundry, I’ll forget to grab at least one of these things, and then be halfway through a load and think “drat, I guess that will have to wait till next time.” Add to this the complications of living in student accommodations, where you also have to remember to bring along things like money and detergent. I usually forget one of these as well, and have to run back up four flights of stairs to retrieve them.
Well, today I was in top form. First off, I forgot my keys. Keys are one of those things I almost never forget, simply because I have drilled myself into a routine. (I rely on habitually doing things so as not to forget them. This sometimes becomes something of an obsession, like how I sometimes go back to my flat to make sure I’ve locked the door, or how I always wait till I have visual confirmation that the garage door is closing before I drive away.) Anyway, today I forgot my keys, and didn’t realize this until I was standing outside the laundry room, with all of my washing, unable to enter the room to start my load, or to go back into my stairwell. I had to wait for someone else to come by to let me into both, and then I had to burglar my own flat as none of my flat mates were in (it being Spring Break.)
That’s all well and good. Only I just now discovered that my keys were not the only thing I’d forgotten. Turns out, that after making sure I’d rounded up everything I could possibly think of wanting to wash, from kitchen towels, to my taekwondo uniform, I forgot about the items in my laundry bag. That’s right, ladies and gents. I managed to do my laundry… without doing my laundry.
So next time I forget to return your library book or double-bolt the front door, please don’t attribute it to intentional negligence on my part. To paraphrase a placard my parents used to have hanging on the wall at the bottom of our basement steps, “Please don’t shoot the piano player—she’s doing the best she can.”