It’s uncanny how fate flushes all our careful planning down the drain. I see it happen all the time. My recent experience is an excellent case in point.
The Careful Planner:
I am an extremely careful person, you see. A planner and a scheduler, a man on a mission who never forgets to pack even the smallest thing that I might require on a trip; I am someone who is always answering the question, “what if…?” This eye-for-detail however, is now appearing to be an acquired capability drilled into me in my formative years. I’m now discovering that the real me is a happy go-lucky, improvise-on-the-go character. I’m also discovering that one of the avatars of fate is that of a monkey with a spanner.
The Careful Scheduling:
Chandigarh is about 250 kilometers from Delhi. I planned for 4-hour commutation and added another 15 minutes to reach Mohali (my destination – an IT park adjacent to Chandigarh.) I added a 45 minute buffer, and ordered a cab for 5:30 AM. In the best case scenario, I’d have time to grab a cup of coffee before the meeting, and in the worst case, I’d have to forego it. I ordered the cab the night before, and had the numbers of two other local-cab drivers in my desk-drawer, so that if the cab didn’t turn up at 5:30 AM, I could fall back on something.
Do you see my meticulous and careful scheduling?
The Careful Planning:
After ordering the cab, we had dinner, and then I started preparing for my trip. Out came my to-do list that I had prepared that afternoon. I had to make a presentation, so I rechecked my presentation for typos and data-accuracy; I had to leave some sample applications with them, so I copied those on a pen-drive and also on a CD; I knew I would need my laptop fully charged, so it was plugged in for charging. Then I laid out all these things next to a smart black leather bag. I had bought this bag some three years ago – only for these trips where every little thing counts towards your casting a good impression. All in all, before I went to bed, I ensured that everything on my list was checked off.
Do you see how careful and organized I was?
The Careful Risk-Analysis:
That night, before I went to bed, I set the alarm for 4:30 AM. It would give me enough time to get ready and leave on time. But before I went to bed, I had to do one last thing. The risk-assessment for my trip. What if…the cab broke down? I could hail down one of the buses. Were there any buses plying on that route during the time I’d need them? There were three from Delhi Transport Corporation and more from Punbus. I could see no other risks – so I then switched off the lamp and went to sleep with a content smile on my face.
Do you see how I mitigated the risk by carefully projecting it?
The next morning, I was woken up by the incessant ringing of the door-bell. Rubbing my eyes, I lumbered out of the bed, and with my heart pounding in my chest, I rushed to the door. (Before you ask whether this woke wifey up too, I must tell you that the only way to rouse her is through wafting the fragrance of tea under her nose; a pneumatic hammer hitting a set of four-purcussion plates, couldn’t wake her up otherwise.) So anyway, I blundered through the living room and opened the main door.
“Cab, Sir. You ordered a cab for 5:30 AM,” said a bewildered cabbie, trying to look over my shoulder, expecting his nattily dressed fare, swinging a bag, to appear behind me – for the pajama-clad, red-eyed apparition that stood in front of him surely couldn’t be the guy he was called to ferry across Haryana and Punjab.
“You are early,” I spluttered, trying to understand the situation. I had an alarm set for 4:30 AM!
“Sir, it’s 5:40 AM already,” he replied, now looking at me with suspicion.
I asked him to wait, then rushed back inside. The needles of the clock stood still at 2:35 AM. You can imagine the mad rush that the morning was, and yet, I ask you. Can you blame me for not planning any of it?
Wasn’t I careful enough, I ask you now, my dear reader?
And yet, fate ruined all my careful planning, scheduling, risk-evaluation and mitigation. All those Project Management techniques – they all boiled down to nothing! When I left the house, I had buttoned my shirt all wrong, forgotten to comb my hair, and was wearing differently colored socks!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Careful.”
If you enjoyed this post, find more of my Quirky, Snarky, Malarkey in The QSM Magazine.
(Next issue is going to hit the stands in a few days – book your copy now.)
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