Losing Something in the Dreaded Safe Place

I’ve done it plenty often. Likely you have too. You have a Very Important Object, be it a button to a blazer, a spare key, a refund to deposit, a passport, et cetera. (Heavy on the et cetera.) Einstein mislaid a paycheck as a bookmark, if I recall correctly. So why don’t we feel as brill as Al?

Of course, the problem with the Dreaded Safe Place (DSP) is that for all it seems terribly obvious at the time, it’s not. Later on we can’t remember where we put the Very Important Object (VIO). Hell, after a while, we can’t even remember what the VIO was, just that we had put a VIO in a DSP, and there we are standing there quite vexed because it needed attending to. Or will need attending to shortly. Quite likely something financially, socially, or professionally terrible will happen if we don’t remember the VIO and DSP soon. ::sigh::

There are Safe Places (such as safe deposit boxes at the bank, which are quite safe, especially when we put our key in a DSP), and there are Safe Places that are so safe we can’t find stuff ourselves. This latter kind of situation is what my Home Economics teacher used to call a “False Economy”: something that only seems like a good deal, but really costs you more in the end.

Meanwhile, Yours Truly (who seems to be afflicted with a major case of Title Case) has succumbed to pacing recursively about the house in a perseverative frenzy because searching for the VIO has become a Quest, and she can’t rest until she has found it. Doubtless you know how that goes, too.

Once the object is found (either from brute-force tenacity and thoroughness, or from some sideways manner of recollection), there is the “Ah-HA!” followed by the “DUH!” followed by the usual lines of self-recrimination about “Not-doing-THAT-again” yadda-yadda-yadda.

The reason that DSPs are such is because there are too many possibilities, and not enough parameters. Where does one keep a blazer button? On the hall mirror shelf? In a dish on the dresser? On the kitchen window sill? In a drawer so a cat doesn’t play with it? In the sewing box? In the desk drawer at work? At the bottom of the briefcase? Any of these are DSPs, but none of them have the two necessary qualities of being rational and inescapable. Meaning, you can figure them out again later, and your search actions should naturally default to them.

Rational and inescapable is tied in with the behavioural concept known as “incompatible behaviours”; meaning, if you are doing A, then you can’t be doing B. It’s one of those brilliant, obvious-in-retrospect things. The best kind of SP involves putting the object in such a location that completing the necessary action will require you to encounter the object. Bonus points if you can figure out how you can make yourself remember to do the activity!

When I go on a trip, I will definitely want my bathing suit in case I stay in a hotel with a whirlpool tub. Therefore, I keep all of my trip things in the best Safe Place of all, my suitcase! (I also have a note to myself reminding myself of those things I keep forgetting to pack, namely my kimono and woolen slippers, emergency flashlight and a belt for my slacks.) This way I can’t pack my suitcase without the necessary items.

A good rational & inescapable Safe Place for the button would be a blazer pocket. Of course, when Our Hero has ADHD, remembering to sew on the button at some other time than getting-dressed-running-late is another issue. This is why a dry-erase marker lives next to the toothbrushes, so I can make myself a note “blazer button” on the bathroom mirror for when I return home.

Just don’t ask me where to put books. There are so many of them around here that they become naturally camouflaged! I’m just glad they don’t require feeding.

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