“You are such a dork,” she interrupted, quasi-rudely. “I don’t need a stupid spreadsheet to go Christmas shopping.”
My gal really knows how to get my goat. All 10 hairs on the back of my neck pricked straight up as I recoiled from her slanderous assault on spreadsheets (a.k.a., “The Most Important Scientific Contribution to Engineers Since the Slide Rule”).
Just about that time, my two sons (ages 11 and nine) came tearing up.
“Christmas shopping! Yeah! Can we go too?!”
“Of course not, you can go,” Cindy and I contradicted each other in unison. We exchanged icy glares as the kids looked on in confusion. I took command of the situation before it dissolved into chaos.
“Dear,” I said authoritatively. “It makes no sense taking the kids Christmas shopping when much of what will be purchased is for them. I fail to see the logic…”
Again her interruption was discourteous. “Darling, I don’t have to do all the shopping on this trip.”
What? I couldn’t believe my ears. Why on earth would anyone subject themselves to the torture of Christmas shopping more than once? For crying out loud, when I do mine, it all happens within the span of four, maybe six consecutive hours. Perhaps she was just a little slow on the uptake.
“All the more reason to have your list ‘templatized’ on a spreadsheet,” I said. “See, if you did that and left the kids at home with me, I could babysit and you could get everything done in an afternoon. Then you could have more time for baking. Get it?”
“You’re going to get it if you don’t stop with your lame engineering logic. Why do you always have to over-analyze everything?”
“You cut me to the quick, woman,” I exclaimed. “Over-analyze is perhaps the most flagrant oxymoron ever coined. Here I’m helping you maximize your shopping efficiency and you berate me like a guilty arsonist. Where is the equity? Where is the love, my little nimby-buttons?”
“Did it ever occur to you, my little gear head, that I might actually enjoy shopping? That I might want to go several times, with various family members just for the outing? I don’t want efficiency. Get that?”
No, it’s illogical. Thrusting oneself into hoards of people and traffic, everyone hustling to advance their own position, no thought or consideration to the other guy… why in a billion years would a rational human want any part of that? However, my keen intuition was suddenly telling me that this conversation had advanced as far as logic could take it, and that it was time for me to bail. So I switched the topic to something that could not be refuted.
“Okay fine,” I said. “You and the kids go have yourselves a terrific time shopping. I’ve got other important things to do — the Christmas tree, for example. I’ve got to run a few calcs on several branches. I’m a little worried we may have a bending moment or deflection problem with some of the heavier ornaments this year. See, the section modulus of any given branch must exceed the moment divided by the allowable bending stress….”
Tim K. Garrison P.E. of ConstructionCalc.com has authored books and short courses and lectures on topics relevant to builders. Got a technical or management issue? E-mail email@example.com. Tim reads every one.
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