On September 2, 2020

 Mastering the task at hand

By Dom Cioffi

When I was in school, I never took a note. Not one. I relied on class memory, my ability to absorb content just prior to a test, and my capacity to BS.

My son is exactly like me in that he also has never taken a note. However, his class memory is atrocious, he can’t seem to absorb information when cramming for a test, and he pales in comparison to me when it comes to the mastery of BS.

Ironically, later in life, I became a voracious note-taker, probably because my memory started to fail me, cramming became exhausting, and people started to see through my BS.

In the past, I’ve often spoke about my note-taking habits. For some reason, the act of taking notes and creating task lists gives me an immense sense of satisfaction. I’m also a huge proponent of using reminders on my smartphone and the calendar app to keep track of my schedule.

I do all of these things for one simple reason: I hate forgetting or letting people down who are counting on me.

If my dentist wants me at an appointment at 8 a.m., I’m going to be there at 7:50 a.m.; if practice starts at 6 p.m., I’m on the court with my shoes tied at 5:50 p.m.; if I tell someone that I’ll bring refreshments to the weekend get-together, you better believe I’ll be there early with the correct number of beverages in hand.

I suppose the act of preparedness and organization has become a game for me. It’s something that has evolved from a survival tactic, to a long-standing habit, to a fully nuanced personal competition.

I’m confident that I initially started taking and making notes because I screwed something up so disastrously that the shame imprinted on me to a degree that I could not accept ever doing it again. And the only way you ever avoid making the same mistake twice is to be fully and completely organized in your thoughts and actions.

I don’t remember exactly, but at some point in my young adult life, I’ll bet I was late or missed an appointment and the reaction of the person counting on me undoubtedly made me feel inadequate.

All the parental advice in the world regarding tardiness doesn’t compare to one person calling you out for completely ruining their day thanks to your inability to show up as expected.

This is ridiculously true for my son. I’ve harped on him for years about the necessity of being on time, but it never sinks in. I don’t care how late we are for something, I cannot get him to understand what a sense of urgency is. Even after I become completely unglued and am screaming about his punctuality, he still can only manage a mild saunter.

Of course, things change dramatically if we’re not precisely on-time for one of his sleepovers.

This past weekend, my son started a new job at a local grocery store. He went through several days of filling out paperwork and going through an online training course before he was finally invited in to work.

My wife and I made sure he had all the correct clothing and a fresh haircut before he started. And just prior to dropping him off on his first morning, I gave him the “dad talk” in the parking lot.

I told him how important it was to give a good first impression; that the way he acts in these first two weeks, will likely be the way that people perceive him for his tenure at the store. I also told him to do whatever they tell you to do – and a little bit extra.

He nodded his head, took a deep breath, and walked into the store. I sat there for a moment with a sense of pride as I watched him disappear through the doors. And then I took a deep breath as the reality of him not being around as much started to sink in.

Before I left to head home, I grabbed my phone and pulled up my to-do list. I scrolled to the very bottom and stared at the last entry. It read, “Get son a job.” I then ticked it off, smiled for a moment, and pulled away.

Speaking of lists… One of my many lists is entitled, “Awesome Movies I’ve Never Seen.” This is a long-running tally of great movies that I’ve never gotten around to watching. It’s not a very long list, but it contains some interesting selections I’ve been recommended over the years.

This week I knocked off one of those movies when I finally watched “The Master” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Directed by the incredible Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master” is a riveting piece of cinematic genius that encompasses two epic performances about diametrically opposed men in the 1950s.

If you love acting at its absolute pinnacle, definitely give this film a try (or revisit it if it’s been some years since you’re last viewing).

A brilliant “A-” for “The Master.”

Currently, “The Master” is available for viewing on Netflix with a subscription or other online platforms for a rental fee.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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