“But to where?”

“Where, indeed?”

People often ask me where I get the energy to do everything I do. I don’t have any more energy than anyone else. What I have is time. Lots of it.

Where does that time come from?

No. I’m not someone who’s all obsessed with routine or schedules. Far from it! I’m a rebel. I don’t like to be controlled by anything or anybody. And I think that’s why I try to shave time whenever I can. (I just noticed that if you remove a letter from shave time you have save time or you have have time.)

How much time do I have exactly?

24 hours a day

= 8,760 hours a year

= 525,600 minutes a year

= 31,536,000 seconds a year

Same as everybody else on Earth. Imagine that.

I would need to take 10,512,000 seconds a year—give or take—for sleeping. This would leave me with 21,024,000 seconds per year to do whatever I wanted.

How Do I Manage to Keep those 21,024,000 Seconds a Year to Myself?

When I was a kid, we lived in a small town in a really great neighborhood where two dead-end streets crossed. William Street and Peter Street. Both of these streets were dead ends because the gully was there. It curved slightly to be at the end of both streets.

We moved to that neighborhood when I was six or seven, and out of there when I was about thirteen. I was the eldest of three. My sister was born when I was five-and-a-half and my brother, when I was eleven.

I had thirty-six friends that I played with. I remember that number because one Halloween, to know how many treats she’d have to prepare, Mom counted the kids and came up with thirty-six. I remember the number because I was worrying about what might happen if one of the kids had a cousin staying with them or an extra kid showed up or something. I didn’t ask. Mom, I knew, would come up with something.

Those were post-WWII days, the 1950s, so we were all pretty much of the same mentality and even social status. We all got along. Sometimes we didn’t get along. But we usually worked it out. We were kids. This was our ’hood.

We played tag. We played scrub (softball); I pretty much ended up as 30th fielder most of the time. We played Hide n Seek. We played Red Rover.

I especially liked playing Cowboys and Indians. I would get especially upset, though, when I couldn’t take a turn to play Roy Rogers. One of the boys always got that role. I wasn’t upset from missing out because I wanted to be Roy Rogers and couldn’t because I was a girl; it was because I wanted to be riding Trigger.

Everybody went to the Saturday Afternoon Matinees. Cowboy movies galore. The kids we knew from school would be there, too. And both Protestants and Catholics from every neighborhood in town. The theater would be full to the brim. Only the older kids got to sit upstairs in the balcony.

In the summer, we would catch bees and grasshoppers in jars with holes in the lids and in the winter we would risk death—no exaggeration—tobogganing down the gully’s hills.

Life was great. Freedom was wonderful. I even liked school. A lot.

Day of Doom

I think I was probably nine when my mother announced that I was now old enough to be doing the dishes on Saturday mornings. And if I wanted to be getting an allowance to go to the movies, I had better agree.

“But Mom. I want to go out and play. It’s Saturday morning.”

“You can play after you do your chores.”


The first thought through my head was an unspoken one: The neighborhood BOYS don’t have to do chores on Saturday morning! I could hear them all outside playing. I wanted to be there, too. A lot of the neighborhood girls were into dolls. And probably into washing dishes, too. Dolls, to me, were absolutely no fun whatsoever. Doing the dishes even less. I didn’t want to play with the girls and do girl stuff. I wanted to do the stuff boys did. That stuff was fun.

The first few times I did the dishes, I had to redo them. Because my hands couldn’t tolerate having the water hot enough to make the Tide laundry soap be absorbed and work, I couldn’t get the dishes clean enough.

“Do them over, Sherrill. They’re still dirty.”

You might imagine my reaction to that.

I devised a plan.

I need to get the water as hot as I can get it without causing damage to my hands. That way, I won’t have to do them over.

If I can get the dishes done faster in the first place, I can get out to play sooner.

How could I do this?

If I set everything up in certain corners in the sink, I would be able to just reach in and grab what I wanted fast. I wouldn’t have to deal with the water burning my skin while blindly searching around for a spoon or a fork under sudsy, opaque water. I would know exactly where everything was so I could dive my hand in and come up with whatever needed washing almost instantly. And since I would know where the paring knife was, I could avoid cutting myself. I could even start washing things while the sink was filling up.

It worked!

That was the beginning of my learning how to s/h/ave time. As I said, it wasn’t the least bit obsessive-compulsive on my part. It was solely so I could get out and play sooner.

And I’m the same way today: Get it done properly, but Get ’er done! and then you can go play.

This week’s tip: Always know EXACTLY where everything is.

Until next time.