Monday, August 28, 2017

A Sticky Situation

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published August 30, 2017] ©2017

It’s comforting to know that after I’m gone, I’ll live on through Post-it notes.
Truly, I think Uber and yellow sticky notes are the greatest innovations of modern times.  I’m not sure what I did without either.

Self-adhesive Post-it notes in assorted sizes have been around for a while now.  According to Wikipedia, the source for all things accurate, in 1968, a scientist at 3M, while attempting to develop a strong adhesive, inadvertently created a reusable pressure-sensitive glue.  It was almost another decade before they found an application for this “solution without a problem.”  A story, which sounds suspiciously apocryphal, alleges that one of the scientist’s colleagues discovered that the adhesive helped him to anchor his bookmark in his hymnal. Post-it notes are now produced in multiple sizes and colors, different strengths of adhesion for non-smooth surfaces, and even with lines on them. 

We purists, however, only use yellow.

Personally, I’m only willing to try to keep so much information in my head at once.  This is why my computer monitor is ringed with sticky notes reminding me of all manner of info such as short cuts I use during word processing, passwords I use frequently but not quite often enough to remember them, what sequence of commands to use when my computer freezes up, and how to stop print jobs when I accidentally specified 100 pages instead of 10.

Sticky notes on my bathroom mirror remind me of the day’s appointments now that I am a senior. Yellow Post-its over the washing machine exhort Olof to remember that you need to push the dial IN before you turn it, or if the load goes off balance, to stop it.  It is baffling to me that neither of my husbands, a physician and an engineer with a degree in nuclear physics, have ever been able to grasp this concept.

There is no machine in our home that is not adorned with sticky notes advising me of its operational requirements. In fact, with some of them, you have to move the sticky notes to even use the machine.
At one point, my older son Rory sent me a birthday card depicting an old person holding a remote up to her ear and waiting for a dial tone. Rory noted: “Mom - I’m sure there is a sticky note in your house that addresses this.”  

Our assorted remotes all have sticky notes on the back reminding me which of our too-many electronic gadgets it allegedly operates.

When I was editing my book, I printed it out (don’t judge), then went through multiple packages of sticky notes to mark changes. What can I say; I’m from the paper generation. We like to read actual crinkly tree-destroying newspapers and to edit with a pencil.

Post-it notes on the fridge remind me to thaw chicken or put the lasagna in the oven at 6:00. I just have a Post-it note mind. Or, as it has been suggested by mean-spirited persons in my family whom I will not personally name, a mind not sufficiently memory-capable to avoid needing Post-it notes. I will totally confess to my entire mental organization being dependent on them.

A few times my Post-it note habit has had unintended consequences.  In 2009, during a weekend visit, my prankster older son Rory appropriated my 14-digit library card number sticky-noted to my computer and ordered me up a long list of books including The Book of the Penis (it came with an 8-inch ruler along the binding); The whole lesbian sex book: a passionate guide for all of us; Coping with Your Colitis, Hemorrhoids and Related Disorders; and The Rear View: A Brief and Elegant History of Bottoms Through the Ages.  He was aided and abetted by the public library website’s then-policy of announcing “your password is the last four digits of your phone number,” a policy now changed, presumably at the behest of other mothers with creatively-minded sons. But once these titles were on the reserve shelf with my name on them, there was nothing to do but take them home and read them.  And write Rory a book report on what I had learned from each of them. 

If Post-it notes are to be my legacy, I think it would only be appropriate that when I die, the assorted assemblage should be issued with pads of sticky notes on which they could write farewell messages and stick them to my coffin. This could be in lieu of flowers. It would be especially appropriate since yellow is my favorite color.  The messages could run the gamut of, “I’m sorry I never returned your blender!” Or: “I hope those chocolates won’t melt where you’re going, ha ha!  Or even: “Inga – you really should have had that checked.”

But somewhere in the program, there should be an important announcement: Given Inga’s demise, short your 3M stock.


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