When you have the OCD blinders on, you can do the work of three highly-motivated people. You can go for hours and hours, your ass sinking into the seat like an anvil. The problem is that your muscles and mind are a tangled wreck when you stand up many hours later.
Any doctor or therapist will tell you to get up every 25 minutes or so and walk around for a bit. Maybe go eat lunch outside on a nice day instead of at the desk. They call this breaking up the day.
I suck at it. Always have.
So when I was asked to participate in a program where I would read to a second-grader at a school near the office once a week, I groaned. I didn’t want to do it. It would mean I had to stop what I was doing and go, whether I felt ready or not.
But I try to be a team player. So I signed up.
Every week, it’s the same feeling. I’m hauling ass on a project, and 11 a.m. rolls around. Time to get up and go read. I tell myself there’s a few more minutes to work. It’s usually 11:45 before I get up.
With no traffic, that would be fine. But there’s always traffic on this route because of all the traffic lights and a busy mall. So I get to the school a few minutes late.
Then I go in and meet up with the second-grader I’ve been assigned. His name is Luis. He has spiky blond hair and dark skin. He’s a very cool-headed little guy. Nothing seems to get him excitable. He lunchbox is always packed with chips, tacos and cheese in a box and something for dessert. He always eats the desert first. While he eats, I read. They call this the Power Lunch.
He likes the lighthearted stuff: The “Magic Tree House” series, the “Ricky Ricotta and His Mighty Robot” books, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “The Adventures of Captain Underpants.”
Occasionally, I get him to pick a biography. Always about a sports legend. I’d try to turn him on to bios about politicians and rock stars, but there are none in the bin.
When he can’t listen anymore, we’ll play a game or two of Tic Tac Toe.
I like the kid a lot. I always admire the people who don’t get rattled. There are other kids in the group that bounce off the walls. One of my co-workers — a young, geeky type of guy — has the rowdiest kid of the bunch, which amuses me to no end. The boy is also one of Luis’ best buddies, so he spends a lot of time looking at our table, contemplating ways to get out of his seat and come over.
The whole thing takes 30 minutes a week. It goes by fast. And I always walk out of there with a smile.
Then the next reading day rolls around, and I repeat the process.
Thing is, I’m glad I decided to do this. It’s rarely convenient, but that’s the OCD talking. As I said earlier, I don’t like having to get up when I’m engrossed in a task.
But I do it anyway. And I’m better for it.
I guess the doctors and therapists aren’t full of shit after all.
I got a reward for my efforts too. Luis made me a card thanking me for reading to him. It warms the heart.