A Bolt Cutter for Valentine’s Day


What a crazy awesome week! On Monday I started a new position as Operations Manager. It’s been nuts, with the move to a new cube spot, Wednesday’s half day offsite training session, and learning new routines, responsibilities, and procedures. It was an adrenalin filled week that seemed like one continuous long day.

I work for a non-profit homeless outreach program in downtown Oakland. As I left the office Thursday evening I recalled seeing a box of Valentine decorations earlier while moving things around in the storage attic. On Friday morning (Valentine’s Day) I decided to go into work a few minutes early to decorate the lobby.

About midway through the decorating process my ADHD kicked in and I found myself outside taking photos of the graffiti on our front windows tagged with various gang member symbols. And of course that distraction led me to yet another distraction, the padlock on our recycling container was locked without first closing the latch (yeah, we lock our recycling bins in downtown Oakland) so I returned inside for the padlock key.

Moments after re-entering the building my co-workers began streaming in behind me and I launched into managing the operation, the padlock would wait.

During lunch I chatted with my boss, the Clinical Director of the agency. As we sat in the multi-functional conference room, I listened as she explained the importance of a visually appealing environment for mental health, recovery, and the work we do here. I noticed her gaze focus passed me and over my shoulder. She paused and said “for instance I think we should find a more suitable place for that box marked “FOR MEMORIALS””.

She’s right, a box of candles used for memorial services is a downer when you’re trying to get better, so later in the afternoon I ran the box upstairs to the storage attic. While upstairs I had a padlock flashback and searched for a bolt cutter.Why? Because the recycle bin padlock from earlier looked weathered and I since had feelings it may not open with the key I had not yet located. I searched, but no bolt cutter. BTW, this paragraph is me putting the H in ADHD, (hyperactive and borderline OCD hyper-focused) my mind would not let go of the padlock. Basically I was locked in on the padlock.

With the bolt cutter thing once again stored in my mental ‘honey-do’ box I continued on with my mission, whatever that was, I couldn’t remember. After drawing a blank I returned to my desk. That’s what I do when I draw a blank, return to my desk because there’s always stuff to do there. I sat down and shot off a quick email to my boss, “do we have a bolt cutter? If not I think we should. Let me know and I’ll pick one up”.

I carried on with managing the operation, conquering one task after another, until the magic hour of 5pm, at which time I was free to begin a much deserved three-day weekend.

Before leaving I checked my email one last time where I found this reply from the boss,

“John, please do pick up a bolt cutter and,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!”

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