Some day I want to write a blog post about the mentors in my life that have inspired me to be better. At the top of that post will be Dr. Alan Morris. He has taught me countless life lessons… and one them is “If you don’t have time to do it right now, when will you have time to do it again?” I love this saying and use it whenever I am asked to do something I don’t feel I have time for….
That seems to be often. As a resident at Johns Hopkins I have very little time. Literally, my hours are not my own and I am usually in the hospital before most of you are awake and out long after businesses have closed. Thus, to get anything done requires extreme effort.
So one day I got lucky and got out a little early. I had wanted to set up a bank account at the Johns Hopkins Credit Union and picked that as my task to accomplish. I headed over there and, despite feeling a rush of urgency to get it done quickly, I committed myself to taking all the time necessary to make this one task a minor victory. I filled out paperwork after paperwork and then waited what felt like an eternity to be called to see a banker.
Even more forms were presented and so I rushed through filling them out with her not having any idea which lines on the application were important and which were not. It didn’t matter, I had committed, and eventually it would be done. Finally she said, “that should be it – just give me a second.”
I waited there for 10-15 minutes. Finally she came back and said, “I will need to see a copy of your social security card too.” My face dropped. I try to be pleasant at all times, but this was too much…
“We have a random screening process and you have been selected. I’m sorry but I cannot process your paperwork without your social security card.”
“I haven’t seen my social security card in decades… but I have the number memorized?”
“Sorry, I will have to see it.”
If I have learned one thing from bureaucracies it is that arguing is an even greater waste of time. I left so frustrated I did not even know where to begin…
… I spent the next several weeks digging through every box I owned looking for my card. Finally, two months later, I found it. It took me an additional month before I had another break in my schedule long enough to go back and try again, then another 35 minutes to get through the line to the banker again. Luckily I had all of the papers from before. Then, as she looked at my social security card and my application, she said, “Oh, I see what happened… on your original application this 2 looks like a 7.” I looked at the form and indeed the two could have been mistaken for a seven.
“Do you mean that is the reason I ‘was subjected to a random screening???’”
So, in total I wasted two early days, countless hours looking through boxes, and months of time before I was able to open my account. The fatal error was in rushing through filling out paperwork to “save time.”
Usually I do not make such horrible mistakes. In fact, as you’ve read above, I had committed as much time in that initial visit to finishing it as was necessary. Nevertheless, the mistake was mine. Haste makes waste, and in mine I quickly wrote a number that cost me months.
Such is life. Such is the importance of living with intention. Such is the importance of doing this well. For, if you do not have time to do it right now, when will you have time to do it again?