One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” with Peter Sellers. His character, Inspector Clouseau, has a hired manservant, Cato, a martial arts expert. Cato, when he is not serving, is employed to ambush Clouseau in order to keep his combat skills sharp. The ambushes nearly always lead to funny, but massively destructive scenes. It’s a specific sort of humor and not for everyone, but it makes me laugh nearly every time.
I was thinking about the ambushes that happen in everyday life. It’s 4am – my sleep was taken over last night by a long list of anxieties about things that must be done. I tossed and turned, woke up 4 or 5 times, eventually laying there angrily until I wrote a post in my head about it. And here it is.
I have to start really questioning my activities, when, at the end of the day, I’m exhausted and have very little to show for it. What happened to the time? What happened to my early morning ambition? What did it get hijacked by?
Picture it. It’s a beautiful sunny, but cold morning. The “to do” list is sitting on my desk, neatly written out from the night before – even written in order by priority. It’s artistry. I shower right away, as this is key when working from home. Shower and dress right away or you’ll find yourself at 2pm, eating soup out of a can in your pjs, because all the dishes are dirty. Not much will be happening that day. But on this day, I’m showered and dressed. I’ve eaten a super healthy breakfast. I get my child off to school. I sit down at my desk, energized and ready to go. Then Cato shows up.
Cato is the phone call from the family member that leaves me angry and hostile for an hour afterwards (let’s get that emotional eating out of the way). Cato is in my computer as I click through the news, blogs and email jokes. Cato is the cat that decides throw up in six different places in the livingroom. Cato is the home schooled kid next door who is playing basketball against the house. Thump, thump, thump.
Cato can come in all forms, shapes and sizes. He can be the coworker who hangs over your cube wall telling you his descriptive colonoscopy tale or how her boyfriend did her wrong this time, gnawing away at your time and your senses, like a dog with a bone. Cato is waiting around every corner.
Now, being ex-military and a red belt in taekwondo, I feel that I am in the position to give advice on how to handle an ambush: run away screaming like a grown woman when she sees a house centipede (come on now – they’re creepy!). It stops ambushes cold. At some point, everyone stops talking to you out of fear that you will shriek and run. The ambitious ones will run after you and still talk, but this is why you need to work out – you can shake them on the first flight of stairs.
Today, I’m ready for ambushes. I’m not answering the phone or checking emails until I’ve taken care of priority tasks. I’m taking a brisk morning hike in the woods to shake off the cobwebs. And I’m definitely showering. If Cato shows up in the form of a house centipede in my bathtub (why oh why do they like my bathtub?), I’m killing it dead.
Here’s wishing you an ambush-free day!
Except for maybe this video…hey, where are you going? Why are you screaming?