Do you ever have those moments when you stop, look around, and wonder how you got to that specific point in your life?

It is an undeniable fact; this writer has a vivid and sometimes convoluted imagination. But in all her visions of a possible future, she never imagined nor expected to stand at a kitchen sink scrubbing mud off fresh eggs.

Overall, the process is a simple one. The chickens cluck away and lay eggs in their nests. Each day, Hubby or the wife gather the eggs, place them in a cute egg basket, and take them to the kitchen.

Fresh eggs have a micro-membrane coating or “bloom.” The coating protects the contents. If the bloom is left intact, the eggs stay fresh for a long time. Of course, if it rains, the chickens do not wipe their feet before flying up into the nests. Consequently, the eggs get muddy. And this is when the wife must clean off the mud. A rather mindnumbing task.

But then, if we are honest about it, far too many tasks fall into the mindnumbing category.

Years ago, this writer was between jobs and worked for a temp agency. One assignment was at the corporate headquarters of a bank. The mission? Stand at a copier for eight hours and copy documents.

As she placed and removed one document after another, her thoughts were on an endless loop. “I went to college for this? I went to college for this?” Later, the “robot” learned that the copier she used was brand new and she had copied over 100,000 documents.

Fortunately, the Fates took pity on her. The temporary zombie job turned into a challenging full-time position she held for over twenty years.

Some jobs can be challenging and monotonous at the same time.

In this writer’s experience and opinion, a receptionist’s position falls into that category, but only if the majority of the contact with the outside world is over the telephone. Receptionist jobs that entail constant face-to-face interaction with the public carry its own set of problems. However, if the primary task on a day-to-day basis is answering the telephone, then the mindnumbing factor becomes a part of the job.

The challenge is to come across as professional and friendly when dealing with callers. However, the monotony of doing nothing but sitting in a chair answering the telephone may cause the little devil on the receptionist’s shoulder to flex its muscles.

Sometimes the receptionist is out sick or on vacation, requiring other employees to pick up the slack until she returns. Ninety-nine percent of us hated that task and were not shy about voicing our feelings. We had one receptionist who felt insulted by our attitude. “This is my work area. You should respect me and the job.” Sure, whatever.

On a particularly busy day, our lady-of-the-domain called in sick. (Some thought she took a mental health day, with emphasis on the mental.) The gods were not smiling on this writer that morning because she was one of the fill-ins.

As she fielded one call after another, her testy meter was nearing the red “I’m going to explode any minute” zone. When she answered the next call, the caller started yelling in a foreign tongue. (As an aside, if you plan to deal with a company, learn to speak the native language. It is the polite thing to do.)

The caller kept yelling which stomped on the receptionist fill-in’s last nerve. She took a calming breath and gave the caller a large chunk of her opinion in Hungarian. The caller stopped shouting and hung up.

Sometimes the so-called mindnumbing tasks are beneficial. For example, while you weed the garden, mow the grass or knead bread, your mind is free to roam. At such moments, you could plan your next novel. If you are an artist, a butterfly may trigger your next painting. Or, you could go down the Walter Mitty path and daydream. As a last resort, you could try cogitating your navel lint. It is very relaxing and requires minimal effort.



Check out Liz Cowan’s latest novel “The Beast Within”

Twitter: @LizCowan4

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