User Error

Know what I hate? When a thought process short circuits and fails me.

My first recollection of this was when (sorry, guys) I shaved my legs for the first time. I was fascinated at how smooth my calves were and, as I stared at the wonder-tool in my hand with awe and fascination, the way my virginal hairs stuck between multiple razors. Enamored, I lightly ran my thumb across the blades in admiration.


What happened? I was the proud new owner of gill-like slits in my flesh. No blood, just flaps of skin. Really? How did that just happen?

Around that same time, I remember washing my fish tank in the front yard. I’d carefully taken out all of the gravel, gotten the funk cleaned out of it, tenderly removed my faux plants and then — when it came time to pluck a fragile, neon-airbrushed cave from the tank — I spotted a clear place on the sidewalk next to the grass. Looked like a good spot for it to me, so…I tossed the cave down from about two to three feet in the air.

It shattered.

I remember staring, motionless, at the broken bits and feeling like a fool. An emotion-lacking, stupid fool. Not mad, not irritated. Just ridiculous and foolish. How could I carefully place unbreakable mounds of gravel and fake plants on the soft grass then toss a tiny, breakable accessory onto the concrete and expect it to survive?

Most recently, I’ve become a huge fan of managing my finances to the smallest detail. I save receipts. I track balances. I expect certain payments like student loans and the gardener’s check and my bimonthly utility bill to hit my checking account on certain days, and they all do. All the time.

For whatever reason, I don’t like setting up automatic, recurring payments. I prefer scheduling a one-timer for things like credit card payments, the gas company bill, and I like taking out cash for wanty-not-needy things like my pedicures and my car washes. So what in the world happened when I set up two large payments for one credit card in the same billing period? Mass hysteria, that’s what happened.

But not for the reason you’d think. My biggest issue is that I remember setting up one of the payments, but not the other.

Now, if this was someone messing with my credit card, I’d expect to see new charges on it — not a payment made against its balance. But that’s what it was. Zero. Recollection.

I know I enjoy trying new wines often, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never thought participating in online banking post-drinking would ever be a good idea.

And yet, all signs point to one thing: user error.

And I’m the user. Therefore the error must be mine.

I had an error with the razor years ago. I malfunctioned with the fish tank’s dainty cave. And I had a massive fail when I came to remembering one of two payments that I’d apparently scheduled.


I’m used to hearing stories from my mom about my grandparents’ memory and processing issues, and if what they say about these types of issue skipping a generation is true, well…mine are starting mighty early.

What to be thankful for? The comedy of it all. But seriously — let’s be honest: it’s a wake-up call, as well. At their simplest, errors at any age are a little nudge to try to be a little more focused, a little more on it, a little more together…that is, if you realize the error in the first place. For me, it’s a push to make the spreadsheet a little more buttoned up than it already is, my days a tad less frenetic or scattered or whatever other adjective is clearly plaguing them, and my bills, well…simply less.

Here’s to finding the good for the user in the user’s error.

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