Monday, April 19, 2010

On the Art of Multi-Tasking

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now
From Dylan's "My Back Pages", 1964

A hundred years ago when I was young and innocent and open to new ideas, I believed that "multi-tasking" was a GOOD THING.

I was a young adult. Married. Living in rural Australia. I had babies and had to "multi-task" in order to get everything done. Back in those good ol' days "multi -tasking" meant things like feeding your baby while preparing the shopping list and tidying the kitchen, scrubbing floors even.

It was something that women did. Well, maybe men did it too, but we didn't hear about it.

Times have changed and "multi-tasking' has now taken on a new meaning.

It now sort of means, "I'll-fit-you-in-when-I-have-time."

Take my phone conversation with my friend Sarah this evening. We were chatting away, discussing movies and the up-coming Tribeca film festival. If I remember correctly, we were talking about the Australian actress, Toni Collette. The conversation was getting interesting. I was CONNECTING with another person. A non-work person. A human being. Another New Yorker. Fulfillment. The meaning of life had a meaning-sort-of-thing.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, she said, "That's enough pepper and no I haven't finished my appetizer." "Oh," I said to myself, "She's at a restaurant, fitting me in between courses. No big deal."

I was unfazed. I've been a New Yorker long enough to not take offense. At anything. I waited. For the waiter to be finished - or "done" - as they say here. When it comes to food, I understand that I am second fiddle. I was patient. The background noise of the restaurant continued. Until suddenly the focus was on me!

"What did you say?" Sarah asked, after a time lapse of of several eons.

"I dunno," I replied. Truthfully. For in the time while I was waiting for her response to whatever I might have said, I'd tuned in to CNN and was watching someone-or-other interview Bill Clinton.

"No, I don't need cheese," Sarah was saying.

"Do you know there's been another eruption of that volcano in Iceland?" I replied, suddenly appreciating the meaning of "non-sequiteur".

"No I said I do NOT want cheese," she answered.

We chatted for a while in a non-connecting sort of way. And when the conversation ended (Sarah was onto the desert course) I felt fulfilled.

It's GREAT to have a New York friend.

It's great to be a New Yorker.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Guess I'm old fashioned as well as being old. What she did was rude and inexcusable. Take her off your speed dial and your address list. Would you have behaved the way she did?

Anonymous said...

If women are so good at multi-tasking, how come they can't have sex and a headache at the same time?

Jaded NYer said...

I agree with Boggy. This was rude of her not just to Kate but to her dinner guest as well.

If you are going to talk to your friend, then be there for your friend. What I can't stand is when you are on the phone with someone and the next thing you hear is the toilet flushing. If you can't talk to me without taking a dump then don't call me. Gross.

And anonymous, perhaps if a woman has sex with YOU she could have a headache at the same time.

Kate said...

She didn't have a dinner guest. She was eating alone.

JadedNYer said...

Well that's even worse. she could have invited you!!!

Jumptown Inflatibles said...

multi tasking can be a very useful thing when used right however it can also be distracting in cases such as this. Know when multi tasking is okay and when it's rude.

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