Some habits are not habits at all.
Smoking, for example.
That's either an addiction or something buried deep in the genetic code.
You watch. They'll eventually find that out, the genetic part.
Only a non-smoker considers smoking a habit.
Some habits are simply matters of practicality. Let's take something harmless, like you always park your car facing out of the driveway instead of in. Makes for a quick escape if you need one or better visibility when kids are playing in the street or there's a foot of snow on the ground.
Or you empty your pockets into a tray or a plate each evening so you'll know where everything is in the morning when you have to make your quick escape in your out-facing car onto your street full of playing kids or snow.
But does this really explain some of our quirky behavior, the stuff we silly critters do? Maybe yes, maybe no.
How about this: most of us don't buy the top copy from a pile of newspapers -- those of us who still buy newspapers. What are we thinking, that a lot of people have glanced at that front page already and that makes it a used paper? But still, that's what many of us do.
Or this: there's a knot of people waiting for an elevator. You are the fifth person to arrive. The call button is lit. But you still push it. So has everyone who came before you even though only one push was needed.
Take a look in your closet. Is everything facing in the same direction? Probably. If you hang a shirt up in the wrong direction, do you rush home at the end of the day and before turning your car backward in the driveway you run to the bedroom to reverse the wrong-way shirt because it's been bothering you all day? (If the answer is "yes," you need serious help, seriously soon.)
Your correspondent has a lifelong habit of punctuality. The self-justification, the official reason is that time is valuable and that lateness is
a way of telling someone that one believes his time is more valuable than yours. Showing up late for work one day in a snowstorm induced an irrational tailspin of guilt, worry and distraction. (NOW who needs serious help?)
Go on, take the pledge. You will take the top paper on the pile if it's not visibly damaged, will not push the elevator button if someone else already has, put the right shoe on first if you normally start with the left.
It's good training. But for what?
--A company claiming to make paper clips, ACCO of Illinois disputes our theory that they just recirculate. Okay, that's what THEY say. But we know better.
--ACCO owns the Swingline brand now. There's something wrong about a Swingline stapler not made in Long Island City. Anyone who has ever ridden the Long Island Railroad after dark knows what I mean.
--Citigroup turns a profit? For two consecutive months? Be still, our hearts because this may be a sign that Bush's stupid bailout is starting to work.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®