Yang: A Bagful Of (Mostly) Sweet Memories

By ELENA YANG
Los Alamos

It has been just a little over four years since the Los Alamos Daily Post gave me the space for my ponderings on organizational issues. Some of you know that my writing also has been released under my own blog: www.towardasensibleorganization.com. I thank Carol Clark for both giving me the space as well as allowing me to reference my own blog whenever I cite my old writing.

I cannot claim that I have gotten tons of readers’ responses – neither have I expected so — but I have received many thoughtful responses over the years. I still remember the first time a reader called me just to let me know how much he appreciated my writing.

I almost danced out of the door on my way to my appointment of that day. One reader told me that since she discovered my writing, she went back to the archive and read all my previous writing. It touched me so much. I have had people in stores approaching me tentatively, “Are you the lady who writes for LA Daily?”, usually followed by “I really enjoy reading your writing.” I honestly did not think that people would want to spend their precious time reading my ramblings, but I was wrong. And I am forever humbled by this experience.

While I occasionally fret over what to write, most of the time, the thought that my words may resonate with some minds usually buoys my spirits, and I go on writing.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, readers.

And now for some memories of living in a small town, especially this unique place.

It took me years to calibrate the amount of time it would take me to finish my errands in town. I usually ended up with ½ hour to spare. So I am amused by people’s complaints about “traffic” in this town.

Similarly, driving to and from Santa Fe (henceforth referred as “SFe”) is almost a pleasure. My weekly journey into SFe never taxes my patience. Comparing to driving from West Chester, PA to Philadelphia … same amount of time, but the agony factor was HUGE. Back on the east coast, the mentality was always: Have alternative routes plotted out at any given time and given place, and this was before “smart” devices; paper maps were my constant companion.

On to another small town phenomenon: parking! During my first year of residence here, I took a role as chaperone for my son’s elementary school field trip to SFe. One parent kindly advised me about places to park. I thanked her with a smile. Even during Indian Market (I made the mistake of going to the city without the knowledge of the event…once), I had no trouble of finding parking. On the other hand, we won’t tally the parking tickets I accrued during my years at the University of Pennsylvania!

I can never tire of driving the main hill road. The view, the view, the view.

Oh, the joys of picking up my ski pass at Pajarito! I usually encountered many smiling people anticipating a good season (especially when the season opened with major dumps). And the Fab Four!!! The wonderfully spaced moguls!! The quiet of the snowy hills no matter how many cars were parked at the lot! I have honed my skiing skills here and I’ve enjoyed many solo skiing days. And my son became a certified ski patroller at age 14; I haven’t been able to keep up with him ever since.

To be able to just open the back gate of our yard and walk onto a trail…to have hundreds of trails to choose from…this town has been a heaven for outdoor life. Such freedom is especially precious, coming from the congested east coast.

We moved into our house Aug. 1. I remember vividly exclaiming, “For the first time in my life, I can go outside and do things! Not feeling sticky, not cursing the humidity.” Nope, I can never go back to a humid environment again, ever.

For some reason, driving and traffic offer fascinating social psychology instances to me. Some mornings, I’d drive my husband to work, and it always astounds me how briskly the traffic moves, often above the speed limit. Like, everyone can’t wait to go to work?! And some evenings, I’d pick him up, and while the traffic pace is still brisk, it’s slower than it is in the morning. Like, people drag their feet going home?!

The most frustrating period is in-between when drivers don’t seem to have time commitments. Sometimes, they drive 10+ miles below the speed limit; that’s when my east coast habits resurface…Growling all the way.

As small a town as ours is, I rarely run into people I know at grocery stores, post offices, CB FOX, hardware stores, not even at Chili Works. The only place where I typically see familiar faces is Starbucks.  Hmmmm, so, people drink a lot of coffee. But then, years ago, on a boat ride in Belize, we ran into a family who lived in White Rock. Go figure.

When our wood shed mysteriously caught fire, I was especially grateful for the small town lifestyle. Fire trucks converged at our house in less than three minutes. In the end, not a whole lot of damage (beyond the woodshed). The common fence with our neighbors had to be replaced, and thank goodness, we have very gracious and generous neighbors.

In PA, I worried whenever our then 10-year-old son walked our German Shepherd in the semi-rural neighborhood. After we moved here, the first day of his 6th grade, he walked to school by himself, without the dog, and I was totally relaxed.

However, as short as the drive to the vet’s clinic is, our cats still scream their heads off during the drive to e-v-e-r-y appointment.

Some LANL people (non-managers) often wonder if their organizational dysfunctions are unique. Not really. What’s unique is the smart to stupidity ratio. I rarely see organizations where there are so many smart people encumbered with such dimwitted management requirements, but managers still think they are right. And that’s true everywhere; managers always think they are right.

Finally, advice to LANL from which my management writing motivation originated: Instead of keeping piling on rules after every accident or incident, just name the rule after the person who committed the act in the first place. Say, EAYang 2015 A (just in case there might be EAYang 2015 B or EAYang 2015 C down the road). I am pretty sure that’d cut down the accident rate by at least 40 percent.

LA Daily Post has graciously invited me to submit articles whenever the mood seizes me, once I settle in our new home after the move. I deeply appreciate such an outlet, and so you may still get my ramblings in the future.

I will be in town for another couple of months. If you see me in town, please allow me to say “goodbye” to you personally.

Till next time, sometime in 2017,

Staying Sane and Charging Ahead.

Direct Contact: taso100@gmail.com

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