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The coat conundrum

Exercise is not my forte. OK, so I’ve lost two stone this year and kept it off over Christmas but when it comes to keeping fit, my aim is to do the 10,000 steps ‘recommendation’ and if the body permits, without panting or complaining. 10,000 steps may seem a lot to some, but it’s a great way to keep both the body and mind active.

Having just returned from a short walk – don’t worry, I’ll do another later – I’m finding the mind in overdrive once again. It usually occurs when something sparks my interest or imagination and I can’t shake it off. Trouble is, with an overactive, creative, probing brain, I tend to analyse lots of angles to what is probably a very simple thing in order to find a solution. Take ‘The Coat Conundrum’, which fell into my lap today.

At the start of my walk, very pleasant, bit of a wind, but not cold, I encounter two of today’s yoofs, hanging around outside the park, tracksuit bottoms hanging round their backsides, hoods pulled up, mumbling away in that all too familiar but unfamiliar tone. I’m a youth worker, so not overly put off.

In a surprise attack on the senses though, their conversation took a turn for the worse, from my angle at least, when the bespectacled one turned his head as I walked past and bellowed at his mate, who’s only six inches from him, ‘how long does it take her to get a f***ing coat?’ (obviously he didn’t asterisk it himself).

And then my brain kicked in.

The initial question of course was:- How long DOES it take her to get an f-ing coat? But then the whirlwind of thinking began. Who was SHE that had gone to get her f-ing coat? What did she need her f-ing coat for? Where did she have to get to in order to collect the f-ing coat that was taking her so long? What did the f-ing coat look like? Why did the young lad need to inject the f word in to the sentence in the first place?

But delving deeper, as only my brain does, I wondered whether the coat was actually called an ‘f-ing coat’ as it served some really unsavoury purpose. Hey, it could. Don’t blame my brain for thinking outside the box. It didn’t stop there though. Whilst I had wondered how long it took her to get the f-ing coat, it crossed my mind that maybe something had happened to her. Had the young lad considered that? Was the SHE he was on about his sister, girlfriend, mother, grandmother? Admittedly, probably just a friend as although I can imagine it might take his gran a bit longer than most to get her coat, if it’s anything like the lovely grans I know, once they’d gone back for their coat, there was no way they’d be leaving the house to go back to the park.

I also wondered why he was so frustrated by the fact that SHE had taken so long to get the f-ing coat, and by whose standards had it been a long time? She may have an unknown illness or disability, run into an old friend, hurt herself, been kidnapped, have caring duties. Who was he to determine how long it should take, and why did he need to get angry? If he wanted it done in a set time, he could have gone himself, or been a gent and accompanied her.

I’m sure you can see that my brain doesn’t like to put things to rest when it gets going, and whilst I love it when it goes full pelt whilst I’m out for a walk if I’ve got writer’s block during my fiction writing, for things like this, I often need to bring out the moderator in me and try to put a resolution to the situation. How mad is that?

Based on a recent course I’ve been doing in creative problem solving, there are five key areas needing to be dealt with here, but how do I answer them?

  • Recognise and define the problem.
    The young lad is frustrated because SHE has taken too long to collect the f-ing coat (whatever purpose it serves) and is unable to express himself in any other way.
  • Gather information.
    Well, I have several potential answers as to why he feels the way he does, who SHE is, what the f-ing coat’s purpose is (potentially just to keep her warm), etc.
  • Form tentative conclusions.
    This is the point where you let the mind go to find answers. Well I sort of did that in the last one, but I’ve two theories which I’ll put below.
  • Test conclusions.
    Can’t really do that as I didn’t hang around long enough, but I could put what their potential results would be if I had.
  • Evaluate and decide next course of action
    I’ll do that as best I can after concluding.

My two conclusions then…At a basic level, and using critical thinking, the young lad is frustrated because SHE, presuming friend, has gone to collect her coat because she was a bit chilly. She has taken a long time because she walks slowly or dawdles. She needs the coat because they’re going to continue to sit in the park doing nothing, as there’s not a lot around here to do (there’s another dilemma – don’t get me started!). She probably won’t be much longer, and he’ll probably remain frustrated and quiz her like crazy when she gets back about the f-ing coat, still using the language of choice. As a way of alleviating his frustration, he could have gone with her and seen the reason for it taking so long, or at least supported/hurried her along. I could have stopped and asked him his reason for frustration or could go back now but he might be gone. The End.

However, the creative thinking mind suggests that the young lad is frustrated because SHE, potentially gran, has taken a long time to collect her f-ing coat, which she uses for unsavoury purposes whilst sat on the graffiti daubed slide in the park. She has taken so long because she’s either fallen down on route and can’t get up, or has decided that she’s got time to have a cup of tea and custard cream, change her tights for the woolly pair, feed the cat, before she ventures back out again in the blue, or maybe red, coat – she can’t decide which is the warmest and most functional. The young lad, remaining frustrated, could be helped. I could offer relaxation sessions, coaching, creative thinking, or vision boarding to find a solution to the problem. Admittedly, it could take a while, and I’m likely to get my nose broken, but it’d be different, and he might be more frustrated than he was when I simply walked past and let the mind wander. The End.

I’ve managed to form a few tentative conclusions there. Did I test either? No. Will I? No. Creative thinking to problem resolution is great, but there’s clearly a time and a place. My evaluation is that in both cases, I’m likely to be met with some hostility, both resulting in me lying in the middle of the path, unable to get up, getting cold, and then it’ll be me needing my f-ing coat.

Perhaps I’ll walk a different way later, just in case.

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