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Telephone CordOn the plane ride back to England from Charleston just before Christmas, I had an extreme case of OCD – if that’s what you could call it.

I was sat in Row B of cattle – right up the front – which was close enough so that when the head stewardess made her general announcement over the P.A. I could hear her mainly in person rather than through the speakers.

And she did that thing which they all do – hold the phone about three inches away from their mouth AND ear, because they’ve learnt that it will distort the audio if held right to the face like a normal telephone.

She made her announcement, hung up the phone in the cradle, and went about her business of checking that everyone had their seat belts on. But I had a problem, an extreme problem, than I could do nothing about for the next twenty minutes.

When she’d hung up the phone/PA, my attention was drawn to the little coiled up cord that attached the cradle to the phone set, and it now dangled below to the left and right as the plane moved slightly, scraping along the ledge of a protruding part of the planes fixtures that was about six inches below it.

And it got my attention. REALLY got my attention, the point where I could do nothing else but look at the little dangling coil of wire, and obsess about it, to the point where I wanted to get up and move it … because I didn’t like the fact that it was dangling, scraping against the edge of the ledge, instead … i wanted to move it and tuck it up on the ledge.

Every time the plane rocked from side to side the cable would move, and in my head a scraping sound would go off, shooting a nagging pain in my head, and an irresistible urge to unbuckle my belt, get up and go and adjust it.

Twenty agonising minutes I head to wait until the plane had taken off, and the ‘no seatbelt’ light came on, and I was the first up, out of my seat, heading for the toilet, pretending to yawn and stretch as I went, and with my outstretched arm, tucked the cable up onto the ledge where in my mind where it belonged, and only then, could I be at peace for the journey.

I used to be bad with things like this – e.g. when sat at my computer, the coffee cup had to be on the left, to ‘balance out’ the mouse that I was using on the right, but I think it’s getting worse. And google as much as I can, I can’t find anyone else out their with symptoms like this for me to be able to say “Yes! Yes, that’s what I do”, it’s more akin to OCPD, which I read just this morning, that is common for people that have this to never be able to finish what they wanted to do in the first place, which leads me nicely to my own diagnose of a condition that I’ve decide that I have: OPD.

Obessive Project Disorder!
Often lamely labeled as ‘Silly Boy Projects’, it’s the fact that one can never be happy, unless there’s some kind of project, goal, or target in ones head to give them something to focus on and attempt to achieve in the future.

And I’m happy to report that over the holiday period back in England, I came up with my new OPD for 2009, and am now heavily in the throws or organising it and putting it together.

It’s strange. It feels almost as if when I have something to concentrate on, the little things which might otherwise bother me, don’t – because I have a focus. But when life is just ambling on day to day in its regular dreariness, it bothers me because I have no goal.

I joked to people in Charleston before I took the trip home that “I might not come back!”, but I knew in the back of my head that this wasn’t the case.

In reality, going home for a fortnight put America into perspective, and having distance from a place which has been very intensely fused to my heart forever for the last twelve months (well more than that in total, but the last 12 months have been my best here), made it very obvious to me what I should do in 2009, and I’m very much going to do it.

I sat in row D on the way back. Still very much in full view of the offending dangling cable. It didn’t bother me once.

10 responses to “OPD”

  1. Richard says:


    Does the new OPD involve some form of train travel?

  2. geofftech says:

    I know. I am sick. I am *diseased*. I should be put down, or something.

  3. Michael says:

    I think I can relate in some measure, with me it’s lists. I have been making lists nearly as long as I could write; 60yrs ago. I make list for everything, at any one time I will have at least four lists on the go.

  4. Chris R says:

    I think I might have the same sort of project problem. Eventually I made a “list of things to do” onto which I stuck my various project ideas, and that means I don’t feel quite so much that I have to start them all immediately.

  5. Mark Garth says:

    I always have a list of things to do and don’t rest easy until I’ve done some of them. Obviously, some are short term and simple, where others are long term and more difficult, so I can gauge the timings.

    I suppose this way of thinking helps me in my job as a project manager, but it also drives my wife up the wall as I’m also obsessively neat and tidy!

  6. Chris says:

    Brilliant! Superbly written and allows me to recant my own particular obsession about coily cables. You know when you pick up the handset and then put it down having turned it completely around once, then do that again each time, it eventually becomes a knotted tangly mess? (People who do this have no idea how the cable becomes tangled). I struggle to be in the same room as one that’s in that state. I just have to pick it up, unwind it and set it back down so that the cable rests in a natural, relaxed single loop. It used to be called perfectionism. Now it’s OCD. Still, I’d rather cross a bridge built by a perfectionist than one built by some cool dude with great taste in clothes..

    Anyway, your project is…???

  7. Viv says:

    I don’t think it at all strange to want to uncoil cables or place things symetrically. It’s only OCD when it takes up your time and stops you having a normal life. I would rather have the things I have around me sorted. So would most people, I think.

  8. mum in new zealand says:

    Hello from New Zealand, I had to get that one in didn’t I,to show off, anyway I am just as bad as you, only it’s my hairdrier cord that continually gets in a twist, despite me untangling it everyday. Have been known to get out of bed to sort it out.

  9. Mark Garth says:

    If you don’t do something that you feel compelled to do, do you think something bad will happen?

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