A Slow Mover in a Fast Paced World.

I'm a bit slower than other people. This goes for both my cognitive and motor skills. Throughout my life I've often been made painfully aware of it.

In school, tests and exams are timed and I was always worried about whether I'd finish on time. With mental arithmetic, my teacher was thankfully fairly easy on me, but the goal was to try and get faster. I could always solve the problem, but it took me longer than most of the others who could manage to. It's never been that I'm incapable of doing things, just that it was always noted that I needed to do it faster. Not surprisingly, I took that as a negative and labeled myself as “not good enough.”

I worked for a while at a garment manufacturer sewing swimwear and lingerie. You received a basic wage, but it was piecework, which meant that they expected a minimum amount of work done in a day to make that pay break even. It was accepted that when a new line started there would be a learning curve and you probably wouldn't make the minimum, but once all the kinks were ironed out, the minimum was expected and more. I used to reach the minimum production speed, often a little later than others and I would eventually even make a bit above that which would earn me a few more pennies on top of my basic. A nice incentive, I thought, but my supervisor would still keep telling me that they wanted me to get through more. Unfortunately, when I rushed I made quality mistakes or broke a needle, then I'd get the work back and lose all the gain plus more un-picking and re-working. So I'd just keep plodding along and slowly picking up the pace without losing the quality and try not to let the supervisors get to me.

I encountered this need for speed in most of my jobs, yet as I write this and think back to these times, I realise that if I was actually doing as badly as I thought, they wouldn't have kept me working for them. At the garment factory I could turn my hand to every job they had going, which meant that I often got put on the more complex jobs which were harder to get the numbers on anyway. As long as I wasn’t rushed, my work was usually of a high standard. When I handed in my notice, they were a bit grumpy about it, so I guess I was more value to them than I realised. They just didn't have the best way of showing it.

When I worked for British Telecom taking directory enquires, there was, again, an average time limit they liked to place on the calls. However, there was also an expectation of good customer service, so you had to try and get the simple calls finished quickly in order for it to balance out when a call needed a bit more time spent on it, for example an elderly person who needed things slowed down or someone who had a limited amount of information, requiring a more investigative search. Thankfully I didn't get harassed to pick up the pace there, despite the fact that my search speed wasn't fast. I never got any complaints, either, so that might be why they just left me to it.

For everything I could do well and suggested I could offer it as a service or product, I'd be reminded even by family that I couldn't produce it fast enough for it to be cost effective. I realise they were only trying to be practical, but there never seemed to be an alternative solution. I've been on my own when it comes to finding a positive for my lack of speed.

Because I've had to prove that I can still complete things and complete them well, even if it takes me longer, I've learnt persistence. When we'd decorate the house, my husband's would do the jobs that got fast, visible results, but lost interest before they were finished, because the finishing touches don't show big change. So I would be the one making sure everything got completed.


A saying that resonates with me is “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It made me realise that with patience, persistence and time, almost anything can be achieved.

Some year's ago we took the family camping besides a lake. The lake shore was sandy and as my husband drove his rear wheel drive Ute to the camping spot he'd picked out, it got bogged down in the soft sand. We weren't prepared for an event like this and my husband took one look and decided we'd need to get it towed out. Not wanting to pay that fee, I suggested that as we were planning to be there for the next couple of nights anyway, I'd see if we could dig it out.

I started by digging out tracks from the back wheels and lining them with planks and driftwood, while wedging some under the wheels. The first couple of attempts at reversing back mostly spat the wedges out the other side, but it moved the Ute back a little bit each time. Each time I'd dig the tracks out again and find more solid things to line them. Some large rocks turned out to be a better choice and we got more progress with them. I worked on this for the rest of the day, between breaks of course, and my daughters and husband would occasionally help out between enjoying their camping trip (I don't enjoy camping much anyway, so I was happy to have this distraction making me feel productive). It carried on the following day and finally by about midday we'd moved the Ute close enough to firmer sand that the final attempt got enough speed up for him to keep it moving to the driveway we came in on.

I’ve come to terms with my negative aspect and found positives in it. While the fast paced world around me may not agree with that assessment on the surface of it, I do still get comments when people slow down enough to realise and appreciate the quality of the work I achieve.


This is my response to the @ecotrain question of the week.

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