Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Magic of Compounding Errors

I remember learning about the magic of compounding when I was a kid in relation to saving money. It almost seemed that a little money could magically turn into a fortune--except it never seemed to actually do that in practice.

Yesterday, I learned about the magic of compounding as it relates to errors and time. One little error can magically compound itself into a string of errors and chew up a lot of time.

I noticed the first error at fitness club as I was leaving a little early after my racquetball games. I was feeling good--right up until I reached into my pocket for my keys. Not there! Panic set in. OMG, this is gonna be bad.

I thought, they must be in the truck--but I never leave my keys in the truck. Upon reaching my truck and peering inside, I saw my keys on the passenger seat. It took me a while to realize how the keys came to be on the passenger seat. Digging through my foggy early morning memory, I remembered  that I had decided, after parking, to charge my bluetooth earpiece and I must have laid the keys on the seat and subsequently forgotten them after I hooked the charger up.

I then had locked my truck using the door lock, as I always do--and the error was made. My keys were on the wrong side of the locked door.

Ugh. At least I had my cell and I called Chris to come rescue me. I figured at this point that I was going to lose at most 15 minutes--no big deal.

And then compounding errors began to kick in.

After 10 or so minutes, Chris called me to inform me that in her haste to come to my rescue, she had forgotten to grab the truck key. Did I just want her to go back for the key or continue to me and she and could take me home and I would drive a different vehicle for the day. I told her to bring the key--having three vehicles out and about with only two drivers did not make good sense and we had a really busy day planned with no time to recover the truck later. An additional 10 to 15 minutes was to be lost in by this first compounding error.

She arrived and gave me the key--it was then that I realized that I did not have my parking pass for work--ugh, and with the time getting late there would be precious little, if any, close in open parking. And so I needed to go home to get the pass from the other car.

Whereupon, I realized that I the truck was going to need additional gas if I was going to do all of this added driving--I changed to a car when I arrived home to pick up the parking pass to save some time.

In the end, through the magic of error compounding, the 15 minute mistake wound up creating a series of misfortunes which ultimately cost over an hour delay.

I dearly wanted a do over. I should have stayed in bed!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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