Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


Ollie woke me up at 5:20 this morning. He was sitting on his bed in the kitchen, barking at something. Beetley was dark and still, so I have no idea what disturbed our dog. But he kept barking until I got up to let him out, and then I couldn’t get back to sleep.

So for some reason, I ended up thinking about routine. I call it that, but I suppose you could also refer to it as habit. After leaving school, I was employed in various jobs for forty-three years, until I retired at the age of sixty. For over thirty-three of those years, I worked shift patterns. Now you might think that shift patterns disrupt routine, but I am here to tell you that they don’t. They do the opposite, by making you live your life to a routine, even if it is one that changes on a daily basis.

I would have my shifts entered in a diary, by the end of December each year. I could easily see what shift I would be working on any given day, and whether or not I was working on my birthday, over Christmas, or how many weekends I was scheduled to be on duty. Unless it was a period of holiday leave, I knew exactly where and when I would be, on almost every single day of the year to come. This cannot fail to instill a sense of routine into your everyday life, as well as in your thoughts and behaviour.

So for decades, I followed those shift rotas as part of my working life, as well as enduring the impact they had on my social life. By the time I was in my fifties, I started to count down the years until I could retire at sixty, knowing how much I anticipated shaking off the shackles of a lifetime of routine. I moved away from London, retired to the country, and stopped thinking about what day it was, what time it was, and whether or not it was a weekend. Strangely, it wasn’t that easy to shake off the habits of a lifetime, and I developed new routines instead.

I started to go shopping on the same day every week, even though it didn’t matter a jot which day I actually went to the supermarket. I decided that Monday was a quiet day. Less customers, easier to park, and longer sell-by dates on products. That was it, Mondays were cast in stone.

Then I got a dog.

If I thought I had suffered a life of routine before, the arrival of Ollie made me realise I was merely a beginner. I began to structure my day around him, once I discovered that he didn’t like to go out early in the morning, and preferred an afternoon walk. I did what I had to do before midday, then stopped for a lunchtime sandwich. Even that became a routine, as I had (and still do) the same thing every day. A ham and cheese sandwich, with granary bread, toasted. I have tried to break the habit by occasionally having a bacon sandwich, or perhaps eggs. But I keep coming back to that ham and cheese, try as I might to avoid it. Then I have a bath, shave, and get dressed, ready to take Ollie out.

Later that day, I go into the kitchen to prepare what we will be eating for dinner, and give Ollie his meal, usually at 5:15 pm. He has come to expect it, adjusting his own routine to mine automatically. Then I time our diner for 7 pm, again the time that I have decided I prefer to eat it. I always wash up the plates and pans as soon as we have finished eating, as I like to have that sense of a ‘free’ evening, and don’t like to leave dirty plates and utensils piled up in the kitchen. So between 8 pm and bedtime, I watch TV or a film, reply to some blog comments, and start to wind down before 11 o’clock comes. Any time after 11 is considered suitable to go to sleep these days, and I am rarely up and awake after midnight.

So I ended up thinking about it today, and thought about changing it.
Breaking the mould, setting myself free, and possibly doing something completely different.

I might have a bacon sandwich, instead of ham and cheese.

Come on, it’s a start…

55 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. Wonderful written, Pete.
    I think routines are important in life. I’m looking forward to the time when I’m retired. Let’s see what routines I will get then.

    Greetings from the dreary Northern Germany, Irene πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats for eating bacon today. πŸ˜‰
    I like routine only so that I can break it. It makes me feel like I really lived. I enjoyed your post today a lot. My mother has such a rigid routine, I know precisely by the time of day it is what she’s doing. It’s comforting for her, I’m sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I did the museum attendant job over the summer it was strange being back in an employee routine rather than my rather messy un-routine like self-employed routine. Lean roast beef is nice in a sandwich with a bit of chutney or chicken or tuna with mayo. I’m rther partial to cold left over mince on toast.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think ‘ordinary’ life lends itself to routines, I still work so I’m bound by that, but yes it’s good to break out now and then- how about a tuna and mayo sandwich? or go mad and have a pannini! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Today i discussed shift working, and realized this way you could get more of life, if the work is nightover. Most offices are open daytime ;-), normally the time most people are at work.
    However Ollie and you are a reall “dream team”. πŸ˜‰ Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Most of my career was spent on 2nd shift (2pm-10pm). I did a 1 year stint on midnight shift, when I was Park Ranger. I like routine for some things, but at work I always wanted change each day, so I stayed with 2nd shift. You never knew what to expect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For over 21 years as an EMT, I worked rotating shifts on a 7-week pattern of early>late>night. They were 7-3, 3-11, and nights of 11-7. I don’t think I would have liked to work the same shift every day in an ambulance. For the next 12 years with the Police, I did 12-hour shifts, from 0700-1900, or the other way round. That was a long haul over a 5-shift pattern, but we got four or five days off every time, instead of two or three.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pete, a great post…it makes me think about the routines in my life, if they are easy to break, or more importantly, if they need to be broken at all. Perhaps you are in a ham-and-cheese sandwich routine because it gives you pleasure and adds a nice positive touch to the day – why change that? However, once you add bacon to the mix, all bets are off!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was bacon today, John. You would have been proud of me, as the world’s foremost bacon lover!
      Talking of sandwiches, your last three comments were in my Spam. (See what I did there? πŸ™‚ )
      Just to make you aware.
      I ‘unspammed’ you, naturally.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “Then I got a dog….I began to structure my day around him” – ah, you’ve caught it – one of the secrets to happiness in the bleak countdown of human years – our emotional debt to domesticated animals for giving purpose and structure to daily life is immeasurable.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The problem with routine is that all those days blend together, and nothing stands out in your memory. I don’t really like routine, although to some extent I have no choice. As a writer, I would like to enforce a routine, so that I make some actual progress, but, since I do have a choice with my free time, I naturally resist. My brain says no. Not today!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, how I laughed at the end! Well, that is a start. πŸ˜€ I love routine, which has slowly grown on me over the decades. Gone are the carefree days of following the wind, which is a bit sad…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, Arlene. But sometimes I feel the need to get away from regular habits. πŸ™‚
      Then nothing happens, and I find myself just doing the same old things.
      Best wishes, Pete.


      1. I gave up smoking too. Oddly, it served to break routines once the smoker became the enemy of clean air–I had to find places to smoke. I no longer have to search for new places to smoke. I am not advocating you return to smoking, but there are times, I wish I still did. I met a lot of people because I smoked. πŸ™‚
        Warmest regards, Theo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I still use a vaping device, so should say that officially-speaking, I gave up cigarettes.
          But looking back to my cigarette days, we always said the most interesting group to be around was the group of smokers, standing outside. Even one anti-smoking woman friend used to stand with us, claiming the people inside were the ‘boring bunch’. πŸ™‚
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I was fortunate…I always had jobs that routine was not an option…..and like you said then I got a dog…..she does have her routine and she makes damn sure that I stick to them…dogs are amazing…….chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Teehee… I love not to have too much routine, and since I am no longer working, I could avoid it? But no, I tend to do my main shopping on a certain day, and even the structure of a day will have a certain amount of routine….but perhaps it’s needed, to give us grounding….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You can do a lot with a bacon sarnie, Pete. With sliced tomatoes, or red onion marmalade, or grilled mushrooms, or good old fashioned brown sauce.
    I’ve always been a spontaneous sort, never kept a diary, never liked planning too far ahead – but I’ve lately thought a little discipline might improve things.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I usually wear black merino (wool) tops. They are mainstay of my year-round wardrobe of camping clothes. Only sleeve length and fabric weight vary. My daughters have been badgering me to add some colour, so I recently bought two charcoal grey tops. I told the cashier that the kids had been urging me to branch out colour-wise. She gazed at the two charcoal grey tops, smiled and said, ‘Ah, baby steps.’

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I have basically a lot of routine in my own life too. I always wake up at pretty much the same time even in the weekends (which means I never sleep in, it’s a pretty foreign concept to me lol πŸ˜‚). Weekdays are pretty much always the same, getting up, eating breakfast, checking wordpress and then off to work. When I get home, I check wordpress again, then usually read a bit or watch something.
    Weekends are basically the same, with of course the exception of going to work. I do go out to the movies sometimes or do some shopping, but basically it’s a very routine life. Next year I plan to make some changes, especially since my company will be moving to another town. But we will cross that bridge when it gets here. Maybe I will switch to a bacon sandwitch too πŸ€”πŸ€” Have a great sunday Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’m currently still at home because both my parents are in need of support. My work is literally across the street from me, and in this way it’s convenient for me, but I also get to help out my parents.
        But yes, I will in all likelyhood have to relocate next year. To the city of Arnhem. So a lot of things will change next year, but we’ll see 😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Arnhem, and that famous bridge. New faces, new friends, something to look forward to perhaps.
          I looked it up. A zoo, lovely gardens, two rivers, a national park, and many museums. Looks good!
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah Arnhem certainly isn’t a bad city to live at. There are enough things in it, that I like and I visit there quite a lot. The zoo especially is well worth going to.
            We’ll see next year is definitely going to be a year of change that is for sure 😊😊

            Liked by 1 person

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