Rules are made to be broken...
Or are they?
Today I headed to the local rehabilitation hospital to deliver a couple of books for their donation book cart. It's a quaint little setup that consists of a few carts against a wall in their spacious hallway. It's basically self-serve with a note to put in a donation if you take a book and a few instructions about leaving books.
Today there was what appeared to be additional instruction, so I hung on to my donation books while I read the rules. The usual suspects, no beaten or soiled books, large donations needed alternate arrangements and last but not least, deposit the books in the bottom basket where I assumed they'd be sorted out and arranged neatly on the carts later. So, as instructed, I placed my two books in the bottom basket.
And that's when I realized I was no longer alone.
"I've been watching you."
Great, I think. Why?
"Organizing the books is my job," the tall, middle-aged woman said. "And no one puts the books anywhere but there." She pointed to the second cart where books were organized in a row, spines neatly lined up and level with the next. "No one reads the sign. So I watched you standing there to see what you would do. If you really read the sign."
I look to where she's pointing and glance at the sign.
"You're one of the few that put them where they're supposed to be."
Shall we have a collective sigh of relief?
So a few minutes of chit chat later, I left feeling like I'd just gotten a huge pat on the back for being a rules girl. But was I?
I never thought of being much of one before. I mean I'll follow rules enough not to cause a ruckus. If the meeting starts at 9, I'll be there in plenty of time. The obvious moments when rules matter aside, I don't like following the crowd or the unwritten rules of the crowd. Of course, sometimes I must out of necessity. But if the majority are taking the escalator and doing the usual standing in place, I'll be the one walking the escalator, passing the non-walkers or taking the stairs. I know, small example and there's probably a zillion that are the opposite like living a house, driving a car - having a dog. But was I following some sort of unwritten rule or just exploring similar interests?
I've been mislabeled and there's no better place to look then in a book and my reading habits. My reading is eclectic and I don't tend to read to trends or what I think of as crowd rule. And as a writer to be organized and efficient it is said that we should write an outline or at the least, a synopsis - and I try but in the end, the best I have ever written is a synopsis that I can guarantee will hold true for the first three chapters - after that all bets are off. In the end I've had to tweak that synopsis here and there, and then here again. Some people write better with an outline but forcing yourself to do something in a way that doesn't come naturally I suspect doesn't deliver the best product.
Follow the rules, is it a good thing or does it just set us up for mediocrity?