Small Victories and the Joy and Despair of the Lost and Found

Posted on July 14, 2022

I have one client left who still insists on posted invoices. Everyone else just deals in emailed PDF’s these days, making life easier for all. Therefore, every week, I have to print of the invoices and timesheets, put them in an envelope and find a stamp.

Letterbox Euphoria

I have kind of mastered that part, it’s getting the invoice from my house to the letterbox which is the hard bit to execute. This became even harder when my partner, Jennifer, left the Post Office to join the NHS. My ability to forget an envelope when I take the dog out for a walk, is irrationally annoying. “OH, FOR FUCK’S SAKE”, I shout, as I drive past a post box, convinced it is laughing at me.

The flip side of this, is that when I remember to post a letter I am overcome with pleasure as my endorphins go into overdrive. This morning, as I was about to leave the house, I noticed the invoice out of the corner of my eye. I turned around, picked it up, then inexplicably, had a word with it. “Aha, you thought I’d forgot you again didn’t you, you little shit”, I said, as the dog looked on, slightly bemused.

I then drove down to the village, with the envelope placed under my phone so I couldn’t forget it (I have to do this as I once had a Christmas card in my glove box that I finally removed the following April). As I approached the box and put the letter in, I did a camp kind of skip as the euphoria overwhelmed me. What a victory, and the sun was shining!

Wiper Washers, Bins and Why it Feels So Good

I have other similar experiences to this. They include remembering to fill up my wiper wash in the car and putting out the bins in time. Remembering the bins just minutes before the lorry trundles up the hill is bordering on erotic. The downside is the sinking feeling I get when I forget. I convince myself that this memory lapse is a precursor for what is bound to be a day of mishaps.

So, I looked up these bizarre human emotions on the internet and found a host of evidence suggesting that ‘small victories’ are wonderful things. They create energy (hence my camp skip towards the post box) and a sense of well-being that can set you up nicely for the day. One article even stated that whilst something like a lottery win can cause immense satisfaction, nothing can beat the euphoria of a small victory.

However, small victories can also have downsides. Many years ago, I was renting a house in Reading with 3 of my friends. I worked in Oxford at the time, doing a job as a salesman for a paint manufacturer. One Monday evening, I was preparing for a monthly meeting at 8:00 AM the next day. These meetings were generally a way of justifying your existence, telling of successes and potential upcoming sales.

Lost and Found Keys

So, with all my preparations done, it was time for bed. I decided to be organised. I would put all my stuff together on the table so I could simply get up and go. Then, I couldn’t find my car keys. It was only after checking all the obvious places (in the ignition, in the front door, on the kitchen worktop, the bathroom etc etc) I knew I was in trouble.

Phase two of these events is when panic sets in. This means searching down the side of the sofa, on the path, in jackets that weren’t even worn that day and so on. Phase three is the realisation that they have somehow ended up in an inexplicable place, meaning they could be anywhere. My housemates, Kev, Paul, Mick and Joanne gave up helping me as midnight approached.

I sat at the table in despair. As I looked down, with head in hands I noticed a case for my friends reading glasses. In desperation, I opened the case and there they were, my keys, shining brighter than ever. I don’t know why I had done it but for some reason I had put my keys in the glasses case, possibly whilst I was talking to someone on the phone.

It’s hard to explain how euphoric I was. I tried to control myself because everyone was now in bed, so I just paced the downstairs punching the air. I needed to celebrate somehow, so I opened the fridge. Inside there were two lovely looking pitta breads full of ham and salad. I ate them in a frenzy of excited bulimia and went to bed.

Pitta Bread Humiliation

So, the next morning, all prepared, I was sat in the meeting with my colleagues and bosses. We had a big round table to sit around as we discussed our achievements and our dreams of selling more paint than the previous month. In the middle of the table there was a loudspeaker phone in case reception needed us. As the meeting progressed it rang.

My boss hit the button. “Yes Kate?”

“I have someone called Joe on the line for Bob”

Joe was a chap I knew who had a project at the Rover car plant in Cowley, so this was bound to be a great order in front of everyone. At this point, I turned into a 1990’s David Brent.

Nodding at the phone, I said, “Ok Kate…put him through…hi Joe, how’s things?”


Unfortunately Jo (Joanne) was also the name of my housemate.

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