A man who couldn’t decide

There once was a man who couldn’t make decisions. He’d get up in the morning and then dive straight back under the covers.

“It was nice to get up, but it’s even nicer here,” he said to himself. “On the other hand, I can’t stay here all day … or can I?”

Ten minutes later, he got up and stumbled downstairs to kitchen. The rest of his family was already sitting at the table.

“Good morning, everybody,” said the man who couldn’t make decisions. “Oh, that looks good,” he said, pointing to his son’s bowl of cereal.

“And that!” he shouted, and pointed at his wife’s bowl of fruit. “And that!” he said, now looking at his daughter’s toast.

The man who couldn’t make decisions had a bowl of fruit, a bowl of cereal, and a sandwich for breakfast. He pulled up the newspaper his wife had left for him on the table and started to read about a football game two teams had played the day before.


The newspaper had three sections – news, sports, and art and culture – but when his wife realized he could never decide which one to read first, she started leaving just one of them out. He was happy with it, and now it had been years since he had read anything else besides the sports section, except on holidays when there was no paper when he read the previous day’s arts and culture section his wife had left for him on the table.

He got up, brushed his teeth and took his lunchbox out of the fridge. It was Thursday, so his wife had written “Thu Lu” on a piece of tape she had attached on the lid of the Tupperware dish. Next to “Thu Lu” there was already another Tupperware bowl with “Fri Lu” on it. He put “Thu Lu” in his suitcase and headed to work. When he got out the door and the end of the driveway, he took a few brisk steps to his right, towards the subway, when he suddenly stopped.

“Maybe I should take the commuter train today, it’s a nice morning so it’d be nice to be above ground for a change,” he said to himself. (He spoke to himself quite a bit).

He turned around and walked past his house to the other direction.

“Although,” he said, “then I’ll have to walk a lot longer to get into the office. Nah, the subway’s the way to go.”

He turned around and when he got to his house, he stopped again.

“Now I’m just being silly, walking back and forth like this,” he said (to himself), laughing. And he sat down on a lawn chair outside his house. (His wife had left it there exactly for this purpose).

“Subway or the train? Or maybe I should just take the bike, and show the kids at the office what the old man still can do?”

He made a mental list of the pros and cons of each option:
pros: daylight, nice walk, silent car, coffee shop at station. Cons: longer walk
pros: shorter walk, newspaper at station, longer ride, so he could read longer. Cons: loud noise
pros: Fresh air, exercise, show them kids. Cons: Sweaty at the office, late to the office

He scratched the last item off his mental list when he realized he was going to be late anyway. He got up and walked to his bike, and examined it. Looks fine, he muttered. I could totally do this, he thought. What would it take me, 30 minutes, 40 tops?

“But then I’d have to ride back, too. So there’s that. I’ll take the subway,” he said, picked up his suitcase and started to walk again. He kept on walking towards the bus stop where he’d take the bus to the subway, but just as he was about to cross the street, he realized that he could also take the bus to the train station.

He sat on the bus stop bench for a while, and saw a few buses come and go. Twenty minutes later he got up, walked back to the house and hopped on his bike.

When he got to the office two hours late and sweaty – but happy – he had lunch. Then he put on his headset and started to work his way through his call list for the day. His company sold all kinds of things, mostly to men, and he was one of several telemarketers in the razor division. His job was to call all the names the computer had generated for him for the day, and try to sell a razor subscription to as many as possible. The job was fairly easy, he thought, he had a script he used to make his case, and then he’d just nudge the person at the other end of the line to a positive decision.

He liked his job, the company treated him well, and his colleagues were nice. He liked to chat with people, and he didn’t even mind those who just hung up on him. Contrary to what you might think, most people didn’t, and he was a pretty good salesman.

“A good salesman is a good listener, who’s trying to solve a problem for the client. He has to understand the client’s point of view and be ready to stop selling if that’s what the client wants,” he told his younger colleagues.

At 4.30 he got up, and walked down the stairs from the sixth floor of the twelve-floor building, having first taken the elevator. He had stood outside the elevator for ten minutes, trying to decide whether to walk or not. Then he rode his bike home, and had dinner with his family. (Meatballs and spaghetti, salad on the side, no options).

“I think I’ll go to the gym now,” he told his wife.

He took his gym bag and got out the door. Just outside, he had second thoughts. He had taken his bike to work, surely that was a good workout. But on the other hand, it was a different kind of workout. He flexed his arms.

“I guess I don’t have to go the gym every day,” he said to himself. (He didn’t go to the gym every day).

“I guess I could just stay at home and watch TV with Wife,” he said.

He sat down in the lawn chair to think. Gym was good, watching TV with his wife was also good. Different kinds of good, but both good. He waved at a neighbor walking past their house. That’s it, I’m going to the gym, he thought. (He didn’t know what “that” was but) he got up to go to the gym. He walked fast, and got to the mall where the gym was in just five minutes.

He never got to the gym. He was going to go there, but when he walked past the grocery store, he thought of his wife and how nice it would be to watch TV with her, so he went in the store and bought a bag of chips and walked home. (He was also kind of lazy).

It took him 25 minutes to choose the chips.

It took them 35 minutes to choose a movie.

But it was nice.

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