HUMOR – Diagnosis Spuddle


Early this morning, I received a text cancelling an event I’d planned to attend. That would not only save me the two hours of the event, it would save me the time it takes to dress in my leaving-the-house-uniform—hair fixed and something other than sweatpants.

There was one problem. I’d been planning to get groceries after the event. I work at home and I only do errands on days when I’m already out. Why waste valuable time getting dressed in my leaving-the-house-uniform if I don’t have to?

If I could put off groceries until the next time I had to leave the house, I’d only have to put on my working-at-home-uniform: sweatpants, hair combed but not fixed. Think of the work I’d get done.

I went to the kitchen to plan a menu using available ingredients—mostly canned goods and dry cereal. Then I realized it would be helpful to know when I’d be out next so I’d know how many meals I’d need. I found my smartphone after looking in the bedroom, office, family room and living room. And when I opened my calendar, I was reminded that a service person from our internet provider was coming. Uh-oh. Our house looked like the morning after a frat party—except no beer cans and no college boys sleeping on the couch.

I started picking up in that frantic way you do when you look out the window and see your boss pulling into your driveway without calling first. But wait! If our internet was working, I could cancel the appointment. Then I wouldn’t need to pick up or put on my service-person-coming-to-the-house uniform—hair fixed, best sweatpants. I could get right down to work.

I logged onto Facebook, and it opened immediately. My internet was back! To make sure, I read my newsfeed. Then I read 35 emails, answered two and went to Twitter. That’s where I saw the word of the day posted by a friend:  Spuddle, a verb meaning to work ineffectively; to be extremely busy whilst achieving absolutely nothing. I laughed, “liked” it and went on. Clearly, I didn’t see it for what it was: a sign from the universe.

I spuddled around on Twitter, read some news and googled the nutritional value of artichokes because I’ve been wondering about that.

That reminded me of my menu and the question of how long I could survive without getting groceries. I went back to the kitchen, started to inventory my refrigerator contents and decided to eat breakfast. I made a fried egg sandwich with the last egg. Then I started a grocery list, wrote eggs on it and stacked my breakfast dishes in the sink. I couldn’t take the time to do them because I had something else to do. I just couldn’t remember what it was.

That’s when I noticed that if I moved the dirty dishes to the left of the sink, they wouldn’t be visible to a service person walking by. That reminded me I only needed to straighten the parts of the house they’d see: entryway, hallway and one corner of the kitchen.

It wasn’t until I was picking up the entryway that I remembered. My internet was working! I needed to cancel the appointment—if I could find my phone.

To make sure, I went back to my computer. And I was relieved to find my internet down again because it was too late to cancel. That’s when the word of day came back to me like the diagnosis of a mysterious illness. Spuddle: to be extremely busy whilst achieving absolutely nothing.

It was nearly noon. I was still in my just-crawled-out-of-bed uniform—bathrobe, hair looking like I’ve been out walking on a windy day. I was exhausted and all I had to show for it was a partial menu, two answered emails and a relatively neat entryway. Oh…and this column.

Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays, including I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better. Contact