In this age of smart phones, palm pilots, micro recorders and all sorts of as-yet-to-be-determined technology, I’d like to salute the 3-by-5 note card. Lined or unlined, white or brightly colored, I use them all.
For many years now, I have been carrying around in my pocket a 3-by-5 note card. I prefer folding it in half to make it fit into my pants pocket better and make it less likely to be curled or damaged in transit. As to shirt pockets, well, I often wear T-shirts that have no vest pocket and thus I have gotten into the habit of putting the card into my left pants pocket. This would be a hard habit to break.
What I use the card for is … well … a variety of things. Basically, they are the records of events and reminders of what I need to do. We’ve all experienced that moment when we see or hear something: a book title from NPR; an upcoming concert from KDHX; a new restaurant that a friend suggests; a new "under-the-radar” TV show my daughter has been watching; an up-and-coming rock group profiled in Rolling Stone. These are all excellent fodder for a quick jot down on my note card.
Then there are the abbreviated to-do lists that pop into my head during the day: pick up snacks for school; run by the county library and pick up that video that’s on hold; put on the family calendar that I’ll be chaperoning an upcoming dance; buy a Bread Co gift card for the mailman; dry cleaning.
Sometimes, these quick notes are of even more substance. When we used to attend a certain church, I would often pull out my note card during a sermon and write my class agendas for the upcoming week.
No offense to the minister, but it really was a nice time to reflect and plan. Since my retirement, I’ve played with the notion of trying open mic night at a comedy club. I find myself jotting down ideas for jokes, punch lines and monologues.
In my family, I am expected to follow in my father’s footsteps and deliver poetic tributes at birthdays, holidays, weddings and whatever other gathering has pulled us together. I often find myself polishing up a poem on my note card at the last minute.
Then there’s the “silly distraction” function. If a faculty meeting is especially boring, I would write down rock song titles or lyrics that relate to the meeting topics. For instance, a sexual harassment presentation leads to “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
One of my daily thrills is emptying my pocket at night and seeing what I’ve written on that mysterious card folded in half. I’ll admit that on occasion I can’t read my writing and wonder what it means, but I won’t throw it away. You never know.
Oh, by the way, my last note I found in my pocket? Buy more note cards. Gotta run.
Ed Wright is a high school teacher who will retire in May after 21 years of teaching. He intends to spend his retirement reading whatever he wants, writing whatever he wants and listening to whatever music he wants. His plans also include playing softball, biking and riding MetroLink to Cardinals day games. He is married with two grown daughters, two teenage boys and a 9-year-old.