The end of September came out of nowhere, kind of like a tiger pouncing. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines—both at the day job and with my writing—and all of them on the last day of the month. People put so much emphasis on the last day of the month as a deadline. Why is that? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a September 23 deadline, or September 26 deadline. You’d think with thirty days in the month of September, deadlines could come on days other than September 1, 15, and 30. I think this just shows that people like order, in this case beginning, middle, and end.
This desire for order extends beyond deadlines. The other day, a co-worker and I were weighing sand—the “why” is not important. When he saw the weight of the one of samples, he remarked, “Wow! Look at that. It’s exactly 26.0000 grams.” I immediately wondered why he was surprised. It’s not as if 26.0000 was any less likely a weight than 26.3452, yet no surprised remarks came up on any of the previous hundred odd samples. In fact, if the weights were randomly drawn (and in essence they are), both 26.0000 and 26.3452 have exactly the same chance of occurring. Once again, that human desire for orderly and round zeros rears its head (which makes wonder what Western Europeans did before the concept of zero arrived in the 12th century…hmmm).
So what’s it all mean? Nothing really, except that people like order and seek patterns for that order. We like whole numbers, halves, and quarters, beginning and ends. So if you want to set yourself apart from the general populace, start setting September 26 deadlines and saying things like “Wow! Look at that. The weight is exactly 26.3452 grams. Who would have thought?” Chances are, not many.