SAD man

I have a disease. It is probably classified in the same category as my desire to dismantle things, but this is less destructive and even less useful. I have Spontaneous Arrangement Disorder, or SAD as it is known to many. Sufferers generally are not aware of their predicament and only acknowledge their problem once they have been fully ostracised from society.

So what are the symptoms? Well I first noticed it when someone pointed out on the telly that arranging the notes in your wallet into a particular order was Not Normal. And not just any arrangement either. I must put the notes in the backmost section of the two note-holders in the wallet (the front obviously being reserved for receipts). Notes are arranged (back-to-front) in descending monetary value. I must never have a fiver wrapping around a twenty – always the other way around. But it doesn’t stop there either. Each note must have the Queen’s face inwards and the correct way up.

Now that’s reasonably easy to do for me most of the time – notes are easily sorted and I generally don’t have much cash on me anyhow. But if you go to a place like the US, where all the notes are the same size and colour, it gets harder. Plus, I also tend to carry more cash abroad than when I am being plastic-happy here in this country.

So what else?

I’m not a big fan of cushions, but there’s one at either end of the sofa at home. If I walk past the sofa and find one is not in the correct position, I can’t help but position it correctly. And as you may have guessed, correctly has a very specific meaning. The zip must be downwards, with the cushion just next to the arm of the chair. I’m a bit of a rebel though, because it doesn’t matter which is the back and which is the front, so I tend to just go with the flow for that one.

Some more strange things that I do:

My wrist rest for the keyboard here at home is left-right and top-bottom symmetric in shape and texture. So why do I need to have the small “Staples” logo positioned the correct way up?

I took a stack of CDs out of the car the other day. First thing I did in the house was to arrange them so they were all the correct face upwards, with the hinges all at the same side of the pile.

I have a naming scheme for my drive letters in Windows: C and D are local disks; J, K, L, M are network drives; N is a virtual CD-ROM drive; Q and R are physical CD-ROM drives; and W, X, Y, Z are removeable media drives.

A pile of coins must be sorted in order of size. It can’t just stand there happily balanced, it must stand there happily balanced with the centre of gravity at its lowest possible point.

The food in the freezer must be grouped together – for example all the chicken breasts have to be together. This rule can be relaxed in cases of large items (e.g. bread) making life too difficult.

The more I think about it, the more I discover my life is littered with such compulsions. The strange thing is though, that I’ve never been one to go back two or three times to check the door is locked, or the oven is off. I don’t subscribe to any bizarre superstitions either. The most superstitious thing I say is “Bless you”, but that’s not really superstition any more is it?

I am a SAD man.

Ian Burnett – BSc (Hons), MBCS, ADHD, SAD