Shrinking Your Schedule
By Sherm S. Nichols
In a counselor’s office. The patient is distressed by his too-full
schedule. As his visit with the counselor proceeds, we come to the
realization that the counselor is the one with real problems. He
is interrupted and distracted all along the way. The patient is just
hoping for some example, some model to follow, and the counselor is clearly
the wrong person. It ends with the visit being cut way short and
the patient recognizing he needs some other help.
Dr. Toodoo – a fast-talking, espresso-drinking counselor who seems preoccupied
with his schedule and getting everything done that he wants to do.
Client – a middle-aged man who is struggling with the demands of family
and work. He is seeking counseling to help get his schedule straightened
(Scene: 2 chairs in the counselor’s office. Dr. Toodoo is seated,
busy writing and doing something. As the client enters, he urges
him to sit down. He continues to write while the client waits, and
finally the doctor looks up at the client, expecting him to speak.)
Client: Are you Dr. Toodoo?
Dr. Toodoo: Yes.
C: Wow, there must be a lot of you guys in this place. I counted
at least 35 people in the waiting area.
D: Actually, they’re all here to talk to me. I figure, the more
of them I can fit in, the more mon…uh…. the more of them I can help.
They can wait. Why else would they be called “patients”? (laughs
to himself out loud. Client reluctantly joins a little.) Well,
we’re on the clock, so let’s get right to business. Tell me your
problems – not all your problems – just the worst one – we don’t have time
for all your problems.
C: Well, I can’t seem to balance my schedule. I mean, work is
D: (looking at clipboard) Um-hm.
C: …and since the baby came…
D: (Interrupts) Oh…kids! They’re time consumers for sure. That’s
why I’ll never have any! There’s nothing to mess up a perfectly good
schedule like kids. By the time they’re able to do anything for themselves
it’s Cub Scouts this, piano lessons that, emergency room, PTA, “Dad will
you play catch with me?” blah blah blah blah blah blah! Before you
say anything else, I can tell you that’s a problem for your schedule.
I have more clients who… (Cell phone goes off) Excuse me. Hello?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Don’t worry about that. Whichever
way is the fastest. (pause) You’re cutting in on my time here.
My phone company will charge me for another whole minute if you go past
60 seconds. OK. Goodbye. Now, where were we?
D: Oh, yes, that’s right. You can’t balance your schedule.
Tell me, do you have any hobbies, anything you do for relaxation?
C: Well, yeah, I…
D: Well, see? There’s another problem. How do you expect to get
things in balance if you’re wasting your time on things that don’t pay?
I’ve had clients who whine that they can’t get everything done, and then
they turn around and take off a day every week! Tell me, how much
sleep do you get? 5 hours? 6 hours a night?
C: Lately it’s been ending up 5. I…
D: See? 5 hours wasted! I mean, exactly what are you accomplishing
while you’re asleep? Nothing! You’re going to have to cut down
on that if you expect to balance your life.
C: (dazed) Yeah, I guess I could try that, but my wife…
D: Oh, yeah, your wife. I suppose she cuts in on your schedule
too doesn’t she? A lot of my clients make that mistake. Try
totaling up how many years of your life that’s going to cost you if you
keep it up! My wife and I made an agreement a long time ago: I don’t
mess with her schedule, she doesn’t mess up mine. She’s usually pretty
good to remember that, although she messes… (interrupted by cell phone
ringing) Excuse me. Yes? Oh, hi Honey! (he points to
the phone and mouths, “It’s her!”) Yes? Yes. Well, I’m sure
it is an important day to you and all, but you know our policy. I’ll
have some flowers sent for you. Yeah, there will be other surgeries.
OK. Bye! Now, where were we? Oh, I remember, you were just
about to get ready to go.
C: (shocked) No…Wait! I wasn’t! I mean, I’m
really needing help here! What about getting my schedule in balance?
What about time management and maximizing and “the 7 habits” and all that?
D: OK. Here’s some more. How much of your day do
C: Well, I usually miss breakfast and have to eat lunch on the
go, but I try to get supper with my family.
D: Family schamily! Think about it! You aren’t supposed
to talk with food in your mouth anyway, right? Do you realize how
many reptiles and spiders there are that eat only once every few months?
You don’t hear them complaining about their schedules, do you? Eating
is so overrated. Besides, there’s a serious problem in our country
of people doing too much of it. So, I try to apply a few guidelines:
if you can’t microwave it, drink it from a can, or get it in a drive through,
don’t eat it. I call it the “Dr Toodoo get it done diet.” Pretty
catchy, huh? (Cell Phone rings again.) Hello? Oh, Yes.
Thank You. Hey, don’t forget to stop and get my pictures at 1-minute
photo. Bye. (getting up to leave, client looks distressed that he’s
leaving) That was my secretary reminding me that I have other clients
in the next 2 offices. I have to go. (leaving and waving) Well, I
hope you get some things straightened out, Mr. Smith.
C: (stands and calls out to Dr. as he’s leaving) Wait! I’m not
sure I really know what to do. (plops down discouraged into chair):
Besides, it’s Mr. Williams, not Smith!
© Sherm S. Nichols, all rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies
are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In
exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified
of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted