Tanya was selling cookies by the case! Everyone was talking at school, even the teachers. They said she hit some kind of national record. But of course, the actual number according to scout rules and regulations was “confidential”.
I didn’t wear a stupid badge and take an oath before a committee to lose to a redhead fatso!
It was time to bring on the heat. Like BIG TIME!
“I gotta do an onion check on that Tanya gossip, Joe! You with me?” I asked him at lunch.
“You bet!” He put both thumbs up.
“I heard Tanya sold 916 cookies so far.” Jim, the biggest school nerd, stuttered. “Her brother told his best friend who told his cousin, who told her friend, who told my second-cousin and she told me.”
“You better be 100% sure Timmy boy coz if you’re wrong I’ll change the geographic map of YOUR FACE!” I said.
I think Timmy boy got so scared he peed his pants. He mumbled an apology and took a couple of steps backward before falling on his skinny bum and dropping all his nerdy books.
A couple of nobodies started laughing at him I actually felt bad for a sec.
“Hey!” I grabbed one of them by his shirt, “Did I say you could laugh?”
“No” He whimpered.
“THEN GET LOST!” I yelled.
“Check this out” Joe picked up one of the books Timmy boy dropped on the ground. “You a chef now?”
“This isn’t a tomato on the cover. It’s a timer shaped like a tomato.” Timmy mumbled.
“What’s that book about?” I asked him. A light bulb suddenly went on in my head but I wasn’t sure why.
“It’s called ‘The Pomodoro Technique’, designed for students to help them improve productivity and defeat procrastination”
“In English, dude!” Joe said.
“It’s a guide for people to get things done right and fast.”
“You! 3 pm. Parking lot C. BE THERE!” I told Timmy.
He nodded and ran away.
“Don’t ask.” I turned to Joe, who still had a stunned look on his face.
Operation ‘Pomodoro’ has commenced! And it starts at 3 pm and I mean SHARP!
“Let’s get out of here. I can’t be seen with you” I said when I met Timmy boy at the parking lot. “Follow me”
“So tell me, what’s the deal with the tomato thing? Does it really work?” I asked when the coast was clear.
“It’s NOT a tomato! It’s a timer used for the “Pomodoro technique” and yes it works perfectly. It’s a very popular method to stop procrastinating” Timmy boy said.
“Fine. Tell me about it then”
“The Pomodoro technique has been used by over two million people worldwide, from businessmen to professionals and students. It was first created by an Italian man named Francesco Cirilio, in the late 1980s after struggling so much in university to improve his own study habits….”
“Okay dying from boredom is not on my to-do list today! I’m falling asleep while I’m walking man. Get to the point” I snapped.
“It’s based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve productivity and fight procrastination.” Timmy boy explained.
“Frequent breaks? I like the sound of that! Keep talking.”
“Here are the five basic steps of the Pomodoro technique
- Decide on the task you need to do
- Set the timer for 25 minutes
- Work on the task till the timer rings
- Take a 5-minute break
- Each 25 working minutes is called a Pomodoro. After 4 pomodoros, you take a longer break, about 15 to 30 minutes. Then start over.
“What’s so genius about that?” I said as if it was old news.
[email protected]# it really was BEYOND genius. And so simple! Why didn’t I ever think of that? I can totally get things done with this method.
“So what if you finish before the 25 minutes are done?” I asked.
“You spend the rest of this time revising and perfecting your work. You can’t stop midway and start on something else. And you can’t have any distractions.” Timmy boy explained.
“Cool! Now off you go kid.” I said.
He didn’t look happy though. He looked miserable like I just killed his puppy or something. I didn’t care… the dude was an epic combination of geeky, cheesy and irritating!
“Timmy wait” I heard myself call out as he was about to walk away.
“It’s Jim,” He said. I think he had tears in his eyes. Oh man!
“That wasn’t cool before when I snapped at you. You’re a smart guy and you’re gonna make it big someday Timmy! Jimmy! I mean Jim!”
“Thanks” He whispered.
“You should write a book about this method somebody. Put a cool spin on it or somethin’” I added.
“Are you making fun of me again? What did I ever do to you Ali?” He cried.
“C’mon dude! I mean it. Who knows? Your book might be a hit and sell, I dunno, 3 million copies in 6 months?”
“You think?” He finally cracked a smile.
“You bet!” I winked
I ran back home, feeling strangely awesome. Like walking on sunshine!
Darn! Is Joe right? Have I gone mushy after the accident?
It was kinda cool being nice to Timmy boy though. Not that it will EVER happen again!
Dad was working late as usual and Mom was in the kitchen still ignoring me from the time she thought I told her to ‘shut up’. She won’t even look at me. And it’s not like telling her the truth about Big Al would solve the problem. It’ll just make it worse.
“Mom! I can’t take this anymore. Please?” I begged. “I was talking to myself when I said ‘shut up’. I didn’t mean you! C’mon mom.”
“I promise I’ll get my act together you’ll be so proud of me your neck will hurt,” I said.
“Hey! Did I mention even when you’re mad you’re still incredibly pretty?” I smiled.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. MOM IS FINALLY SMILING!
I hugged her, wolfed down my food and went upstairs to check on Sara before starting on my plan.
“How you feelin’ girl?” I asked.
“B.O.R.E.D! Bored! To the point I actually miss school.” She sighed. “Whatever! So how’s the selling going? Am I winning yet?
How do I tell her I sold ZERO cookies in the past two days? I was still at 628 and Tanya (according to my sources) had reached up to 916!
“Yeah, about that…” I cleared my throat.
I needed a great excuse to break my promise just in case. Think Ali think!
Sara stared at me in horror, waiting for an explanation.
You know when you’re watching a movie and you hit the ‘pause’ button for a minute to run get another bag of chips?
Yeah, it was exactly like that.
Except, instead of a movie it was a friggin’ nightmare.
And instead of a minute, it’s ETERNITY!
And instead of a bag of chips, it’s a loaded gun you wish you could put to your own head!
No, I can’t tell her the truth. Plus a real man wouldn’t break his promise no matter what.
“You just let me handle that, okay?” I said casually. “So stop sulking. It’s depressing.”
“I’M BORED!” Sara yelled when I left.
Where’s that kitchen timer I swiped when I hugged mom?
Okay. Cell on mute. No distractions. 25 minutes of hardcore Algebra. GO!
I was done two whole worksheets before the ringer went off!
Watch out world! Ali Salem’s got the MOVES!
I turned my five-minute break into a breakdance show in Sara’s room. I put some of dad’s oldies on full-blast and did the best ‘Michael Jackson moonwalk’ in history. Sara laughed so much she almost broke her jaws.
“Get a grip, girl! Coz there’s another show in 25 minutes!” I winked.
Pomodoro number two. Should that be done in the toilet? LOL!
Damn! No one’s ever here when I come up with AWESOME jokes like that. At this rate, I’ll be done my homework before the big game Sunday night. Where’s my phone! I gotta tell Joe I might still make it.
It took one and a half pomodoros of flipping pillows and mattresses searching for my cell and still no luck! And now that it’s on mute I couldn’t even call the stupid thing and follow the sound.
“You lost your cell dude? Well, tough luck! If you liked it you should’ve put a ring on it! HAHAHAAAAAAHHAAAAA!”
OH NO! BIG AL IS BACKKKKKKKKKKKKK!
“Take a hike, Big Al! I’m busy” I snapped.
“Admit it, man. You missed me.” Big Al laughed.
Pretend he’s not there, I repeated over and over in my head.
“Fine. Ignore me. But man to man; I’m a bit disappointed in you dude! Algebra homework and girl scouts? What the hell happened to you?”
“Sorry I didn’t understand what you just said. Coz I don’t speak ‘idiot’!” I said.
“So now you get five-minute pee breaks? What are we in prison?” Big Al scoffed.
I didn’t comment but you bet black-tar smoke was coming out of my ears.
“Listen to me, Ali… Procrastination is …..mmmmm…. an art. You’re missing out on it man! Feeling that rush when you do everything at the last minute? There’s nothing like it. It takes guts to live on the edge.” Big Al explained proudly.
“What are you, the DEVIL? Leave me the he#& alone.” I yelled.
“Everyone procrastinates. You’re still a teenager! You have your whole life…”
I wasn’t even listening. I set the timer for 25 minutes and started on my Biostudies. ‘No distractions’, Timmy boy said. So I covered my ears and focused on my work. Who would’ve thought a frog’s anatomy could be this interesting? Well, it not actually, but anything compared to Big Al’s rattling is a blessing. We’re dissecting a frog in the science lab on Monday. I better be prepared. I willed myself into focusing on the material I didn’t even notice Big Al was gone. Like totally disappeared into thin air!
Five pomodoros later (I’m totally counting the ones I spent looking for my cell, which turns out was in Sara’s room all this time) I rocked the tomato-pomodoro-whatever method like you won’t believe! I did it all through the weekend. By 7 pm Sunday night, I got all of last week’s homework done. Plus everything due on Monday! Which meant I could go watch the hockey game tonight stress-free for the first time in history.
Check me out!
Joe’s dad was driving us to the arena, and I was waiting by the door ready to load his truck with 20 boxes.
“You’re going to sell cookies there?” Mom asked.
“Umm YEAH!” I beamed. “You know what angry hockey fans do to cool off? They stuff their mouths with food!”
It was a genius idea! It’s gonna be awesome! Just watch and see….
It turned out to be a TOTAL DISASTER!
People were already stuffing their mouths with hot dogs and pretzels the second the whistle was blown. I should’ve started earlier, but I met some of the guys and we hung out. I miscalculated that one!
The second intermission was almost over and I still hadn’t sold even a crumb! I was kinda bummed, and Joe’s cheesy comments and the fact he too was wolfing down his THIRD hotdog didn’t help AT ALL.
“Hey, you lost?” I asked the little girl I found huddled by the boxes I had stacked in the corner. She was crying hysterically.
“I want my MOMMY!” She screamed. Of course, compared to the noise inside the arena, her scream was inaudible to the audience. I pulled every trick I knew to calm her down but nothing worked.
“Look! I think I just saw a bird poop on this guy’s head.” I said in my best dramatic tone.
That didn’t work either.
“You’re scared, huh?” I finally said. “You know my sister and I were lost once, and she wouldn’t stop crying. She was really scared too! So you know what I did?”
“What?” The little girl sniffled.
“I gave her one of those yummy Tagalongs! I’m tellin’ you first bite and she was all better. I think they’re magic cookies or somethin’! Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.”
And it worked like a charm. She munched on it and forgot why she was crying in the first place. I knew I was good with girls but THIS good?
“What’s your name?’ I asked her.
“Q.T”, She said.
“You so are! You’re such a CUTIE when you’re not crying.” I smiled, “So what’s your name!”
“My name is Q.T” She insisted.
“I know you are. I’m the one who called you that remember?”
“MY NAME IS Q.T”
Uh oh, she’s losing it again. I swear every girl I know has the ability to go from adorable to horrible in less than 3 seconds!
“Alright then, let’s go find your mom cutie pie!”
“It’s not cutie pie! It’s Q.T.” She traced the letters with her finger on my palm. “Quinn Thomas!”
“Ahhhhhh!” I finally got it. Da#$, I felt so dumb all of a sudden.
I lifted her up on my shoulders and stood on a high platform so she could spot her mom.
“Hey! You need to use the bathroom, Q.T?” I asked.
“You better not pee down my back or I’m changing your name to U.P!” I laughed.
Admit it! I’m HILARIOUS!
Her parents came running in tears 2 minutes later. They were so grateful they ended up buying 50 cookies! I was so psyched I went down on one knee, kissed Q.T’s little hand and asked her to marry me! The next thing I know, every single female in the arena was covering her face and squealing “Awwwwwww”
The rest was history. And so were the boxes!
I sold 299 cookies! Which brings my total to 927!
Who’s your daddy now?
I couldn’t wait to go home and give Sara the good news. And yes, she was 100% frenzied when she heard.
Life was good again. Finally!
Big Al was gone. I was catching up on studies WHILE being the world’s greatest cookie selling machine. And to top it off, I actually get to sleep early tonight. I probably had hearts in my eyes when I saw my bed. I couldn’t even bother changing I was so beat my limbs were falling off! I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have to pull an all-nighter, stressing and cursing and promising I’ll never procrastinate on schoolwork ever again. I never thought this day would come, but it so did!
“You’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you? One simply doesn’t STOP procrastinating.” Big Al said.
OH MY GOD! HE’S BACK!
Why is he here?
Him being here means something! I know it does!
He only shows up when I procrastinate and disappears when I get my act together. It took me a long time to figure that one out but now I’m sure. He’s just a talking-walking-stinking reminder of everything I DON’T wanna be!
I scanned my brain for due dates, deadlines, un-done chores…
What was I missing?
I checked my email, my laptop, the back of my hand, the hundred post-its around my room, including ones from last year.
What was I missing?
I must have put something off for too long I completely zonked it out.
I should check my planner.
Oh, wait a second…
“You’re ignoring me again. I’m starting to feel like a needy chick man!” Big Al complained.
I flipped through my books and notes for any scribbled reminders. I was going nuts! Bio? Geo? English? What the heck was I missing?
“Don’t just sit there staring at the ceiling butt-face. Tell me!” I yelled at Big Al.
“Oh so now it’s Big Al to the rescue ha? And just so we’re clear, I’m not staring at the ceiling. I’m actually very VERY busy.” He said.
“Doing what???” I snapped.
“Focusing on ignoring all my problems till they finally give up and go away.” Big Al explained.
“Not to interrupt your very busy schedule of doing NOTHING! But can you tell me the reason why you’re here? Am I procrastinating again?”
“I live here dude” Big Al took his shoes off and snuggled in bed. “Besides, you’re the one who always says ‘why do something tomorrow when you can do it the day after?’”
He’s so stupid he even quotes me wrong. Calling him a retard would be an insult to retards!
They should have a fat, big-eared cartoon character named after him! LIKE ‘Dumb-bo’ the flying IDIOT!
Okay… I’m getting desperate here….
I know I’m not one of Your favorite people coz I don’t always pray on time and I can be mean sometimes, but please I’m asking for Your help. I’m really trying I swear…. Just please help me remember…
My head was going a hundred miles an hour. Social?
No, that assignment wasn’t due till after tomorrow.
And then it suddenly hit me….
Flashback of Mr. Frank three Tuesdays ago propping his glasses on his overly sized long nose.
“You should all be able to get perfect grades on this assignment. You have enough time to work on it, and it’s pretty straightforward.”
“How perfect are we talking? Like a B?” I smirked.
“Not funny Ali. Being the last student to submit his homework and the first to ask for due-date extensions, you need this paper to pass.” Mr. Frank warned. “You have three weeks! I expect nothing less than an A this time”
Man! I just got chirped by an 80-year-old.
“Mr. Frank? If I submit the assignment a day early, would you consider adjusting your expectations?” I asked.
The whole class cracked up laughing and to my surprise, Mr. Frank accepted my request…. Though he wasn’t the least bit amused.
“With your history of leaving everything till last minute?” He sounded shocked. “Frankly I’m intrigued!”
Isn’t it like totally illegal to say ‘frankly’ when your name is ‘Frank’?
“Deal. I’ll give it in on Monday, Mr. Frank!” I said.
What am I gonna do now?
I promised to submit it a day early. Doesn’t even sound like me.
That’s 6 pages of “I’m-totally-failing-Social-class” that I haven’t even started on yet!
I just wanted to prove him wrong. Oh, he’s gonna be doing cartwheels tomorrow when I show up with ummmmm…… NOTHING!
“See? No good can come from offering to finish before the deadline. I’m tellin’ you being early is pure EVIL!” Big Al said.
I was so tired I was ready to drop dead. And now I had to start on some dead-weight history essay. This REALLY blows!
“Just copy and paste something from some website and go sleep dude.” Big Al said.
“That’s plagiarism!” I protested.
“Okay, but if you copy from more than one website then it’s ‘research’” Big Al grinned.
I paused for a sec.
Hmmmmmmm interesting theory….
“What, no!” I said quickly, “What’s the matter with you? I’m no cheater! And even if I get away with it and no one finds out, Allah’s watching.”
[email protected]#, I so sound like mom right now!
I can do this. I splashed my face with cold water and opened my laptop.
Alright! Where’s the stupid timer?
“Not cool man! Not cool” Big Al said before he disappeared.
Here we go. Time to get creative. Just need to find a way to make it less boring that’s all.
“I can do this.” I told myself “I put the FUN in FUNCTIONAL!”
Oh my God!
I AM MOM!
Read the Promo, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7
What other problems do you think Ali is still suffering from? Share with us your reflections in the comments.
Don’t forget to share this series with someone who might enjoy it.