When Your Plans Gang Aft A-Gley


“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley.”

To A Mouse by Robert Burns

We tried our best. We really did.

It was going to be a heavy sanding day for our new drywall downstairs. Sanding means drywall dust, so we were as careful as we possibly could be. We taped off the area going up the stairs. We covered registers and cold air returns, upstairs and down.

We even turned off the furnace, in spite of being minus freaking cold outside.

You can see the results in the picture above.

How did this happen? We were so careful. We did everything we could. And still … a mess to clean up. A big one.

Life is like that, sometimes. Despite your best intentions and attempts, things “gang aft a-gley”.

Gang aft a-gley , loosely translated, means that things can go to sh*t in a heartbeat.

One of the tradesmen came upstairs. He looked at the dust, looked at me, and then he said “Your wife is going to kill you.”

I wasn’t worried. Much.

We had been through this previously when we scraped the carpet from the basement floor. Filthy dust everywhere. Including upstairs.

Sue was not overly calm about that one; however, she had lived through it and so found this one closer to the amusing side. Closer. Not quite there, but closer.

She’s the one who “carved” the above into the TV stand. I know, you’re disappointed that it wasn’t me.

You were so sure I was sensitive like that.

I’m not suggesting, by any means, that everything you plan in your life is going to gang aft a-gley. I suspect (and hope) that most things or events that you plan will go swimmingly.

That your flights will all be on time. That your car will start when you need it to. That the wedding you planned will go off without a hitch.

These are all reasonable expectations, and most of the time they will occur like clockwork. But there are times when your a-gley will gang aft.

I’ve discovered that it doesn’t really matter what goes wrong. It’s how you react to the situation that makes it good or bad.

You can rant: “Stupid airline / car / groom. Things were supposed to go like this. Not like that. This sucks.”

In fact, go ahead and rant. It might make you feel better. Once you’ve gotten it out of your system, though, you need to figure out how to proceed.

“Oh, I guess I’ll see what the airline can do. I’ll have to get the car looked at, but in the meantime, I’ll see if the neighbour / a cab can take me to my meeting. I’ll have to rethink whether or not to marry this knob.”

Hey, not everything works out smoothly.

My point, if I have one, is not that things might go badly. It’s that, hopefully only occasionally, something will mess up your plans. The question you need to ask yourself is “How am I going to handle this?”

How you answer makes all the difference.

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