Muscle Memory and our Office Alarm System

Do you sometimes notice yourself doing things without thinking about it, and without actively making the decision to do them?

One example that gets me a lot is locking the door after I leave the house. And then five minutes later I wonder whether I locked the door, can’t remember, frantically turn around and run back to check – only to find the door locked – of course. Because I always lock it, and it’s become so practiced a routine that I don’t even spend enough conscious effort on it to remember it. At least that’s how I explain it to myself.

A woman is walking to work and her steps become insecure as she wonders whether she locked the door, turned off the stove or left the lights on at home.

Is it Muscle Memory?

Another thing I noticed is that when I step in front of my piano, I can still play some of the tunes that I learned when I was 16. Even though I stopped playing since then. My hands just play and hit all the right keys – until the moment I look down on them. That’s when I mess up. But it’s still kinda cool.

Where this really gets me in trouble is our office alarm system. I am so used to turning it on when I leave at night, that I don’t even think about punching in the code anymore. But, on the rare occasion that I am the first in in the morning, my fingers won’t cooperate. They punch the keys to arm the system, not to disarm it. It wouldn’t be so bad – the system allows me a second chance – but I don’t even notice that it is wrong! A few seconds later, when the countdown is over, a blaring siren sets off. I know, because this happens to me about every third time I do this. To really rub it in, our security system sends out alert text messages and emails to every cellphone on their notification roster, making sure my slip up doesn’t go unnoticed by anyone…

I’ve switched now to using the app instead. It has just one big round button that will either arm or disarm the system, depending on what state it is in. Almost foolproof.

 

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