Cambrian: Slice of Life

Stingy? No, not me... Just let me just scrape up the last little bit of mayo from the jar

Kathe Tanner
Kathe Tanner

I’m not stingy, really I’m not. Quite the opposite, in fact.

So why did I just spend 15 minutes fiddling with tiny segments of staples, trying to jiggle them into my empty stapler, rather than using one new strip and getting on with my day?

Likewise, why do I go into contortions to scrape up the last little bit of mayonnaise out of the jar? Or jam? Or honey? Or, for heaven’s sake, ketchup? (Ketchup’s cheap, in case you hadn’t noticed, Kathe.) Why am I willing to waste time scrabbling in the bottom of the tissue box to grab the last couple of wipes?

Rarely do my efforts make sense. There’s some rationale behind them … but not much. For instance, staples in my Swingline box come in 2-inch-long strips. My stapler’s staple compartment is just shy of 3 inches long. It’s the Office Depot version of the hot dog and the bun.

I either have to settle for a two-thirds-full stapler, and therefore have to refill it more often, or I have to insert one strip and then try to snap another one apart in exactly the right length to fit the remaining open space. It’s like trying to play cat’s cradle with two fingers in a cast. It never works.

So, I wind up with a staple box filled with a snowstorm of tiny pieces of staple strips that inevitably jam the stapler. Why don’t I just throw the striplets (and the box) away? Good question. The mayo? What’s left in the jar is usually the exact amount I need to finish the potato salad, the devilled eggs or my sandwich. I hate to throw it out, and our back-up jar of mayonnaise is way up on a top shelf of our overstuffed pantry (in the garage).

If I go to get the new mayo jar when I’m in a hurry (which I usually am), I’ll have to reach across other containers in front, and inevitably knock two or three jars of something else off the shelf. A mess? You bet. Ever tried to clean pickled beets or blueberry jam off 22 jars of pasta sauce, peach preserves and peanut butter?

That’s just some of what’s on the next shelves down. The tissues? With a sneeze coming on, or a nose that’s threatening to drip a bodily fluid onto my blouse, I tell myself I don’t have TIME to get a new box. But I’m not remembering how long it takes to stick my hand into the top of the nearly empty tissue box and then fumble for the last tissue or two on bottom.

Aaaachhoooo! Too late. Yuk.

Of course, at least half of the time, the current box is already empty, which I couldn’t tell ahead of time, because the tissue-pop-up function doesn’t work when there are so few of them left in the box. Now that I’ve made my excuses, what’s the real reason?

Like many of you, I’ve lived through lean times, portions of my life when I was lucky to have an almost-empty jar of mayo or a box of real, read-the-label Kleenex Ultra Soft. I learned to use up, make do, do without and scrape the jar. (Just try explaining that to self-entitled millennials!) I’ve been down to my last cans of tomato soup, with nothing else in the larder until payday.

I’ve been reduced to drinking root-beer Kool Aid, because, truly awful as it was, it was the only beverage in the house besides water. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to do that anymore. There but for the grace …. However, some habits are hard to break. I learned young how to recycle last night’s leftovers, and have since raised it into an art form.

I still hang onto out-of-style clothing because it WILL come back into vogue again, you know. I wash and save glass bottles with tight-fitting lids (the better to store those semi-liquid leftovers, of course!). And you don’t even want to see what’s in my junk drawer.

Correction: Junk drawers. You see, it still grates on my conscience to discard that last little bit of anything that’s still good enough to eat or use. Anybody want 325 half-used ballpoint pens or 419 rubber bands?

No. Not stingy. I prefer to think of it as being thrifty.

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