Some years ago, (well in the last century) I overheard this conversation, between Anne and her cousin – we’ll call her Jean.
Anne and Jean were new roommates.
Jean (from the bathroom): “Anne, where’s the lid?”
Anne: “What lid?”
Jean: “The lid to the toothpaste!”
Anne: “I threw it away.”
Jean (exiting the bathroom with toothbrush in hand): “Why on earth would you do that? Nothing bugs me more than people who leave the lid off the toothpaste!”
Anne: “Oh. Well, sorry about that.”
Jean: “Why did you do it? Now we don’t have a lid for the toothpaste until this whole tube is used up! And I will be bugged every single time I brush my teeth.”
Anne: “Well, I guess it’s a habit and I haven't really even thought about it. You see, when I was growing up, we always threw away the lid.”
Jean: “But why? I want to know why you did such a dumb thing.”
Anne: “Well, I was taught to do it as a child. You see, my Dad was annoyed when the water didn’t run away quickly, and his shaving cream would leave residue; it not only delayed him in his morning routine, it made it harder to get the sink clean.”
Jean (interrupting): “I don’t see what that has to do with the toothpaste lid.”
Anne: “Let me finish and I will tell you. Dad removed the sink stopper and the water ran straight down the drain. Solved his problem. And created a new one.
“You know how hard it is for little children to remember, never mind how hard it is to actually get it back on the tube. Right away, the toothpaste lid fell into the drain blocking the water flow.
“My Dad was even more annoyed. He didn’t have time to be retrieving the lid, so he left it to my mother.
“She fished the lid out of the drain and threw it away. No lid. No lid in the drain. No blocked water flow. No more mad Dad. Problem solved.
“Ever since, I just automatically throw the lid away. It didn't occur to me that other people would be bothered. I won't do it again.”
Hmmm – there is another example of Anne's “roast beef” story.
Of course, it took a while for Anne to break the habit, but she did stop throwing the lid away!
A good reminder to examine our habits to make sure we are keeping pace with the changes in our environment.