I’ve always believed you can tell a lot about a home, and the family that lives there, by the kitchen.
The same can be said about a workplace.
Like many offices, The Evening Sun newsroom is equipped with a kitchenette. This is where the morning coffee is brewed, fragrant leftovers are both stored and re-heated, and the requisite water cooler conversations take place.
Until a few months ago, the continued care and cleanliness of our corner kitchen was overseen by the lovely Jan. My office mates and I just assumed that this KP duty was a part of her assigned tasks. But as we belatedly discovered, Jan was performing these duties not because of any line-item in her job description, but rather out of the kindness of her own heart.
Kindness which, I’m sorry to say, we had worn perilously thin.
Frankly, we’d been spoiled. We never had to worry about putting our own dishes in the dishwasher; She’d do it for us. Spill a little coffee when filling your cup? No problem, Jan would take care of it with a swipe of a cloth. And no need to bother turning off the coffee machine after we’d had our fill. She’d be right there to turn it off and get it all set for morning.
Over time, we had become increasingly reliant on her good will. And basically stopped doing any of the above for ourselves, knowing that she would be there to set things back to rights. Her diligence was beyond compare, after all.
I’m not sure what straw finally broke the camel’s back. One too many dishes in the sink, perhaps. Or having to clean out the microwave yet again after someone’s leftovers rebelled. Heck, maybe she realized how lazy and slovenly we’d become.
Maybe it was all of the above. All I know is that one day Jan drew the line. Via e-mail, she notified us that effective immediately she would no longer take care of the kitchen.
Just like that, we were on our own. And no amount of begging, pleading, weeping, hair pulling or promises to mend our wicked ways would change her mind. (Trust me, I know. I tried them all.)
I had to respect Jan’s decision. After all, no one should have to clean up for us. We are adults, after all. It is not beyond reason to expect that we should be able to put our own coffee mug in the dishwasher at the end of the day.
Or at least, that’s what one would hope.
Unfortunately, it has proven easier in theory than in practice. And given reason for me to revive the whole nature vs. nurture debate.
As I gaze at the collection of cups, plates and utensils cluttering our sink, I can’t help but wonder whether there is some component of our DNA which gives us the ability to load our dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Because, if there is, I would suspect my co-workers are lacking it. Or maybe it’s a learned behavior. Because, for some reason, they are quite capable of depositing said items into the sink, but are physically and emotionally unable to take it one step further.
And then, there is emptying the dishwasher once the dishes are clean. This too, is apparently beyond the capabilities of the average ES staffer.
Honestly, it’s given me a new appreciation for the uphill battle my mother has fought for years. (Because, I admit, I myself have been known to leave a dish in the sink on occasion.)
It is unkind of me to imply that my co-workers are willfully resisting these tasks. (Although, that’s always a possibility when you work in a passive-aggressive environment like ours.) They have, after all, made attempts to assist with these kitchen tasks.
There’s just been a bit of a learning curve. But it’s getting better. Now that they have been shown how to correctly add the dishwashing detergent - and reminded to only put away CLEAN dishes - our success rate has improved dramatically.
And our spirits were bolstered yesterday when we learned that our little KP problem isn’t unique to The Evening Sun. No, it appears to be a company-wide issue, affecting even our sister companies across the parking lot divide. I guess Jan drew the line over there as well.
We, at least, seem to be on our way to self-sufficiency.
My mother would be proud.
To her, and all of the other moms out there who continually battle dishes-in-the-sink syndrome ...
Happy Mother’s Day!
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunmelissa.