A typical scene with my kids after having a meal, is that they load the dishwasher in a rush. They only partially open the dishwasher’s door, thus placing the plates and cutlery at the front part of the loading space. That front area, of course, quickly fills up, making it harder to load the back-end area later on. Hmmm…
Of course that with a little more consideration, the sensible solution would be to first load the back area, while access is still open and easy, and when that part fills up, load the front. Isn’t that an allegory for life? We rush to take the easy path, and in the process, pile up obstacles for things we will surely need to do later.
It reminded me of a curious little story I heard some years ago. It was told by an Israeli who was hired as a consultant to work on a project for a Scandinavian company in Europe. I should preface this with a tidbit of trivia: Israelis are notorious for taking shortcuts wherever possible. It is a form of national sport.
On his first day, the Israeli consultant was picked up from the hotel where he was staying by one of his colleague hosts. They arrived at the Scandinavian company’s parking lot early in the morning. The parking area was quite empty as it was an hour or so before the start of the workday. To the Israeli’s puzzlement, his host parked the car all the way at the far end of the parking lot, and they started walking the distance to the offices. When the guest inquired as to why his colleague did not park closer, his host explained that it is customary and out of consideration to other employees. “These employees,” he patiently explained, “may get stuck in traffic, make it to work at the last moment, and will then be rushing to clock in on time. We, on the other hand, are very early, so we are in no rush.” This way of thinking is very sensible yet so foreign to Israelis, and, I suspect, also to the American culture. We only think of ourselves and, furthermore, we think mostly in terms of immediate needs.
So next time you are about to load the dishwasher, maybe it is not such a bad idea to start at the back?
Learned from: my dishwasher, my kids, and a report by an amazed Israeli consultant from years ago that remained in my memory.