Hurricane Florence never made it to our place, but the threat of the storm made certain that one of our offspring and friend did. Along with them came perishable items from their refrigerators. The kids took their stuff with them when they left (except for what they left behind for me to keep).
About the time the storm was menacing our way, the viral infection in my eyes came back. With it came tiredness and fatigue. There’s often company at our house, and it doesn’t cause me angst. Yet,when everyone is gone and I get to claim my house back, I am usually tired.
This time was no different. After everyone had left, things quieted down. I tried to drag myself back to the writing project I’d left behind in the storm preparations. Did I mention being tired? Yes, that, too. Call it storm-prep aftermath, viral infection, or too little sleep. I decided to do what mattered most and cleaning out the fridge and straightening it up was not even a consideration.
The hard-boiled eggs – in their egg-carton container and LABELED hard-boiled- had somehow found their way to the bottom drawer of the fridge. Alas, this is where Dave keeps his meat and cheese. He purchases what he wants so he can make sandwiches when he’s in a hurry and stops in for quick nourishment in the middle of his day. The bottom drawer (per the manual) is for meats. It is labeled “convertible compartment”. I consider that protein – which, in my opinion, includes hard-boiled eggs.
That was the problem. My labeling did not match that of my husband’s. He was not happy to come home and find a container of what-he-assumed-was-raw-eggs-left-behind-by-our-son with his meat and his cheese. It’s true that Butch had brought eggs (as well as a myriad of other things) home with him when his city demanded everyone on his street evacuate. He’d taken them along back with him, and the only eggs in the fridge were ours: one container on a shelf and the other container in the bottom drawer labeled hard-boiled eggs.
Even though Florence never made it to our house, another storm threatened on the horizon. The problem with the eggs was that Dave was tired – and hungry – and had to move those not-raw eggs out of his way to get to his food. He did not want to break those (what he thought were) raw eggs. Yet to get to his meat and cheese, he had to wrangle that 18-count container at an angle to get it out of the already-full drawer. I should never, ever, have put those eggs in that drawer. Eggs had not been in that drawer before. After all, this drawer is for meat. Certainly, raw eggs should not be stashed in the bottom drawer.
I have learned that when Dave gets like this, the best thing I can do is back off and let him have his say. That’s because nothing I can do or say in that moment will sway or change his mind. [Are there any other husbands out there like that?!] It’s not that he’s abusive or extremely hard-headed – it’s that he can’t see straight at the moment.
I have also learned to put the problem back in his corner as much as possible. Which is why I said, “Where do you want me to keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator?”
If he didn’t want them in the bottom drawer with his meat and cheese, where did he want me to keep hard-boiled eggs? I wanted to know so I would not make that mistake again.
I don’t remember his answer. I think it helped when he realized that the eggs really were not raw. Yes, the container looked like the 18-count container of raw eggs that Butch had stored in our refrigerator over the hurricane weekend. I also mentioned that I knew the fridge needed to be cleaned out and organized, but I had been tired and hadn’t been in the mood.
At any rate, we made it through that moment without breaking any eggs on anyone’s head. As the afternoon wore on, I got to thinking about how much easier marriage is now than it was 34 years ago, when we were still figuring out how to communicate and connect. I also spent some time trying to figure out how to get him on this one! The refrigerator is my domain and I’m the one who usually stocks, organizes, and cleans it. When my man came into the house and tried to tell me how to do “my job”, it fretted me a little. I also knew that a word picture helps my man more clearly see things from my perspective.
I had to decide what the real issue was instead of breaking a leg – or an egg. The real issue (for me) was that he was insinuating that I didn’t know how to do my job – or that I wasn’t doing it right.
The Solution . . .
I needed to decide how to respond; and for the moment, I had to let it go. This was not the time or the place. (Oh believe me, I can let him know my mind – he can vouch for that!)
I got him later when one of his sisters made a comment about his work van. “You can always tell when someone is self-employed by looking at the dash of his vehicle. I can spot those self-employed folks clear across the parking lot at Food Lion.” Yep, the dashboard of their vehicle is their endless paper stash. Those vehicle dashboards are their file cabinets, only they have no drawers and no slide-free zones.
How could one not notice that dash?! It shouts, “Clean me up!” so loudly you just want to start on it Right Now. His sister told him he needed to clean it up. AS IF that will happen!
He replied, “Don’t you mess with my truck. I know exactly where everything is on that dash and if someone tries to clean it up, I won’t be able to find things. That’s when I told his sisters about the refrigerator, those eggs, and his ideas of how I should keep my refrigerator.
We laughed. All of us laughed, because it’s true.
. . . is Serving
You know something? I will spend the rest of my life serving him by making sure those hard-boiled eggs are never in that drawer if it really matters that much to him. It’s a small thing to do when I consider how he serves me.
I think Dave spends more time serving me than I spend serving him. Dirty laundry in stuffed hampers gets carried down the stairs to the back porch. At the end of the day, clean laundry is carried back up the stairs in the hampers. The rainbow vacuum cleaner water and bowl are emptied outside without being asked – this after he’s worked all day. Empty canning jars are carried to the basement when he finds them at the top of the steps. When I’m not feeling well or have been gone all day, he scrambles his own eggs, heats up a can of soup, or finds leftovers in the fridge without a word of complaint. He wheels into McDonald’s without being asked just so I can have my senior coffee when we’re traveling.
You know something else? Those eggs weren’t such a big deal because we chose not to make a mountain out of a molehill and because we serve each other. I’ll serve him by keeping those eggs out of his drawer and on the shelf.
And the eggs? There’s another 18-count container labeled hard-boiled in the fridge today. They are not in the bottom drawer. They are sitting all high and mighty on a shelf with the labeled side facing the front so everybody will know the eggs in this carton are hard-boiled eggs.
And the dashboard of his work van? It hasn’t changed a lick. It’s just as stuffed with papers and tools as it ever was!