Spilled Milk

I was in the grocery store today and saw something that gave me hope. In the dairy aisle, a man was looking at the cheese. The bulk of his cart was completely empty aside from the small area up by the handle, which was crammed to its fullest capacity. Stuff was piled up almost to the point of overflowing in that little space. I noticed it and thought to myself that there was no way I could ever get so many groceries successfully crammed into a spot like that. I figured that he must have been some kind of master packer.

Well…I figured wrong

While he was checking out the cheese, a half-gallon of two-percent slid to the floor. The seal popped and milk squirted everywhere. Its range was impressive. The guy looked at me and smiled kind of sheepishly, then politely said, “I’m so sorry. I hope none of it got on you.” I assured him that it had not as he picked up the jug (which remarkably only seemed to be missing about half a cup of its contents) and calmly walked back to the milk coolers.

Unbeknowst to this pleasant man, he walked through puddles of milk as he went. The white liquid had sprayed the white tile the width of the aisle and up into the display shelves. An attractive elderly woman had milk splattered from the cuffs of her black slacks, up onto her black, quilted jacket and clear up into her freshly-styled hair. She kind of brushed at her hair with her hand when the drops first hit, took a quick look behind her, then went about her business in the dairy case. I kind of tiptoed around the milk spatters, making my way to her to inform her of her milky shower as well as my regret at having absolutely nothing to help wipe off her clothing. She was pleasant, grateful…and not happy. I told her I would inform an employee of the clean-up necessary in aisle fifteen, and I began working my way to the register.

Meanwhile, the milkman was out of sight. He never knew the mess left in his wake.

In a strange way, this incident gives me hope. The man seemed kind, intelligent and capable of a great many things. I have beheld every member of my household create tremendous messes and proceed to walk through, over and around them without any indication of the compromised condition of their surroundings. I have witnessed my precious family members as they sit, lean and stand in a variety of slick, sticky and mucky situation with no apparent knowledge of the yuck. This has always greatly concerned me. I have seen such terrific evidence of their aptitude and intelligence in so many areas, but this oblivion to domestic disorder niggles in the back of my mind with uncomfortable regularity. How can they truly succeed in life without the wherewithal necessary to notice these messy little details? Are they even telling me the truth? How can they not notice? Is that even possible? Perhaps it is.

I have a friend whose son dropped his sweatshirt on the floor in front of the refrigerator and left it. My friend was incensed! She vowed to never pick it up. She would not add one more thing to her list of household responsibilities.

Day in and day out, the sweatshirt remained. Her husband and two sons moved over and around it as though it was a figment of her imagination. She held out, wondering how long it would take for them to pick it up. After ten days, she broke. She could endure it no longer. She bitterly and humbly accepted that only she could see it.

I am not alone. This is a comfort to me. I am only one of a thousand warriors waging war on a multitude of unsung messes. I am not a neat freak. I am not a perfectionist. I just don’t like to constantly step over stuff or to have my feet stick to the floor. Is it too much to ask that my family members see their contributions to chaos and join me in the fight (or at least in the acknowledgement of the enemy)? For now, apparently it is. So, until they willingly join me in my cause, I will have my Sherlock Holmes hat and magnifying glass ever ready to route out the unmindful mess makers in my midst, all too happily sharing my spray bottles and sponges as each case is solved.

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