Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Exploding microwaves

This guy doesn't worry about icky microwaves.
A week or so ago (or maybe two or three), I had a microwave exploding incident. One of those where the whatever being heated took flight and covered the inside of the microwave. Now, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t such a major event. It wasn’t totally gross and didn’t interfere with the operation of the microwave. It just looked yucky. Three or four times a day it looked yucky.

Years ago Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory of broken windows in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference explaining how small, unresolved incidents of crime leads to a breakdown in social norms and a mindset of crime. Broken windows became a symbol of minor disorder leading to a major issue.

I believe the metaphor extends to other areas of human behavior. I tolerated my dirty microwave day after day. Finally, I broke down and cleaned it. Suddenly, I could feel the difference. Without blowing it completely out of proportion, I felt cleaner, more in control of my world and my environment.

It surprised me how differently I felt about myself. I’m not a clean freak. My psyche doesn’t get a lot of self-worth from the cleanliness and orderliness of my environment. However, opening the now-clean microwave creates a visceral sense of well-being and control. I have to wonder if this is related to the outside world where wildfires are raging and I know I have zero control over them. Cleaning my microwave is within my sphere of control.

I’m not sure where this is going but just writing about it makes me want to get up and straighten the towel which is hanging akimbo on the oven rack. So far, I’m controlling the impulse.

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