We don’t often think about how we impact others in the way we behave. Little everyday things that we do automatically, and sometimes with good reason, may reflect to someone an image we didn’t even know existed.
Take our dishes that we use. Most of us use them every day, some more than others. It’s difficult to avoid using at least a cup as we rush about our days.
Grandma Vi was one of those very busy people. She retired from one job in order to run a business, often working through the wee hours of the night to complete a project. She always had a couple coffee cups sitting by the sink clean and ready for company even though the shop was small and cramped.
This business was part of the reason Grandpa Ed kept the sink clean of dishes at home. “This way Mom doesn’t have to do it,” he once responded when asked why he obsessively washed the cups and plates we kids left behind.
To a kid at home, that was the behavior of love, just like doing the laundry each week. So were things like allowing someone one else to do a task because you know they want it done a specific way or designating chores to the individual who is better at it.
As an adult out in the world, basic tasks have become something a bit different.
College students are less careful about where their cups end up. Although some might think about the fact that they don’t magically disappear when they have served their usefulness, many students, and unfortunately people of all ages, choose to leave their cups in various places.
One might think that taking dishes at least as far as the sink is an effort to be helpful, but in the end it is as much a sign of disrespect as anything.
Who do you think is supposed to take care of the dish that you dirtied? More importantly, exactly why do you think they should be cleaning up your mess?
Many a conversation I have had about individuals who would take their coffee cup to the sink, but not bother to put it in the dishwasher. The only reason to do that is if you live with one of those people who appreciate the puzzle-like attributes of loading a dishwasher “properly.”
For everyone else it is not only frustrating, but it hurts their feelings. It tells them their time is not as important. It tells them you think you are too significant to care about such menial tasks.
What does leaving throw-away dishes in a public sink say to the people around you?
When we leave behind a mess for other people, we devalue them, whether it be the secretary at the office, our partner at home, or our future children. It is our everyday actions that reflect what is important, whatever our intentions may be.
Beanie Taylor is a staff reporter for The Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com, 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.