In the "Who moved my cheese?" department

It’s my wife’s birthday today – happy birthday, Carol! – and we have been chuckling lately over something that started off as annoying.

She’s a deacon in our church. A few weeks ago, she substituted for another deacon in preparing a snack for after the service. She had bought, with her own money, a block of cheese, had cut it up, put it on a plastic plate, covered it up with plastic wrap, and brought it to church at 9:30 a.m., at which point she went to Bible study.

At 10:30, she went to transfer said cheese onto a nicer plate, but she could not find the cheese. She looked around for a time, finally finding the plate of cheese in the garbage. There were other snacks, but she was understandably annoyed, actually less about the waste of money and more about the waste of time preparing said cheese, then looking for it.

There is a policy – these are Presbyterians, so naturally there’s a policy – that food in the refrigerator need be labeled and dated, but Carol never thought that the food she brought could be dumped in an hour. (By contrast, when they cleaned out the refrigerators at my work place on July 9, we got a week’s e-mail notice, with large notices also on the fridges.)

Carol tells the deacon for whom she substituted about the situation, so she could be alerted when next that deacon served snacks the following week. Then the fun began, with that deacon forwarding Carol’s note, to Carol’s chagrin, to all the other deacons and the pastors. Suddenly, there were a flurry of e-mails going back and forth, some citing policy, others complaining about about the waste of food, still others suggesting it be discussed at a committee meeting, and/or that better signs be made. A huge cause celebre.

The custodian had noted that someone else had been eating the cheese that morning, and was possibly the one who rewrapped it poorly. The member of the committee who tossed the cheese had thrown out the cheese because she was afraid it had been there too long; it wasn’t wrapped well, probably by the snacker, but then, to Carol’s embarrassment, she gave her money, to compensate for her loss.

I, on the other hand, thought it was all terribly funny, and labeled it The “Who moved my cheese?” incident. Then it felt more like absurdist theater, and we laughed about it regularly.

Quite coincidentally, there is a unit in my building at work who was downsizing, and they were getting rid of some books. I picked up a few business books for our work library, including the Spencer Johnson book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” I mean, I just HAD to.
***
So what did we do on Monday from 3:52 p.m. to 5:48 p.m.? We, that is to say I, stood in line so that my wife and I could renew our passports and so that our daughter could get her first one. There were two families ahead of ours. And we hit the line just minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline. The rush was based on a TV story we heard that the rates were going up on Tuesday.

The downside of waiting is that I did not bring any reading material. The upside is that, by the time we actually got to the front, I could cite, almost verbatim, the policies put forth by our fine postal employee. “The passports will take four to six weeks. It has been taking four weeks, but because of the recent influx, it might take a little longer.”

We hadn’t planned on waiting until almost literally the last minute. We were near the post office earlier in the day, but the daughter was having a stomachache. Later, we got an unexpected 71-minute phone call from an old friend, then I went bike riding with the daughter while the wife napped. (We’d gotten up very early to take a relative from Oneonta to the Albany airport that morning.)

In the end, we saved nearly $100, and I got a lesson in passport policy.
***
It’s also Linda Ronstadt’s birthday, so maybe she should sing with Muppets.

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