A few days ago, I opened our refrigerator door to see what was hiding in there that I could turn into a snack. Since I’ve gone through a cardiac rehab program some time ago and try to watch how …
Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Making high quality community journalism isn’t free — please consider supporting our journalism by subscribing to the News + Record today.
Unlimited Digital Access: $3.99/month
Print + Digital: $5.99/month
A few days ago, I opened our refrigerator door to see what was hiding in there that I could turn into a snack. Since I’ve gone through a cardiac rehab program some time ago and try to watch how much sugar I take in, I’ve started to pay attention to what foods to eat and what not to devour. Sometimes, the choices are more limiting than they once were.
For instance: I’ve learned a plate of cold fried fatback is not recommended by my nurses, but 64 ounces of water are right on target, as is a bushel basket of fresh lettuce. So, needless to say, some of this has been a learning experience.
That day as I scanned the refrigerator shelves, I noticed a number of items. There was half a jar of salsa, a container of tomato juice (my favorite), some hoop cheese I bought at Farmers Alliance long ago before it closed (and which I have kept so long that it’s hard as a rock) and half a container of yogurt in which one of the little princesses who call me “Granddaddy” had lost interest.
There were also some items I couldn’t identify. Some were wrapped in seasoned aluminum foil, meaning the wrinkles outnumbered the flat places. Others were in plastic containers, clear and otherwise; I thought I recognized a couple of them but wasn’t sure. Others were in plastic containers which previously had housed ingredients other than what they were then holding — for instance, half an onion was living in the container which earlier had been home to deli sandwich meat.
I can’t remember what I had for a snack but I’m pretty sure I had something. It may have been popcorn, which I know doesn’t live in the refrigerator. But it was something else that caught my eye.
Sitting on the shelf next to the tomato juice and the milk was a plastic Coke bottle: the individual size, not the two-liter. While that’s something that happens often at our place, it was the amount of product in the bottle that caught my eye. There may have been two to three drops of beverage left.
I’m not going to call any names here, but it was put into there by someone who lives daily at my place who isn’t me. Now, that doesn’t bother me; that’s why we have refrigerators. My better half knows that; she saves items so there’s very little waste at our house. My mother, however, somehow seemingly was opposed to that practice since often when, as a child, we had finished a meal and I had gorged myself, she would come back around with what was left over of something and put it onto my plate.
“Eat this,” she’d say. “I want to wash the dish and there’s not enough to save.”
“But Mama,” I’d respond, “I’m about to pop.”
“Eat it anyway. I don’t want to have to save it.”
“Isn’t that why we have a refrigerator?”
“Be quiet and eat it anyway.”
That sort of routine through the years is one thing that helped me develop the physique I have today.
So, seeing the one swallow of Coke in the fridge was no big deal food-wise but it did jog my memory to a childhood ritual. When I was a mere lad, there were few drinks like Gatorade or Propel or whatever around. As a matter of fact, there were none of those. We did have Kool-Aid and we had our share of Cokes or Pepsi but mostly we drank water and we kept it cold in a glass jar Mama sat on the top shelf in the fridge.
The way it worked with my two brothers and me was that whoever emptied the jar — as in whoever drank the last of the cold water — was required to refill it. And since none of us really wanted to stand at the kitchen sink to fill up the gallon jug, we developed the ability not to empty the jar completely after taking a big pull. Obviously, that meant that someone would often get stuck with about 14 drops of cold water after slaving over a 4-hour yard mowing but it was the principle of the thing.
“Let somebody else fill it up” became our style. When I saw that Coke bottle the other day, my mind went back to that youthful water jar. Now, I know in this day and age we don’t refill soft-drink bottles, although sometimes I use them for water but another thought came to mind.
This one was staged from my advancing years and had nothing to do with who fills up the jar. Instead, I thought, it’s a lesson in life, namely how often do we do as little as we can just to get by hoping someone else will pick up the slack? Don’t empty the jar or bottle and then no one can say you took the last morsel or drop but what does that do to benefit our fellow human?
I think, if memory serves me correctly, I took that last swallow of Coke to down the handful of pills that is my lot today. But I did put two, or maybe it was three, bottles of Coke in the fridge.
Life lesson learned. I hope.
Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.