After placing dirty dishes in the dishwasher this morning, I picked up a dry wash cloth and polished the water faucet. Not a speck of dirt nor a smudge remained after I completed the job. The sparkling object could pass the strictest inspection.
Earlier, I had checked to make certain that the vertical line of my shirt front was in perfect alignment with my belt buckle and the fly on my pants.
Why, I wondered, is it important to continue performing rather inconsequntial tasks like these more than 60 years after being introduced to them during my Air Force career.
Why do I automatically place myself on the left side of someone while walking with that person, or thinking seriously about shining my shoes every evening before I go to bed?
I’m certain that psychologists and sociologists have names for such behavior, but in my case I have forgotten the “why” for so many things I do that I can’t keep track of it all. I’m lucky if I can remember to brush my teeth a couple of times a day.
Friends often think I’m weird because I always take a bath before I sleep. Maybe it was a practice of necessity that began when I was a farm boy. I learned that you don’t go to bed after sweating in the field all day behind a team of horses or sitting beside a cow while milking the critter.
Why do I always wash my hands before I eat? Maybe it dates back to farm life where tossing manure from the milk shed onto a mound of the stuff. Or cleaning fish after a “good day” of threading earthworms on a hook beside a river.
Why do I feel uneasy if a prayer of blessing isn’t said before eating a meal? It’s a practice that dates back to my formative years with parents who believed in something greater than themselves. The problem becomes more complex when I’m a guest of someone who doesn’t follow this practice, especially if that person doesn’t wash his/her hands before eating.
Why do I become upset when I see a guy fail to open a car door for a woman, especially if it’s his wife. Of if I see a couple on a sidewalk near a busy street, and the guy fails to be walking nearest the traffic?
I thought about all of this after polishing the water faucet this morning, but only until I could sit down with a cup of coffee. Real coffee. None of this fancy stuff with milk, cream and who knows what that costs a fortune.
I figure that we’re all creatures of habit, creatures influenced by our experiences and environment.
So, if you invite me to join you for lunch, don’t be surprised if I insist on washing my hands before I eat.