On top of it humor writer, Felice Prager, does the math, after staring into the abyss of the Amana.
I am not going to obsess about this or lose sleep or break out or get upset, but there are many things I waste time doing which I can't do anything about. Huge chunks of my life have been lost wasting this time, and there is no way to control it.
Let's consider food. Take an average day. I open the refrigerator and stand in front of it making decisions for a minute or two dozens of times a day. At least once for each meal. Perhaps two or three times in between each meal. And since I stopped sleeping regularly the day my first child was born, add once or twice a night to that. A minute or two here and there over the period of a day adds up.
Just for argument's sake, let's say I waste 30 minutes a day looking in the refrigerator, a low estimate. Over a year, that's 10,950 minutes of looking in the refrigerator. Take it a little further, say, for instance, the fifteen years since I gave birth to my first child. That's 164,250 minutes. Which is about 2700 hours. Which is about 114 days.
One hundred fourteen days of looking into a refrigerator in 15 years. And this doesn't include major holidays or birthday parties or putting away groceries from the supermarket. This doesn't include, "Mom, can you pour me a glass of milk?" or "Mom, I need soda for everyone on the block." This doesn't include entertaining. And nowhere in here is included time to actually clean the refrigerator and get rid of those things that are growing arms and legs.
And this is just the refrigerator that is in the kitchen. We also have a deep freeze in the garage where we keep things that don't fit in the kitchen refrigerator. We wouldn't want to run out of food! The market is at least ten blocks from here!
As a child of the sixties, the days when very few people worked on Sundays and dads were home a lot more, at least in my neighborhood, we lived in garden apartments. The snow started falling and a blizzard was predicted. My dad and the other dads in our apartment complex borrowed our Flexible Flyer sleds and headed off on foot to brave the storm and go to the only market open in town. This was a little family-run store that normally wasn't open on Sundays, but they were opening so the neighbors could stock up on essentials for the big storm. I remember my dad coming home with two dozen cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup, oysterettes, hot cocoa, marshmallows, and tons of cookies. His family might freeze to death, but we would die smiling!
Today, if people had to stock up with emergency provisions, they could simply come to my house and go through my freezer. We could feed a family of forty-six for a month and still have leftovers.
Anyway thinking about the one hundred fourteen wasted days of looking in the refrigerator is enough to make even the most stable person slightly depressed, but that's not me.
I like to take things to extremes.
So using the same 15 years as a guideline and I start adding into it other food-related things I do which waste my time. I think about all the bottles of formula and milk I lovingly warmed for my babies in the middle of the night that they gave back to me in the form of curdled lumps on cloth diapers draped over my shoulder while I carefully burped them.
I think of the preparation time for meals, eaten or uneaten. Meals where I'm used to hearing, "What's this?" and "Why couldn't you just make regular chicken?" and "Why didn't you just buy the frozen stuff?"
I add to it time for boiling water, pre-heating ovens, and waiting for things to rise or cool or set.
I think of all the coupons I cut that I never use because I forget them. I think of the food lists that I prepare and leave on the counter instead.
I think of apples I've peeled, crusts I've cut off, and lunches I've prepared which were thrown away in the cafeteria trash pails instead of being eaten. I think of the cookies I've made from scratch instead of simply cutting them and placing them on a tray two inches apart.
I think of how much time it takes to peel potatoes and how fresh potatoes are so much healthier for growing children than boxed or package or frozen potatoes.
I think of all the time I've spent watching the Galloping Gourmet, the French Chef, those two fat ladies, and Emeril Lagasse.
I think of all the commercials for food I've watched and how many versions of soda commercials I've memorized.
I think of the inside of my oven and how long it might take to clean it.
Then I think of the American Red Cross. I think of the giant scam they played on my generation telling us we had to wait a half-hour after eating lunch before we went back in the pool because we might get a cramp and drown. And I think about the thing I heard on TV last month that said none of this was true. Thirty minutes times how many lunches? Wasted? I could have been swimming! I could have been skinny! I could have been in the Olympics.
I think of how long the turkey has to sit in the refrigerator to defrost and how long it takes to prepare it and all the goodies that go along with it on Thanksgiving. I think about last Thanksgiving when everyone just inhaled the meal so they could leave the table and go back to more important things. Like football. Like Nintendo. Like talking on the phone with this week's girlfriend.
And then reality hits, as it always does.
I realize there was no way I can figure out how much time I've wasted on food-related activities. It is just a lot of time. And I am wasting even more time just thinking about it.
And it occurs to me that nowhere in this have I even considered the time it takes to actually EAT!
And nowhere in this have I even considered how much time it takes to actually clean up after eating!
And I think in this time I have been wasting, I could have been exercising or I could have gone for a walk or I could have started the Great American Novel of the Next Millennium.
But, no! I go back to the refrigerator to look in it to see if there is anything good to eat.