Monday, November 30, 2009

Blessing in Disguise

Our fridge conked out two weeks ago. Not the main kitchen fridge, mind you; it was the basement auxiliary fridge that died. So, it wasn’t an absolute crisis, but it has made us rethink some of our habits.

The luxury of having a 2nd fridge gives us extra food-storage capacity. But that extra capacity has made us a little careless. Here’s what’s changed at our house over the last 2 weeks:
  • We actively consider what’s in the fridge. Usually, leftovers would get pushed to the back of the shelf and, unless someone was specifically looking for that item, would often be discovered weeks later (inedible!). We’re wasting less food.
  • If food does go stale, it gets thrown out before it gets too disgusting.
  • I pack leftovers in my lunch more frequently. My intent is to make room in the fridge, but I’ve discovered that it also saves time when I’m putting a lunch together. Putting leftovers in a container is usually quicker than making a sandwich. It saves even more time if I remember to put some leftovers directly into a small container when I’m cleaning up after supper.
  • We’re more careful about the size of storage containers we use. Rather than grabbing the first available container and then filling it halfway, we’ll pick a smaller container that will be filled completely.

There have been some problems:
  • We have to make more frequent trips to the grocery store. My kids go through a lot of milk, and we would usually keep 2 or 3 jugs in the basement fridge. Now, we’ll make an extra milk run in the middle of the week, rather than waiting for the weekly grocery trip.
  • My wife usually does a lot of holiday baking. That will stress our reduced storage capacity. I probably shouldn’t complain too much about holiday baking.
  • Our immediate reaction to the loss of our extra fridge was to hurry out and buy a replacement. But, now we’re not sure if we need to do that. With our new culture of “active fridge management,” we’ve discovered that we’re usually not struggling to find space.

One thing is for certain: If these changes had not been forced on us - by the demise of the basement fridge - we would never have discovered our ability to manage our household with one fridge. If, with two functioning fridges in the house, either my wife or I had suggested to the other that we make these changes, I’m sure we wouldn’t have any motivation to do so.

With the luxury of excess capacity, there’s no burning platform to drive change.

Last month, I had the privilege of addressing the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine’s incoming class. You can guess what my one-track mind picked as the theme for my speech.

In response to the perceived shortage of physicians in the province, the U of S College of Medicine is in the midst of an aggressive expansion of student enrollment. The speakers who preceded me commented on this initiative, and how having more physicians would remedy access problems. How ironic that I then stood up to tout the alternate solution, that is, using Clinical Practice Redesign/Advanced Access as a way to squeeze more juice out of current resources!

It seems it’s easier to pay for more capacity. Goodbye, burning platform.

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