What Fools

Yellow and gray knife sharpeners that now belong to me.

Yellow and gray knife sharpeners that now belong to me.

We Americans buy a lot of crap, and then some of that we pass it on to organizations that pass it on to those in need. At one such organization as I sorted through the electric sandwich makers, tiny griddles to create pig-face pancakes or to cook a solo egg, one Shakespearean phrase kept going through my mind: “What fools these mortals be.” I mean really do you need a plastic piece with different size holes to simply measure portions of spaghetti to cook? And when you realize that it’s something that you never use, do you need to pass it on to an organization where it will sit, unwanted and untaken?

Companies continue to make an assortment of devices and then sell them to us, making us think that we need this, that it will make our lives easier and better for as fast-paced busyness. We take it home full of hopes until we discover that no it doesn’t. Do you really need that hinged skillet to make an omelet? Do you think anyone else needs it either?

Another volunteer and I went through the room sorting, emptying boxes, and, occasionally, tossing unknowns or broken into a trash box. The man who manages the center removed a few cast iron corn roasters that he pulled from the box though there were dirty and burned. “These are worth a lot of money,” he said. “They can be cleaned.” Then he pulled out yellow piece of plastic that I had thrown into the trash after we couldn’t figure out what it was. “Why did you throw this away?” When I replied that we didn’t know what it was, he picked up a knife, had me touch its dull blade and used the yellow plastic mystery to sharpen it.

“Oh, I need one of those,” I said, thinking of a particularly dull knife at home.

“Here you go,” he said handing it to me.

And I slipped it into a pocket to take home, never mind that I have several knife sharpeners, including one that looked almost identical except gray in color, sitting in a drawer. Oh what a fool this mortal may be.

At least I didn’t pay any money for it.

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