Christine Schoenwald

Christine Schoenwald
Location
Glendale, California, United States
Birthday
September 29

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Salon.com
MAY 1, 2012 3:09PM

Know When to Purge

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Every office has one- a Refrigerator Zealot; the person consumed with cleaning out the refrigerator. Our Zealot is the kind of man to whom moldy lunches cause unfathomable amounts of distress. He sees green if a sandwich has been in there for over a week or yogurt has passed its freshness date.

But the Zealot doesn’t just get rid of the bad; he eliminates the still-good as well. You never know when something is going to turn. His philosophy is that one should pull-out all their teeth just in case they might need a root canal. Banish that left-over pizza out of the Chill Kingdom before it goes rogue and infects the good, innocent villager foods. Fanatical diligence by the RZ is needed at all times to keep the refrigerator and its contents safe.

Our office refrigerator always seems to smell even if it is mostly empty. The battle to keep it from stinking rages on. There are  many reasons for ice-box stank: employees sometimes forget that they had brought lunch on Tuesday but went out instead and the leftover chili stays festering in the fridge. Perhaps there was an event that hardly anybody showed up to and the squares of cheddar and Swiss cheese sit there on the second shelf as a reminder uneaten. Forgotten food is the primary cause for a smelly refrigerator. It also might need to be defrosted but not even the Zealot wants to do that.

Generally I’m not a huge fan of leftovers as their deliciousness seems to depreciate the moment that they are placed in a container. I’ll eat them to be practical, to stretch out a meal or for convenience sake. I rarely look forward to them unless it is curry noodles.

In Santa Monica, there is a Thai restaurant that literally makes the best curry noodles in the land. I know this because I order them whenever I get a chance and I’ve never had them near as good as the Poom noodles. Apparently any kind of curry sauce is acceptable when you put curry noodles on the menu: yellow, green, panang and even pineapple are all okay.

Poom curried noodles are unique in many ways and especially in their goldenrod color. Poom’s sauce seems more like a Japanese curry than a Thai curry. Maybe I should be ordering curry noodles at Japanese restaurants? I never thought of that.

No one makes curried noodles like Poom even Poom, as they are never the same way twice. Sometimes they are soupy and sometimes they are saucy and other times the curry just seems to be a chunky yellow spread on the wide flat rice noodles. It doesn’t matter if they are different every time as they are consistently delicious.

I’m not someone who could eat the same thing every day but I could eat these anytime. I’m not a huge spicy foods person but I love this spice.

Obviously I was upset when our Refrigerator Zealot threw-out my noodles without my knowledge or permission. We haven’t been ordering out for lunch lately. Angela usually brings her lunch and   I do too or wait until I get home. Poom was a special treat.

As the curry noodles are beyond good, I have to force myself to practice portion control and put some away. I was so looking forward to my curry noodles lunch on Sunday, that it drew me into work. My leftovers would be a reward for my good behavior.

As I had marked my name in black marker on the plastic container and placed it carefully on the second shelf, I had no reason to suspect that my noodles would not be there, waiting. When I opened the refrigerator to find it recently cleaned and no evidence of my lunch, I nearly lost it. Angela told me our Manager had been on another one of his cleaning binges and threw out our leftovers. Since she was standing by, she was able to fish her fully intact container of noodles out of the trash and enjoy them for her lunch. My noodles were gone forever. The Noodle Tosser aka the Refrigerator Zealot had struck.

Ironically the day before I had done a purge of my own. Our spare bedroom had become an unofficial Goodwill collection center. Junk had been piling up for years. I had to warn guests to stay away from that room out of embarrassment. It took seeing a friend’s show on hoarding to lit a fire under me (probably of old school report cards and People magazines) and get that stuff out of the house.

We also went to the E-waste place and dumped off a bag of old video tapes, denim covered radio and my old black and white portable TV. If you think I shed a tear when the white overall covered E-waste workers lobbed my radio and TV into a large trash bin- you are right. Although this purge was just a start, it was encouraging and I did even more when I got home, including a bag of clothes for a battered women’s shelter and removing something that had been on my TiVo list for almost a year (deletion is another kind of purge.)

I understand how purging can feel great. But the manager’s throwing out of my noodles was thoughtless, rude and reminded me of my mother. My mother is the opposite of a hoarder. She hates stuff,possessions and clutter. And she has no trouble throwing out other people’s stuff, as evidenced by the time she sold my bed- when I was still using it. She gets crazy and it makes me want to hang onto stuff all the harder.

Purging is personal. Don’t purge for others. A professional organizer can help you make the hard decisions. Am I really going to use that chopper? Will those clothes ever fit again and when they do will they be laughably out of style? Can I borrow, rent or improvise the function of this item when I need it? Like exercise and religion, purging is something you ultimately have to choose for yourself.

Not having my noodles after expecting to have them for lunch seems like a small problem and honestly it is. But the feeling of someone having so little regard for something I treasured is familiar and unwelcomed.

I understand the Vacuum Law; when you create space, the Universe will gladly fill it up for you and that by purging the old and the stagnant you will attract the new and the better. Unfortunately I don’t think it applies to lunch. After leaving a terse note, I hope that the Refrigerator Zealot has learned his lesson and won’t be disposing of my leftovers in the future. Perhaps like someone who is getting rid of their memorabilia or record collection, he could give some thought before he purges.

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