Life lesson #3: Fairness – The law of the “Spork.”
Spoke with a friend yesterday who talked about taking his daughter on “dates” to McDonalds.
I am a huge fan of taking the girls out, individually, when we can. On the weekends, I have a standing Saturday afternoon trip to the library. I try to get to girls to run any errand with me, it doesn’t have to be a fully orchestrated Hallmark moment, any one-on-one time will do. It is amazing the difference in personality and richness of conversation you will have without siblings or Mommy.
My friend’s experience reminded of a conversation Kenzie and I had a few years ago.
Not long ago my middle daughter Kenzie and I were out running down a list of Saturday errands. A long morning of going from warehouse to superstore to megaplex left us tired and hungry so we decided to stop at the A&W for some lunch. Stepping up to the shiny chrome counter, Kenzie asked for a moderately healthy sandwich (to please her Mom) a root beer float (to please her Dad) and an extra large tub of mashed potatoes (to please herself.)
We got our food from the cheery employee in the orange apron and then carried our orange tray over to one of the shiny orange booths. Kenzie was so famished that she could barely sit down before she was ripping open the hermetically sealed plastic bag to free the utensils necessary to gobble down her lunch.
Now Kenzie is a child of plans and process and so accordingly she was very clear in her lunchtime objective. Before she would even consider messing with the sandwich or the root beer float she would quickly snarf down every last morsel of the mashed potatoes. There was just one small problem with this plan. The A&W standard-issue plastic bag did not contain “utensils; rather it held just a singular “utensil.” A Spork.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Spork, it is the ubiquitous spoon-fork combination, easily one of the 20th century’s greatest advancements in plastic cutlery. This multi-functional tool not only saves the food service industry trillions of dollars annually in reduced cutlery costs, it is also no doubt preventing countless landfills across this great nation of ours from being overrun with discarded plastic spoons and/or forks.
One can only imagine the incredible savings, both in landfill space and food company dollars, if the historically closed-minded fast food service industry were open to increased utilization of the Spork’s sister products; the Spife and the Knork.
Meanwhile back at the big orange booth Kenzie’s determined quest for mass quantities of mashed potatoes would not deterred by the lack of appropriate utensils. Throwing caution to the wind, she jumped right in and quickly turned the super size spud tub into a nearly empty potato trough. With Spork firmly in hand, she readied herself to gather up the last remnants clinging to the edge of the Styrofoam bowl. This last trip around the bottom of the bowl was to be her lunchtime victory lap.
Suddenly, a grimace.
“Daddy, I can’t get all the mashed potatoes with this thingy. It’s not fair. There’s still some more potatoes at the bottom I can’t get with this…this…uh…”
“Spork” I said.
“Whatever,” she said. “It’s still not fair.”
Now had we been at home, or perhaps if the A&W would have been just a bit less crowded, I would have allowed, nay, encouraged Kenzie to simply reach down into the container with her index finger and scrape out the rest of the potatoes. But public decorum, plus the fact that one of my wife’s good friends was sitting across the aisle from us, precluded that from happening .
It was “Mano v. Sporko,” and the utensil held the upper hand.
Her refrain of “It’s not fair” echoed through my head. I had to admit that I agreed. The Spork, which by virtue of its nefarious spoon-fork design precludes gathering the last bit of mashed potatoes or anything else for that matter, is inherently “not fair.” Especially “not fair” when you’re five and your favorite food in the whole world is mashed potatoes.
I gave a quick thought to launching a national “Fairness to Five Year Olds” campaign to bring national attention to this Spork travesty. We could organize a march on Boise,Idaho to bring attention to the plight of spud-loving kids, or maybe we could have public service announcements showing rows and rows of kids sitting dejectedly at A&W booths, crying in their potatoes. But even if we were to be successful in this venture and get some sort of concession and corporate pledge for “cutlery inclusiveness” from the up-the-food-chain muckety-mucks at A&W I know that it would be just a matter of time before Kenzie stumbles across another of the inequities in life. As long as man has inhabited planet Earth, there has been the “Spork Inequity.”
As adults we have all discovered, perhaps painfully at times, that life is not always fair. This is true in both the big things of life and with plastic cutlery. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
His promise is simple. Even though things in life can be hard or seem unfair at times, Jesus bids us remember that He is still the God of the universe and the Creator of everything (Spork included.) He will always take care of us, He will always provide, and He will always be fair. I suppose that the hard part comes in that beginning to understand that our concept of fairness is not always the same as God’s. I would guess that it has something to do with perspective and time.
As we finished lunch, I was hopeful that the disappointment of the Spork would pass quickly.
Turns out it only took about 60 seconds.
As we passed though the bright orange doors on our way to the car Kenzie said, “Dad, before we go run any more errands can we stop for some ice cream?”
“Sure honey, are you still hungry?”
“Maybe a little bit,” she replied. “But mostly I want to get an ice cream cone and be able to eat the whole thing.”