Globe Syndicate

Another Way

by Melodie Davis

for release August 18, 2000

Cleaning Out The Refrigerator

Kids keep you humble. One of my daughters was reading a batch of my columns while waiting for me in my office one day. "Ehhh, they are all the same," she noted. "They start out with a quote or a little story, you preach, and then you wrap it up. Why don't you do something different?" she asked. I sometimes wonder if that is what readers think, and if they would ever tell me. Well, for my daughter and anyone else wanting something a little different, here's a "cleaning out the refrigerator" column-a hodgepodge of "quotes" or thought starters that I've been collecting. Things I've Pondered:

* Why do some of us as parents refrain from moving, especially during our kids' high school years because we know they would throw fits. Then as soon as the ink is dry on their diplomas what do they do; they move away.

* Why, when people visit here from other countries, do they all seem to know so much more about our country than we know about theirs? Actually, I finally got an answer to this one when someone pointed out that the rest of the world only has to learn their history and our history to be "in the know" in this situation. If we were traveling to their country, we would surely (should) study up on their country as well.

* How can we absorb tragedy after tragedy-whether on a local or international scale, without becoming callused? Why doesn't someone come up with a new word to describe catastrophically sad events: our vocabulary is so unfortunately limited when it comes to a lexicon for "tragic" events.

* Why can't they make clothes labels less itchy or softer? They use thread that looks like fishing line! Do they want us to cut out the labels?

* What is going on when teachers change the traditional name on the "Teachers' Lounge" to "Teachers' Work Room"?

* Why do people in business tell non-profits: If a non-profit would be run like a business, you would be more of a success?

* Why do people working in the non-profit sector tell business owners: If any business had to run like a non-profit, you would fold?

* Why do we frequently throw away more dollars worth of food in a week than we save by using coupons?

* Why does a meal made out of the leftovers one gleans by cleaning out the refrigerator, taste good only to the chief grocery buyer/food preparer/food tosser?

While I'm "cleaning out the refrigerator" here, allow me to respond to questions/comments people have sent in response to earlier columns. In response to a column on greed in June, one reader felt I was saying that investing in mutual funds, or having one's retirement account in mutual funds, was being greedy. I did not mean to say that at all. She felt I would upset many retirees. We, too, have our retirement funds in mutuals, and what I was trying to say was, "Don't focus all your energy on just hoarding all you can for yourself." Continue to share generously with others, even as you save for the future.

Last, my good friend and neighbor, Barbara Byrd, responded to a comment in a June column on the difficulty of watching your kids go job hunting. I had said, "Maybe our schools, instead of requiring Algebra I to graduate, should require Job Hunting 101." She writes, "As a vocational educator in Home Economics (now called Work and Family Studies) for 28 years, I'm convinced more than ever that high schools should provide a well rounded education and require students to be enrolled in vocational classes. My students in 8th grade have a unit on employer expectations, employee characteristics, filling out applications (using real ones), resumes and public speaking. My course is not alone. Many other vocational classes throughout middle and high school teach the same and more. Today's teens need skills for life in addition to preparation for college." (See her full comment and many others on our web site at, under Another Way, Conversation, or go directly to )

Who knows, my kids might even learn how to clean out the refrigerator in her classes, a nasty job someone has to do in every household, but one that I've never required my children to learn yet!

What are some quotes or quandaries you've pondered? Write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail:

You can also visit Another Way on the Web at

Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.

NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 780 words; end material = 105 words

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