May 4, 2011

Scoop Salvation

In religious life there are certain rules that are neither written or ever spoken, but which--at least in my experience--are universally observed. Sometimes the strictness and regularity with which they are observed can seem inversely proportional to any imaginable utility. For example:

In religious life we tend to have the powdered sort of laundry soap, the kind that comes in a big box. In the box comes a little plastic scoop by which you are supposed to measure the soap into your wash. Here's the rule of religious life: when the box becomes empty, it is thrown out, burned, or recycled, depending on local law or custom. The plastic scoop, however, may not be thrown out, but must be placed into the next, newly opened box of soap.

Never mind that the new box comes equipped with its own scoop. Now it will have two. When this box is empty, its two scoops are transferred to the next new box, which will then have three. And so on. I have observed the results of the careful observance of these procedures in every friary to which I have ever been assigned.

I don't know how to process is interrupted, but I have seen as many as six scoops in one box of soap.

7 comments:

BC said...

We use the big liquid kind that sits on the shelf. Many caps are collected. But since brothers often put the cap in with the laundry—as an easy way to rise it—having more than one is helpful.

Anonymous said...

I am quite humored by your various posts regarding the daily chores of religious community life including cooking, the dish rag, and the laundry. How I would love to enroll my husband into a franciscan boot camp! I'd be more than happy to take him back once he's been properly trained:)

Rachel Gray said...

Hahaha! I can totally picture that. Waste not, want not.

I spent six weeks as a postulant in a French-speaking order. Not knowing the language, I had a lot of confusion about the dish towels. Finally I got it explained to me in English: There was one kind of towel to be used for drying heavy-duty stuff, one kind for wiping down tables, one kind for cleaning glasses and anything else that smudged easily, and one kind for drying our hands. All hung on the same drying rack when not in use.

Brother Charles said...

Rachel: That is so religious life. You had the authentic experience, obviously.

Homeboy McCoy said...

because sometimes, the new scoop is buried in the detergent, and you'll need the old scoop to exhume it. it would be bad form to discard the former's liberator.

i've visited a number of communities and found they all have the same brand of half-and-half... i postulated that the order must have stock in that particular company, but turns out, it was merely coincidental.

Brother Charles said...

HC: Interesting. I'll have to check our half and half. I don't use it, so I wouldn't have noticed. (I have a worry that consuming dairy is against chastity, i.e. the commodification of another creature's generative faculties.)

Jeanne said...

Are you sure my mother didn't do the laundry at your religious house many years ago? Because that is EXACTLY what she would do...and what I grew up with. We use liquid soap now, but the same thing happens with the powdered ice tea and lemonade, the kind that comes with scoops. I have a nice little scoop collection should yours ever run out.