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the fork

 
master steward
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Once upon a time, I was 20 years old.   I shared an apartment with a lovely woman who was even more of a slob than me.  

It seems that she required me to do half the cleaning, but I thought that I did a fair bit of cleaning as I went along, and that I didn't make as much mess.  

Did I mention I was 20?

To emphasize my point, once the kitchen was clean, I decided to stay out of the kitchen entirely until the kitchen was too unusable - even for her.  In a few weeks the kitchen was trashed and she said "it is time for us to clean the kitchen!"  I then revealed my evil plot and told her that then entire mess was hers!   And she pointed to a fork - naming the time, date and what I used it for.   She was right.   I had slipped.   It was, indeed, "our" mess.

As the years passed and I would work with people, I found a lot of people where an agreement was struck and they would fall short on their end.   I knew that I had to be absolutely perfect on my end or else they would find a fork and use that fork as license for 5000 forks worth of falling short on their end.  

That's the end of this story.   There have just been several times recently where I needed to talk about the fork.


 
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You done forked up, Paul.
 
paul wheaton
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I tell the story of the fork to expand my personal vocabulary.   "The fork" is a reference for a communication tool.   For me to express that my behavior, with an agreement, must be flawless - because if there is even one fork, then then other party then assumes the right to trash the whole deal, or to assume license to fall short in ways far greater than the fork.

 
paul wheaton
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There was some discussion of division of cleaning.   I moved that discussion to this thread.
 
pollinator
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There may be something to be learned from pondering the letter of an agreement versus the spirit of the same.
 
pollinator
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Back in college, I had two roommates, one who was neat and tidy, and another who was more like me... willing to to put off washing the breakfast and lunch dishes until after dinner, and maybe a second day, which often meant having to wash something to be able to use it again every now and then.
After a few weeks, roommate #1 is frustrated about both sinks filled with dishes, and demands one sink be left empty at all times. He also stakes a claim on one cabinet, solely for himself, to store his two place settings, a pot, and a skillet.
The deal is: we leave his stuff and one sink alone, and he leaves us and our stuff alone. (with the occasional nudge that maybe 3 days is too many dishes)
We agree and things went smoothly for the rest of the year, and the empty sink worked to all our favor.

Addressing the issue early on and setting reasonable and clear expectations, rather than let the resentment build or continue, saved the situation.

Roommate #2 and I, couldn't be bothered to keep track of whose turn it was to wash up, and just did it when it was obvious it needed doing.
 
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