The great teaspoon mystery

January 25, 2017 at 10:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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spoons-2

What’s your take?

I’m interested in tea, teaspoons and tea rooms.

So it’s with fascination that I survey the Psyche Ward’s cutlery arrangements.

All utensils are metal … except the teaspoons.

These are plastic.

And, like the medication thimbles, they swarm into non-recycling bins.

In addition to regaining mental and physical stability, I resolve to use my time in here to fathom this culinary anomaly.

After two nights, I feel up to making efforts to converse.

At least I have an icebreaker.

I approach my neighbouring patient, detail the teaspoon situation and ask what he thinks.

He believes metal teaspoons would swiftly be stolen and secreted in bedrooms.

‘OK’, I say. ‘But why?’

‘So everyone’s got their own spoon.’

While I immediately grasp this theory’s comforts, a logistical flaw troubles me.

‘So, once everyone’s got their own spoon, the ward wouldn’t need any more.’

The man looks at me, then the wall, then the hall.

‘I dunno … maybe people take ’em …  when they leave.’

I feel this is a good start.

I next ask the Mindfulness Coach why she thinks only the teaspoons are disposable.

Her firm view is that if they were metal, they’d ‘go missing’.

Given the facility’s strong security focus, I find this hard to swallow.

But she’s keen to start her session, so I take her point as a second useful datum.

Time passes at unusual speeds.

It’s 6:10 on the morning of my security scare.

I’m in dire need of two coffee and four sugar sachets.

Not tea.

I go barefoot, so I don’t wake anyone.

Padding the dim, humming passages is one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

I feel like I’m on the Nostromo, but with carpet.

Piercing the darkness are distant islands of light: the nurse stations.

I pass many rooms.

Most doors are shut.

Some cracked ajar.

A few wide open.

Black holes.

In each I imagine a fresh tragedy: awake, fretting; asleep, nightmaring.

At length, I reach the common dining room – which I expect to be empty and unlit save for the predawn.

Only the latter is true.

Sitting at her customary table is a young woman who has been nothing but friendly and helpful since I was admitted.

Before her, a set of bright acrylic paints.

To her right, a stack of white pages printed with winged unicorns.

She is so intent on colouring these that she barely looks up.

She’s been in here for two years.

So I feel both comfortable and confident about relating my quest.

Her brush pauses mid-stroke and she intones while I make my coffee.

‘You know how when you’ve put everything in the cup and you give it a stir.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, see how that plastic spoon keeps spinning, even after you let it go?’

‘I do!’

‘Well, that looks really pretty. Metal teaspoons don’t do that; they’re too heavy. So that’s why they only give us plastic ones.’

I thank her warmly and tell her that’s the best theory I’ve heard so far.

And that when I get out of here, I’ll convey her wisdom to the world.

She seems pleased with this, wishes me well and returns to her work.

Shortly before my discharge, I ask the Head Nurse what she reckons.

She doesn’t have a ‘theory’ about the teaspoons.

She knows.

But what she says next is so prosaic

it’d totally wreck this tale.

And so,

the mystery

lives on …


Got a tip?

🙂


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