Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Cacao Cups War

Everyone knows that living with someone isn't always easy. Very often, problems arise when the people involved have different levels of tolerance towards dirt and untidyness. One will feel like he (or more usually, she) is doing all the work while the other won't understand why she even bothers since the place is clean enough. So common.

When I moved in with Mr Bear, I was a little worried: he seemed to be the very demanding kind of home owner, while I used to be rather untidy. But as I felt more and more at home, I started to enjoy a spotless environment and I found it easier to keep things where they should be when you only brought the minimum amount of stuff you need (that's the good side of luggage limitations in planes). We also tend to feel the need for a good cleaning at about the same time, and we do it easily together: the tasks he hates don't bother me, and the opposite.

However, this domestic heaven couldn't last. As time past, I took more and more in charge: I do the laundry because I don't like the way he treats my clothes, I do the dishes and keep the kitchen clean because he's not thorough enough for me, I take care of the plants because he keeps forgetting, etc. I don't really mind since I spend more time home than he does, so it's only fair. However, I stopped smiling when I noticed, some months ago, that he has now become a very untidy kind of person. He will leave everything exactly where he used it, his dirty clothes on the floor, his sport bag in the middle of the living room, the dishes he used on the table or around his computer... I guess he's now used to me being around and collecting everything. Very, very bad habbit.

What bothers me most is the way he treats his cacao cups. Mr Bear loves drinking some strange beverage made of cacao powder, sugar and cold milk, the three of them not really mixed but rather added to each other in sort of layers. This strange preparation has the chemical particularity of resisting cleaning as soon as it's dry. So before you put them in the dishwasher, you need to fill the dirty cups with water, leave them for about thirty minutes then rince them. Mr Bear never, ever does that: he'll just leave the cup where he drank it and expect his home fairy (myself, unwillingly) to collect them, clean them, put them in the dishwasher then back to the shelf where they belong. And I hate it, partly because those dirty cups everywhere look terrible in the appartment, partly because when I gather the courage to fill in the dishwasher, I hate having to wait for the cacao to melt in water, and partly because I consider he could make this little effort himself.

So it's been a problem for a while. I asked, begged, raved, threatened: Mr Bear admits he should make an effort but won't. I became real angry and stopped talking to him for a while: he repented and brought his cups back to the kitchen for a couple of days, but it didn't last. So I didn't know what to do: I can't always play the angry girl, I hate it myself. Being nice didn't work, being mean didn't either, so I had only one solution: being clever.

The plan I imagined is quite simple. I just refused to bring his cups back to the kitchen anymore, neither the rest of his dishes. I decided to clean up my mess and leave his where it is. I made it clear I wouldn't touch anything on his desk or on the little table where he tends to leave his stuff: if he wants them to be cleaned, he'll need to bring them to the kitchen (and fill the cacao cups with water himself).

The disadvantage of all this is, I have to stand the view of this mess in the living room, but I hope it won't last. Meanwhile, the maths are on my side. Considering that:
- Mr Bear will only use for his cacao a certain sort of cup, and we have only six of those;
- Mr Bear drinks on average one cacao per evening;
- I won't use the diswasher if it's not full, which happens on average once every fifth day;
- Mr Bear will never do the dishes himself;
the conclusion is obvious: when he runs out of cups, he will bring them to the kitchen. Only bad luck, the dishes were done the day before, the diswasher is now almost empty. So he'll be out of cups for four more days. And that will be very, very annoying. Hopefully, he'll start reflecting: "maybe I should bring my cups to the kitchen as soon as they're empty, so that way I won't miss the next dishwasher run".

I've been trying this out for a couple of weeks and I realised I need to be patient. At first, his average use of cups decreased since he forgot to buy milk, so when he realised there was only one cup left, the dishwasher was almost full. The second time, he saw me while I was filling in the dishwasher and brought his cups right on time. But today... Today, he's out of cups: all of them are in the living room, dirty, and the dishwasher is running right now. Perfect timing. Now let's see how that works...


  1. Enorme, épique ! N'as-tu pas peur que ton ours lise ça, ou est-ce un secret espoir qu'il le fasse pour comprendre ce qui ne va pas ?

    Attention, il peut aussi la jouer malin :
    - installer son bureau dans la cuisine
    - acheter d'autres tasses au fur et à mesure qu'il en a besoin
    - ne plus les laver mais les utiliser quand même (certains collègues au bureau font ça plus ou moins avec une tasse à café qu'ils rincent rapidement à l'eau).

    Bon courage, tu vas gagner cette bataille ;-)

  2. *sigh* i'm not the tidy kind myself (paulo is!) but we make an effort to keep the mess minimal. in shanghai we eventually got a lady to do the hard cleaning once a week (when it's so cheap you start to wonder if you don't have better uses for your time), and around here, well... the house is just so tiny! anything out of place is probably a meter away from the right place - and in that case, might as well put it there... :)

    hang on in there, you're smart and your patience will be rewarded :)

  3. @Scribe: mon ours peut bien lire ça, c'est d'ailleurs en partie pour ça que je l'écris en anglais; de toutes façons je lui ai déjà exposé clairement mon plan. C'est fou comme il faut réfléchir dur pour un simple et bête truc comme ça. Quant aux solutions que tu proposes pour lui:
    - son bureau ne bougera pas d'où il est, il y a son ordi (devenu fixe par absence de batterie) et puis la table de la cuisine c'est MON bureau
    - les tasses ce sont des Iittala, il serait vite ruiné s'il devait en racheter à chaque fois
    - quand elles sont sales, comme le cacao n'est pas mélangé au lait, il colle au fond, c'est franchement pas réutilisable - et rincer ne suffit pas.

    Gniak gniak gniak... J'espère gagner cette bataille en effet, mais après il y aura la guerre du sac de sport, et puis la guerre des vêtements sales, il va vraiment falloir que je refourbisse mes armes !

  4. @Ana: you saw our place, it's not so big either, isn't it ? I don't mind doing one meter now, but if we keep on this ground and end up in a bigger place, I won't stand doing all the cleaning work by myself. That guy needs educating :D

  5. Oh Scribe, c'est horrible, tu avais raison !!! Il a vérifié dans l'armoire, dans le lave-vaisselle, dans l'égouttoir, pas de tasses; il n'y croyait pas alors il a été dans le salon les compter, il y en avait bien six; il en a ramené une, l'a nettoyée avec ses doigts sous l'eau du robinet, a essuyé la petite cuillère sur son t-shirt et s'est préparé son cacao... Pouah pouah et super pouah, quel tue-l'amour !!! Je crois que je vais pleurer là (je pleure déjà de rire)...

  6. Ntahlie tu n'aurais jamais dû sousestimer la faignatisse d'un homme ! Mais bon je suis de tout coeur avec toi dans cette guerre ! Fait aussi gaffe à ce qu'il ne commence pas à le boire dans d'autres tasses, histoire de ne vraiment pas faire la vaisselle !

  7. Les autres tasses sont plus petites, il n'aime pas les utiliser, mais je commence à me rendre compte qu'il est capable de tout ;) En tous cas merci de ton soutien Aily ;)

  8. Désolé d'avoir eu raison sur ce coup-là, effectivement il ne faut pas sous-estimer un ours ;-)

    Bonnes fêtes