How very simple (minded) of you

My neighbor’s garbage cans were the inspiration for this post.Open steel trash can

Yes, I’m digging deep.

As I walked by them yesterday, I was reminded of a time when she left them at the curb for four days.

Go on. Guess.




Not at all.



It seems she has a rule. Her husband brings in the garbage cans. Or someone else. But never her.


None of my beeswax. Fine, fine, fine. But it got me thinking . . .

. . . about people who make and follow what seem to be some very simple (minded) rules.

Garbage cans are not my neighbor’s purview, obviously. So, when her husband was out of town for the week, hers sat.

I cannot help but wonder, what would she do if he left her? Would the cans sit for years on end until a suitable suitor settled in and took care of the can hauling?

And how is that any way to live?

I wonder how she came to this very absolute stance on garbage cans, of all things.

In similar fashion, an old friend from Catholic school still eschews eating meat every single Friday during Lent. This is a rule of the church. The nuns always told us it would make us more holy because we were denying ourselves something. Sacrificing.

But my friend? She doesn’t even like meat. No sacrifice there.

I ask her why she requires her kids to follow this rule.

“Because it’s a church rule, so we should follow it,” she tells me.

“Do you know that rule was really put in place by the pope centuries ago to help out the fishing industry in Italy?” I ask. “It had nothing to do with being holy.”

Rules Concept“But it’s still a rule,” she said. “So my kids have to follow it.”

I stopped there. Again, none of my beeswax.

But something sticks in my craw. Garbage cans and forgoing your carnivore habit one day per week are pretty innocuous.

Extrapolate, people.

This type of thinking is along the lines of . . .

. . . . I cannot bend to accommodate change. We have rules and we follow them, so the stinky garbage cans will be waiting for you when you get off of the plane. Welcome home, honey. Rules are more important than my thoughtfulness.

. . . the church tells me it’s wrong to be gay so I can no longer be friends with someone who is. Buh bye, childhood pal. You’re on your own to burn in hell. It’s a rule. . . . and rules are not to be questioned.

Of course, in the spirit of this post, I’m oversimplifying.

Rules are certainly comforting for little lost sheep. Not so much for the rest of us.

I envy you your simplicity, oh you for whom the world is so clearly laid out in black and white.

But not your simple (mindedness).





11 Comments Add yours

  1. Many times in the past I’ve been told to do [something] in a particular way (usually a not very efficient way, either) and when I would protest, I got the response to just do it because “that’s the way we’ve always done it….” Fastest way to motivate me to change, usually in a snit, too.
    To blindly follow rules is one of the worse forms of slavery.
    Thanks for the post…

    1. candidkay says:

      When we give up our power of discernment, we give up too much. I agree.

  2. markbialczak says:

    Some people would rather not think about the big picture, Kay. Adherence to these “because they’ve always said so” rules is their handiest avoidance technique. Some of them — no-garbage neighbor, perhaps — may not want to think at all!

  3. Rules keep people safe and they help people feel secure. Stepping into the unknown, developing and discovering our own insights and beliefs requires us to let go of our fear and trust. Not for the faint-hearted or simple-minded. Great post 🙂

  4. Over many years as a journalist, I had to abide by house “style” (just another name for “rules”) for writing. Sometimes, the house style was made up by someone who had got it wrong, but we had to do it that way because it was “style”. I’d say, “But it’s wrong—why can’t we change it?”, only to be told “style is style”, which doesn’t make sense at all. This included having to write “all that glitters” instead of the correct “all that glisters”.

  5. It is unbelievable how some people are so blinkered in their thinking.
    I think divorce teaches us to understand how baseless some rules truly are.

  6. Dale says:

    Oh I so know people like that!!! I was thinking the same thing ~ what if he didn’t come back? Seriously, there are scads of “jobs” here that were not my department but guess what? They are now…

    I could tell you a whole story on simple mindedness from my sister’s in-laws but that would take up a whole post. Suffice it to say they managed to ruin a lovely wedding by insisting on following age-old rules that may (or may not) still apply back in the old country…

    1. candidkay says:

      I think we do need a blog post on that one! Too good not to share.

      1. Dale says:

        We do indeed!

  7. trillie says:

    People like this make me want to stick a pencil in my eye. And usually, that’s all you can do about them too, because they sure as *** aren’t going to change their mind 😦

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Drop me a line.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s