The Kettle Conundrum


Why a stove top kettle when electric ones are so much faster and cheaper?


This question had first been posed to me a few months ago, and when I took a moment to polish the kettle which had become a target for all the splatters that my well-used stove-top collects over time, I found myself revisiting the question.

Life has this way of packing every moment of each day full of things that we seem to have no choice but to do. Chores, responsibilities, work… they pile up and pile up, leaving us feeling like we’ve run out of time; that one resource that we never seem to have enough of. We spend our time, and often we feel as though we really have no choice in the manner of our spending. Our day starts and we allot two minutes to the brushing of teeth, ten minutes to the eating of breakfast, five minutes to staring aimlessly into our closet and fifteen minutes to a shower. We slice up, and block out our days into little segments, and when it’s all said and done we bemoan the way in which we were forced to chop it up and utilize the meager little slivers we are left with after the main responsibilities are taken care of.

This obsession with time, or our lack thereof, changes things. It might just be the single greatest factor in how this world has changed over the last hundred years.

Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you. During wartimes, life changed, and one of the factors that changed was that women began to work when the men were gone and a great portion of their time was allotted to a new responsibility. They had to choose how to spend the remainder that was left to them. Cooking dinner and taking care of the house became a chore. This one factor helped catapult us into the age of tv dinners, fast-food and the honey-sweet nectar of convenience. Things that were quick and easy were better- and it didn’t matter if they were of good quality or not, because they saved time. And time is so much more precious – isn’t it?

If things are easy, and cheap, we can have more of them. And more is always better — isn’t it?

So the fast, cheap and easy mentality spread around like cheap harlot, and we gained back the time we thought we had lost and frittered it away on television and video games and all the luxuries that we can have because of how cheaply they are made.

We learnt that we can have everything right now. If we don’t have the money, we can use a credit card. If an item is too expensive to make, we can make something similar, just cheaper, and the people will gobble it up. It might be made by little children somewhere in a factory where the conditions are so horrible we wouldn’t dream of allowing our dogs to live there. But it’s ok, because they make us products that are affordable, and easy to acquire and we save time we would need to spend working to make more money, so the price is acceptable.

Our chickens are grown in the half the time. Pesticides and herbicides control the problems that arise from monoculture farming. There’s a fast food restaurant on every second corner. We can buy clothes more cheaply than it would cost us to make them if we bought the material and resources ourselves. This is the mark of progress. Of advancement. We are kings, rulers and this is our right.

This is what we are leaving for our children. Food in boxes; filled with chemicals, preservatives and things we can’t pronounce. A language evolving from the desire to send text messages quickly. A poor and bastardized version of what English is supposed to be. It might be losing all of the nuances, all of the emotion, all of the connection that speech or perhaps a proper letter, might be able to convey — but it’s quick!

Life rushes by faster and faster the older you get and we think to ourselves that all we need is just a little more time. But what do we sacrifice for that time? Is it worth it?

If everything is ready right now, does it help us? It certainly doesn’t teach us how to wait. Where does it lead us? To food we eat for convenience, for the ease of it, rather than for the exquisite flavor or nutritional value. Products that help us achieve things faster, but perhaps not better. It makes us spoiled, greedy.

Maybe that five minutes where you have no choice but to stop for a moment and pause in your busy day, is actually a good thing. Wait for the water to boil. Breathe a little. Pick up a book.

So I have a stove top kettle. It even whistles when it’s ready. It takes a little longer, sure, but the thing is, it has no electronics to burn out, and it should actually last a while if I treat it right.

Who knows, maybe the world would be a slightly better place if we all sat back and waited for the kettle to boil. If we took that moment to think about the true costs behind ease and convenience. The sacrifices that have been made to save us five minutes or a buck.

I believe that sometimes it is necessary choose the more time consuming or expensive option, not because it is easy, but because it is the right choice. Better isn’t always cheap or quick, but it is still always better. And if we want to leave behind a better world, then that is exactly what we must choose.

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