This is NOT the story of Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw, the characters featured in the popular management best-seller by Spencer Johnson. In fact, there are no boneheaded managers who speak in unintelligible metaphors they picked up while browsing the newsstands before their flight anywhere within fifty yards of this article.
No, this is the story of cheese.
In particular, who moved it.
See, one of the foibles of being single is the sometimes unfortunate necessity of Roommates. Now Roommates are different from significant others or spouses or children in that you don?t have any relationship with them, you can?t withhold sex or the remote control or Nintendo from them if they do something annoying. Roommates are different in that you can?t be unreasonable with them either.
No, Roommates are a different breed. You co-exist in a living space, but you each have your sacred amd holy don’t you come in here it’s my have to get away from you sanctuary space. If you’re friends, you may hang out together, and you may even do some of your grocery shopping together. If you’re just Roommates, you may even have a line drawn in the refrigerator.
But no matter what kind of Roommate you have, you have a routine. You know when she has to shower in order to make it to work in time, she knows when you like to make your call for takeout. You move around each other, making sure you don’t touch their belongings, making sure you don’t annoy them. God knows you need their contribution to the rent and utilities; you don’t want to make her mad.
She is used to seeing your things, too. She is used to your groceries in the kitchen. She knows what brand of cereal you buy, what brand of tofu you prefer, what kind of milk you keep on hand.
And then you go and mess it all up by changing your way of eating.
Suddenly the tofu is missing. There is no more skim milk. You’ve thrown away all the cereal. In their place are heavy cream, sirloin steak, and blocks of cheese.
And then she catches you cooking.
She approaches trepidaciously, points to the shiny metal things on the stove and says, “What are those?”
“These are pots,” you reply, and you think, didn’t we cover this last month?
She circles you, watching. She opens and closes the fridge and few times, totally baffled by the changes in there.
“How am I supposed to know what’s yours now?” she wails. “It’s all different.” You assure her that the line you once drew across the shelves can be redrawn. You tell her things will be a little different now, though. You’ll be cooking, you’ll be exercising, and you will be borrowing her size smaller clothes soon. Your Roommate shakes her head and walks back to her sanctuary, muttering something abou”strange foods” and “Hem and Haw.”
“Hey!” you call after her. “There’ll be none of that management mumbo-jumbo in this house!”
A few days later, you’ve gotten past the carb withdrawal headaches, you’ve begun wandering around the house chanting “dietary fat does not make you fat,” and you are scaring the locals with your keto breath.
You reach into the fridge for a piece of cheese, thrilled that THIS can be your snack, and it’s gone.
“HEY!” you shout. “WHO MOVED MY CHEESE???”
“I thought you said , ‘No management mumbo-jumbo in this house,’” your Roommate snidely suggests.
“Look!” you exclaim in horror. “Where the heck is my cheese? I need my cheese! I have to have my low carb snacks or I?m gonna DIIIIIIIIIE!” Admittedly, induction is making you a bit of a drama queen, but you might as well milk it for all its worth. After all, she’s the one who pitches a fit every time you leave a drop of toothpaste in the sink. It’s only fair, right?
“You never used to eat cheese, so I thought it was mine,” she replies meekly. “Everything’s so different now. You’re cooking, you’re weighing yourself all the time, there’s foreign food in the fridge, and your breath stinks.” She shrinks into the corner. “I just can’t handle this…this…change. I’m scared. Hold me.”
You stifle a laugh and realize that even though you are the only one on this new WOE, you’re not the only one this affects. You sit her down on the couch and explain how this all works. You explain why it’s time for you to make a change in your life. You show her all the foods you’re eating. You redraw the line in the fridge. And you assure her that you’ll start using the Listerine Breath Strips.
And that may be all it takes. Living with someone else, especially someone you’re not related to or sleeping with, requires a bit more care sometimes, and it often requires some compromise and understanding. Just like Dr. Johnson says in Who Moved My Cheese?, it’s important to help those around you understand that change happens and to anticipate change. Since you’re making the change happen, it’s up to you to monitor it, help everyone adapt to the change, and to be able to enjoy the change.
And if all else fails, get a Sharpie. And start putting your name on your cheese.