This Dirty Plate

“What is this?” 

As I opened the trunk to retrieve the diaper bag, I encountered a plate. 

A dirty plate. And it wasn’t even our plate!

“Oh, Axel,” I sighed.

Then just last week Axel pulled a plastic bag out of his backpack. 

Is that a plate in your backpack!?

“Look! It’s another plate from work,” he said proudly. Again it had food remnants on it.

Over tamales at Maya, I took the chance to interview Axel about his system. 

“Can you explain why I found a dirty plate in the trunk?” I ask in what I won’t even pretend was a non-judgmental tone. 

“You picked me up one day after work and I placed an umbrella and the plate in the trunk and I forgot about them when we got home. Because it’s kind of odd to have a dirty plate in the trunk. That’s not something you remember.”

“But then later you had a plate in your backpack,” I pressed.

“My system has evolved. I now bag it and put it in my backpack so I’m more likely to notice it and wash it and bring it back to work.” 

If you’re going to carry a dirty plate around with you, in a bag is the way to do it.

More likely? Makes me wonder how many plates Axel has carried in that bag at a time.

“But why are you bringing the dirty plates home with you at all if they’re from the kitchen at work?”

“Well, I have to weigh the costs and benefits,” he tells me. 

“Please, say more.” 

“Well, missing my bus home and waiting an additional 25 minutes at a bus stop wouldn’t be worth taking the time to wash it.”

“Why are you forced to make that choice?” I ask. Some people might think one would have taken care of the plate before closing time.

“My office is too far away from the lounge,” he explains. 

“And… the plate can’t just stay in your office?” I mean, I wouldn’t want to leave a dirty plate in my office, but you never know.

“There are roaches in my office, so I can’t leave anything with food particles. Otherwise, you’re right, I would just leave it. Having a dirty plate with cockroaches on it is worse than just having a dirty plate.”

“In a bag, you mean. Or in the trunk.” 

“Please don’t judge me,” he says. 

Plates ready to be returned to work. But wait… are they sitting on the NOT-Shelf!?

“So how can we all apply the dirty plate in the bag to our lives?” I ask. Maybe I can learn something from this practice.

After thinking a minute and munching on a tortilla, Axel sums it up. “Sometimes the optimal outcome may raise eyebrows. It doesn’t mean that you stop in the pursuit of excellence.”

I laugh as I spoon up my final rice drenched in salsa from the salsa bar.

“I feel like I may not be super comfortable with this article by the way,” Axel says, eyeing me suspiciously as I take notes on my phone. “In fact, if you’re quoting me, I get fact-checking rights.”

Note: This post was fact-checked by Axel himself. Two edits were made.