The women have probably been waiting all along for a suggestion for a practical application of the Mental Filing System to their own activities. This is dedicated to the ladies, and I hope to show them how to save extra steps and minimize exasperation by systematizing one of their daily household duties — making a shopping list.
The use of the Mental Filing System instead of a written shopping list is the solution to your troubles. You make up your list as you go along, and retain it in your head. You can’t leave it on the kitchen table. The Mental Filing System, used every day, will prove to be much more convenient and reliable than the old-fashioned shopping list. I know women who regard it as just as necessary a part of their household equipment as the kitchen range. Errands, groceries, and all needed household supplies are filed at the very moment that you first notice a need for them. If you happen to be scrubbing the bathroom sink when you notice that there is only a thin sliver of toilet soap left, you file soap at once on your list of key words. You don’t have to dry your hands or hunt for a pencil to do this.
Let us take a typical grocery list and see how the items may be filed reliably on the fifteen key words we already know. Imagine you are planning a chicken dinner for Sunday, and you will have to get these things at the store:
15. Salad dressing.
Here we go.
The butter has melted and is running all over the alarm clock. You attempt to pick up the alarm clock, but it is so greasy with the melted butter that it slips out of your hand into the tub of butter. You are oiling the works of the alarm clock with butter. Alarm clock — butter.
The eggs are broken in your husband’s trousers pockets. You put your hand in the trousers pocket and get the sticky egg all over your hand. Then you wipe the egg off on to the trousers. Trousers — eggs.
The syrup is running all over the chair. You sit down in the chair and the syrup sticks you to the seat of the chair so that you can’t get up. Chair — syrup.
The sugar bowl is upset and the sugar is spilled all over the table and the flies are buzzing around it. Your family sits down to the table and has nothing to eat but sugar. Table — sugar.
Strawberries — ripe, red, juicy strawberries — are mashed all over the newspaper. You probably mash the strawberries when you pick up the newspaper. Your newspaper is buried in straw. Newspaper — strawberries.
You are pouring vinegar all over your automobile. In fact, you are washing your automobile in vinegar. You run out of gas, so you fill up the tank of the automobile with vinegar. A bottle of vinegar breaks and runs all over the seat of the automobile. Automobile — vinegar.
Red, juicy tomatoes are splattered and mashed all over the policeman. You realize a lifelong ambition and throw a tomato at the policeman, hitting him square on the nose. Policeman — tomatoes.
Chickens are in all the compartments of the revolving door. As you go through the revolving door, the chickens fly up in your face. See the feathers flying in the door. Maybe you mash a chicken in the revolving door and it bleeds all over the revolving door. Revolving door — chicken.
A bottle of milk is broken in the mailbox and is running out all down the sides of the mailbox. Mailbox — milk.
A bunch of bananas is hanging on the bars of the general-delivery window. Possibly you sit in the general-delivery window every morning eating a banana. General-delivery window — bananas.
See dozens and dozens of sacks of flour broken all over the sidewalk. Sidewalk — flour.
There is a large urn of coffee in the center of the elevator with steam arising from it. Everyone riding up in the elevator is drinking coffee. Elevator — coffee.
The floor is covered with onions and people are sitting on the floor peeling the onions and crying their eyes out. Your eyes begin to water from the onions as you step on to the floor. Floor — onions.
The doctor is munching on a big head of lettuce. The doctor holds the lettuce out to you and says, “Let us eat more lettuce.” Doctor — lettuce.
You want to get into bed, but the bed is overflowing with salad dressing. You are mixing a salad on the bed and pouring salad dressing on it. You are dressing when you see the bed covered with salad dressing. Bed — salad dressing.
I believe you will find that one reading, without repetition, will fix this list in your mind for several hours.