The Clean-Counter Policy begins now.

Of course, the most obvious difference between the Clean-Counter Policy and the Clean-Cupboard Policy lies in the location of the policy implementation. From there, however, additional differences arise when one reviews the history and procedures of both policies.

We should recall that the Clean-Cupboard Policy was born more than five years ago out of necessity. And that the ants crawled around and into the cupboards, their invasion only momentarily deterred by surface measures—i.e., cleaning agents sprayed on paper towels and wiped on their path. The discovery and removal of their true source—or, more accurately, their true destination—of course proved vital. But what also proved necessary was the eradication of explanations that tried to diminish the role of that open box of candy—e.g., “The ants always swarm into the kitchen during this particular time of year,” or “We had ants like this when I was growing up” (subpoint: “and you know how clean my mother kept our house”). Because excuses, we have learned, only detract from real and grave mistakes.

So now. To review the resulting procedures. The first step taken after the removal of the candy box was the removal of all other open boxes. This included pasta. Followed by cookies. Partially unsealed packages. All items of some dispute. As well as, in pursuit of the new open-space mandate of the Clean-Cupboard Policy—the what-you-see-is-what-you-get standard—the removal of that which quite rightly has been called “questionable forays into the ethnic aisles of area grocery stores.”

Pursuant to the Clean-Cupboard Policy, all dishes were removed. All remaining boxes and cans as well. The interior space of every cupboard then was cleaned with soap and water. With hot soapy water. The entire interior space of the cupboards was dried out, everything was returned to its old—or new—place. And the policy from there on dictated “No stacking,” “No piling,” “No residual trace of crumbs.” Or, of anything that might appear to be a crumb. As in “Is this a crumb I see? Well it sure looks like one to me.”

Also, there was the “No open boxes that are not contained in Ziploc bags” rule. And “Some boxes must be contained in double Ziploc bags.” And finally, the rigorous enforcement of the larger principle of the Clean-Cupboard Policy. Which is: If things look bad, they in fact are bad. Because it is fair for appearances to dictate conclusions. And because the Clean-Cupboard Policy, in addition to ensuring clean cupboards, also leads us to the larger understanding of the relationship between appearance and reality.

For if we ignore the most feeble attempts to explain that relationship—including efforts to spell out or track down associated word origins or derivations. If, instead you recall your name. And her name. All listed clearly under the Full Confession Policy. All revealed fully as part of the Let-Me-See-All-Your-Emails Mandate. The Show-Me-Your-Cell-Phone-Log Ruling. The “what day what time what did she wear what did you say how long were you there did my name come up and tell me the next yes I want to hear that part too.”

All the while remembering, even as you speak, that if you really want to say, You put me in circumstances that forced me to work far below my true potential. That I then must respond, So let’s start from the top again, and when you get to the end, just think about whether you really want to play that blame game. Or, alternately, Let’s start from the top and keep going to the top until you can say what you know you’re supposed to in the end.

Because. If we truly want to enforce the “Never again” pledge. (Not to be confused with “Never again, and I promise it meant nothing to me.”) Then we make actions. Not promises.


I want you to come with me to the counter. And then I want you to tell me about that spot. And then that one—the other one. The one there. And I want you to think very carefully about what you’re going to say. Just—. I mean it. Now think. Stop. The one that’s right there. Before you say another word.