Recently I was standing at the kitchen sink at our home scrubbing some potatoes. The pot was boiling with salted water on the stove top. All that was left to do was peel and cut them. We had invited guests for dinner and I was a bit behind schedule. Normally we don’t peel potatoes (we like the extra fiber in the skins) but not being familiar with the tastes of our guests, I decided to peel them. I reached for a paring knife that was within easy reach on the wooden counter top, and started to remove the brown skin and blemishes on the outer surface of the potatoes. Glancing at the clock, I realized our guests would be arriving soon and I needed to speed things up. I began to use the knife with vigor, chopping and hacking at the blemished spots and letting them drop into the compost bin. Looking at the peels, I noticed that I was getting quite a bit of good potato in with the peelings and felt a tinge of guilt about wasting potato. Then I remembered that the potatoes had been given to me by my friend Joe, whose brother had raised them on his farm. I kept peeling with the knife rather than taking a moment to walk three steps to the other side of my kitchen to retrieve my peeler.
Then I caught myself, I was embarrassed. I was actually thinking it was all right to waste potato because I did not buy them. I did not have any direct investment in them, and due to poor planning, I was in a hurry, which helped me to justify my decision that it was somehow all right to waste them, not to utilize them to their fullest potential and take advantage of the gift from my friend. I had, pun intended, no skin in the game.
Then my mind flashed to another scene in another kitchen. I could picture my Nana Hilda. Years ago, when I was a young girl I watched her scrape the paper with a knife after she had unwrapped a stick of butter. I loved my Nana very much and she passed away over 10 years ago but I could clearly picture her standing in the kitchen uttering under her breath “Waste not, want not.” I smiled at her memory descending over me in my own kitchen and was ashamed of myself. I took a few moments, walked to the other side of the kitchen and rummaged through my drawer. I found the potato peeler and proceeded to finish the job properly. I felt a sense of accomplishment as I put the peeled and sliced potatoes in the pot to cook.
Another thought came into my mind. How careful are the politicians with our tax dollars, aka potatoes? How carefully do they use what is peeled out of our pockets into the general fund coffers in Augusta? How much skin in the game do they have when it comes to using our money in a wise and frugal manner? I hope that going forward they will work together to be responsible stewards of our hard-earned money. We need to come up with serious solutions to our economic woes rather than pandering for votes.
A third generation Mainer, Paula Sutton lives in Warren with husband and dog Max. Small business background with 35 plus years in the workforce as a taxpayer and employer. She currently is a State Senate Candidate for District 12 and is serving as vice-chairman for the Knox County Republicans.