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Delegation Is Hard, But It’s Worth Figuring It Out

·427 words·3 mins

It’s a familiar situation. You’re causing a stir in the kitchen. Looking for spices in our cabinets. To be fair to you, we don’t exactly have the ideal setup for retrieving spices. We have a lot of seasoning options, and they’re tucked away rather haphazardly, with the containers all different sizes and shoved basically anywhere that they’ll fit.

In order to browse through the options, you essentially have to pull out each and every container and line them up on the counter.

You’ve done this. And you can’t find the cloves. You’re making pumpkin pie and following a recipe that calls for them.

“You don’t actually need cloves to make pumpkin pie,” I tell you. “I usually just do it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Or cardamom subbed in for the ginger if we have it.” I tell you that I don’t love cloves. Because I don’t. Maybe it’s all those Sunday ham dinners where the cook went crazy with it. Cloves kind of taste like incense to me at this point. Kind of like incense, kind of like bubble bath. Either way, it’s nothing I want to eat.

But you’re insistent. You really want cloves. You love them, you say. And it won’t be so bad in the recipe, you assure me, since you’ll go heavy on the other seasonings.

I look through the cupboards and hand you the allspice. “Use this instead. It’s a great substitute for cloves.”

You’re suspicious at first about this suggestion. But after you consult with our standard adjudicator — the Honorable Judge Google — you discover I am correct. And you do so.

I retreat to the living room. There’s something profoundly bristly about you. Cranky.

You’re both insisting on doing all the cooking and seem put out that you’re doing all the work. I feel double bound. In these situations, I’ve learned to flee the situation for my own mental health.

A few moments later, you seek me out. You pet my head. Apologize for terseness. I ask if you’re okay. You admit you woke with a headache and dizziness. That you felt off. We brainstorm about causes and about fixes.

Finally, I ask you, “Is there anything I can do to help?” and this time, you’re open to it. You say yes. That I can beat 4 eggs. I do. And then you hand me your mise en place, and I finish making the filling for you.

The pie we bake together is beautiful.

Look, I get it. Delegation is hard. But it’s worth figuring out, isn’t it?


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