One Second Microwave

My coworker and friend walked into my office and said, “I just went to use the microwave and someone had just left it on one second!”

My other coworker/friend agreed “Ugh, I hate that!”

[image description: a microwave with 1 second left on it. End description.]

I sat there, knowing for certain that I was the one who had left it on one second. For a fraction of a moment I felt overwhelmingly embarrassed and ashamed — a relic of a childhood need to never ever make any mistakes or inconvenience anybody in any way — then I reminded myself that this was not a big deal. (And for what it’s worth, neither of the other parties were talking like it was a big deal either! Just casual venting.)

I said “oh, it’s me who did it! I’m sorry, I didn’t know it bothered anybody.”

My coworkers were surprised and wondered why, to which I didn’t have a good immediate response. It was just what I always did! The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I could explain it. “I think I prefer not to hear it beep, so I stop it right before it beeps.”

It’s not even that the beep is horrendously loud or that I’m deeply overwhelmed. It’s just like, if I have the option to simply pull a handle or push a button and avoid excess noises, my sensory system is perfectly happy to do that — so happy to do that that I’d never even given it a conscious thought.

My coworkers agreed that this made sense and also reassured me that it was truly not a big deal—like I said, no one was making it a big deal in the first place. And I agreed that I could totally understand why it would be annoying in a workplace environment, I just hadn’t ever thought of it before.

I still stop microwaves at 1 second, I just also hit the “clear” button before I walk away from them. One beep instead of multiple.

This is the same reason that at my house, half the time I’ll just use the toilet in the dark, or turn on the hallway light switch and leave the door open, rather than pull the corded light switch in our bathroom. I can avoid two “k-chunk” noises with one simple trick!

When I notice children are doing things in an unusual, inefficient, or annoying way…it helps me to remember that there might be an internal logic process that I don’t know about, maybe that they don’t even know about. People have reasons for why they do things, and children are people!