Every morning for the last few months, I gingerly sidled around my desk to reach the window blinds. Frequently, I knocked over one or two items on the way, since the path to the window is narrow. This morning I realized that if I moved my desk back by about an inch and a half, I wouldn’t have to suck in my breath to access the blinds. Duh!
One of my more frustrating kitchen moments comes when I hold a dirty plate and can’t figure out if the dishwasher ran. Is it full of clean dishes or did I just do such a good job of rinsing that they look clean but aren’t? For $4.98 I purchased a panel which sticks on the appliance. It has a sliding door which, when moved, uncovers the words, “dirty” or “clean.” When I remember to use it (o.k., the system isn’t perfect) it eliminates needing to carefully peruse each item in the dishwasher trying to determine its sanitary rating. Duh!
Over the years, I have lost a fair number of my favorite earrings. These weren’t expensive jewelry, but earrings that I particularly liked. They shared a common component. They all had an open back. It is embarrassing to say how recently I discovered that for a few dollars, I could buy a package of plastic rings which fit over the back of these types of earrings, stopping them from accidentally slipping off. Duh!
Life is full of these “duh” moments. Sometimes you see another person doing something clever. Sometimes you hear an advertisement for exactly what you need. Sometimes, a light bulb goes off in your head as you look around you with fresh eyes. The solutions are usually inexpensive; they are frequently free. They often make you metaphorically slap your forehead in dismay at your prior obtuseness.
Sometimes companies have a Duh! moment. If you are above a certain age you might remember when the Hershey’s baking cocoa box had a ridiculous circle through which you were supposed to spoon out the product. Invariably, the powder spilled and you could never get the last bit out of the container. One day, that hole disappeared and under the lid was a completely open top. The new design probably even cost less to manufacture. Duh!
Frequently, pronouncements of academics sound like Duh! statements. This morning’s Wall Street Journal had two doozies. The editorial summed up the ideas of one of this year’s Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Thomas Sargent, as, “…people do not respond passively to changes in economic policy or circumstances. They anticipate future conditions and adjust according to their best interests.” I am sure that Mr. Sargent, and his co-winner Christopher Sims, have done worthwhile work. But, really, are you shocked to hear that the idea that people change their behavior in response to economic reward and punishment? One can only say -Duh! Another article proclaimed, “Tots as young as 3 can be generous while others are inclined to hog.” Children’s personalities aren’t all identical? Duh!
All in all, I prefer my own Duh! moments. I cannot exaggerate the pleasure I get from opening my blinds, knowing when to run the dishwasher or confidently donning my earrings. As an added bonus, no tax dollars were involved in my epiphanies and no animals or people were harmed in the process.