What a dull knife taught me

An acquaintance of mine once found herself in a jam and needed to chop a bushel of tomatoes for a sandwich wagon she would run the next day at an art show. I wanted to help out and offered to chop the tomatoes.

“Show me your knife.”

I pulled it from a drawer. She seemed satisfied enough that it was separated from other implements of destruction. She produced a tomato and asked me to cut it. I pressed the blade to the tomato skin.

I drew it across the skin where it bunched, squashing through the locular cavity. Juice squirted out and seeds dislodged from their placenta. In short, I ripped it with a very dull knife. I’d had the knife a few years and it never occurred to me to sharpen it. With this knife, I’d have better luck making tomato sauce.

“I’ll be right back.” She left through the front door and in her absence I experienced intense tomato shame. What could I do with this poor tomato? Did she want it back? Should I throw it away? Should I keep it? Is a ruined tomato edible? (Yes it is, with salt & pepper, please.) She returned only moments later with a different kind of knife.“Try this.”

I had just started to lay the blade on the skin and it basically fell through the tomato, cutting it so cleanly that I gasped. She laughed and told me when she would be back for them. I couldn’t get over how little effort it took to chop those tomatoes. It didn’t occur to me that I’d been struggling until I wasn’t.

That became a life lesson not only about keeping blades sharp but taking care of “my tools” whatever they might be.  This same lesson informed my decision to get a better word program when my writing became more serious.

Are you trying to accomplish something right now using a dull tool? If you can’t find a way to sharpen it you might need to replace it. The time wasted trying to make it work will be better spent elsewhere.

Do you have a “Dull Knife” story? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for coming by today. I hope to see you next time.