Copywriter, Journalist, and Content Coach

Who Decides These Things?

Stocksnap —

A while back, I had to move 4 times in less than two years, carting all my things from place to place. (Don’t ask.) I moved a half-empty box of cornstarch, some toothpicks, light bulbs, half a roll of scotch tape. Hey, you never know. Took all my linens, too, some of which were decades old.

I’m not a hoarder, by any means. I have, for instance, one wooden spoon and one spatula. Who needs more than one? It’s not like you’re going to wield one in each hand. You need one hand to hold the bowl, right?I knew enough not to move food, and I did get rid of two-thirds of my books (that I regret).

As I settled into place #2, I took out my shower curtain, thinking it might not fit. It’d be too short or too narrow or something, especially since the house I’d moved to was quite old. I hung it up. It was just the right length. “How lucky!” I thought. Same thing in place #3, which was modern, and #4, which was a 50s house. “Huh!” I thought.

I unpacked one of those over-the-door towel racks, not sure it’d fit the doors in each place. Same deal. It did just fine with all ages and kinds of doors. Then the kitchen-drawer utensil trays—you know, for the one wooden spoon and the one spatula and the single set of flatware (plus nutcrackers and tiny forks for picking lobster apart. Like you ever get a real lobster on the west coast.) I arranged them into the drawers, used every one, and they fit together just fine. I had room for everything. Not too much, and not too little. There was just the right amount of space for dishes in the cupboard, complete with racks for plates, mugs, and bowls. Linen closets, and bathroom cabinets, ditto. Just right for lil’ ol’ Goldilocks.

Okay, okay, Graydilocks.

Then I started noticing other things. My dust ruffle was just long enough to cover the box spring. And say, the quilt was just long enough to overlap the dust ruffle by a couple of inches.

Towel racks are just wide enough for two towels, folded in thirds lengthwise. Bottles of aspirin are the right size for bathroom cabinets—unless you’re all Costco and buy everything in econo-size. I bought a new covered wastebasket for the kitchen. The trash bags I bought later fit the opening snugly, and reached just as far as the bottom of the bin. Dish racks often fit in sinks. Sinks have the right size opening for garbage disposals, no matter what brand you get. This conspiracy goes deep. Very deep.

I get it that tool gauges, weights, and measures have to be standardized. It makes sense that roads and sidewalks are a certain minimum width. But what about all this other stuff?

Who decides these things? Aren’t we operating in a free-market economy? But no, it seems. All the games have been rigged, and they’ve been rigged since the beginning of the age of mass manufacturing. Except one.

Curtains. You can never use the curtains from the old house in the new house. Window curtains are the last bastion, the final outpost, of the truly free market. Damn them! You people should have some standards.