Sometimes our actions appear as reflexes from our past. And we find ourselves repeating, without thought, memories from long ago.
When I find a tube of toothpaste with a bulge of paste at the tail end, I growl to everyone and no one in particular, “You have to squeeze the tube from the bottom.”
My wife will look at me inquisitively and ask, “Why is that such an issue?”
The only reply I can muster is, “Well, it just is.”
Last night, while brushing my teeth and considering the pending vote of doom, I looked at the tube of toothpaste and drifted back to my youth. I can remember time and again my father barking that very same growl. But he had reason.
Go back 30 years and a couple of squeezes in the middle ripped open the tail of the tube, sending globs of toothpaste out the wrong end. A real mess, and a waste of paste — my father’s main concern.
So that’s where the growl originated – with my father’s penny-pitching ways. I now act on reflex, repeating the very same words I heard years ago.
But as I looked at the tube on the countertop last night, I realized my wife is right – there is no longer an issue.
At some point over the past three decades, toothpaste companies switched from feckless seals to ones that can withstand almost anything — even the weight of someone standing on the middle of the tube (hyperbole warning: do not try this at home).
I never asked companies to switch and improve. And they never bragged they did. But they did.
The free market works to improve products and services to meet wants that we – the consumers – never express.
All things considered, the market for toothpaste tubes is still free. And it is still improving. But what of health care run by the state? Does anyone think the state has any concern for the paste spilling out the tail end?