In Entstehung

How hot plates became a symbol of rebellion to a woman


How hot plates became a symbol of rebellion to a woman
(Deutsche Version)                                                                 Maria Smettan 2015

I am a woman and I hate it, when people (especially other women) think I have to help cleaning the dishes because of that.

I wonder if men hate it, when people (especially other men) assume they would love to do the barbecuing.

The likelihood that hot plates became a symbol of rebellion to me had definitely been below 0.1%.

If a paternity-test results in 99.9% likelihood that a specific man is the father, no one ever considers the other 0.1%.

In consequence I must have hit the improbability-drive-button to end up rebelling with hot plates.

So I went abroad for half a year and like in any improbability-drive the destination has been a bit random. To be honest, I had to look it up on a map. Being a lazy person it was wonderful to simply apply for an accommodation instead of searching on my own. In the application form you could choose between self-catered and catered rooms. The catered rooms included a certain amount of money for a catering card within the rent, because there wasn’t any space to cook provided. In the rent of the self-catered rooms you could optionally include the catering card. The money on the catering card was debited from your bank account whether you actually did or didn’t spend it. At the end of each month any credit left on the catering card simply expired.

Pretty soon we found out that everyone, who would have taken a catering card anyway, got the self-catering rooms. Those, who explicitly didn’t want a catering card, got the catered rooms. Thus, they had to pay for a catering card as well.

I am sure there must have been some innocent mistake behind it and no economic reasons whatsoever.

No need to tell that I got a catered room and that one of my first actions was to buy some hot plates.

Those of you, who think this story is almost over, are quite mistaken, because it got even curiouser and curiouser.

At first I put the hot plates in the common kitchen. Yes, the catered rooms had a very tiny kitchen with a kettle, a toaster, a sink and a fridge in it.

Believe it or not, we had a paid mentor who had to come around and look after our well-being. He took his job very seriously and reported our newest addition. The next time he visited, he informed us to get rid of the hot plates. He added that the university is very concerned about our well-being and that we might cause a fire with the plates.

Dear people at home, if you have any regard for your safety and that of those around you: Stop cooking at home to prevent fires!

Again this decision wasn’t motivated by any economic considerations. The people in the self-catered rooms could cancel their catering card at any time, because they had the opportunity to cook for themselves.

By the way, it is pretty easy to put a toaster accidentally on fire. Nevertheless, we were allowed to keep the toaster and not to mention the kettle. In my youth I have learned by my school director that a kettle is indeed a very dangerous device.

Back in those days we had persuaded our teachers to keep a kettle in the classroom. In the classes the teachers allowed it we drank instant coffee and tea. However, very soon we had to remove the kettle from the classroom. Our director told us, it was too dangerous, we could cause a fire.

The real reason for it must have had something to do with the fact that whine was allowed at our school graduation party and beer wasn’t. Appearances mattered deeply to our director.

After using a kettle safely for many years, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t set the house on fire by using the hot plates.

Thus, I simply removed them from the kitchen and put them in my own room.

I have to admit, cooking is so much more fun when it is forbidden. You have to consider when the mentor might make his round, so that he doesn’t smell freshly cooked food.

Very exciting.

I have never enjoyed cooking so much in my entire life, and so far haven’t again.

At the end of my stay abroad I donated the hot plates to Oxfam. While handing them over I suddenly realised how deeply attached I’ve grown to them.

They had become far more than simply hot plates to me. I grew aware that they symbolised an act of rebellion to me.

A rebellion against silly rules and walking mindlessly in line. I realised that I do make my own decisions every day and that I do not have to follow every rule there is.

And I realised something else.

This must have been the first time in history that hot plates became a symbol of rebellion to a woman.