The Lesson of the 3-Tined Fork
by Sharon Flemings

Many years ago, I was traveling through western Pennsylvania to a destination I can’t even recall. My companions and I stopped at one of the outlet malls so prevalent (at least in those days) in that part of the state. There, I found a set of truly interesting flatware (okay, so flatware is not very exciting) – just what I was looking for to be included in my future home. Little did I know how unusual the forks were.

This particular set of flatware was a more old-fashioned design consisting of pistol-grip knife handles and 3-tined forks. Yes, both the dinner and salad forks had 3 tines, rather than the standard four. I suppose the fact that the design of this set was a little unusual was part of the charm. In any case, I purchased the set and put it away in storage for several years, until I had my own home.

As it turned out, that flatware set served me well, and lasted until my daughter reached the age where she was ready to start eating with “big people silverware”. She didn’t realize there was anything unusual about the style of the forks – she had grown up with them, and had great success eating with them.

Several years later, it came time to replace that flatware set. Of course, there was nothing offered that was the same design (yes, I was still partial to that set), so we selected something that was as close as possible to what we already had. We took the new set home, washed them and put them away in the drawers.

Later that evening, we had set the table with the new silverware and sat down to eat. My daughter picked up her fork, and promptly pronounced, “These forks aren’t made right. They have 4 pointy things to pick up the food”. It’s all in our perspective, isn’t it?

Each of us grows very comfortable in our routines and methods, but that is just where the creativity and innovation can start to fail us. Techniques change over time, and new, exciting innovations and discoveries are just around the corner if we are each willing to challenge the status quo.

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