Remember to Turn on the Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Meng Xin

PureInsight | March 17, 2003

[] I don't like to turn on the exhaust fan above the stove in the kitchen when I cook. It is noisy and I am the kind of person who really likes peace and quiet. But my husband takes turning on the exhaust fan very seriously. He turns on the exhaust fan even when toasting two pieces of bread in order to avoid activating the sensitive smoke detector.

At the beginning, our difference on this issue was not a source of major conflict. But after the alarm went off twice in a row from the smoke in the kitchen while I was cooking, my husband became concerned about it. The next time he saw me cook without turning on the exhaust fan, he said, "Why don't you turn on the exhaust fan?" Then he told me to turn it on right then and asked me to remember it next time. But I still did not feel that it is necessary to turn on the exhaust fan if the oily smoke is not very thick as I really hated the noise it makes. But my husband's ire made me reluctant to explain it to him. I just found his attitude a little irritating. From then on, each time he saw me cook without turning on the exhaust fan first, my husband would become more and more annoyed. He would raise his voice and tell me to turn on the exhaust fan. He thought I have a bad memory and forget to turn on the fan every single time. I guess he hoped that his strong reaction would make me remember to turn on the fan the next time. To be honest, all he made me feel was a stronger and stronger sense of irritation as time went on.

My husband's conviction towards turning on the exhaust fan is so strong that my son has grown to share his viewpoint. Although he is young, our son accepts the idea of turning on the exhaust fan when cooking. One day, I was at home with my son and my husband was not yet home. When I started cooking without turning on the exhaust fan first, my son who was playing in the living room quickly ran to the kitchen, stood on his tiptoes, and turned on the exhaust fan. He said, "OK, Mom, I have turned on the exhaust fan for you." Then he ran out and went back to play in the living room. My heart was touched and I thought to myself, "Wow, this is how my son handles a problem." When he saw that I had "forgotten" to turn on the exhaust fan, he did not say anything and just simply helped me to turn it on. The way that he handled the situation made me feel warm and cared for. I could tell his pure heart and kindness through the simple, instinctive gesture. I walked to the door of the kitchen and said, "Thank you, my son."

I was still used to cooking without turning on the exhaust fan. My husband still got angry when he saw that. One day I decided to tell him why I don't like to turn it on. Another day I casually mentioned how our son had handled the problem. As time went on, I found that my husband had gradually but definitely changed how he handled this issue. He tried to make me see why noise that the exhaust fan makes isn't as serious a problem as having oily smoke in the house, and furthermore the noise from the activated smoke detector is an even more serious problem yet still. In addition, the next time I cooked without turning on the exhaust fan, instead of yelling at me and hoping it would make me remember to do it the next time, he would turn it on himself and then gently remind me that I should do it the next time.

I was deeply touched by the compassion in human beings' nature as reflected in my husband's changed attitude. Today's society is saturated by many erroneous notions that come from all directions. Many people don't know what is a good way to really solve a problem My husband did not know how to handle the kitchen exhaust fan problem either. But the compassion in his nature helped him see what the correct way is. What is even more commendable is that he made himself stop handling the problem in the same old way that he had done before. Instead of being angry and annoyed and trying to force me to change, he learned to practice tolerance, patience and offer help to me directly. It's not easy for person to abandon his old notions that he had grown accustomed to. I know that from my own experiences. But in this case, he was able to do that with compassion and self-control. I couldn't help being touched by it.

Thank you, my son. Thank you, my husband. Now I often remind myself to turn on the exhaust fan when I cook.

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