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RUSSELL WANGERSKY: Seek and ye shall find

There’s a potato masher in here somewhere. —
There’s a potato masher in here somewhere. — Russell Wangersky/SaltWire Network

It’s about order and shape. About how things work together, and about the lines that you see and the lines that you don’t see.

I know exactly what the potato masher looks like: black handle with two silver dots that hold the handle together, the round silver-colour head with its rectangular holes.

But can I find it?


It’s gotten bad enough that, while the potatoes are still boiling away, I start to worry about whether I’ll find the masher. About how long that search will take.

I can find the vegetable peeler perfectly. In fact, there are three: a broken orange plastic-handled one, held together by tightly-wrapped string, an all-metal one and a strange invention that you slide over one finger, which lets you peel potatoes like you were patting a small, peel-shedding pet. (I hate that one.) Not only can I find a vegetable peeler before I find the potato masher, I can actually find all three of them before I find the masher.

Sometimes, I start emptying the drawer of things that are not the masher, in the vain hope that, by limiting the other options, the masher will suddenly make itself known.

One of the problems is that there are two utensil drawers, one on top for things that are used regularly, and another near the floor for things that aren’t used as often. Sometimes things migrate between the two drawers, which means that when I can’t spot the potato masher, I eventually decide that it must have been moved to the lower drawer. (It has never moved to the lower drawer, but I always default to that possibility. So, I search the lower drawer, where I never, ever find it.)

If anyone’s in earshot, I am not above complaining that “something seems to have happened to the potato masher.” Nothing has ever happened to the potato masher.

Eventually, I find it — exactly in the middle of the drawer, where it should have been obvious all along. It’s like it just swims into focus in front of my eyes.

I think occasional blindness isn’t limited to kitchen drawers.

I’ve tried to figure out what it is about the masher that makes it so hard for me to find — the best I can come up with is that, for me, knowing what it looks like isn’t enough. Something about its shape and size and colour camouflages it from my particular sight.

In other words, it’s not you, Mr. Masher. It’s me.

It’s worth keeping in mind that you might always be able to find the spatula or the big knife you’ll need to cut a squash in two, but you’ll have to schedule in some extra time and effort for finding the masher.

You know what I think?

I think occasional blindness isn’t limited to kitchen drawers.

There are a host of issues where I find I need help, from understanding Indigenous railway blockades to the difference between elected and hereditary chiefs in the Wet’suwet’en, to how to balance competing issues in West Coast pipeline disputes, to gender differences, to the inevitable differences between people on the right side of the spectrum and people on the left.

I think we should all take into account that we may have blind spots we don’t recognize and prefer to simply gloss over with ideology or by soaking up as many like-minded opinions as we can, instead of taking the time to consider that we might actually be the problem.

Sometimes, we all need help seeing things differently.

Because the potato masher is there all along, even if I’m unable to see it right away. And eventually, I’ll find it.

It all takes an effort, folks. It all takes an effort.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in SaltWire publications across Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at — Twitter: @wangersky


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