The Salt and Pepper Dilemma

Myers heard a knock on the door as he set his dinner plate down on the table. Odd, he thought. He wasn't expecting anyone and it was a little late for solicitors.

"Yes?" he said as he opened the front door.

"Excuse me, but are you eating dinner?"

Myers frowned. "I was about to."

"Do you place salt and pepper shakers at your table during meals?"

The question caught Myers off guard. "What?"

"Do you place salt and pepper shakers at your table during meals?" The man spoke with an accent Myers couldn't quite place. He was short and plump with a pale white complexion, dark hair and a dark moustache. The young woman still stood behind him, mute. She had the same complexion and hair color as the man, but her hair hung below her shoulders.

"Sometimes." Myers was surprised to hear himself answer the question.

"Which side of the salt is the pepper on, and which vice versa?"

Myers shook his head. "I don't understand the question."

"Is the salt to the left of the pepper, or the pepper to the left of the salt?"

Myers shrugged. "Could be on either side, what's the difference?"

The man looked at the woman and then back at Myers. He handed Myers a flyer. It read: MOVEMENT FOR THE STANDARDIZATION OF SALT AND PEPPER SHAKER PLACEMENT. CHOOSE YOUR SIDE TODAY. It had a small picture of a salt shaker and a pepper shaker beneath the words.

Myers laughed. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"No joke, sir." The man looked deathly serious. "Choose your side today."

Myers considered whether to say goodbye to the man and woman, close the door in their faces, and sit down to his dinner, or play along. He found himself asking, "Doesn't the positioning of the salt and pepper shakers depend on one's perspective? If I sit on one side of the table, the salt will be to the left or right of the pepper. But if I sit on the other side of the table, the salt will be on the opposite side of the pepper."

The man's eyes widened, and he seemed to delve deep into thought. He turned and spoke to the woman in another language that Myers could not understand. The woman nodded.

"Sir, you have done us a great service today. We shall amend our approach to involve geographical direction to clarify standardization. North, South, East, or West for the salt in relation to the pepper."

The man and woman turned to leave. Myers thought of asking them what this was all about, why the positioning of salt and pepper shakers should mean a darn thing to anyone, but instead he asked, "What should people do when they have those salt and pepper combo shakers?"


  1. As crazy as this might sound, the placement of the salt and pepper shaker along with everything else on the table matters in fine dining. One of the reasons falls into courtesy to blind patrons. This way they can find everything they need with ease.

    Granted it has been a long time since I have had to set tables for fine dining so I can't remember the protocol right off hand.

  2. Yes. This. Exactly.

    This is downright Swiftian. I found myself thinking of the Liliputian's civil war and the ongoing dispute between the Littlendians and Bigendians.

    (For the record, I was raised as a Bigendian and remain one. 'Cos there's always an air bubble at the bottom of the egg there which aids in shelling it.)

  3. Well, at least we can rest assured that there are people out there addressing the serious issues. LOL.

    Katherine beat me to the Gulliver's travels reference, the war about the boiled eggs sprang to my mind as I was reading the story too. :)

  4. LOL now all I can think about is how I place my salt and pepper shakers down ^_^ I really enjoyed reading this Richard.

  5. Given the number of petitions I get sent by email I can imagine that being an actual movement.

  6. Now I'll be concerned every time I set the salt and pepper out for dinner. :) Fun story Richard!