As a slave, I am responsible for certain activities within the house. I cook, clean, and am otherwise generally responsible for maintaining the household in ways that do not require professional repair. So, while I'm not expected to perform plumbing or electrical work, I might be required to repaint walls or maintain the garden. One of the maintenance responsibilities I enjoy most is restocking the kitchen and cleaning supplies.

Being assigned this task is advantageous for a few reasons. Firstly, it allows me to better plan the meals because I don't have to rely on someone else to get the ingredients I need. Second, it ensures I have everything I need for cleaning and maintenance. Lastly, it allows me to go shopping! I'm trying not to be stereotypical here, but honestly, who doesn't love popping online for a quick purchase…or twenty? In the age of online shopping, obtaining everything on a grocery list has become ridiculously fun and easy.

While it's obvious I take great joy in this particular assignment, there is one difficulty. In the event of wide-spread shortages, I am still responsible for maintaining the standards of the house. I am still required to do my best to acquire whatever items are needed. (After all, you can't just not wash the floors because there's no floor wash to buy.) Thankfully, my educational background confers upon me the flexibility to be creative in meeting that expectation.

The Bleach-Math Incident

Recently, country-wide shortages have posed an obstacle to obtaining disinfectant cleaning supplies. As supply chains prioritize hospitals and facilities, it has been nearly impossible for many local consumers to find such items. For this reason, I had to get a little inventive with my… err… cleaning solution solutions (pun intended).

When our Clorox wipes ran out, I converted our small supply of rubbing alcohol into a disinfectant spray. (Master helped by calculating the amounts of alcohol and water needed for dilution). When our supply of isopropyl alcohol spray ran out, I had to find the same germ-killing power in an accessible and convenient format. Luckily, a friend tipped me off to an online pop-up market selling gallon-sized containers of bleach, which I realized could potentially meet the need.

Many of the over the counter cleaning products we use ordinarily contain bleach in one form or another. However, in most cases, the bleach is heavily diluted or mixed with other active ingredients. For example, any trigger spray that says "Blah-blahblah—now with the power of bleach!" or "Bla-di-blah plus bleach." The issue here is that the bleach I was able to purchase was completely undiluted.

This meant I would have to mix the bleach from the stock bottle with distilled water for dilution before storing it in the spray bottle. No problem. People do this all the time.

If I didn't dilute it, the harsh chemical would corrode the spray mechanism's internal workings, rendering it ineffective and, more candidly, a royal pain. You know, because if the spray mechanism corrodes, the bleachy fluid leaks out onto your hands. Then, despite washing your hands a bajillion times, they still feel slippery and gross and even smell like a LaQuinta Inn pool.

Anyway, on this particular occasion, Master was outside the home and very busy, so I didn't want to bother him to do the calculation. I quickly mental-mathed the dilution. I somehow managed to get through about four years of college-level chemistry without having any significant arithmetic ability.

As you're probably sorting out, my calculation was incorrect. Drastically incorrect. I misplaced a decimal and ended up creating a bleach mixture roughly ten times the intended strength. That's the difference between a 6% bleach solution and a 60% bleach solution.

What's more, I didn't notice. As in, I promptly went about using the said mixture. I proceeded to clean all of the surfaces requiring disinfectant in our entire living space with that mixture.

When Master returned home, he sniffed the air with a confused expression. I was oddly lightheaded and only just starting to question the integrity of the concoction I had made (and had been so fervently using). Let's blame it on the brain cells that died from those noxious bleach fumes.

The house smelled like a YMCA. My eyes burned inexplicably for reasons I was slowly starting to put together. Master had me open all the windows and doors. He then proceeded to examine the spray bottle I had been using. For the first time, I noticed it was tinged yellow under the light. The correct dilution would have used more distilled water, rendering it nearly transparent. Color-wise, it should have been indistinguishable from plain water. I quickly recognized my error and apologized.

"Why didn't you just call me?" he asked when I admitted my realized calculation error.

No one ever acknowledges how stupid "I didn't want to bother you…" sounds in the aftermath of a ginormous blunder, so let me do you a favor. When you've accidentally chemically bombed your Master's house, "I didn't want to bother you" sounds bad. As bad as "My dog ate my homework" at school and "I thought shorts were business attire" at work. "I didn't want to bother you" is the verbal equivalent of being caught with your pants down. There's no segue out of that which leaves you feeling less stupid unless it involves an orgy.

When he said, "Next time, leave the math to me," he smiled. I was simultaneously relieved and overwhelmed by his generosity. It showed his willingness to allow me to showcase my strengths while he bolsters my weaknesses. That makes for a healthy dynamic. We accept each other, faults and all— accepting both you and your partner might need a helping hand once in a while.

Accepting Your Flaws As Teamwork Opportunities

Yes, I still have to work on my math (for everyone's sake), but what he was communicating to me was that I could be a good slave and not be perfect. Sometimes it's okay to rely on others. Having this flaw didn't mean I was useless or bad at completing my responsibilities. It just meant I was kind of bad—okay, really bad—at math.

I'm trying to say here that we become better at serving when we recognize our shortcomings. If we plow through life, never stopping to examine our faults and weaknesses, we are unaware of how those faults and weaknesses might affect us. We cannot see the problems our weaknesses will cause if we are not acutely aware of their magnitude.

Therefore, it is necessary to recognize and accept the limitations of our abilities. Without doing so, that is, without accurate self-reflection, we are liabilities to our Masters. Without noticing and accepting our limitations, we can create messes bigger than whatever relief our intended service would have potentially given our Masters. If we could recognize what we are and are not capable of, we could save everyone a lot of headaches—from fumes and otherwise!

We shouldn't beat ourselves up about our weaknesses. That's useless and bound to affect self-esteem. No one can maintain a pleasant demeanor if they are constantly reminding themselves how bad they are at certain things. Clearly, self-denigration is not the answer.

What I'm advocating, instead, is greater self-awareness. You can be aware of the scope of your deficiencies without being self-disparaging. That's what is needed, a keen eye for your limitations, balanced with a cheerful outlook on your capabilities. Know what you don't know, but also understand what you do know.

When we are more aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we are better assets to our Masters. When we accept the limitations of our bodies, minds, and abilities, we are better prepared to offer our capable services. Having flaws doesn't make you a bad slave or submissive. Being aware of your limitations and accepting them is a strength and can give you a huge advantage and even prevent you from making mistakes down the line.