Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Wondering about a few more things around here...
Last fall, we had a gas crisis here in Charlotte. Two out of three gas stations in this area didn't have any gas. Literally, no gas at the pumps. People's cars ran out of gas on the street and were abandoned. For days, the lead story on the news had something to do with where to find gas. People fought at the tanks. Horns were honked.
And here in Charlotte, that is saying a lot. The people in this town are ridiculously polite most of the time. I sat at a red light once and watched while the turn lane to my left sat still, silently, while the third driver from the head of the line missed the green arrow completely. The light went from red to green and back to red. The first two cars turned. No one else moved. And no one honked their horn.
So when drivers honked horns and got out of their cars to yell at each other and fight, it was front page news. Anyway, the crisis lasted for about three weeks. It was quite unnerving to not be sure where or when I would be able to find gas. Bus and train ridership tripled. Trips to the mall were cut in half. It was a time of conservation and walking and biking and using Vespas.
That gas crisis got me to wondering: what was the problem? where does gas come from? How does it get to each gas station? How much have I taken the delivery of gas for granted in my life?
Here are a few other things I am wondering about these days -
* How many other thousands of items are delivered to stores in the middle of the night, things I assume will be on the shelves or on the racks when I go look for them? Why am I so quickly annoyed when the thing I want isn't there, rather than being more quickly grateful when the thing I want is there?
* Who decides on the length of the cycle of traffic lights? Who decides whether roads have tolls or not? New York and New Jersey have hundreds of tolls, but I haven't seen one here in North Carolina. Not one.
* When will I stop wishing I had other people's friends and be grateful for the ones I already have? I want to travel the way other people travel. I want to make money like other people. I want more kids some days and no kids on other days. I wish I lived in Madrid or Rome or San Francisco sometimes and cannot imagine my life anywhere other than Charlotte on others. Why does the grass still seem greener elsewhere?
* Am I the only person who thinks that most of the commercials on television are absolutely idiotic? Insulting? What's up with all the gruesome side effects that get read to us in voiceovers during every medication commercial? Do we really need to know that certain medications cause "fainting with diarrhea"? Although we shouldn't, we laugh everytime we imagine someone sitting on the can in the john and falling off in a smelly faint... What would it be like to wake up after that type of incident??? In Spain, the commercials end far more humanely: "Please speak to the pharmacist." That's it. No long lists of horrors.
* Am I the only one who really likes the commercial where Roger Federer is playing tennis in that magnificent black suit? Yum.
* Who came up with the idea that we need more than 200 channels on television? Channels set up just to sell products that we don't need "at amazing discounts," and if we call "in the next five minutes (then the stop watch appears at the bottom of the screen)," we will get two gadgets rather than one if we are willing to pay the extra shipping and handling? And who decides what the theme of reality shows should be? And is any of it reality? Any of it?
* When am I gonna stop watching so much television if I am so insulted and annoyed by most of what I see?!?!?
* Why do people not do the right thing: simple stuff like wiping off the machines after they are done at the gym? Putting garbage in trash bins instead of throwing it out of their car windows or dropping it on the street? Stopping at stop signs? Stealing mail from mailboxes in order to steal someone else's identity? Entering schools and shopping plazas with loaded guns and proceeding to kill people they don't know? Who thinks up this stuff?
Not long ago, my son asked me about absentee parents and why some parents don't have contact with their children. He wondered why children and grandchildren have nothing to do with their mother or father or grandmother or grandfather. One day, he asked me why a boy was yelling at his mother at a tennis court next to where we were playing. Everytime he asks me a question like that, I say, "I don't know why, Daniel. But I am so glad that you don't know why, that you can't imagine why someone would treat someone else like that. I'm glad you don't get it."
* If someone knows that a drug can "stop heartburn before it starts" and they know that chili or coffee or some other food will cause heartburn, why not choose to avoid the painful food? Why eat that food because some medication will take the pain away?
* Why do we so often choose to run away from love and relationships and friendships because we are afraid of being vulnerable instead of taking the chance at deep connection? Is it better to be lonely and protected than connected and potentially hurt? Really?
* Why are we so blessed to have so much food available to us when billions of people in the world have so very little? Why do we waste so much of the food we buy and cook, just throw it away - mostly because we bought too much and let it spoil before we bother to eat it?
* Why do I take so many pictures of the things I eat and drink? Wait - I know the answer to that question: I am fascinated by food. I love to eat and drink. I am amazed that the earth produces such bounty and deliciousness. And I get to go to the supermarket regularly, pick good food, bring it home, eat it, and enjoy it thoroughly. I don't particularly like to cook, but I love to eat. And I am ridiculously grateful for every bite of food I eat.
* Why am I so blessed to have a husband and two children that I get to live with and love and who happen to love me as well? Yesterday, Steve and I celebrated 18 years of marriage. In addition to the 4 1/2 years of dating before we were married, that adds up to more than half my life with this man. It doesn't seem possible. (Or even reasonable and sane and normal...)
* Why have I been so enormously blessed?
I may not know why, but I am grateful.
As that beautiful gospel song says,
"Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.
Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.
Gratefulness is flowing from my heart."
Thanks be to God!