Milo Yield: Laugh Tracks in the Dust 12-12-11
Are we turning into a country of self-centered jerks? After watching on TV (forever, it seems) the scenes of Americans frenetically “shopping” on Black Friday – camping out all night, pepper spraying, trampling, or even shooting their fellow shoppers to get a competitive advantage to buy Chinese-made junk – I’m inclined to believe we are.
Whatever happened to civility and commonsense? Is there anything of commercial value that is worth devaluing your self-worth? Not in my mind there isn’t. I told my wife Nevah that I wouldn’t subject myself to the madhouse of Black Friday if the stores were giving stuff away – and I meant it.
As for my shopping preference, I’ll continue in my old-fashioned ways. A few days before Christmas I’ll go to town and do all my shopping in a few hours. If not that, I’ll shop from my computer in the peace and quiet of the internet.
I’ve known my friend Alice in Washington state for decades. She, like me, is reaching the “curmudgeonly days” of her life. So, she sent me this story about “The Green Thing” and, if you’re approaching my age, you’ll understand the message.
Alice wuz checking out groceries at the store when the young cashier suggested to her that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. “It’s ‘The Green Thing’ to do,” the impertinent little clerk said.
Alice gave her a hard look and explained, “We didn’t have ‘The Green Thing’ back in my earlier days.”
The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
Alice retorted, “You’re right. We didn’t have ‘The Green Thing’ back in my day.”
Alice continued, “Back then, we returned milk bottles and soda bottles to the store even though we paid no deposit. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
“We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
“Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind that fill up the city landfill. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
“Back then, we had one TV (after they came out), or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap made from oil. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
On a real roll, Alice went on, “We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we sharpened the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
“Back then, city people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. Heck, we had scarcely heard of pizza and we called it pizza pie.
“On farms, back power did the work that’s now done with hydraulic power. We milked cows by hand, not with electricity. We washed clothes and ironed them by hand.”
“So, what you say is true, young lady. We oldsters didn’t have ‘The Green Thing’ in our day. We lived green.”
Then Alice added in her personal note to me, “It’s best not to make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to tick us off.”
Is anybody else already tired of the 2012 elections? I’ll close for the week with two words of wisdom about American politics. Some smart feller or gal coined a phrase that precisely describes the presidential election of 2012. That phrase is “electile dysfunction.” It mean that voters are unable to get aroused by any of the choices of candidates running for president – Republican or Democrat.
I’ve concluded my rant now, so have a good ‘un.