Wednesday, July 30, 2008

god at the grocery store.

So, I don't know what the heck is wrong with me lately, but I've been experiencing what I shall henceforth describe as Perpetual PMS, or PPMS. (My dear gentleman readers, perhaps this would be an opportune time to Google "baseball," "sportscars," or, um, "bikini models." I shall take no offense whatsoever should you bid me adieu at this juncture.)

Now, I must toot my own horn here for a moment and proclaim that I am not a Hormonal Monster of Tyrannical Proportions when I have PMS. The Ross-a-tron will attest to this fact. I do not get mean. I do not get moody. I do not get accusative, sulky, or bitchy. In fact, when I get PMS, what I really get is an urge to clean. That's right. My apartment is as tidy as can be when I have PMS.

So, what stereotypical symptom do I have when PMS rears its head?

I get a bit weepy. And sentimental. And...soft. I cry at insurance company commercials (especially State Farm's--Yes! I want to cry to the television screen. Yes, I AM in good hands! Thank you for being concerned about my needs! Oh, thank you!). I want to send emails to everyone I know and love and tell them just that: that I love them and am so glad they're in my life. And I get emotional when I see older people. Grandma and Grandpa-type people.

So, lately, I've been experiencing PPMS for some reason. Hence, the nostalgic and sentimental feelings that led me to Google people from my past (see yesterday's post). And one of those State Farm insurance company commercials came on yesterday morning while I was eating my breakfast, and I could feel my eyes start to leak. Not a lot. Just a bit. But leak they did.

So, last night, around 9 p.m., I went to the grocery store. I shop at night because it's less crowded and much better for my nerves. (City grocery shopping can be like an Olympic sport sometimes, so I try to go when the Main Event is over [never on the weekend and always after 9 p.m.]) And it was in aisle 11A (Ice Cream, Frozen Pizza, Frozen Breakfast Foods) that my PPMS went full tilt.

There he was. This precious Grandpa-type. Pushing his cart. Slowly. Away from the ice cream section. I peaked as inconspicuously as possible into his cart: a couple of pieces of fruit, some bread, milk, and ice cream.

Not Breyers. Not Ben & Jerry's. Not even Turkey Hill.

The value brand. Which is actually called Valu Time. The flavor? Cookies n' Cream.

And my eyes got this leaky, stinging feeling. The Ross-a-tron looooooves Cookies n' Cream. It's his favorite. But it must, must, must be Breyers. So why was I emotional at the sight of this lovely old man and his grocery cart? And why was I so concerned about the brand of his ice cream?

Because when I see older people, especially if they're alone, I get incredibly sad. Genuinely, heart-achingly sad. I instantly think of my grandparents (God rest their beautiful souls). My Nana, my Pappap, and my Grammee. And I think about how much I miss them. And I think about my Pappap, who lived alone after my Nana died. And I imagine him shopping, cooking, eating, being...all alone. And I imagine them struggling to pay their bills. Social Security checks aren't much. And they'd lived through the Depression, a World War, other wars, etc. Older people have had experiences that many of us will never be able to comprehend.

So when I saw this older man pushing his cart, my heart started to ache for what he might have experienced in his life. And I imagined that he couldn't afford the more expensive brand of ice cream. And it broke my heart. I imagined him going home to an empty house, scooping out two or three clumps of the ice cream and putting it in his favorite bowl, and plopping down in his easy chair. In front of the television. Alone. But happy that he had his ice cream. Happy that he was alive to enjoy it, regardless of what brand it was.

And I thought about my own life. Yes, dear readers. I thought about my life in the thirty seconds I spent in the proximity of this man in aisle 11A. I thought about how wasteful I am. I thought about how I should buy the cheaper brand sometimes, but don't. I thought about how blessed I am to have "things" and a beautiful apartment and wonderful friends and a loving family. And Breyers ice cream in my freezer. Yes. Right now.

And on the drive home I decided that I didn't want to imagine that man alone, struggling to pay his bills and only being able to afford Valu Time ice cream. What if, I asked myself while sitting at the traffic light at the corner of S. Negley and Ellsworth, what if he was picking up ice cream to take home for himself and his beautiful wife of 53 years to enjoy. Together. On their back porch. While talking about their 5 grandchildren. And listening to the quiet breathing of their dog and loving companion, Sparky, who is sleeping at their feet. What if he was buying the Valu-Time ice cream so he could put just a little bit more money aside for his grandkids' college funds?

My point in all of this is that I need to learn to trust more. I need to try to believe that others are provided for, taken care of, and thankful for whatever it is that they have--be it a roof over their heads or Valu Time ice cream. And I need to be reminded of just how blessed I am. I spent $80 at the grocery store tonight. I bought some "extras" that I didn't really need: Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, Nature Valley Granola Bars, two boxes of Stouffer's French Bread Pizzas instead of one. Some people have to make $80 stretch through the entire month for their groceries. I spent it in less than an hour.

So, maybe I don't have PPMS after all. Maybe it's just God's little way of tapping at the door of my heart. Maybe He's just reminding me that there are blessings all around, that there is goodness, abundance, and love. So I have a soft heart. So I worry about people, even strangers. So I get a little misty-eyed when I see commercials that focus on caring for others (even if it is insurance). So what?

I am in good hands. And I must trust that others are as well.

Yesterday's Gratitude:
1. my job
2. money for groceries
3. the man in aisle 11A
4. my digital camera
5. Picasa

with love from Pittsburgh,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

drivers of fancy cars.

Okay. So, I've been wanting to blog about this for a while now, but haven't been quite sure how to go about it, as I am a Bit of a Wimp and don't want to offend anyone. But, I'm on vacation, and so my Wimp-o-Meter is down and I'm just Not Really Caring at present.

So, here goes.

Drivers of fancy cars. I'm irritated by them. Tremendously. Let me tell you why.

I drive a lot. Pittsburgh is a beautiful, wonderful city in many ways, but it does lack significantly in its public transportation department. Sure, we have buses. But we don't really have a subway. Which most Pittsburghers will never understand. We have a pathetic attempt at a subway, which the city calls The "T." Yes, it just has a letter for a name. That's how pathetic it is. The "T" is a tiny little subway system that runs throughout the downtown area and out towards southern parts of the city. And that's it. What about those of us who don't frequent downtown or who don't live in the southern parts of the city? We needn't go anywhere? We aren't important? We don't have needs? Oh, rubbish, Pittsburgh. Rubbish with a capital "R" don't you know.

So, as a result, my car and I have a pretty serious relationship with the city. Sure, I could take the bus, but it just takes FOREVER to get anywhere if you go by bus. And anyone who knows me knows that I am a mover and a shaker. And I can't handle standing in the rain or the snow, waiting for the bus. Call me a diva. Call me spoiled. Call me honest.

Thus, all of the driving I do results in all manner of interesting experiences on the roads. And I like to think that I am a good driver. I am courteous: I give the thank-you wave to drivers who let me merge in front of them. I am patient: I don't blare on my horn if the car in front of me decides not to cross the intersection even if he/she could have made it without being hit by oncoming cars. I don't have a need to swerve in an out of lanes so as to keep at a constant speed and not be slowed down by other drivers (despite my mover-and-shaker-ness). I realize that driving is a responsibility. It is a blessing that I am ever-thankful for. I like to think that I am a relaxed and appreciative driver.

Except when I encounter drivers of fancy cars. Then I get a little, um, angry.

Let me explain.

I drive a 2004 Chevy Aveo. It's my Meep Meep, as I call it. I do not have money. And even if I did, I certainly wouldn't spend it on a car. Accidents happen, people.

So, when I'm driving, obeying the law, being courteous, etc., and I encounter the 40-something business man driving like he's God's Gift to Creation in his Fancy Schmancy Lexus, I want to throw up. Yes, call me judgemental. Go ahead. I am aware of this fault of mine. But I must remain honest. I can't stand drivers of fancy cars.

The dude in the Lexus doesn't use his turn signal. Ever. He rides my bumper. All the time. Even when I'm going 10 or 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. He pulls out in front of me, oblivious to the three inches that separate our steel contraptions. He blares his horn if I don't pull out into the intersection at that exact moment when he thinks I should. He pulls up to my right when I'm trying to make a turn into oncoming traffic, thus making it impossible to see what's coming from the right because he's too impatient to wait his freakin' turn.

He's a jerk. Plain and simple. And do you know why? Because he has money. And a fancy car. And he thinks that the rules don't and shouldn't apply to him. He's special, in case you were wondering. He's clearly more important than any of us drivers of practical cars. He has much more important places to be, his time is far more precious, and his shiny-ness (both of his car and of his skin/hair/outfit/watch) gives him the right-of-way.

Oh, and the plastic Barbie-esque woman in the Mercedes? Who parks her car illegally because the rules don't apply to her, either? Despite signs that say "No Parking," Barbie and her Mercedes become illiterate at that moment. She has places to go and people to see, my dear readers. She can't POSSIBLY park in a regular parking spot and, heavens forbid, WALK to the entrance of the store like the rest of us. That would take far too long. And what if a neighboring car door accidentally brushed up against her shiny silver piece of German engineering? I bet she'd stomp her Jimmy Choo sandal and have a tantrum.

I guess this rage comes from my utter disgust at the way in which our society worships conspicuous consumption. Materialism, materialism, materialism. Gag me. It's all about these "things" we have, these material items that show how much money we have, how much success we've achieved, how Important and Fabulous we are. And a car--a fancy car--seems to convey all of this in one fell swoop.

It makes me really sad, quite frankly. What if those drivers of fancy cars downsized to more practical cars and took the difference in the car payments and donated it to a different charity every month? Someone who is hungry might be able to eat if that driver of the fancy car stopped thinking about his or her own image and started thinking about the welfare of his or her fellow humans.

And what if we started thinking about success in terms of how much we've helped others as opposed to how far we've climbed the corporate ladder?

Or what if we realized that we are Important and Fabulous because we offered a helping hand, cooked a meal for someone hungry, helped a stranger, or donated our money/time/talents to a cause that needed it more than our garage needed a BMW?

Sure, I bet there ARE drivers of fancy cars out there who donate to charities, feed the hungry, help strangers, and offer helping hands. I believe that. There are good people everywhere, behind the wheels of every kind of car imaginable. But why is it that I always encounter the drivers of fancy cars who DON'T seem to be those types of people? Where are the NICE drivers of Porsches? Where are the courteous, patient, law-abiding drivers of the Cadillac Escalades? Where are the Audi owners who use turn signals and don't drive like they own the universe? Show yourselves!

I'm not perfect, people. I'm not trying to convey that. I have many faults. I do judge sometimes. I do get irritated. And I do get frustrated. I just wish that I could meet a driver of a fancy car who was kind, generous, a courteous driver, and humble. But I have yet to do so.

Yesterday's Gratitude:
1. first official day of my vacation
2. my computer and the internet
3. Goodwill
4. my car (practical and un-fancy as it is)
5. air conditioning

with love from Pittsburgh,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Girl Effect.

This gave me chills. But in a good way. (Make sure your sound is turned up.)

Many thanks to Miss A. who shared this with us.

I.Am.Moved. I hope you are, too.

with love from Pittsburgh,