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I am trapped in a store with a woman who touches everything she walks past. “Look how ugly these are!” She says. “Look at this! Who would wear this? It’s terrible!” “Feel how gross this fabric feels. Plus it’s ugly.” She also tells me how everything is a good deal because it’s on sale. “Look, 40% off! These towels are only $29.99! Originally $600.00! Wow, what a deal. I pretty much have to buy these. They’re on sale!” I want to tell her that it’s psychology, that nothing in this store is on sale even though every single thing is. There are hundreds of bright red SALE signs. She throws $2.00 shirts into her basket, glad to have the chance to pay 200% more. It’s not just her; she stops to talk about the great deals with other shoppers, and they agree. This is normal. People do this all the time. She can’t comprehend why I don’t want the name brand shoes. “You think about it,” she says. “Maybe you can come back next week with me and get them.” “You should see my closet,” she says. “I have way too much stuff.” She stands in the checkout line and scans the tiny shelf filled with more over-priced tiny gizmos and gadgets. “Only five dollars!” She says, snatching up a purple-colored pumice stone. “I love these!” She puts it into her basket, the innocent volcanic child. It came out of a volcano. It was free. It didn’t cost anyone five dollars. It was hot and beautiful and natural and now it’s purple and five dollars and in your basket.

 

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1. Last week someone accused me of being “deep into the art scene”, and I wasn’t so sure that was accurate. This week I hammered a pencil onto a wall as part of an art project. So there’s that.

2. It’s the people you’re with, not the place you’re in. I heard some lady in a store say something similar a few days after I realized this to be true. You’re onto something, lady.

3. You don’t always have to go to school to learn. A lot of times, the world can be your classroom. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as a college graduate.

4. Tip of the day: don’t talk/laugh/grin to yourself when other people can see you. At any other time, go for it.

5. My favorite thing to do is travel, but oftentimes it leaves me sad, knowing more street names and parks and lovely people, knowing them and leaving them behind.

6. When does a song stop belonging to someone else? “Your song”, “his song”, “our song”. When does ownership end, with the memory?

7. After spending 8 hours on a megabus traveling across two states, an 8 or 12 hour flight to the other side of the globe seems less daunting. (Also megabus is freaking cheap/awesome BTW!)

8. Remember disposable cameras?

9. Sure you’re busy driving your car through heavy traffic trying not to crash into that guy who just pulled in front of you, and sure you’re busy trying to pass your accounting exam that seems super important to your life right now, and sure you’re creating a cure for cancer — just remember to look up at the stars at night.

10. Overrated or Underrated? Skype. Pickles. Blue eyes. You.

1. Take what you can get. Something is definitely better than nothing.

2. It all depends on proximity and timing.

3. People are never going to act the way you assume they will. If you stop expecting people to live up to your expectations, you’ll be a lot happier, and live a better life.

4. Nothing lasts forever. Including friendships/relationships. People leave, or move on, and it’s ok. Even if you KNOW that the person you’re spending time with won’t be in your life for too long, you should still be happy and be with them and treat them like a great human being who you’re happy to be with, for however long you’ll be in each other’s lives.

5. Do something today you’ve never done before.

6. Seriously, I am super funny. I just wish you could understand how funny I am. I am so funny.

7. “Smile! Don’t look so depressed, it’ll be OK!” – guy outside the drug store, to my retreating self. Uh, two things. First of all, no one smiles all the time, so why should I be smiling as I walk out of a rite aid? Second, rite aid does not carry muffins, so why the hell would I be smiling/not looking depressed as I walk out of my local rite aid at nine in the morning, muffin-less?!

8. I’m (re-)learning French on this super cool app I just got on my phone (Duolingo). Je suis une femme blancheSo useful! I’m off to France!

9. Do people really listen to the radio these days? I don’t believe it. Who are you?

10. The closest anyone can come these days to visiting another planet is to go to any Home Depot late at night. Just try it. This sort of thing you just have to experience first-hand.

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You wake up and you feel it almost immediately. You try to shake it off, brush your teeth, eat breakfast; it’s still there. Maybe it’s in your house, along with all the good and terrible memories. You get in your car, drive away toward somewhere. Where can you go? Shopping? Maybe that’s how people become shopaholics. Addicts. Maybe they’re all the same. Maybe we could all easily become like them; we were just born into different circumstances — found ourselves in a better place when we popped out into the world, and now we all struggle to stay upright where our mothers left us.

You pull into the mall parking lot. You turn off your car, but you know you’re not going in, so you roll down your window and sit still for a few minutes. It feels a little better. But running away doesn’t solve anything. What you’re looking for can’t be purchased at any store. Time is the only thing that helps. Time passes you by out the car window; people march in and out of the store, lugging out bags full of things they may or may not need. You put your seatbelt back on; you’ve sat there long enough, let enough time go by, and it’s still the same and it still will be the same for quite some time.

You could call someone. A friend. But it seems that these days all of your old friends are busy living their own completely different lives. It just doesn’t work anymore. Maybe you need to meet new people. Maybe you need to move. Anything to avoid staying here and falling slightly down, becoming something else. What were you born to be? This? Maybe new friends can’t help you. Maybe a new city can’t help you, either. Maybe nothing can. Maybe everything is just a cover-up, just a distraction. Just like sleep. That’s why you feel it the most in the early mornings, when you can still hear the birds chirping in the dying trees across the street, before the motors start and don’t stop until well after nightfall. That’s why some days, when you don’t have a calendar full of tasks to complete before you head back to bed, when you wake up and look at the clock and realize how many hours are going to stretch out in front of you, you feel it. Life. Just living. What the birds and the squirrels would feel if they had brains like we do. Emptiness. Or, rather, not emptiness. A lack of something that is full of something else. An empty fullness we try to cover up with the society we’ve created. With the laws, the stop signs, the uniforms of employees and school children. With religion. With purpose; an easy purpose, one-size-fits-all, that can be found in several different very old books. And, of course, with shopping.

You may have heard this one before: “I work at a grocery store.” It’s really not that exciting. It’s really not how I enjoy spending my time. But, you know, it pays (mostly) for school.

This morning, I went to work. 6 AM, baby. Yes, there are people awake at that hour. Sometimes, there are even people shopping at that hour. I know, I agree – they are insane.

I work in the produce department. Maybe you’ve heard of it? We have lettuce. We have apples. Etc, etc, etc.

We have what is technically called (in the produce biz) “perishable” food. That means most of it needs to be refrigerated. That means it is either fresh produce or freshly packaged produce, and expires/molds quickly. (Non-perishable would be canned or boxed stuff, stuff that doesn’t need refrigeration and can last for thousands of years on the shelves in your pantry.)

Sometimes, we have to throw our produce away. Sometimes this happens because it gets damaged (think: small child likes to poke holes into apples/peppers/anything slightly squishy), sometimes it happens because no one buys it before the expiration date (this is often the case for packaged produce).

This morning, I had to throw some of the latter away. Before we throw the stuff out, we have to scan all the barcodes to record what is getting thrown out. I did this. I scanned each package of salad/fruit/veggies out one by one and dropped them into an extra-large garbage can. Most of it looked perfectly fine. It wasn’t damaged; it wasn’t brown or moldy. It was simply past the date on the package, so I had to throw it out.

I do this all the time – throw away perfectly good food. It’s my job. Everyone at my store does it. Each night, multiple shopping carts full of trash bags full of food are thrown away. You get used to it, don’t even think about it – it’s expired, throw it away. It’s expired, throw it away.

This morning, though, I got angry. As I dropped bag by bag by cup of produce away, I got angry. Why?  Why was I doing this? Why couldn’t I give this stuff to someone? How many people in the world could use this food? How many people right here in my own city? 

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.

I wonder how much perfectly good food is thrown away every day. I do my own share of it – along with  every other person who works at a grocery store, along with however many other people who work at  how ever many other places who throw away food that could go to people who need it.

Yes, there are expiration dates for a reason. And sometimes, stuff really does need to be used/thrown away by its expiration date. But not always, not usually.

It’s not only expired product, either. And today, it certainly wasn’t:

It’s November 2nd. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is coming (along with Winter -eeek!). My store still had a giant box full of 30 or so Jack-O-Latern-sized pumpkins left over from Halloween. What did we do with all of those pumpkins?

We threw them away.

Why? I don’t know.

We could have marked the price down. Hell, people still would have bought them at their original price ($8, buy one get one free).

We could have donated them to our local food bank.

We could have given the damn things away for free.

No. We threw them away. Into the giant trash compactor they went.

Again, why? Why was this OK?

How is waste like this not illegal?

How many people could have used those pumpkins, for one thing or another?

Maybe they would have just carved them up as belated Jack-O-Lanterns. Maybe they would have simply plopped them on their front porches for Thanksgiving decorations. Maybe they would have only wanted them for the seeds. Maybe they would have made pumpkin pie. Maybe they wanted to shoot at them with their giant shotguns.

No. We threw them away. Without a second thought from the store manager. It was easier to deal with them that way – toss them out.

I think people forget about other people. I think they don’t care. I think they like to do what’s easiest for them. I think they are self-centered and narrow-minded.

I think they waste a lot of fucking pumpkins.

 

 

 

 

 

1. When I go to pass you on the expressway because you are annoyingly going 3 under the speed limit, why do you immediately speed up when you see me get into the fast lane to go around you?

2. Sure, those signs say “No Smoking” – but I’m sure they didn’t mean you couldn’t smoke there!

3. If you’re standing in the front row at a concert, do not turn around and stare at all of the people behind you! It’s so awkward – especially if you’re all packed in so tightly that no one can escape your piercing gaze! Don’t you know the unspoken concert rules?!

4. Don’t go to Mcdonalds. Just don’t do it. You know you’re going to regret it as soon as you swallow that last bite of greasy “beef”!

5. Who are these people buying $500 boots? Mine cost $20 from Target, thank you – and they’re fine!

6. You know that awkward moment after someone sneezes and no one says “Bless You”? Yeah.

7. When is the appropriate time during class to pull out a juice box?

8. I don’t care what the law says, if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you are an idiot. Fact.

9. I want someone to make me a mix tape. Do people even make mix tapes anymore?

10. Have you ever seen those infomercials that pretend they are very important breaking news? Yeah.