Thursday, January 05, 2012

Grocery Store Gripe

Standing in line at the grocery store this morning I overheard a conversation between this young couple that made me want to cringe.  It  took only a few moments for them to really cause my blood to boil. I didn't  realize how angry I had become until I arrived home and found myself vigorously scrubbing out the refrigerator.  I always clean when I'm angry.  I took a deep breath, calmly put away the groceries in my freshly clean refrigerator and sat down to have a hot cup of coffee.

As I meditated  and focused on all the good things in my life, I felt tension leave my shoulders and the heaviness of anger melt away.  I then took a stab and pondered the reason I had became so upset in the first place.  I'm not twenty-five anymore - full of passion and energy; able to fly off the handle on a moments whim; being carried away by my emotions.  I'm 40.  I'm more mature, more grown-up, more in control of my emotions.  At least that's what I tell myself.

So, why did I get so angry?  I'm not going to go into everything this young couple had to say, but I will tell you the gist of the argument.  It was full of selfish whining, constant complaining, back-stabbing bickering, outright blaming everyone but themselves, lack of appreciation and unbridled angst.  In other words... hypocrisy dripped off their lips like sweet honey  - sending a stab through my patience like a hot knife through butter.

I understand the world's not fair.  Crap happens all the time.  However, in my 'old age' I've come to discover that most of the time the crap we deal with in our lives we brought on ourselves.  How we feel about ourselves is our doing as well.  Sure, OTHER people do stuff to us; they use us, abuse us, talk bad about us, take advantage of us, and outright are mean... BUT  - THEIR actions don't dictate who we are or how we respond.  OUR actions make all the difference.I've learned to quit judging people by the words they say alone.  I watch them, study them and see what they do.  Because many say one thing, but their actions prove contrary to their words - proving their own deception.

I had to stand in line for about fifteen minutes and listen to two young people complain about how horrible their 'strict' middle class parents were because they wouldn't allow them to do anything (I'm a strict parent so I'm assuming they couldn't drink, smoke, and cuss like a sailor, had to show respect to their elders, say "please" and "thank you" and refrain from having wanton sex with everyone that looked at them as their hormones raged) and MADE them go to school (perhaps being stupid, illiterate and lazy was the better course - seems like that forced education and the strict rules didn't do them any good).  From their colorful language, I dared to guess they didn't have a drug problem (meaning - being dragged to church), either.  We all know how horrible and abusive it is to believe in a power and understanding higher than our own, that encourages us to be obedient, good, kind, merciful, and giving. Heck, believing in Magicians, Vampires, Celebrities and Aliens is hard enough, and I don't even have to mention how exhausting it is believing in NOTHING and that everything in existence is a big bang of an accidental mistake. I mean, Oh my Amoeba!  If there's no God then we've only got ourselves to blame.  How is that going to work when we're too busy blaming everyone else?

We blame our parents, we blame our government, we blame our teachers, we blame our co-workers and fellow students, and be blame religion.  But, if we're a cosmic accident - how can we blame God?  I mean, the world is a mess because of THEM, whoever they are.  We're just lowly victims of their bad decisions. Surely WE'RE not to blame.  I still haven't figured out how to separate "THEM" from "US", but I'm sure I'll discover the formula soon enough.

Needless to say, as the conversation progressed and the young woman constantly ignored the crying baby in her arms and the young man kept putting back various items his toddler kept picking off the shelves, their angst only grew in passion.  Next in the blame line came politicians and the issue of paying taxes.  The young man stated that he was really worried about the government soon forcing people to take drug tests when applying for welfare.  He expressed how that was a form of slavery and that those food stamps and welfare checks were owed to the people because they were Americans, even if they're here illegally; that it was the government's responsibility to take care of the poor.   The young woman replied that these new welfare laws was the government over-reaching it's authority; that it was none of their business what a person did in the privacy of their own home.  I wondered, which was it; too much or too little of government interference?  They want the government to take care of them (feed them, clothe them, and provide medical help for them), but then also mind their own business (don't tell them what they can do behind closed doors).  Don't they eat, dress and throw-up behind closed doors?

I'm not even going to get into what they had to say about paying taxes and grumbling how it's not fair the young man didn't qualify for unemployment benefits having only worked for three weeks at his last job.  Let me just say I blushed at their vehement expressions of unfairness.  I couldn't quite understand their train of thought until their $348.74 grocery total was rendered by the cashier and they handed over their Food Stamp card and WIC vouchers.  Of course they couldn't pay for their cigarettes and beer with those, so they had to pay cash in a separate transaction.  I'd venture a wager they think it's wrong and unethical to make them pay for those items; that's a targeted and prejudiced tax against the poor. 

The young girl griped about the slowness of the elderly bagger, chastising him from putting boxed items in the same bag as her cheese, and never even looked up at the smiling cashier who handed the young girl her receipt and politely said, "Thank You".  As the complaining couple pulled away from the check-out I said, "You're welcome."  The young man scrunched his brows at me and wrinkled his nose as if he smelled something putrid.  I'm sure he had no idea what I meant.  He probably thought I was thanking him for loudly sharing his enlightened views.

I knew no thanks was coming from them.  What should they be thanking ME for, you ask?  Well seeing as how I dutifully pay my taxes, and have done so for many, many years, I essentially bought their groceries, including their beer and alcohol.  More than likely I am currently or will be in the near future paying for their children's education, health and welfare.  I'm also pretty sure that neither of them realized when they were vehemently putting down Uncle Sam and rattling on about their entitlements, that Uncle Sam stood right behind them.

Unless it isn't clear, let me state the obvious.  I'm Uncle Sam.  It is MY (and all the other Uncle Sams out there) hard-earned money that pays for all these entitlement and social programs.  I pay for the roads, schools, police and fire departments, our military, our hospitals and even our politicians.  So if you don't like me, want to steal and take advantage of me, complain about me...THEN STOP driving on my roads, don't send your kids to my schools, don't call my police when you're in trouble, don't expect my fire department to save your house or life, don't go to my hospitals, don't accept my hand outs, go fight your own wars and don't vote. 

I'm also a strict parent.  I care about my children and their well-being.  I set down rules and regulations BECAUSE I care and want the best possible life for them.  I make them go to school and study hard to receive the best education they can obtain.

Worst of all... I'm a Christian.  I believe in something or someone higher than myself; a being that loves me and my family and cares about me and wants me to have the best possible life (sounds like a strict parent to me.)  My children are not babies anymore and are old enough to make their own decisions about God.  Some believe as I do, some don't.  It's their choice - and I thank God that I live in a country where they have the freedom to make that choice.    

I'm not a rich fat heiress sitting on her gold throne.  I'm a middle-class mother who has worked hard her whole life, who has struggled in a man's world, who has studied hard, and has a giving heart.  I feed the hungry, I care about the animals, environment and future and do what I can, when I can.  I visit the elderly and believe my elders have earned my respect, and support their needs.  My family is honest, hard-working and diligent, yet due to the high cost of living we can't afford but very few groceries a week, very limited amount of gas for our fuel economy vehicles - often car pooling,  and had to cut out health insurance altogether because the new HMO policy (thanks to Obama Care) increased so much we couldn't afford the extra $80 a month to be taken out of our paychecks.  What good is the additional health coverage for my 21 year old son when can't afford coverage at all for anyone?  We don't go to the movies much anymore, we hardly ever go out to eat and we buy our clothes at the discount stores or wait till we can catch an extreme sale.  Unless something changes, I'm soon looking about scaling back to basic cable and losing all but basic functions on my Internet and cell phone.  So forgive me if I'm just a little bit fed up with people who are constantly putting me down.

A friend of mine recently brought it to my attention about how wrong it was that the world thought it had free reign to dump on blondes with their constant prattling of blonde jokes.  I'm one of them.  I've always loved a good blonde joke and never really thought about how blondes might have felt.  Since then, I quit telling blonde jokes and have since turned the same jokes into "TWILOCS" (Those Who Insanely Lack an Ounce of Common Sense). Yet the world seems to think it's open season to degrade fat people and Christians.  I'm out of luck on both.

Well, that's my grocery store gripe for this morning.  I had gotten over it, but then I wrote this blog and it all came rushing back.  I suppose it's time I went and had another cup of coffee and another half hour of meditation to simmer down.  After all... I'm responsible for my own attitude - or else I haven't got the memo yet from my government telling me it's their job.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray