The squeaky wheel

I had that shopping cart today, the one that sounds like fingers on a chalk board, the one that all four wheels seem to be going in different directions and the noise is so high-pitched you start to look for a camera thinking you’ve been punked. But nope, your cart is not part of an elaborate prank, it’s just a mess and you are the lucky girl today that grabbed it and now you are half way around the store with this screeching thing and you can’t seem to push it fast enough to get this experience over with, oh yeah, and the faster you push the worse the sound. You start to feel self-conscious because it feels like your car alarm is going off inside the grocery store and all the stares and expressions of, “what the heck lady, turn that thing off!” are starting to get to you. You talk yourself off the ledge of just ditching the cart because you really need the stupid thing to hold onto even though you came in the store for only three items you are too unsteady on your feet today to be walking around the store without it. So you cut down another aisle just as the looks become embarrassing and force yourself onto some poor unsuspecting shoppers soon to have goose bumps from the unpleasant sound headed their way. You literally have the cart with the squeaky wheel and it truly is earning attention. You remember a child in Haiti that would cry out for any attention as soon as he’d see someone pass down the hallway, he’d scream as if he was dying and the stranger would immediately head in his direction. The little attention there was to be had he consumed it. You rarely picked him up because you saw this happen often enough that you knew he would survive, you focused your attention on the silent children with out the will or strength to scream. Why is it that the squeaky wheel gets attention? It really does work, you’ve seen it first hand in humans and with grocery carts. Why don’t things work as they should? Why do noisy things get more attention than quiet ones?
Why is human nature that when you push a crazy loud cart you feel like crawling under the shelves after a while because you just want to be the anonymous shopper, not the squeaky wheel…….geez, too much thinking in the aisles makes me grateful for the peace and quite of traction. This thing looks like it should make noise but other than the water sloshing around in the bag and the sound of the pulley running over head it’s all quiet here now and it’s quite nice.

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‘Tis the Season

I’d been home from Haiti for about two days, it was 92 degrees when I departed Port-au-Prince and 17 degrees when I landed at my final destination in the States, actually the temperature was the least of the extremes I felt. The next day I was driving for the first time in months and repeatedly heard this jingle on the radio for a jewelry store advertising the fulfillment of the NEED for the perfect Christmas gift, a diamond. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve returned from Haiti every year at this time I try to recall how ridiculous that commercial sounded to my ears. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, the temptation that the perfect gift is just around the corner. THE thing to make someone happy is within our grasp. that we actually NEED stuff, beyond air, water, shelter, food and love.

How does a couple of verses of the right holiday tune transport me into a shopping machine, on a mission to purchase happiness in a store. It’s just so easy to get caught up, or to cave in, to be so tired I just grab anything because I must have something wrapped for that someone I’ll exchange a gift with that neither of us will ever NEED or probably use. Every year I feel the same way and every year I vow to not catch the bug that makes me feel like Scrooge if I don’t spend money on stuff. I left the community of Turgeau at dawn that December morning watching children carry five gallons of water on their heads and within 10 hours was nestled in the land of plenty with hot water endlessly flowing. Years later it pretty much only takes a Bing Crosby tune within ear shot to make me feel melancholy enough to open my wallet for the umpteenth time to buy something, anything to complete the list. My wish is that this year I’ll remember what is truly valuable when I’m a tired and desperate shopper. None of it, none of it is what it’s all about and once again I’m hoping this season to not forget that I have all that I’ll ever need.

I know friends still living in tents in Haiti months after the earthquake. Folks whose lives were devastated by the earthquake and that didn’t have many material possessions to start with. There is true need out there this Christmas and let me not confuse the difference.

Fall Fashion

Now granted, in the name of full disclosure I’m currently wearing a fuchsia colored polo with “Barbados” embroidered in the left corner, khaki pants and blue Vans, hardly a fashion plate. Perfect combination of laziness, comfort and bad taste. So in the last couple of days I’ve noticed others too are struggling with what to wear on transitional weather days. I saw a middle-aged man wearing a backpack over his shirtless tattooed torso, saw a young woman in a sequined black tank top pushing a stroller, saw a 40 something woman in hot pink shorts with “BEACH BUM” across her behind. But my favorite look was what appeared to be five-year old twins, one still hanging onto the last glimpse of summer in a floral sun dress with matching flip-flops as her sister chose jeans and a XXL gray hooded sweatshirt falling fashionably over her eyes.

So the most I know about what might be fashionable this upcoming season comes from the Today Show, borrow dark lipstick from a vampire and dress like you’re in an episode of Mad Men and you should be all set. I was thinking about a child I saw in Port-au-Prince, he had a shirt on that said, “my grandparents went to Ontario and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” or some catchy phrase like that. I remember thinking that shirt was a long way from Ontario or anyplace folks read English. What one person thinks is cute another finds essential. What one finds chic another finds a waste of time and money. I wish I had a better fashion sense, I know folks that do, you know who you are, but it’s not me. I’ll never wear something that was last seen on the runway in Milan, more like the back corner of Target.

Well, enough rambles for today, this sling around my head seems to match everything!