Monday, February 11, 2013

Who Are We?

After a hideous scene at a local coffee shop yesterday I've been thinking about who we are, how we act, why we act the way we do, and why people place so much importance on things rather than on people.

The coffee shop was packed on Sunday afternoon as I stopped by to work on an article I'm writing for Prince William Living magazine.  Everyone, and I mean, everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at this Glittery Lady making a scene with surprise in their eyes.  We all looked around at each other with shrugs, confused looks, throwing hands up in the air as if to say "is this lady really serious?" and even nervous laughter to try and lighten the mood.

Glittery Lady was freaking out about how she spilled coffee all over her "$1,500 Gucci purse--do you realize what kind of purse this is?"  She obviously wanted to make a scene and loudly yelled at the coffee shop employee, a teenage boy working to make some money on a Sunday afternoon, about how upset she was that they overfilled the coffee so much that it "made" her spill her coffee all over her purse and glittery boots as she was getting in her car.  "I come here every day and this is crazy, why would you fill the cup so much to make it spill like this.  Look at my pants, I have spots on my pants!"

They were black pants and I didn't see any spots on them...just sayin'.  Though I did notice my own shirt full of washable paint spots from a craft activity with my kids earlier in the day.

Someone yelled out "you know, there is this thing called a washing machine..."

She ignored the comment and responds to the teenage coffee shop boy with "This is terrible, this has ruined my day. YOU have ruined my day.  And my purse, what are you going to do about my purse?"  I'm still not sure what she expected a teenage boy to do about her $1,500 Gucci purse, but he offered her a free cup of coffee for her trouble.  She responded with "I don't need a free cup of coffee, I can buy coffee if I want.  I want your card, I want to file a complaint because this is absolutely terrible, just terrible! Really, you have RUINED my day!"  The manager comes over, a young twenty something girl and kindly gives her the card with some apologies.

As she was leaving, a middle aged woman told her to "have a nice day" to which she responded nastily with a "How am I supposed to have a good day after all this? LOOK at my purse!!!" and the nice lady said "well, you can try to have a better day, try to smile, because you know spilled coffee is not the end of the world".  I chimed in and said, "yeah, if spilled coffee on your very expensive $1,500 Gucci purse is the biggest problem you have today than you should consider yourself lucky."  Several others chimed in with "yeah" and "seriously lady, worse things could happen." and she walked out loudly grumbling "I can't believe this, this is terrible!"

Those of us left in the coffee shop bonded...we found out that the kind "have a nice day" customer lady had cancer the year before and really was trying to make the other lady realize that spilled coffee really isn't the end of the world...cancer, well, that might be the end of the world for that person...but spilled coffee? Not so much.

So how do we treat each other?  Do we treat our Gucci purse's better than we treat human beings?

With this, I wanted to share a quote from a recent blog I came across:

"A life rich with faith, family, friends & creativity, secure in the idea that a life well lived has nothing to do with what we have but who we are."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thanks LivingWellSpendingLess for reminding us of this very important fact that it's who we are and how we interact with others that matters...not a Gucci purse.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Made In China

Not to sound like an alarmist, but wow, this is a bit alarming especially when you see the video of Beijing over the last 3 weeks.

And to think that we contribute to this every time we buy something that says "Made in China".  Take a look around your house, your closet, your car, your kitchen, even your refrigerator and freezer.  How many things did you find that say "Made in China"?  Did you even realize that jar of chopped garlic came from China?

I know it's hard.  Especially when it's shiny or new or oh, such a great price!  Been there, done that.  Still struggling with that every time I walk into a store (as you can tell from my Cupcake post).  Every. Time.

I'm not against buying anything from China (sort of).  I understand we live in a global business environment and want to support other countries (and vice versa) through trade.  I love the bamboo bowl I bought several years ago through Ten Thousand Villages - handmade by artisans in Vietnam through one of their special arts programs.  I love the scarf I bargained back and forth for in a Portugal flea market.  But there are some countries with very strong, rigorous environmental and human rights laws or with great programs that work directly with struggling artists or crafters.  And there are some countries that, simply put, suck at all that.  We just need to be more aware of which countries those are and put pressure with our purchasing dollars to encourage them to change their ways.

It gets to a point that you have to stop blaming others for the problems we see in the news (like this air pollution article) and take some of the blame ourselves for our every day decisions.

It gets to a point that we can no longer say "I don't care. I don't live in China so this is not relevant to me."

It gets to a point that you look in the mirror and ask what is happening to us as human beings.
Or worse, you look at your child and wonder what it's going to be like for their generation and feel fear for them.

It gets to a point where you stay up late to write a blog post about all this to share with people even though you've worked hard at your full time job all day, cooked dinner, cleaned up and washed dishes, did a load of laundry, read the kids some stories and brushed their teeth and now all you want to do is just crawl into bed and go to sleep.  Even if just one person reads it and thinks twice about their next purchase or the next time they throw something in the trash, it was worth it.

We are all in this together, but individual actions matter.