And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them?
I've been moving through life as an observer of human behavior for the past couple of days. And there is something that is making me literally sick about where I live.
It's just so fake. The landscape is littered with strip malls, blow up holiday decorations, and tons of kitsch. I just don't understand why people value all this crap. I was at Kohls this morning, looking for an outfit for our trip to Utah. (We are going to Utah next week to visit my husband's grandparents and parents for Christmas.) Anyways, I kept hearing all these older women argue with different clerks about different things.
"Wait! How much is that?! I had a coupon for that! It should be 30% off!"
"Are you saying I'm making this up?! The display said these should be 8 dollars a piece!"
The true "spirit" of the holidays permeated the store and gave me the warm fuzzies. If by warm fuzzies you mean wanting to bash your head into a post and vomit violently across the floor.
Everyone around me was stressed. Hurrying to get their shopping in. Looking over each other's shoulders to make sure there wasn't someone in on a deal to which they were not aware of. Actually, by the time I found a cart that had a child seat (my daughter was with me and there were NO available carts in the store), I became literally ill with the environment around me; I had to leave. And I did. I actually nixed shopping for that holiday outfit because I didn't want to be a part of what I was witnessing. It was awful.
For some reason, this made me remember another experience I had at the same department store a little while back. I was trying on some pants that I had to buy for work, when I heard a woman comment in the stall next to me, "I just pray to the Lord to send me another Kohl's coupon!" I think that basically sums up the culture here. I live in the south, and so there are megachurches and Jesus bumper stickers aplenty, but there is this huge disconnect in between reality and worship. It's the suburban view of piety. The view that, hey, I have access to all this "stuff" so that means that I deserve all this "stuff" and I'm going to keep praying for more "stuff" because God likes to give me "stuff" because I believe in Jesus.
All of this glorifying of nothingness seemed to culminate in a conversation I had with a friend at work today (I work with some really cool people). Anyways, my friend was waiting with her family at a restaurant the other night. It was really busy as it was the same day that a huge city event was going on in celebration of the holidays. There was about an hour wait to be seated in the restaurant, and there was chaos everywhere.
So this guy comes in, and starts yelling at the hostess. He was screaming that his wife was told they would be seated next but that in reality they weren't next and had to wait a little while longer. Because of the crowded conditions in the restaurant (everyone thought it was too cold to be outside so they crammed like sardines inside), this guy was pressed up against my friend as he dehumanized the 20 year old hostess because they weren't seated next.
"I am a business owner. And I own a hair salon here downtown! And I'm going to make sure that everyone who comes into my salon to get their hair done DOESN'T come to this restaurant because what you are doing is horrible!" and so on and so forth.
Anyways, so my friend, basically stood up for this girl who started to cry because this man was being such an @$$ hole to the her. She said, "Hey, it's not her fault! She's just the hostess. If you have a problem you need to talk to the manager."
He then put his nose a few inches from my friend's face and screamed at her. "Get the f**k out of my face lady! You stay out of my business and I will stay out of yours!"
Needless to say the manager eventually arrived and took the man outside. I don't think he went back into the restaurant after that.
So what does it take to feel so entitled? Apparently, if someone owns a hair salon and they are a little delayed in getting a table at a restaurant, then they get to berate and emotionally abuse a human being. I don't understand this idea of feeling superior to others because of some perfunctory fact or label.
But I think some people really believe, that if they are being "served" by someone, that they are better than them. I just don't understand it. Why DO we confer honors on each other? Why am I any better than the person next to me? Why do people think they're so much better than the next? That they have the "right faith" or the "right job" or the "right anything"?
This is such an amazing universe. We are all part of it. We are all connected by the very genetic make up of our beings. And here we spend all this time trying to disconnect ourselves from each other. To artificially isolate ourselves from reality. To indulge in artificiality.
There is so much out there, why can't we see past our front porch?