Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Still bothered after all these years

I first published this back in February of 2009. It still haunts me.
"I was reading a friend's blog today and she writes about being troubled by a worrisome incident in her past that she was powerless to do anything about.

This reminded me of an incident in a grocery store some years ago. I think about it every once in a while and it continues to bother me.

I had pushed my cart half-way down an aisle when a family of four was coming toward me. The father, a 40-ish beer-bellied type was pushing the cart. When our carts came side-by-side, the man was barking orders to a boy of around 10 on what grocery items to grab and put in the cart. The boy darted back and forth frantically while the man kept harassing him and calling him names.

The scariest part was that close behind the guy were huddled a thin, pale woman and teenage girl. They cowered close together with expressionless faces. The disturbing scene screamed ABUSE. I was angered and appalled that this was going on right in front of me. I desperately wanted to do something. I stood there watching for a moment while I debated whether to ask the woman if she needed help but she avoided making eye contact with me. I was terribly conflicted but afraid of making the bad situation worse. I looked around and other carts were now coming down the aisle and those shoppers were trying to ignore the whole situation. Reluctantly, I moved on and I have felt guilty ever since.

I always wonder what happened to that poor woman and her kids. I stew about what I should have done--alert the store manager? Intervene no matter what? Call the police?

I try to comfort myself that maybe the management saw the incident on security cameras and stepped in to help. But to this day, I wonder what would have happened if I had been more courageous."

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Out, Damned Spots!

Yesterday, I went over to Target to get a new ink cartridge for my printer. As I'm walking up to the store, the sidewalks and entrance are dotted with chewing gum. Once again, I'm wondering...WHO THE  HECK DOES THAT?
                                        (Borrowed image)
I can understand that occasionally someone might have gum accidentally fall out of their mouth, but obviously, the slack-jawed slobs in question chose to spit their gum out right in that spot. What is the thinking behind it? Are they afraid they might run into their old 3rd grade school teacher and be caught chewing gum and humiliated into spitting it out in her hand? Is it that they have spaced-out the fact they have gum in their mouth until they get to the entrance? Or, do they see all the other dirty gum blobs and take that as a invitation to disgorge the contents of their mouth? In addition, it seems likely that most of them are women!

You might see cigarette butts amongst the stains and blotches, but the butts are biodegradable. Those ugly gum spots resist the elements for a long time. The cleaning guy at the clinic where I volunteer says that to clean up the gum pressed into concrete, he has to get down and spray it with something to freeze it, then scrape it off. It's hard work and not entirely effective.

It seems that this has been a problem for a century so it is not going away, but maybe it's time to bring back those old-fashioned signs that say "No Spitting". Of course, human nature being what it is, everyone thinks it doesn't mean them.

                        SOME CHEWING GUM STATISTICS
Average # of sticks of gum a person chews each year is 300.
Annual chewing gum sales is $2 billion.
Total number of US chewing gum companies is 30.