Remember the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina? It was a lot of forecasting, a lot of doomsday “this is the storm of the century” kind of reports, but we hear those a lot. Then the storm came and we all saw the aftermath, and we realized the forecast had actually undersold the severity of the storm somehow. In the days that followed, news coverage showed people dying in the streets of New Orleans, people standing on roofs begging to be saved, and many other horrible images that will not leave the memories of those who saw them, not to mention those who witnessed and survived that horrible tragedy.
I don’t know about you, but as I watched all of those images I felt the most utter sense of helplessness. I mean, heck, the people who are responsible for saving people in those kinds of situations couldn’t get to the people who needed them most. What could I do? Send band-aids? That hardly seemed worth it. How would the situation ever resolve itself? How would New Orleans and the whole Gulf region ever recover? Would they ever recover?
With these thoughts running through my head, I realized I needed to make a run to the grocery store to get a few items. So off I went, thinking about everything I was seeing on the news.
One of the items I needed at this particular time was garbage bags. It’s one of those irritating things that you only realize you’ve run out of when you have a huge mess of food you need to throw away, right? So I was standing in the garbage bag aisle surveying the offerings. I was looking for a particular kind of garbage bag, one I had discovered somewhat recently. It was the “odor shield” garbage bag. Tall, for kitchen trash cans. There it was (top shelf, as all things are that I need). As I held the box of smell-good trash bags in my hands, I was struck by an obscene moment of absurdity. Here I was in a suburban grocery store with a box of garbage bags in my hands – bags that would ensure that my trash, as in, the stuff one throws away, would not smell bad.
Meanwhile, people were trudging through armpit-high water in New Orleans, filled with filth, looking for ways to feed their families.
I wanted to make sure my garbage smelled good.
Kind of out of whack, don’t you think?
Do you really need that?
This is not a post that has the intent of chastising people for buying nice things for themselves when they can. I, by the way, ended up getting those smell-good garbage bags even after being struck by how ridiculous it was. But do you ever think that maybe there are some things that we could sacrifice and not notice it at all? Like, maybe I could take my garbage out 20 minutes earlier and not have to worry about stinky garbage anyway. I could probably live without my streaming Netflix (although I’m so addicted to Breaking Bad right now it would be a bit painful). I probably don’t need a lot of the stuff I have. I love it all, and I don’t really splurge, but there is so much stuff I don’t need that I always look for.
And there are so many people who are just looking for a roof and something to eat.
It is not to self-flagellate. It is merely to say, on the fumes of Thanksgiving here in the US, that there is probably a lot of stuff we take for granted that is totally gratuitous to our every day existence, and we should be cognizant that there are people who wouldn’t even consider that stuff on a must-have list of 1,000 items.
It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it? All of this stuff we accumulate?
Maybe there is another way to channel those funds, at least some of the time.
What do you think?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliemaynor/4497967157 via creative commons