Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tense Times at the Grocery Store

My Haiku: Trapped in the Kroger

Trapped in the Kroger
Threats of bombs in parking lot
They won't let us out

Yesterday, after cleaning out the fridge and realizing that our edible goods had been reduced to bagels & cream cheese, half a lime, and some vanilla yogurt, I deemed it to be time for a trip to the local Kroger. The part of the story where I buy groceries is boring, so I'll skip to the part where I'm checking out.

The lady in the lane next to me was talking about how they'd been taping off the parking lot as she drove up; sure enough, I looked outside and the whole lot was taped off. An ambulance and fire truck are parked at the front of the lot. At this point, I suspect that it's a medical emergency--it's fairly frequent to see an ambulance around that parking lot, perhaps due to the large volume of senior citizens who do business there. This changes when we discover that they're not letting anyone out of the store. Apparently, a suspicious package has been dropped off beside a white jeep in the parking lot.

Frustrated shoppers line the front of the store, wanting to go back to there cars. No one seems terribly frightened, and the atmosphere is more impatient that worried. Strangers are talking to each other about movies they've seen with similar threats in grocery stores, or about their boyfriends deployed in Iraq, or about how their kids are antsy because they haven't yet been home from school. For a moment, it doesn't matter that we don't know each other. We are all bonded.

The highlight of the scene was when Fire Marshall Rick Jones, a man who I've known since I was very small, came and started to inspect the Jeep, and the small package next to it. He was dressed like this:
Turns out there wasn't anything in the package but a bunch of CDs and "other small items." I don't understand their logic, anyway. They were letting people in and out of the store, provided they were parked in the outskirts of the parking lot. The package was 20 feet away from the entrance, where all of us innocent bystanders were gathered, watching the action. If it had been a bomb, we would have all been covered in shrapnel and / or blown to pieces. We just couldn't get into our cars and drive to safety. Yeah.

Anyway, I survived.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


(This is not the sunset that I just saw, but was the closest approximation I could find. Mine was way, way, way, way cooler.)

I spend ten minutes of the drive home from Seminary driving almost due west, which is an unfortunate thing to do at sunset. Consequently, I spent ten minutes of my drive cursing the sun, for blinding me, and making me drive like a maniac who couldn't see the lines on the street-- because, well . . . I couldn't. But anytime there was a tree, or another car, or a building blocking the sun, I could see the most beautiful sunset I have seen in quite some time. After I turned and started heading south, I spent the last ten minutes of my trip driving like a maniac who couldn't see the lines--but this time, because I could not take my eyes off of the sunset.

Texas has some of the most beautiful sunsets imaginable, and on my way home, I could pretty much see the whole panorama of this one. It was breathtaking. So many colors, so many textures. There were long, wispy clouds, and tiny ones, like little cotton balls, and spiky ones like fireworks decorating the sky. There was a patch of deep blue clouds next to a smattering of golden ones. The sky was pink, gold, blue, purple . . . I almost caused a wreck coming off my exit, which does a 180-degree turn at exactly the right spot to see the whole sky--or at least the interesting half of the sky at sunset.

The thing about sunsets is they are so fleeting, and so difficult to capture. My words are woefully inadequate to express the beauty I just witnessed, and even a picture (which is worth what I just said times a thousand) would fail to do it justice. You just have to be there.

That's not all, though. I'm sure that there were hundreds of people who were under that same sunset who weren't even aware of it. Thousands, probably.

I often feel like Heavenly Father gives me sunsets just to make sure I remember how much He loves me, but today I got the feeling it was also an admonition to slow down, to exist in the moment, and to enjoy life as it comes. Because as soon as you blink, the sun is gone, and no description, painting, or even photograph can recreate it. And every sunset is different, so while I'll see many beautiful sunsets in my life, I'll never get to see that one again.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Resistant to Change

I'm going to admit right out that I haven't read HR 3200--not that I think many of you have, because the thing is friggin' 1018 pages long, and written in legalese. So, I don't want to get into a debate about something that neither of us knows about. I don't want to talk about the health care bill itself, but only about my observations of the noise surrounding this infamous bill.

My position is that we, as human beings, are very resistant to change.

Recently at the nursing home where I work, there was a seemingly small change: they put tablecloths on the tables in the dining room, and took away the bibs that the residents used during meal time. This small thing caused somewhat of an upheaval for the residents. "Where are the bibs?!," they would ask. One gentleman even fashioned a makeshift bib from some office paper clips and a piece of ribbon fastened to either end of his napkin. Another threw his napkin (which was to be used in lieu of the bib) on the floor in a fit of rage.

At the same time as the Bib Fiasco, the plastic cups were replaced with porcelain mugs. This, too, caused a stir. For whatever reason, many of the residents were adamant about having these certain green cups, and complained about it to anyone who would listen. Now, however, not two weeks later, the turmoil has subsided, and life continues as usual. Crisis abated.

It is something that shocks me every time Facebook reveals a new update. People complain, they say this is worse than it's ever been, they threaten that if Facebook doesn't change back to the way it was, that they will leave. This goes on for a few months (apparently, the seniors are more easily adaptable than us), and then it wears off, and all is forgotten.

I don't know what our fascination is with maintaining the status quo, nor do I know why it is so difficult for us to simply adapt.

"Change is good," so the saying goes.