Let’s face it… most anyone with access to a computer is among the richest people in the world. So just the fact that you are reading this qualifies you as privileged. I know I am.
I have to admit that Psalm 16 is right when it says that “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” I whine way too much. I complain and bemoan various things in my life… but I have a sweet life, a life that 99.9% of the world would want. The problems I have can be classified as “rich people’s problems.” And that’s why I’ve been writing this blog, or more accurately I’m writing the blog to hold myself accountable to my very real desire to examine my life, to become more grateful for it, to change it according to Jesus’ ways, according to the Old Testament jubilee principles fulfilled in Jesus’ new covenant for us. I want to be part of redemptive efforts, if only in my own small ways, that His kingdom might come on earth as it is in heaven.
So I was doing one of my rich person activities recently, shopping at a Whole Foods store. I could write multiple blog posts on that choice alone, for it is one fraught with ambivalence for me. But let me just stick to this one story.
Last week I went to Whole Foods to buy groceries for several dinner parties I was having (batching them all together over several days so the flowers and food could do double-duty… thrifty huh?). And the check-out woman rang up all my food (very slowly I might mention), bagged it all, and then she realized her computer wasn’t working right. So she told me I’d have to wait a while as she rebooted and tried a few things. She asked me if I was busy. Have you ever heard an American say, “Heck no, I’ve got all day to wait here.” My mouth said no. My crossed arms told me (and her, probably) otherwise. Though I wasn’t all that busy or time-pressured, really.
Then she decided that the only proper way to pay me back for the loss of my extremely valuable (!?) time was to give me some free food. Let me repeat that I already had a cart full of just what I “needed” (which is a spurious term in these circumstances anyway), and that included about 20 peaches. But she insisted on giving me a new bag full of peaches, special “doughnut peaches.”
Which I told her would go to waste, which I told her I did not need, which I told her was unnecessary for I really didn’t deserve or require more food as a prize for waiting patiently. But it only escalated. She then insisted I should have some Odwalla juice for free. I told her I don’t really drink juice, sticking generally to water or coffee (or margaritas, but that seemed excessive to report). But she wouldn’t rest until she had given me a carton of freshly squeezed orange juice, which I don’t really love. And then she wanted me to try it right then so I’d know how good it was.
Anyway, you get the point. It was ridiculously excessive, born of the very reality that Americans can’t wait, don’t expect to, won’t do it patiently. Is that it? Is it really not an option for me to have to wait 15 minutes for the register’s computer to get fixed so I can pay for my expensive groceries and go home to prepare for my dinner party?
I guess what was hardest for me to think about is what would have happened if a hungry person walked into that store, looking bedraggled perhaps. Would that person have had the option to say “Can I have a bag of fresh peaches and a carton of freshly-squeezed orange juice for free? Just because I am hungry.” Likely not.
But I got all that because I was deemed too important or busy to wait. And then when I told a couple of people how much it had upset me, they said that they thought I should’ve gotten something free for my trouble.
It makes me rather sick.