Terry and I went out to Wal-Mart again (I know, I know) and bought a vacuum sealer for the fruits and vegetables we are preparing in our new dryer. While we were looking around, a man approached us and asked if we knew where there was a meat tenderizing mallet. I said I didn't know. I said, "Why don't you ask someone who works here?" He said, "They never know anything." He had been sent out on this mission to find a meat tenderizer, and he was determined not to find one and thus to thwart someone's desires. While wandering back through the kitchen gadget aisle, I saw a tenderizer, and I grabbed it and looked around for him, but he had disappeared. Mission unaccomplished!
I was also on the lookout for a Christmas-themed cookie cutter. I asked an "associate" where I could find one, and she pointed me in the right direction. Another "associate" showed me exactly where the available items were. As has been my experience with all Wal-Mart employees, she was friendly and helpful and glad to be of service.
So what is this about? Where does this idea come from that just because workers are not in the best of jobs that somehow they are surly and dumb? When we came to the checkout counter, the clerk said, "Making cookies?" And I admitted as much. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And I did not feel any shame whatsover on that, in spite of the politicization of the holidays. Who cares? Whatever makes people feel good, in even a superficial and transient way, is fine with me.
Now you know me, Mz. Liberal, but look: These people were nice. The merchandise was what we wanted and fairly priced. And at holiday time, that is enough.
So then we went to Ken's House of Pancakes for breakfast. This is the kind of place that employees never leave. They have to work very hard, but they are fairly treated. It's always full.
As we were driving home, I said, "I don't feel guilty. Or maybe it's metaguilt. I feel guilty for not feeling guilty." Terry said, "It's survivors' guilt." No kidding. I'm so glad we decided to stay put and not to travel this season.
We're all athiests who enjoy Christmas anyway, the good stuff and the not so good stuff. For many it is the time to reflect on one's losses and all the ways in which others have disappointed them. For us it marks the end of the year and signals our hopes for new beginnings and better times. Christmas is who we are. There is no escaping Christmas, so we don't try.