"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recycling rules add to complexity of life

The Onion had an item about a "man on the cusp of having a good time." What happened, of course, is that he remembered some responsibilities.
My, what has become of us? Seems like when I was a kid, we had a fair amount of open time in which to just relax and seek some fun. This man "on the cusp" could taste it, I guess, before that checklist of things to do emerged in his mind again.
The Onion is satire, for those of you not familiar. What satire does, is to identify raw truths and then skewer them to make us think.
Again, what have we become? A KFGO Radio personality noted the other day he was going to buy toothpaste, then discovered there were 50 kinds. He seemed exasperated. "I just wanted to buy some toothpaste," he said.
Have you ever shopped for some items in a hurry only to get home and find they weren't all exactly what you wanted? (Let's continue even though I'm sounding awfully Andy Rooney-ish.) Maybe you bought some pudding cups only to discover they're "sugar free."
Now we get a four-page flyer in the mail about a new recycling system. The powers-that-be will claim it's "easy."
Busy people would prefer just keeping their old habits. Many people have reservations about recycling to begin with. Are we sure all this stuff doesn't just end up in a trash pile somewhere? Will the authorities begin to fine people who don't follow all the recycling rules to the letter?
We're supposed to "rinse and remove" the lids or caps for an array of containers. You know darn well a lot of people aren't going to follow this. Are penalties or fines on the horizon? Could they become onerous?
"Oh no, that's not the plan," the authorities will say. Beware the slippery slope. The only way seat belt legislation could get passed in the states was with the assertion that it would only be a "secondary offense." Well, what happened with that?
My father who grew up in the Great Depression was flabbergasted by the seat belt rule. It starts out as a good idea as many nagging regulations do. The state then gets intoxicated on its power. It's not enough for something to be a "good idea" anymore. We end up with myriad rules and guidelines that leave us feeling like that guy in the Onion "on the cusp of having a good time."
We feel we need to stay fixated on accomplishing things and carving out the most risk-free life we can, never mind that such efforts seem to be having a dehumanizing effect on us.
Remember when life slowed down a couple notches during the nighttime hours? Now we take for granted we can watch any cable TV channel at any time, yes even at 3 a.m. And of course we can go online. For sure we have conquered boredom.
But increasingly I think we feel a little boredom would be welcome. We could fall asleep knowing there are definitely no better options (than sleep). When I was a kid, this was the world in which we lived. The TV "broadcast day" would end at a certain time, maybe midnight. It would be announced with fanfare including the Star Spangled Banner and military-type scenes. Getting up early meant you might see the "test pattern" on TV. For some reason that included an Indian headdress.
The online world and Facebook couldn't have been imagined when I was young. We have definitely conquered boredom in our contemporary world. But perhaps with some collateral damage? Maybe our brains are just getting too bombarded, like with those new recycling instructions.
I'm sure senior citizens are going to fall behind on a lot of this stuff. They grew up just "putting out the trash." Those metal "trash cans" with lids that could be wielded like cymbals if you sought a little levity.
Remember when stores were closed for Sunday? It was just understood that Sunday was our "day of rest" and we should put our material concerns aside, reposing with family etc. I know there are still certain religious denominations pushing for that. It's a futile effort considering how the big box stores and chains just assume that the full schedule needs to be filled. Profit optimization. The tills don't ring when the doors are closed.
The 40-hour workweek seems to be a casualty too. Chris Matthews of MSNBC sniffs at the suggestion that any such thing exists anymore. Workers strictly do what is expected of them. There's no parceling out of work/personal time based on principle - what's healthy for individuals and families. CEOs answer to shareholders who swim in circles like sharks.
We have businesses in Morris that were once mom and pop, following much more of the "principled" model (i.e. seeking "what is right"), whereas now they answer to non-local owners who couldn't care less about such things. No exaggeration there. The company has to "perform" up to a certain level. No chance to just yawn and "knock off early" on Fridays. You'd better be prepared to consume lots of caffeine and take marching orders.
And whatever you do, don't even think of "getting on the cusp of having a good time."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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