Sunday, February 8, 2009

what if...?

the new stephen king book is a collection of short stories. i'm a bigtime stephen king fan, so of course i got it as soon as it came out, then i kept it as a carrot in front of me while i finished a couple of other books that weren't so exciting. now i'm halfway through, but one of the stories, 'stationary bike', hit a nerve. the protagonist finds out that his cholesterol is high and his health is in danger and he sets out on a stationary bike to fix the problem, but in the process he makes enemies of his own 'lipid company', 4 guys who he has ?dreamed up/created with the help of his doctor's explanation of his problem, because by losing weight and eating right and exercising he has put these guys out of work. and they have houses and families and mortgages and lives. 
so i got to thinking about my life and the impact i've had on certain economies and people by my lifestyle choices and changes. like what's the bartender at interurban going to do with all that smithwick's he ordered special for me? what about the carhops at sonic? do they miss me? are they mad? have they had a surplus of iced tea and route 44 cups and straws?
once, on the way to a mission trip, i was waxing philosophical to the person next to me about how all of us americans were living in luxury and we were wasteful and gluttonous and we should stay home and eat in more often, be happy with our houses and cars and forget 'keeping up with the joneses' because even the joneses were reining in their spending. who needs a lexus or a mercedes? who needs a 3 million dollar house? a $100,000 pool? why do people keep buying these stupid clothes and toys for their kids? why do they insist on making a trip to disneyworld a lifelong goal? 
then i realized i was talking to a bartender at a restaurant in bricktown whose living depended on people who lived the lives i had just railed against.
yes, we're gluttons and we're spoiled. but does the world not count on us to be this way? are we not pretty much singlehandedly supporting economies in countries where hopefully at least some people aren't being abused and exploited?
one more random thought: why, in tough economic times do we cut back on stuff? on people? were these things or services or people superfluous to the business or the community? were they just extras, like whipped cream and nuts on a sundae or creamer in coffee? like onions and pickles on a burger? why do we start getting things or getting used to things that we can apparently do without? and how many of us are expendable if the economy gets 'tougher'? 

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