Friday, March 4, 2011

Big Teisti for One

Nothing is more depressing than eating by yourself in a fast-food restaurant full of families, friends and lovers. You might be thinking they are cheap boyfriends to take their honies to a fast-food restaurant, but as was probably mentioned in previous posts: McD's is the place to be. So I sit down with my "beeg teh-ee-stee" sandwich with two chairs at a table that bairly holds my tray. Then a man comes up to me and says, "I'm taking these." So I'm now eating alone at a tiny-tiny table that looks even more lonely with no-one else at it.

As others have noted, the people and service at McDonald's in Georgia are great. They greet you when you come in. They are constantly cleaning the bathrooms and tables. They'll even continually mop the floors when people are tracking in mud on a rainy day. After you get your food at the register, they always smile and say a "bon apetit" of sorts.

In being alone, I am looking around at all the people around me. I see 2 friends/lovers eating. The guy has a blank stare towards the girl while she texts on her phone for 20 minutes. Rude much?

Then I see a mom sitting at a table with her kid. The kid is playing with his happy meal toy and the mom has this blank-minded look of despair on her face. You can see her glancing around and either wishing her husband could've come out with her and the kid or that she had a husband to help out with the trouble of raising a child on her own. She goes to get two ice creams and proceeds to eat the ice cream in such a melancholy way that suggests she is trying to fill some void in her life.

Another 40'ish old lady is sitting at a table with her mother. She could have sat across the table from her mom, but instead her mom seems to be having trouble eating from the shakes, so she is helping her with her food.

I feel that so much of this country tries so hard to maintain a facade of happiness, even in the most wealthy of places. Of course there are people who are generally happy, but it's comparable to the number of people who have PhD's in America. I was thinking about this. Take my neighbors, for example. I laugh a lot in my apartment (and in life in general), whether by myself talking to friends on facebook or skype, or when I have company over. I always think (these walls are paper-thin and I know they can hear me). After a good laugh, I always have a shudder of guilt that I'm disturbing someone. I have never seen my neighbors truly laugh on the countless occasions I have lived next door to and interacted with them. I can hear them put a coat on a coat-hanger, but I never hear them laugh. Sure, every now and again, they'll have a good chuckle, but it still seems artificial.

I can count on my ten fingers of people I know who know how to truly enjoy life out of all the people I've met. It makes me sad. If anything it motivates me to prove as a source of humor or relief from life for them. I don't doubt that life in this country is easy for anyone, but you have to learn how to enjoy it. I never thought about this in America, but I think this principle could also be applied there.

I officially taught my first full day with the IDP kiddos in the village I will commute to twice a week for three months. These students are so quiet and well-behaved compared to my average school students. In part, this silence comes from fear, mistrust, and low-self esteem. Some of them are just fine, but they have all been through the traumatic experience of having been kicked out of their homes and relocated to an unknown territory. Their parents in most cases don't have jobs and even more so, have a difficult time getting up in the morning at the thought of being in the middle of nowhere and expected to start over from nothing. Sure they have financial aid in place, but they really need emotional support. I am somehow going to make these computer classes interdisciplinary in developing growth of their self-esteem. For example, one girl was so shy she spoke in a voice that was almost inaudible. When she didn't know where the keys were on the keyboard, she looked like someone who wanted to cry but had no tears left. She easily clammed up, and there was so much dirt on her hands, I wondered if her parents didn't use her for labor or if even she didn't have any parents. Today affirmed that this is an area I can have a great impact. Even if what I'm teaching them they'll never use, at least I have a chance to encourage them to keep on keepin' on.


  1. It took me a while to finally realize you ordered a Big Tasty. As for happy people, they are in quite a shortage about here. After my jaunt across the Mideast, where I actually saw loads of happy people (in some real war torn places), coming back here has been especially jarring. Such a complete lack of smiles walking around, and when I'm smiling and whistling while I walk, everyone thinks I'm quite the durak. Granted, I am a bit off, but still.

  2. haha, shawn put that like no one else could =) keep on keeping them on, jefferson!