One of the stores I work at, it's my Thursday morning store is actually in a pretty nice neighborhood BUT it's butted up to one of the worst cities in Michigan. The violent crime rate in this tiny city ranks just below Detroit. If you were to assume that the vast majority of people living there are living well below the poverty rate you'd be correct. If you were to assume that drug use and crime are exponential there you'd be right. It's a city that everyone around here knows to just steer clear of. However, this neighboring city causes my Thursday morning store (in a pretty nice neighborhood) to have very high theft, interesting clientele, and I've seen many the strange scenario play out there.
A large portion of the customers walk to the store or take the bus. (There aren't any large metropolitan areas close to where I live so most people in my part of the world own/ drive cars. The people taking the bus or walking to the store in this particular scenario, generally aren't very well off.) Last week while I was leaving my Thursday morning store there was a man stopped in the entryway with three dark scruffy backpacks. He had purchased several cartons of pop and was standing there filling (I mean FILLING) his bags to the brim with the cans. He was an older gentlemen. He looked worn, tired. His clothes were a bit ragged and dirty. I'm being purposefully very descriptive for pondering's sake; he looked like he had a hard life. Even if hard meant less money then most, or uncomfortable living arrangements, or having been laid off and without work for too long; who knows what the case may be. He looked worn.
I walked to my car thinking, "That man enjoys pop so much as so go to the trouble to walk all the way here, load up those three bags full of it, and walk all the way back home with that weight on his back? Really? Is it worth all that trouble?" Even if he were taking the bus it would still require a lot of walking and carrying of those bags. I thought about this for quite awhile.
Just recently a friend and I were discussing our values, or more specifically what we value. If you value a collection, your home may be filled with trinkets and chatchkes galore. If you value simplicity your home may be open and empty. If you value spending time with your dog you may allot hours a day to going for long walks, grooming, and caring for you furry family member. Other people might have zero interest in dogs but may spend hours a day playing video games or watching and playing some sort of sport. I could give a million examples; our lives very much reflect what we value, even though often times we may not ever think about it or realize it.
Clearly the man in the entryway at the grocery store with three incredibly heavy backpacks filled with soda, who was getting ready to haul his stash home values pop. I can't see any scenario in my lifetime that would put me in his shoes. I don't drink pop (except on rare occasions). Even if I had to walk to and from the grocery store I would never go to the trouble of loading up several bags filled with heavy pop. The sight was truly shocking to me. The money he spent on it, the time it took him to go to the store and back home, the weight and inconvenience of his haul. He really values pop!
But there are things like this in my life, certainly. Maybe? I think there are for all of us. I imagine those cans of soda must bring him great joy. Maybe he needs one as the perfect accompaniment to watch a sports game? Maybe the pizza he planned to eat at dinner just wouldn't be enjoyable without that perfect can of pop to go with? Maybe he spends hours a day sitting on his back porch watching the birds and drinking soda? "Ah, perfection!" For all the trouble he was going to pop must really bring him joy. This sounds pretty silly and maybe even a bit mocking on my part. I'm not mocking him in the least. If he gets such great joy from drinking all that pop that he's willing to go to the trouble I only glanced at for a portion of a minute then I would never dream of begrudging him that.
It does make me think about my own life though. I wouldn't want to go to all that trouble for pop. I wouldn't want a sugary beverage to be that important to me. I DO NOT look down upon him; I almost respect that he'd go to so much trouble for something so simple. But I wouldn't want to work so hard for something like that. But do I? Is there something, are there things in my life that I sacrifice time, energy, portions of my life for, things that when it comes down to it really aren't worth the heavy haul? Hmm...