2008-01-29

We take so much for granted!

Our parents, (mine, the Bag Lady's & cousin Leah's from The Goats Lunch Pail) were all raised during the dirty 30's. They all knew what it meant to work hard, or starve, or freeze. They knew what it was like to have a lard sandwich - and be grateful for it. They knew why Canada joined WWII, they knew why we have Remembrance Day ceremonies and the significance of voting.

They worked hard to make life easier for their children. We had it relatively easy, yes, we had black and white telly, computers were huge things that took up whole rooms and required a degree to run them. Our education was taken for granted, it was law that children had to be educated. Most of us did not have to go find work at 15 or 12 or even younger. Some did, but for the most part I am talking about lower middle class and up - we are the ones that take things for granted.

As none of the three of us that blog had any children, I now have to generalize about the rest of our generation. They want to make things easier for their children too! This results in their children taking even more for granted. If they don't have at least three TV's and Cell phones and iPods and games stations not to mention the latest and greatest computer, they are hard done by. They want their cars when they get their drivers licenses and they get chauffeured by mommy or daddy until such a time as they do get said license. Most will do just enough at school to graduate, some will make an effort and go on to higher education but some will drop out when they get old enough.

So, this is what started me thinking along these lines:

We have a new tenant in the building that the office is in. He was brought here from Mexico to work in a food kiosk in the mall. The owner of the food outlet, is paying the rent, power etc on the suite and paying Juan (not his real name) a regular wage on top of this. There will be another joining him soon - also from Mexico.

Yes, Alberta is booming and we can't find enough people willing to work for 10 or 12.00/hour to sling hash, so we import them. We have three suites with West Indians in them for the same purpose.

I honestly can't say what I expected this fellow to be like, except that he is nothing at all what I expected - if that makes any sense. He is from Chihuahua, says he was raised middle class ( I think he was being modest), he speaks four languages fluently, French, Italian, English and of course Spanish. (He was starting to learn German too before he left.) He asked if I knew of anyone in the buildings that might speak any one of these languages so that he doesn't lose his skills. I did finally remember one woman from the Netherlands that speaks French, so I sent him to meet her (after I asked her of course).

He came and chatted again the other day and mentioned that no one he has met yet seems to be interested in cultural things like Opera or the Arts and he was wondering what he could do. And why don't we learn any language other than English here? We do, it is just most of Western Canada that learns French moves to Eastern Canada. It seems that in Mexico to learn another language takes money, unlike here where it is taught in school.

This lead to a discussion of how much we take for granted - oh, and the fact that he landed in the red-neck province of Canada. We have culture - don't get me wrong, we have a symphony and opera and plenty of theater and art galleries, lots of clubs with live music etc. It is just that the people he meets at work, or in the apartment complex are mostly blue collar workers. Or are working two or more jobs just to pay the damned rent. I pointed out that you don't need an education in this province to make bucket loads of money - you just need a strong back and a willingness to work hard everyday.

He said, but what do you do with all that money you make? Well, they either spend it on expensive toys & vehicles or save it up and go to Mexico for the winter. I took pity on him and printed off the Opera schedule and the Symphony schedule and told him that the Friday paper had a pull out section with all the things to do about town. Of course, he also wanted to know where a Catholic church was for Sunday - yeah, like I'm the last person you should be asking about that - however, I did find the info for him and he can attend in Spanish, Italian, French or three or four other languages if he so desires.

He has only been here a week, so Sunday was his first taste of real cold and blizzard conditions. I hope he manages through the rest of this week - the temperatures are going to be in the low -30's to high -40's all week.


He got me thinking though, what do you take for granted? That your car will start? The grocery stores will always have full shelves? Water will always come out of the tap? Lights turn on at the flick of the switch? Your internet connection?

Good Morning all.

13 comments:

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, what a great post.

I take SO much for granted and get all whiny when I have a computer failure...

Back-breaking labor and lard sandwiches with no whining? Gulp.

Always good to get a reminder of how lucky we are.

(And good for you for being such a nice neighbor! He sounds like an intersting fellow).

Leah J.Utas said...

I try not to take anything for granted, but it's so easy to get lulled into a false sense of security with the wonders of cable, electricity, and running water.

the Bag Lady said...

The Cowboy took a shower this morning, during which the water slowly trickled to a standstill. So he had to bundle up and head outside to the pumphouse where our pressure tank is situated. Fortunately, he managed to warm it up quickly and we still have running water. Unlike the time a few years ago when the heat tape on the cattle waterer failed and the entire system froze up on the Bag Lady. The Cowboy was not home at the time. Thank God for good neighbours...
The Bag Lady never takes running water for granted!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

WOW!
Reb, this is great stuff. I will think and come back. I am heading off to babysit. This gives me much to think about.

One thing I am grateful for is your great test results.
Terrie

Reb said...

Crabby, thanks! I too take a lot for granted. It's just sometimes I am reminded that it is not that way for everyone.

Leah I think that is why I like your Monday posts so much. Yes, it is easy to get a sense of complacency about so much.

Sis, I was thinking more about the city slickers when I said that about water, but once or twice a year it freezes? That is not bad really.

Terrie, take all the time you need and thanks.

Jo said...

Great post, it really made me think. I definitely take the daily things for granted...water, power, fully stocked markets every quarter mile. But living in a free nation, having power through education, & money to not only get by, but also to have choices, those things tap into core values for me. It's a juggling act, I think...making the most of what others have made possible, striving to create/advance similar possibilities, and forgetting enough in a moment to laugh, but not so much that one loses touch with why that means so much.

Thank you for the reminder...I really do need to stop acting hysterical when my internet goes down.

Reb said...

Jo, you took that so much farther than I and more eloquently. Thanks!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Reb,

Between you and Jo, I can't add much, except that I am grateful to have teh time to think carefully and catalogue the things in my life that inspire gratitude.

So many people are struggling for survival, they have no time left for appreciation.

Terrie

Reb said...

Well put Terrie.

Penelope said...

Mexico???

That's quite a commute.

First of all, I must give you a weather report: A cold front is expected to come through tomorrow: the high is 68 and the low is 38.

You might be jealous now, but just wait: we get nine months of summer beginning in early May.

Anyway, you are a wonderfully helpful neighbor. "Juan" I'm sure feels blessed to have you around.

In Texas many people are so anti immigration I feel we've forgotten our responsibility to be good hosts and hostesses.

--P

Reb said...

Penelope, thanks for the weather report. As for immigration, yes, we have trouble in that regard here too. If they speak English they are more than likely to be accepted though - more so even than someone from Quebec who does not.

Geosomin said...

I was thinking about this the other day when I bought a perfectly ripe pineapple in the midst of a canadian winter for 3$.

Compare that to a lard sandwich and it's positively gluttonous.
It's strange how expected things are changing. I often wonder how long it would take for our society to collapse...a few semis get delayed and where would we ge out fresh blackberried in february or the latest cellphone...for our 10 year olds. Our local Symphony is scrambling for $$ to stay around and I am one of a coming generation who can't speak both our official languages (never took it in school...honest. I'd liek to now, but when?)
I catch myself when I whine about things and try to remember what is actually important.
Like cheese.
And family.
I got a fortune cookie last week taht said "Family is more important than money"
Amen to that.

Geosomin said...

And I can't type...:)