Moata's Blog Idle
Last week I walked out into traffic at a busy intersection.
This is not the sort of thing I make a habit of and I certainly didn't do it on purpose. I was simply tired and distracted. A woman on the footpath had asked about the nearest bus stop, I'd answered to the best of my ability and then, on hearing the distinctive staccato "rat-a-tat" sound of the pedestrian lights indicating it was time to cross, I walked out only to find myself confused when she called out to me that a car was coming. I looked up and, oh yes, that is a large 4WD coming straight towards me. Crikey.
I skedaddled as quickly as possible to the raised concrete in the middle of the crossing and stood there with red, glowing cheeks of shame until the little green figure on my set of lights said it was time to go. At which point I went. Rather briskly.
Had the driver of the 4WD been going faster or paying less attention I might have ended up with bruising on something signficantly more ouchy than my pride.
What the hell, Moata? You've been using pedestrian crossings for quite a number of years now. How on earth did you let that happen?
Feeling wistful and nostalgic is a state of mind (or heart) with which I'm pretty familiar. Earthquakes, a baby, and middle age all pluck at your heartstrings in their own way. Buildings in which I lived or worked fall away. A formerly tiny human nears his first birthday. I reminisce on my youth. I don't spend my entire day in lachrymose daydreaming but neither am I a stranger to it.
Still, I was a touch surprised last week to find myself feeling all emotional about a bus route.
Early next month Christchurch public transport provider Metro will institute its second big change in bus routes since the earthquakes. The first, a couple of years ago, decentralised the bus service, creating a number of exchange "hubs" in the suburbs, one of which I may have got a bit "scathey" about last year. This resulted in fewer buses going into the centre of the city and more changes during a journey required. My morning commute went from a 2 trip journey to 3, though I usually just walked the last section because the route was so circuitous that I could generally make similar time walking even while heavily pregnant (and despite the route regularly being driven by the bus equivalent of Colin McRae).
Metro are now moving to consolidate a number of routes, dropping some in favour of more buses on the more heavily used routes. This means that my no. 5 route is about to be axed.
This won't actually be a huge inconvenience to me as there is another bus route that is equally handy to our home but I'm still rather grumpy about it for purely sentimental reasons.
It's been a few years since I was single but I do remember the confusion and disbelief I felt as I looked around at my fellow, paired-up human beings, and thought "that person is a complete waste of space and yet even they have somebody - What sort of ridiculous system, is this?"
In as much as we're so often led to believe that successful pair-bonding only happens if we truly deserve it, I was right to be confused. But the fact is you can be a total dropkick and still have a significant other.
Exhibit A: Charles Manson. 80 years old. Check. Shorter than Prince. Check. In jail for orchestrating a series of brutal homicides. Check. Currently engaged and in posession of a marriage licence for his upcoming nuptials to his 26 year-old fiancee. Also, amazingly, check.
Now, there's two ways that you can look at this. Either this is the most depressing piece of news for single people everywhere since George Clooney was taken off the market, or it's reason to hope.
Because if the man who is second only to Hitler* on the "malevolent, lunatic bogeymen of the 20th century" hit parade can find someone who wants to marry him, then surely, SURELY anyone can?
With internet shopping and seven-days-a-week retail, it's easy to take for granted just how much variety there is for consumers these days.
Just take a look down the cereal aisle at the supermarket some time and be boggled by the multitude of mueslis on offer. You can buy just about anything at just about any time now. And yet when I was growing up, almost nothing could be purchased on a Sunday and our local supermarket was probably a sixth of the size of the one we use now.
We have so much choice. Surely there is no consumer want that isn't catered for?
And yet every now and again I'm reminded that there are some odd little gaps where it seems like there should be products but there just aren't. Or there are but you have use all your wile and cunning to hunt them down like you're Daryl and Carol in last night's episode of The Walking Dead. Except maybe with slightly less crossbow action and can these two people just make out, already? Jeez.
Where was I? Oh yes, below is the beginnings of a list I am compiling which I encourage you to contribute to. A list of "Simple products that I don't seem to be able to purchase anywhere for reasons that I don't really understand".
Guilt is a weird emotion that we so often get completely wrong. In theory it works. You do something that you probably shouldn't have and your guilt circuit kicks in forcing you to reflect on your error of judgement. Having done so you can make a concerted effort to avoid said mistakes in the future, and if necessary make reparations and apologies towards anyone you've slighted, harmed or in some way been a dick towards.
Superficially this is a pretty good system. Not as good as having the forethought to not do that regretful thing in the first place, but in the interests of ameliorating any negative consequences guilt is a good safety net to have available. Let's just consider it your conscience's "morning after pill".
But so often guilt doesn't work that way at all. Instead you have situations where people who should feel guilty don't. Or people who apologise for saying or doing dicky things only because they know they'll look bad if they don't. You can tell that their guilt circuit hasn't switched on when they make only half an apology. The kind that goes "I'm sorry but... let me now explain to you why it was actually kind of okay that I did that".
You say something dumb, that maybe you didn't really mean but instead of owning it you flick into defensive mode and hijack the apology that should really be about making the other person feel better in favour of helping them understand that you're not as crappy a person as they think. Because it's all about you. We've all done it. And it goes without saying that corporations and politicians excel at this sort of thing.
Absence of guilty feelings may be a problem but so can an overabundance of them.
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