Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Challenge/Day6- letter F

I actually wrote this a while ago and posted it as a Facebook "note," and while I have enjoyed coming up with A to Z blogs on the spot, not knowing what the word to each corresponding letter would be until the clicks of my keyboard gave them life on the screen before me, I guess I've known all along that this previously written piece (though I did change the title to fit with today's letter) was going to make it on to one of my A to Z's eventually. The subject matter is too relevant not to express...again. So, here it is: F is for...
Standing in line, waiting patiently to pay far too much for processed and injected food (because, based on the price of it, the organic stuff obviously has pieces of gold and diamond chips hidden within for which one can "sift" after proper digestion and waste disposal has occurred), i look around and can't help but notice the downward gaze or sideways glance of every person in my general vicinity. It's as if making eye contact with a fellow human being poses the same threat that Perseus stood against in his battle with the infamous gorgon, Lady M. Our ipods and cell phones have become modern day Shields, and anyone that doesn't know our name on sight is the enemy. So, I study the people around me without any worry that i will be noticed, as it has quickly become apparent that they are conjuring & expending precious energy to SEEM as though they don't have the time or will to waste their energy on anything outside of their play list or mobile solitaire game. I watch as a dozen or so people carry on as if the matter that composes their bodies and their buggies define the beginning and end of their worlds. I watch as a dozen or so pairs of eyes bounce around until they can find some superficial place of rest; which, incidentally, seems to manifest in the following order of descending pseudo-comfort: 1) any sort of compact piece of technology, 2) the editorial that boasts the skinniest girl on the cover; or 3) the ingredients or calorie content on the back of which ever container is closest at hand in the shopping cart. If two sets of eyes do happen to catch each other in mid-pass, the exact same phenomenon occurs, every time: the half-smile. Ah yes. The half-smile...the go-to expression that says, "this is as far as i am willing to go to engage you. I will try not to surf the same sight line as you again, and would appreciate it if you'd do the same so this awkward exchange does not have to ensue a second time. Have a nice life."
As I'm observing the strange meandering that is humanity, a lady takes her place in the line to the right of me. Careful to station herself the accepted 3 to 5 feet away from the person in front of her, she immediately whips out her iphone. My eyes fall to about the height of her kneecap, onto which a darling little girl grips with one arm, while ambitiously sucking her thumb. As a thumb sucker myself, I find fellowship. The little one, who I dubbed "Layla," is looking at me...right in the eye. She blinks, shyly. I wrinkle my nose playfully and smile. "Layla" responds by removing her thumb long enough to smile back. Sincere and without any face other than her own, she smiles. In my peripheral, I see the mother's face turned toward me. Just as I look up, she looks down, following the line of my previous gaze to find her daughter at the end of it. She then places her hand - the one not holding the iphone that only moments before took precedence to the joy and attention of her child - on her daughter's head and guides the little one around to the other side of her, allowing "Layla" to grasp her other knee for security before returning her attention to the iphone app of the day. "Layla" peers around her mother's thigh at me. Mother shifts her posture to block any further interaction. The man behind me clears his throat to let me know that he feels it is time for me to begin unloading my groceries on the whole four inches of available conveyor belt space that lies between me and the plastic grey separation bar that marks the end of the transaction in front of me. I ignore him.
After another ten minutes or so, I pay for my groceries and begin the walk out to my car. My thoughts turn to "Layla" and her mother. I'm sad and a little angry. My eyes dart around in search of the vehicle that I can't afford to put gas in and by their haste, they accidentally fall upon another set of eyes. I register the image of an elderly woman, with a cane. By the time showing on her face, I can only imagine her story: the things she has seen & done, and learned... by reward or consequence. I understand in that fraction of a second that she is a piece of human history; she is an offering of insight that only a combination of such an acquired past and the appreciated present can extend. I want to reach out to her, thank her for her contributions and honor her mistakes. I want to hear her stories. But then "Layla" and her mother's influence - the story of our future - floats back to the forefront of my mind, and all the old woman gets from me is a guarded half-smile.


  1. I am glad you are part of the A to Z Challenge... I have one more thought, I am sending you an email.

    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    IZOMBIE: Visit the Madness

  2. Thanks for stopping by, and I really liked this. I work in retail, so this is my landscape, though it doesn't seem this bad here, in my mid-sized town in Canada, but at an Easter visit last night, a neice went back to her phone again and again. Sorry that you found so many lack-luster pieces in the A-Z; it can be like organic food sometimes ;)

  3. I, too, find myself in these situations and get angry as well. However, I look them straight in the eye and start a conversation. I like to get in their face and when they don't respond (and I get even madder) then I am quite audible in my response. I really enjoyed this post and felt bad for "Layla"

    KEEP POSTING- you are one of the few I follow and will continue to do so.

  4. I should have talked to that old lady. i should have helped her cross the parking lot. in many ways, this is like the dreams where i never open the mysterious doors and when i wake up all i want is another chance to open the mysterious door. i'm going to the grocery store today. maybe i will engage someone. it's not lost on me, btw, that i found a sense of kinship with either a youngster (with a preciously fresh outlook) or an elderly (with years of wisdom from which to build an honest outlook), but not with anyone in between. maybe i'm just another "face-me-notter." or maybe, it is that they were the only two willing to look me in the eye. idk.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and connected to the topic completely. I often find myself saddened by the excessive attachment we all seem to be developing with the bits of technology we grip all day long as it it were a life line. I was in a doctor's office the other day and I was actually perusing a magazine. I looked up to see the five other people in the office waiting room with me on phones/ipads. Have we all become cowards? Your post is thought provoking and concerns a similar topic that I have toyed with sharing in writing.
    So glad I stopped by! I will be back.

    Happy A-Z!