This entry is fuelled entirely by pent-up rage and might, therefore, not be 100% accurate in details, as it is solely an expression of my impressions. Also, it is hypocritical. It couldn't not be. It's also really badly structured - but it's a rant, so I am going to excuse myself.
There are times, like now, when I am in a permanent state of high concentration, focused on keeping all the strings of events in a firm grip. I am (co-)organising three things at once, whilst striving to fullfill my own expectations of a mix of vita activa and vita contemplativa*. Not really stressed out but strung like a bowstring with the effort of idea-juggling, my patience with "the world" is somewhat more limited than on other days.
*i.e. a fair amount of exercise and keeping up with world news to some extent
Today I went shopping. Just as I did the day before yesterday, because I was in need of certain accessories for a certain event. I realised how much I actually detest shopping, especially if it is "necessary"*: Hunting for hours for a certain item - which hopefully has a practical function to make it more bearable - tires me. Not only physically. (Admittedly, there is an element of fun to it too, especially when the time is spent with a really good friend and we're trying on hats, but I shall focus on ALL the negatives for now).
* i.e. something specific is needed for a specific purpose; if it is truly necessary is often debatable
Somehow my radar for irritating phenomena is significantly more sensitive on days like the ones described above: I walk around in public more, am exposed to more marketing nonsense and attempts of consumer-manipulation, I see lots of other people buying into said nonsense, happily emptying their purses for worthless trash just to be worried later-on about how to make ends meet. It's twisted.
Sale-Signs scream at passers-by: Come in or you might regret it in a few weeks time! It does make me nervous: What if I realise a few weeks from now that I wanted a certain skirt, but was too "lazy" to go and buy it when a) it was still available or b) it was still cheap? I swallow hard, cursing myself for even letting myself be affected by a last-minute spell of panicky greed and walk on (or not). Whilst other people stream in and out of shops, bags continuously swelling.
Ooh, and all the plastic! For every pair of undies you get a separate plastic bag. Sometimes things are wrapped doubly: clearly, this is more elegant and exclusive and, therefore, a sign of prestige etc. etc. All those plastic bags will sooner or later end up in a seagull's stomach or wrapped around a sea lion's neck, slowly strangling it. What is it with all those naughty activists: they put pictures like that in our heads. We need to blank them out, when shopping! But, fuelled by reports about all the things wrong with this world, I register more little signs of these wrong conditions everywhere and that makes me furious and depressive simultaneously and I want to scream.
I am starting to understand why people avoid watching documentaries like "Plastic Planet", "We feed the World" or "More than Honey", because they do take all the "fun" out of life. How the hell am I supposed to enjoy myself when I am constantly being made aware of how my unreflected behaviour has severe consequences on
a) the environment,
b) people with the bad luck of having been born at the bottom end of the power-pyramid and are forced to poison themselves providing us with stuff we don't actually need,
c) the global climate and
d) eventually myself: my body and my psyche??
Save the bees, eat healthily, say "no" to plastic, stop people from murdering one another, protect the rainforest, aid immigrants, don't throw away food, wear only clothing made organically-grown resources, produced under ethically correct and humane conditions, eat only organically and locally grown food free of herbi-, pesti- and fungicides, as well as other toxic substances - vegetarian or vegan, if you can; watch your carbon footprint: don't travel by plane too much and best don't own a car. Frustrating.
I do get why people ignore all that and stick to media that deal with lighter topics or are at least easy to consume, because they blame it all on politicians and various other people, thereby offering a comprehensible and easily adoptable (hardly biased) stance which is - how practical! - shared by thousands of other people, so that (obviously) they are all right in not supporting these mad new ideas some people have.
So let's ignore it all and shop away, because a new dress will make me happier than trying to correctly recycle my waste. And the cheaper it is, the better - then I don't have to consider if I really like it or if I have shoes and a jacket to go with it, because I can just buy them really cheaply too. (Because it's obviously not my fault the workers don't get paid or that buildings collapse over their heads. I mean: why don't the companies do anything about it? It's an OUTRAGE! but not my fault, so... I take those two shirts as well. They're kinda cute and only cost €7 each.)
So. I went shopping today. But before I did, I decadently had breakfast at a bakery - reading my newspaper while sipping my coffee: all proper Viennese style. The interior was posh and done-up to make people feel at home or conjure in their minds an alpino-rural idyllic picture: the smell of summer and hay, the milk freshly milked and foamy, country-side eidyllion. (Thanks to dark wood and mugs and plates in sunny yellow and a checkered rural blue and white pattern). So much for the interior. Now for the personnell: They were slow, but stressed out, understaffed, forgot parts of my order and needed to be reminded of them twice (which was not easy, because they were unattentive enough to let me wait for several minutes until they showed up in eyeshot again). When addressed, they gave me an annoyed look, even though I was being both friendly and patient (in my opinion, at least). Idyll destroyed. I had time enough, though, and didn't bother much - but it registered.
Is it really so hard to be friendly to customers instead of treating them like an unwelcome nuisance? Apparently it is. (I remember, from my days as a breadseller, an old woman who thanked me for being "so kind and friendly", which I consider standard-behaviour, especially at a job where one has to deal with people every day. "It's rare that people smile at one, nowadays." I was startled. Now I see what she meant.)
Why is everyone too stressed to be friendly?
So, then I went shopping. But first I went to meet my mum at a shop for sports gear. The shop assistant was busy with her iphone. She didn't even notice me when I walked in. Since all I had to do was to wait for my mum, I watched her. For about 10 minutes. She only briefly put the phone down, when one of her colleagues needed her help. Then she returned to texting, or whatever she was doing. (Mum then told me that she'd asked her for help earlier on and she had barely given a useful answer and rather given the impression that she wanted to get away as quickly as possible).
Why don't you pay attention to what is going on around you? Instead of whiling away the time on the net - and get paid for it. That hurts a bit - especially, since I have a job that continuously gets dragged through the dirt and we have a reputation of "not working enough". Nice - hold the punchbag for me, please?
So, then I finally did go shopping and not even far. Actually I only needed earplugs, so I went to the drugstore. Mum wanted to be quick and efficient about it and asked one of the saleswomen there, if she could tell us where to find them. Instead of showing us, she hurriedly (also slightly annoyed) pointed into the general direction of the middle of the shop and quickly turned around again to carry on re-stacking the shelf. (Did you understand what she mumbled?.. Me neither.) It took us several minutes to find the right shelf.
By then I was already HATING shopping centres, shopping streets and other places whose only purpose it is to make people spend money, WITH ALL MY HEART. They are not places that make people happy and it's not fun to spend time there: it's exhausting for everyone involved: shopkeepers and customers alike. Plus it seems that quite a lot of people have forgotten that it is also possible to spend time in other ways than shopping and that makes me sad.
I realise it is about time for me to take a break from the city again and spend some time... on the road. Or in a field...