Thursday, September 01, 2005

"All them people..."

On my way home from work last evening I stopped into Victory Meat Market to grab something for supper. Victory is a little anachronism and a dichotomy, an old fashioned butcher and grocer right out of the 1920s in some ways, but serving the culturally-diverse downtown with halal chicken and kosher beef and ugly, smelly Asian durian fruit, prized by aficionados for its heavenly taste.

I picked up a copy of the Globe and Mail (the headline: "It's Just Heartbreaking" - the cover photo: flooded New Orleans from the air). I tucked it under my arm and nearly forgot about it as I went around with my basket picking up salmon and celery. When I was being checked out, the teenaged cashier said "Is that all?"

"Yes," I said, then realized I still had the newspaper under my arm. "OH! No! I picked up the Globe." I handed it to her to scan. "My gosh," I said to the small, wiry manager who frenetically flits around the checkouts, emptying hausfraus' grocery baskets for them. "I would've walked right out of here with that!"

"No mind," he said. "We would've called 911." He and I and the cashier smiled at his little joke.

He took the newspaper from the cashier and started to put it in one of my grocery bags, then
paused as he looked at the cover photo.

"All them people in that stadium," he said quietly. "What are they going to do with them?"

"I just read on the 'net that they're going to move them to Houston. The Astrodome," I said.

The butcher, a huge man with arms as big as the great hams he carves, who had stopped by the checkouts to give a hand with bagging groceries, shook his head sadly.

"It's gonna be months before they can go home. It's gonna be months before there's anyplace to go. Where are they gonna go?"

We paused for a moment, the four of us, staring at the photo.

"Those poor people," the cashier said, and handed me my change. Her eyes were moist.

ronnie

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What on earth would Marshall McLuhan make of it, I wonder?

This global village he predicted has come to fruition in ways he didn't...

- Syd

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Sister said...

It's so weird to be sitting at home, and knowing that there are people out there just dying in the streets. That we're cooking supper and watching TV and talking and putting the dog out to pee and there are people dying in the streets down there. And it bothers me, because I always consider myself the kind of person who will stop and help someone pick up their groceries if they drop them. And beside sending what little money I can, I can't do anything else for them. If we're really all 6 degrees of seperation from everyone, why does this kind of thing happen?

I know. Mindless raving, I guess. The world isn't fair, nothing is ever fair. But when it comes to you like this, sometimes all you can do is ask that question over and over.

1:10 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Nah, Sister, not mindless raving at all; instead, a good articulation of the kind of... disjointedness that I think we're all feeling as we try to make our brains work through the cognitive dissonance of first-world people living a third-world crisis in front of our eyes.

Perceptive of you, I'd say.

ronnie

9:44 PM  

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