My Creative Voice

Trying to add value, make sense of what's coming next and keeping things going in the same direction.

Right Side of the Road

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I am walking the road less travelled towards being physically fit.  Doesn’t that sound all mystic and holistic ?  In fact what I am doing is just walking.  Arms a-pumping, dog a-trailing, shoes a-flying walking.  I feel better when I walk so I try to keep it up.  With all the construction going on around my house, I’ve added some off-roading as well.  It has also been a bit of a personal struggle to set out when all those construction guys are everywhere.  I get a bit self-conscious in my nifty shoes and spandex pants.  What I noticed today is that they have done the second coat of asphalt along our road.  The road finally meets the curb ! Yeah !  It is a pristine black with not a hint of lane delineation.  There is nothing on this road to remind people to drive on the right side and make the right choice.  They have to do it themselves.

This got me to thinking, which happens occasionally.  As I was walking along it struck me that society is much like this unlined road.  We have to make the choice every day to do the right thing.  We have to stick to our side and travel carefully, being considerate of others and understanding that rules have a place.  I watched the cars making their way along this new stretch of black.  If they’ve lived anywhere around here for the past two years, they were probably revelling in the smoothness of the ride.  I keep waiting for the bottom of my car to fall off our roads have been so bumpy and pot-holey.  Between that part of the obstacle course and the newest addition of raised manhole covers, it’s been a tactical exercise to get out of our area without blowing a tire or losing a tooth on the steering wheel.

The cars that were enjoying this autobahn-esque moment were not careening out of control.  They didn’t switch sides because there was not a line to tell them not to.  They didn’t swerve or meander in to what would be oncoming traffic just because they could.  They chose to do the right thing.  They chose to continue in the safe and law-abiding way we all have driven down this road when the lines of white showed us the way.  I recognize that it would be against the law no matter what, but doesn’t that white line help sometimes ?  Doesn’t that white line remind us which side of the road to choose ?  Wouldn’t it be a little bit of wickedness to drive on the wrong side of the road now and again ?  I guess it would.  And I saw evidence of this the other day.

I’m not sure how much of a chain Value Village is but for those of you who may be reading this outside of the Burlington area, it is the same idea as any thrift shop.  It’s just HUGE.  I love it.  Love, love, love it.  I love the idea of recycling.  I love the idea of getting something funky and unique to wear without destroying my bank account.  If I’m in the right mood, I can get lost in there for an hour or two.  If I am in the “monster sticker” mood (more on that later), then I’m in and out quickly.  This Monday was the back to school 50% off sale.  We were there by 745am and we CLEANED UP !!!  Both my kids got clothes that they chose and like.  I got some stuff to round out my student wardrobe and my husband – well he chose two little plastic organizer thingies.  All of this fun for under $150 !  I was stoked.

Now Value Village also supports local charities.  It provides jobs for those that might find it challenging to find employment elsewhere.  It hugely helps the environment by providing a clean and organized way to peruse other people’s treasures.  It also feeds my vintage cookbook habit which is just awful but I suppose there are worse things to collect.  So needless to say there are lots of positives about this place.  I am also not averse to buying second-hand shoes.  Not for my kids as their feet are still growing, but I don’t mind for myself.  I happened to glance in to this woman’s cart and she had the most beautiful vintage-esque wedges in the perfect brown that I would have just loved.  On her feet she sported some type of generic flip-flop that are probably the bane of every chiropodist and chiropractor’s practice.  I mosied on my way cruising for more finds and checking in with the other members of the hunting party.

Part of what you need to know is that I notice the weirdest little things.  I notice stuff that no one else would even register.  I also tend to gravitate towards certain people although usually I have no idea why.  I just tend to bump in to them over and over again or they stay on my radar for the time we share space.  This lady happened to fall in to that category.  And now I know why.  The shoes that I had noticed in her cart, that I longed for, that were only $9.99 (I had checked them out before and they were too big) and were on that day for 50% off, were on her feet.  She was cruising the store with her kids and buggy in what I can only assume would turn in to “hot” shoes.  Now I recognize that I am making a snap judgement.  She could have been walking around to see if they were comfy.  She could have been trying them out so she didn’t waste her money.  She could probably also take off and fly like Tinkerbell if I clapped my hands hard enough.

This bugs me.  Stealing bugs me.  Stealing relies on other people not paying attention.  It relies on other people not caring that things are getting stolen.  Who cares if a big box store loses some items ?  Everything is marked up like crazy anyway right ? It also relies on the people stealing forgetting that there are white lines on the road whether we see them or not.  Value Village is a charity store that is working to help so many people on so many different levels and was most likely stealing from them.  I will also recognize that this woman may have been in financial difficulty and didn’t have the money for the shoes.  SO DON’T BUY THEM !  Save up like everybody else does.  Something, anything but stealing.  Her cart was full of all kinds of other stuff.  Compromise.  Find a way.  But please don’t steal !  Remember that white line !

I know this is about one pair of shoes in a discount thrift store and not someone’s kidney.  I know this is about something so inconsequential that in the grand scheme of life it doesn’t even register as important.  But to me it is indicative of a society that is not even bothering to see the white line when it is right on front of them.  We all have choices to make every day.  Every day we can choose to do the right thing.  Every day we can make the choice to help the world be a better place.  Or we can continue in the downward spiral of lost manners and empty consciences that is so detrimental to society that we may not recover.  Simple choices like using manners, not stealing, driving safely and seeing the white line.

Yes, I did say something to staff.  I did not report the woman herself but just checked in to see if this happens a lot.  Unfortunately the staff member I spoke to said it probably does.  This saddened me.  What satisfaction can there be, unless you are truly desperate, in stealing from a thrift store ?  That anyone would find satisfaction from stealing in the first place boggles my mind but at least I can sort of buy in to the “hit the big guy” mentality.  I know this is wrong as well.  I know that stealing is stealing.  It just seems that much worse when the item you are stealing is also helping others.  I know this is a hypocritical stance but what can I say ?  It’s just how I see it today.

As we go through life, I hope more and more people make the choice to choose the white line.  I hope that people will choose to follow the white line.  I hope that they will see that crossing that white line in search of the perfect shoes or the crazy thrill of driving on the wrong side of the road has consequences.  You are making the choice to be a detriment to society.  That woman and her shoe choice, if she did in fact walk out with them, showed her children how easy it is to step over the white line.  In that moment, she potentially created another generation of those unwilling or unable to remember that the white line is there where we see it or not.  The choice is ours to make.

Author: Elizabeth Plouffe

Writer, communicator, entrepreneur, tea enthusiast (bordering on fanatic) who enjoys helping others connect. Cookbook reader, cottage lover, book devourer (apparently I make up my own language too) and seeker of the ambition to exercise.

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