By Sigal/Dec 14, 2020
Dorothy was going to the grocery store like she did many times before. She liked shopping for herself and always aimed to get as many necessities as possible with each shopping trip so that she could go longer between each grocery trip – they were a little tiring after all. Dorothy was at the grocery store when an employee did something that would change her whole day and outlook. All Dorothy wanted to do that day was get the food and household items that she needed to keep herself fed and comfortable until the next time she needed to go to the store. This is what many of us do for ourselves and for our families. You would never think that an employee at the store would stop you and make your day totally different. However, for Dorothy, one grocery store employee would shift it all around.
Check Out Counter
Dorothy got to the grocery store like she has done many times in the past. She got her cart and began strolling the aisles to fill her cart with all of the items on her list – vegetables, canned food, fruit, snacks, and household items. She went around to get everything she needed and finally got to the checkout counter to pay for her items. She considered it a good shopping day, filled with everything she needed and wanted for herself and her home.
A Lot to Load
As Dorothy was standing at the checkout counter seeing item after item getting scanned, she realized that she had bought more than she had ever before. This would take quite a few trips to get into her home. This trip she decided to buy many items in bulk so that they would not be bought for a while again. Dorothy kept looking at the items piling into her cart and with a heavy sigh at the hard work to get it home, she let the cashier continue scanning.
As the items were being scanned, the cashier looked up at Dorothy and asked how many plastic bags she would need. Dorothy was not sure so she took a few and started bagging her items herself. After paying for the groceries, the cashier helped Dorothy bag the other items but not before making a comment about the amount of bags she was using. She berated her for the amount of bags and said “plastic bags are not good for the environment.”
Dorothy was surprised at the cashier remarks. She stopped bagging her items and looked over at the young woman. The cashier stopped bagging as well as she noticed that Dorothy was staring at her. Dorothy very calmly said to her: “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” Dorothy thought about what she had said and took a second before she began bagging her items again. This was going to be quite the debate.
The young woman replied to Dorothy with: “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” Dorothy then retorted with: “Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles, and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.” It seems that recycling was indeed done then, but in a different way.
Brown Paper Bags
Dorothy went on by saying: “Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the ‘green thing’ back then.”
The Line Grew
As Dorothy and the cashier were in their conversation, the line behind Dorothy grew longer and longer. Dorothy could see that the cashier wanted to move on, but Dorothy’s speech was interesting and while there were those in the line that were tired, there were others who looked interested at what she had to say considering the generation gap and how different times did different things.
Dorothy continued her speech regarding what her generation did that this one does not: “We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But you are right. We didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in our day.” She was beginning to show her point as to the irony or it all.
Dorothy went on, by this time the rest of the people in line fell quiet and listened carefully: “Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But, young lady, you are right; we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in our day.”
Another difference is how we all treat the television set. It used to be a place where the family would gather together and not separate. Dorothy said: “Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana.” This little remark make someone in line giggle.
Bringing Her Point Home
Once Dorothy was done, she realized that there was quite a line that had formed. However, she also noticed that everyone in line was fascinated by her story and were smiling at her and what she had to say. The cashier did not know what to say to Dorothy. Dorothy took the chance to say a little bit more, since she now knew she had quite the audience to perform for.
A little less on the recycling side was the concept of kitchen appliances. Dorothy went on to say that even baking and cooking has changed since her day. “In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.” She then flexed her arm to show her toned arms as a joke to the rest of the people. There were those who laughed along.
Back in the day there was just a lot more work that needed to be done manually as technology has made our current lives far more stationary. Dorothy reminded the cashier and others: “Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But you’re right; we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back then.”
As Dorothy was finishing up packing her bags into her cart, she went on to discuss public transit. “Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the ‘green thing.’” She was not holding back anymore.
She then continued by talking about how we are all hooked to our technology that has us connected all the time. “We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.” There were many in line who related to this.
In reality, Dorothy’s speech only last a few minutes but her many good points lefts the originally rude and condescending cashier completely without words. Dorothy had brought up and debated her side with no possible retort from the young woman. The cashier was now standing there quietly waiting for Dorothy to push her cart away and leave her to her day. Perhaps she will learn to keep her thoughts to herself.
Dorothy took her cart with her many plastic bags and items to her car. She did not realize that there was someone in the line at the grocery store who was recording the entire speech that she had given to the cashier. She drove home without thinking too much about it, but she had no idea what would happen to her next and how her speech would impact.
Within a matter of just two days, Dorothy’s speech found its way online. One of the individuals who was in line on that day posted Dorothy’s speech word for word on their social media page. People could not get enough of what Dorothy did and had to say and so the post grew in views and shares very quickly. Soon enough, the post had reached over 2.2 million shares!
Dorothy’s words rang very deeply with people who had been shown a totally different reality than what they are living now thanks to Dorothy’s reminder of what used to be. Many of the people who commented on the post were very worried about plastic waste and what it was doing to our planet. It took someone like Dorothy who had lived through a different time to shake some people awake as to what we are doing today.
Those who were interested in Dorothy’s speech were also those who cared about the environment and wanted to make sure that it is being cared for and that we are going in the right direction in terms of taking steps to recover from the waste issue. A simpler way of doing things would benefit our world, and Dorothy’s speech reminded people that they are the ones who make the difference.
In addition to reminding us that the environmental issue is not a result of previous generations but by difference in production, Dorothy reminded those who were at the grocery store that day as well as those who read her speech that the concept of respect is just as important as ever. That young cashier learned a valuable lesson in respecting her elders on that day, something that needs to also be refreshed elsewhere.
The Coolest Grandma
Dorothy showed everyone that while she may be older, she is far more experienced and should therefore be respected for it. Older individuals may not be as tech savvy as the younger ones, but their opinions are just as valid as ever. She also showed the world that her opinion is right and that she is no pushover, in fact, she is one cool grandma and her family should be proud to boot!