Petroleum-Based Thanks

On Monday—I think—I went to Meijer (AKA the midwest’s nicer, cleaner version of Wal-Mart1, and swore I wouldn’t go back until after Thanksgiving, and all post-feast, capitalist, COVID super spreader shopping events are over. I then found myself returning the next two days in a row. What can I say, beers are made for drinking.

As I stood in the slow-moving socially-distanced checkout line on Tuesday afternoon’s trip for necessities (beer, Vaseline®, and a dog bed), I couldn’t help but stare at the holiday masses— including myself apparently—mindlessly stuffing their carts with food and drink as if their very lives depended on how much food they serve for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was like watching the anthill along the Sylvan preserve trail, only I was more disgusted. Sorry human race, it’s not you; it’s me. Ahhhh! I’m joking, it’s totally you!

I then started to ponder what I would say if a stranger came up to me right then and there and asked me what I am thankful for. Taking into consideration the potential surprise and embarrassment of being asked a question by a stranger in a grocery store checkout line that didn’t involve wanting to know if I wanted cash back or if I play in the WNBA, I silently blurted out to myself, “Well, I’m pretty stoked that my family and I are healthy, COVID-free, and things are going good enough that I can drive here, buy beer, a second dog bed for my dogs, and a giant 96-oz. tub of a petroleum-based lubricant, and I don’t have to worry if I have enough cash in my account to cover it.”

I’m sure, given time to think, I could have waxed poetic about my wife and son, health, and other good fortunes in my life, but at that moment, I thought that, because there was truly a time in my life that I would NOT have gone to the grocery-mega mart store to buy such trivial items. And I would most definitely have had a magic number in my head that the cashier would not have been allowed to cross.

I often find myself thinking back to being a kid and overhearing my parents arguing, stressing over, and juggling the family finances. Or back to when Wifey and I first got married, and we lived in a tiny 3 room, 1 bath house apartment bordering Pittsburgh’s Regent Square neighborhood, where we had to use open windows and heavy books on the air vents to control the thermostat in the winter! I think about those things, and it’s hard not to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

Google street view of our first crib! We had the 3-room/bath first floor. $450/Mo., utilities and free laundry included!!!

As my disgust turned warm and fuzzy thoughts waned, I finally made it to the masked cashier behind her plexiglass shield. I looked away in embarrassment as she scanned the tub-OH!-lube and noticed that it was getting really dark outside. “Hmm… I guess it’s going to rain.” I thought. But I thought wrong. By the time I made the 5-minute drive home, it was spitting snow, and by evening, there were about 3 inches of wet snow on the ground. Winter is here.

With a layer of snow on the ground and heavy fog, I was excited to get out with my camera on Wednesday. I went to Meridian Park, walked about two miles, and got some macro and moody nature shots. Not my best work but happy to be outside in some weather that is a tad more normal than previous weeks of 60˚ and 70˚ November temps.

2020 was and is shit. But there are still things to be thankful for, even things like the ability to buy a 12 pack of beer, a dog bed, and 300-use jar of Vaseline®.


P.S. Oh yeah, all the snow is gone. Back to brown.

  1. Please note that quality varies by location as does normal person to rim licker ratios.

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