Sunday, January 07, 2007

Paper or Plastic?

My last delivery stop on my bread route is the granola joint I spoke of previously. I like stopping there. It doesn’t take long to form a routine and find the guy with whom you can exchange the “Hey Doug, workin’ hard?/hardly workin” banter. You also identify the people who are glad to see you, and vice versa, so you try and make sure you say something to them before you leave. Now this place is more like church than I imagined. This week I asked an employee for a roll of tape. She asked me, “What kind of tape?” I froze, thinking it was a trick question, you know, kind of like the “paper or plastic?” line you get at the checkout. [Which, I later find out that it really is a trick question, and that the right answer is neither, because you carry a) your own canvas bag, or b) a fair traded Kenyan tote bag, or better yet, c) organically grown hemp bag, in which you carry home all things organic.] I, in noncommittal fashion, reply, “just whatever you have handy.” She digs through a messy worktable and hands me a roll of masking tape that looked older than the store. I wondered if it would even peel off. My insecurity led me to think she didn’t want to waste the good hemp tape on me, the unbeliever. I admit I am an outsider in this little community, but one thing I do recognize are the little inconsistencies that make you tilt your head and say, “Huh.” One of those is, why do lots of the employees smoke? Inside the building, I get this vision of a better, more healthier world with a commitment to wellness and wholeness, yet half the workers sit out back on the loading dock puffing away on their break. Understand that smoking is not my issue here. What puzzles me is how difficult it is to make the real match up with the ideal. The hippies and vegans and wannabes preach a gospel of a cleaner environment and go to great lengths to avoid meat and milk, but will ingest smoke and all other types of toxins into their temple. I would guess this is what your average church outsider might experience also (and I’m not referring to the deacons smoking out back.) Here is a place that is supposed to be the mainstay of love and goodness and charity and peace, but reality seems so inconsistent with that ideal. It’s the old line, “Practice what you preach.” What will enable us to live more in line with the values we proclaim so loudly? Without it we are nothing more than a health food store. I left the smokers on the dock and walked across the street and bought a bacon cheeseburger.

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