An Open Letter to Wal-Mart Cashiers

Dear Cashier,

Seriously?

You are honestly going to audibly sigh, roll your eyes and mumble complaints just because I choose to use reusable shopping bags?

Is it really that big of an inconvenience?

I was once a Wal-Martian too you know. I stood where you are standing. And  I can’t believe that placing a customer’s purchased items is a reusable bag would really be that much more of a hassle than putting them in four times as many plastic ones.

Plastic bags that, by the way, take 450 years to biodegrade. Plastic bags than can end up in our oceans and be eaten by sea life thereby not only threatening their lives, but ours as we harvest them for seafood.

Sure they’re recyclable. But how many people actually recycle them? Not to mention that the recycling process for plastic bags emits heavy metals into the air causing tremendous air pollution which threatens, wait for it, our lives!

Did I mention that they’re made pretty shoddily too? I mean, by the time you make it to your car inevitably at least one of them has some sort of hole or tear in it; your newly purchased items teetering on the brink of falling through and landing in the middle of the parking lot. Not only do the reusable ones solve this dilemma, but they’re easier to carry and they hold more, reducing the number of trips it takes to carry them all in when you get home.

It can’t be anything but a win-win situation. Can it?

So your obvious disdain for reusable shopping bags is telling me what exactly? Is it telling me that you hate the earth? Is it saying that you actually want to contaminate and pollute our environment to the point that we all die slow, horrible deaths? Or is telling me that the 20 extra seconds that it might take for you to use them could disrupt your day so significantly that taking that chance is worth it?

Thank you Cashier.

I will take that into consideration.

But I will continue to be an inconvenience to you by carrying my own bags.

And I won’t apologize for it.

Yours truly,
The ArachNerd

Facing Your Fears

This is an article I wrote for our church’s newsletter last week. It was inspired by three things; the actual event, an inspirational devotion that a classmate delivered last Monday, and current events taking place in my family’s life, especially my daughter’s. I asked her to read it before I submitted it to the church because I don’t like to write about people that I love without their permission and approval. She replied, “It made me laugh, and then it made me cry… Thanks for always being that voice that tells me everything is going to be okay.” Which, in turn, made me cry.

I love you Kiddo. Always have & always will.

The View from the Pews

When our daughter was about 8 years old, the wife and I took her to Six Flags in St. Louis. As we walked through the front gate she informed us that she had made a decision. She had never ridden a roller coaster before and this was the day she was going to start. She had swallowed her pride, reined in her fear and boldly announced her confidence and resolve to conquer the scariest of theme park rides. I told her that I was proud of her and asked which coaster she wanted to face first. She raised her finger, pointed straight ahead and said with all seriousness, “The Screamin’ Eagle”.

The wife and I looked at each other, attempting to suppress the grins on our faces and the chuckles under our breath, and said “Let’s go.” I knew if she was truly going to go through with it, we would have to act quickly before she talked herself out of it. She and I boarded the ride together. The attendants strapped us in. And we began our 110 foot climb up the old, shaky, creaky wooden roller coaster. She still had that steely-eyed confident look as we slowly ascended, but that was about to change. As we plunged down that first drop at over 60 miles an hour it was replaced with a look of sheer and utter terror. She screamed and cried and held on for dear life.

As insensitive as it may sound to some, I couldn’t help but laugh. But being a decent father, I put my arm around her, held her close and tight, and told her we were going to be okay. Still, she still didn’t stop screaming until the ride was over, her feet were firmly planted on terra firma, and she knew beyond doubt that we were fine and that I had told her the truth.

Sometimes in life we have to face situations and obstacles that are beyond frightening. Things change. People come and go. And we feel like we are all alone, facing down the monsters or roller coasters in our lives that evoke overwhelming fear in our hearts – often because we have no idea what’s going to happen.

But God knows. He understands. And in those moments He wraps His big powerful arm around us, pulls us close to his side, and tells us that everything is going to be okay.

All we have to do is trust Him, and believe that He told us the truth.

Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.

When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.

When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—

Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.

I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!

That’s how much you mean to me!

That’s how much I love you!

I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

— Isaiah 43:1 (the Message, emphasis mine)

May the Fourth Be With You

Nearly everyone that knows me also knows that I am a big fan of the Star Wars franchise.  I was a mere six years old when the first movie was released. Granted, I was too young to understand most of it. All I knew for sure was that it was the first movie that I had ever seen that absolutely blew me away. I instantly fell in love with the whole Star Wars universe. I wanted a lightsaber, a landspeeder, a pair of droids and an old to dude to mentor me and tell me lies so bad I could taste it.

These needs could only be fulfilled with an assortment of plastic dolls… *cough* I mean, “action figures” and whatever other toys and accessories I could talk mom or grandma into buying me. I must’ve been pretty good at it though, because I ended up with a ton of great stuff. My pride and joy was an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) that was as big as a dog. It wreaked havoc on countless miniature villages and stuffed animals, and was destroyed in a thousand fiery explosions. But it always came back the next day to try it all again. The Empire never gave up!

It was awesome.

Yes, I was a geek before being a geek, for whatever oddball reason, became cool.

George Lucas has been quoted as saying that Star Wars has three distinct generations of fans. The first (which I am obviously a part of) that fell in love with the original trilogy, the second who were captivated by the second trilogy, and the third that the Clone Wars animated series caters to week after week. A fourth generation might have their own piece of the universe too if a rumored second animated series is released for younger fans, based on the Galactic Heroes line of toys.

But for me, that’s part of the magic.

I remember in 1997, when Star Wars was re-released as a Special Edition in theaters on its 20th anniversary, sitting in the back of a theater in Fairview Heights and watching all of the dads bringing their young kids in to see it for the first time. It was a sentimental moment; one generation sharing something that it loved, something that changed it in a significant way, with the next generation. It was a very cool feeling.

Some dads may share a love of baseball or football with their kids. Some may share fishing or hunting. Still others may share… I don’t know… glass blowing or something. But the geeks of my generation got, and continue to get these opportunities to share with their kids a story that happened long ago, in a galaxy far far away.