I had a bit of a revelation the other day. Natasha and I had gone to pick up food to bring to a small dinner party, although it wasn’t a very formal occasion. She, on a lark, decided to grab one of those ridiculous celebrity tabloid-type magazines to read in the car on the way over.
The cashier, who looked to be somewhere between her mid forties and fifties, reacted with much excitement, and started talking to Natasha about some of the celebrities mentioned on the cover. None of this would have been very interesting, until I hear her start defending one of them. She said that it “wasn’t fair” that they were treating the celebrity “like that”, and that “she’s too good for that”. As if she knew her.
And something that has made a lot of sense to a lot of other people finally clicked in my head. A forty to fifty year old woman working a dead end cashiering job in the middle of nowhere doesn’t have anything to look forward to, and probably won’t ever attain any measure of fame and fortune. But by living vicariously through the glossy images in the impulse purchase area, she gets to feel as though she has some great connection. I used to think that welfare and Jerry Springer were our modern day bread and circus combination, but maybe that’s not it.
When you feel that you’re part of something bigger than yourself, you have some sort of purpose, and that the Universe is a sane, fair and rational place. You ignore poverty, poor health, overwork and stress, and instead focus on a place where the Universe revolves around you. Not exactly a “Total Perspective Vortex“, if you catch my drift. Maybe it’s just as much a way of getting by as betting the house on a better afterlife, or blowing all of your spare change on lottery tickets. I can’t exactly complain about it, since I think the perception of happiness trumps the reality of misery almost every time.
Pass the remote control, I’m tired of this station.