Choices, 11/27/2002

MNH:  11/27/02

One day during summer I had worked on our land the whole morning and despite being hungry and tired stopped at Coppses to buy groceries. When the lady who did the bagging asked pleasantly: “Paper or plastic?” I snapped with irritation: “Just bag it!” Then I stopped at the M&I  branch office. The teller asked sweetly: “How do you want your money, large bills or small?”  I replied not so sweetly:  “If I want specific bills I will let you know. Therefore don’t bother with an unnecessary question.”  Recently I have come across a pamphlet “Tips on how to be a better teacher.” The pamphlet advised the teacher to give the student choices. For example the teacher is supposed to ask the student: “Do you want to write that report or give it orally?” To give this choice is avoiding the duty to teach. When I had a student who was ill at ease in front of an audience (and many students are) the report had to be given orally. To face an audience without trepidation can be taught.

It is true,  when I stopped at Copses hunger and fatigue had loosened my hold on self control. I was rude to people who were innocent because the directive to ask these questions had come from the top. But my irritation with having to answer a question like “paper or plastic” when my mind had already moved from buying groceries to cooking had been relentlessly building. I can’t help but feel we are given the multitude of  inconsequential choices  to lull us into the belief, that decisions are in our hands, that we are the master of our fate.