Saturday, August 29, 2015

Oh, Our First-World Problems!

Every morning, I have the duty of taking my granddaughter to school. Yesterday, as I waited in the never-ending drop-off line of mini-vans, I caught myself listening to morning FM radio. I don’t like morning FM radio because it’s too much talk and not enough music, so I quickly flip through stations. One program caught my attention because the DJ asked listeners to call in and share their First World Problems (FWPs). These responses were pretty funny because they made me think about how trivial these “problems” are.



One woman explained that she was in her first year of medical residency. She had worked the night before and was upset that she couldn’t get any sleep at home that day. Her reason: the maid cleaning her house was too noisy.


Another person said her problem was that the automatic doors on her mini-van no longer work; therefore, she has to manually open and close the doors.


One caller said how aggravated she gets when all of the treadmills at the gym are taken.

Later that day, I was walking behind my self-propelled lawn mower and realized that I wasn’t wearing my FitBit. I was irritated that I couldn’t record all the steps I was taking so that I could get that little bit of self-gratification when I saw the total. Ugh! I had just experienced a FWP!

While I had all the extra time of steering the mower so it could cut the grass with little effort from me, I remembered a picture I saw recently of Melinda Gates. In the photo taken in Malawi, Gates carried a 5-gallon tub of water on her head the way Malawi women have to do in order to get fresh water. The woman walking next to Gates carried 10-gallons on her head.



A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. Even with my non-mathematical brain, I could do the math. That’s 80 pounds the Malawi woman was carrying.

I considered what her neck and shoulders must feel like after a trek to get clean water and how careful she had to be not to slosh the water out of the open bucket. Also, carrying it in an open container doesn’t guarantee that the water will be clean when she gets home.

Oh, we in this First World country are definitely spoiled. We have clean water piped into our houses and don’t think a thing about it. We will let the faucet flow freely while brushing our teeth and stand in a hot shower until the water runs cold.

Should I feel guilty or proud that I have all of this?

We make fun of ourselves with our FWPs which is fine if it makes us consider how silly we sound; however, what do we do to make ourselves feel better – send money, go to a meeting or write a letter? Go to a 3rd World country for a week and volunteer to carry water or help build a church?

I don’t know what I could do to help in this area, but I can identify with something Melinda Gates said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. When asked why she was personally taking on issues with women, she said, “I turned 50 this year, and there’s something about turning 50. It’s kind of funny, but you can see the end of your life, you start to realize you’re on the back half of the life. And, so, I look there and say, “Well, what do I want to get accomplished in the next 30 years?” And by gosh, I better make sure I’m doing that.”


I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. I am not urging you to get up off the couch and go save the world because I don’t know that I will do anything. I just have a lot of options and ideas about helping others. I’ll start small, probably in my own First World neighborhood, and try not to complain about all of my so-called problems.