What?!? No bananas?
"Where are your bananas?" It seemed like a logical question to
ask. For all of my forty trips around the sun, bananas were a
key item to place in the grocery cart. For the first time I
could recall, the banana bin was empty. So I asked a store
worker where the bananas were.
"We don't have any," he replied. "We'll be getting some in
It took me a few moments to absorb this information. "What do
you mean you don't have any?" I thought. "Every store has
bananas." True, sometimes they are almost green enough to pass
for bent cucumbers. And they occasionally appear to have lost an
arm-wrestling match with a watermelon. But there are always
bananas of some sort in the store.
Then it dawned on me just how foolish my expectations were. I
live well north of New York City. Even if somebody invented a
way to cultivate them in the Great White North, it was early
April, and they would not bear fruit at that time of year. For
goodness sake, outside the snow was falling and inside I was
expecting tropical bananas!
If you commute in a big city, you might have noticed traffic
grinding to a halt. Why? Look to bananas for the answer. Just as
I was frustrated by my grocery expectations not being met,
millions of commuters are frustrated daily by their traffic
expectations not being met.
Consider some of the major machines in your life, such as
television. Twenty years ago, we would watch a TV show. Ads
would come and ads would go, but we would watch it from start to
finish. Who does that these days?
"What were you watching, honey?"
"I dunno. But I think I caught 412 channels."
And if ever you should lose the converter ... I know, I know,
this is a family publication, so we'll cut the profanity.
And what about the Internet? If a web site takes more than five
seconds to load, where are we?
"Did you order that book from Amazon for me?"
"I dunno. But I think I reached warp speed with my clicking
finger. Ouch! I think I sprained it."
If fancy TV gadgets and high-speed Internet feed our impatience,
what about car ads? Vrroooooommm. See how fast this car can go?
Wow. It does zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds ... in the ad. And zero
to zero in half an hour stuck on the Santa Monica Freeway.
As we expect our machines each day to break yesterday's speed
record, our cars seem to be slowing to a crawl. That's because
more and more people are squeezing onto the same road space
trying to zoom faster and faster and honking their horns louder
and louder (because we all know that cars move faster when their
horns get honked, right? Especially when they get honked LONG
and LOUD, right?).
Is it just me, or is this poor math? A realist would expect
traffic to get a little slower each year, which just proves how
rare realists really are. Every one of us expects to move faster
And I expect bananas on the store shelf even when it is snowing
outside. So what can we do? Easy, we can grumble and complain.
We can shout abusive words at store clerks and other drivers. We
can honk our horns (not recommended in the fruit section).
Or we can step back and ask ourselves logical questions about
what we should realistically expect. For instance, "Can I really
expect bananas on my grocer's shelves in the middle of winter
when I know the truck is stuck in traffic?"