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King: Little things can add up quickly

POSTED: June 17, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Does anybody actually listen to robo phone calls?

A voice says, “This is Nancy Pelosi.” Yeah, sure ... and I slam the phone down.

“The FBI reports there is a home break-in every ...” I slam the phone down again. It happens almost every day. It’s hard to believe these calls produce anything but irritation.

On the other hand, they are cheap and easy to set up. Maybe it doesn’t matter if no one listens. In the case of political messages, a name and a party have been implanted in someone’s memory banks. Who’s to say there isn’t a residual effect when that individual goes to the polls?

As for companies selling insurance or security systems, an element of apprehension has been introduced. There’s a payoff somewhere or companies wouldn’t to do it.

Then there are all those donations requests that come in the mail. I get at least four or five a day. They go straight into the trash. Often they are from a cause I support, or have supported in the past, but enough is enough.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. I was bellyaching about it to a gentleman this morning. He commiserated with me and then told his own story. Unfortunately, he and his family had to put their elderly mother in a nursing home. He had her mail held while the necessary arrangements were made. When the mail was finally forwarded to him to handle, the post office delivered it in box the size of a large shopping cart. Again, almost all of it was trash.

On one hand, this is just another minor irritation we all endure. On the other, it is a major problem for the nation because it represents wasted resources. In the case of robo calls, it is a waste of individual time and equanimity. In the case of junk mail, it is a waste of our country’s materials and energy. Why do we do it?

Profit of course, but at whose expense? Even if you benefit from a job with the postal service or with a corporation or political party, you suffer economically when paper production and delivery methods damage the environment.

Something that appears petty on one scale becomes massive when inflicted on a nation as a whole. Robo calls and junk mail are a minor source of irritation, but over time minor, almost inconsequential irritations inflicted on the population as a whole have a negative impact.

Americans are not a happy people these days. I’ve focused on robo phone calls and junk mail, but I’m sure readers can list a host of others irritations. However, there’s another broader point to the column: Little things add up. Little things matter, and an accumulation of little things can have a major impact of all of us.

What you do matters: A soda can thrown in the trash instead of the recycle bin; an extra trip to the grocery store because you forgot your shopping list; running the washing machine half fill and then using the dryer when you could have hung the clothes outside to dry; running the heat up in the winter rather than putting on a sweater or turning the AC down in the summer because you’re “too hot.”

I’m having a crisis of conscience here because I’ve done all these things — except the soda can! I don’t like soft drinks, and I’m a fanatic about recycling. But I’m a hypocrite if I claim to be anything other than another overprivileged American.

The point is, these things matter, and if the planet is overheating and the climate changing, I am responsible. If my generation has fouled its nest and is leaving a damaged Earth to our children, I am responsible. I didn’t know these things when I was younger. I do now, and to deny the part I’ve played in our children’s shaky future is reprehensible.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.


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