After patiently waiting in line to pay for her full cart of groceries Dorothy, an elderly woman, wheeled her cart to the cash register and started scanning her goods. The cashier looked up and sassily suggested that Dorothy bring her own shopping bags to the supermarket, instead of using so many plastic bags. She continued that climate change was a problem that was worsened by Dorothy’s generation, which her generation now has to deal with. Dorothy, went off on a rant at this point, feeling insulted by the younger cashier’s statement. Someone recorded her speech and posted it online. It ended up going viral, and a lot of people had a lot to say about her opinions.
A Day Out Shopping
Her day started like many others. Being an elderly lady, ‘Dorothy’ tended to do her shopping in bulk to help save time and money.
Despite the fact that she was old, she had no problem loading up her shopping cart with a wide variety of goods. The idea was that the more she bought per shopping session, the less shopping she would have to do in total. For Dorothy, this was meant to be just another day at the supermarket…
Dorothy’s shopping was going pretty well. She had visited the supermarket a number of times and had no trouble finding all the things she needed and wanted.
As she went from aisle to aisle around the store with her pushcart, she filled it up with a variety of things from canned foods and dried food, snacks, fruit, vegetables, meats, and personal products. As she finished her shopping run, she headed to the checkout to pay for her goods after a successful day worth of shopping.
So Much Plastic
As Dorothy arrived at the counter, she started unpacking the goods from her trolley. Because Dorothy decided to buy in bulk, she knew that she would have a hefty load to deal with at the checkout.
As she started unpacking her goods from the trolley that became more apparent. As the cashier scanned product after product, she realized that this would probably be the biggest load she had dealt with all day. She heaved a notable sigh as she scanned through all the products.
A Cheeky Cashier
Looking up, the cashier asked Dorothy how many plastic bags she would need. Not sure how to answer, Dorothy started tearing bags off the roll and began packing the goods herself. After paying for her stuff, the cashier started helping Dorothy pack her groceries into the bags.
While doing so, the cashier looked up to Dorothy with an irritable face and condescendingly suggested that she start bringing her own shopping bags to the store because “plastic bags are not good for the environment.”
The ‘Green Thing’
Dorothy was a little taken aback. After all her years shopping at the same supermarket, no one had ever bothered her about the plastic bags that she uses.
Dorothy stopped packing the bags into her cart and took a look at the cashier who realized that Dorothy had turned her attention towards her. Dorothy remained very calm and in her politest tone said: “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.” Dorothy then took a moment before starting again…
The cashier then replied: “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” Dorothy carried on talking:
“Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles, and beer bottles to the store,” she said. “The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in our day.
Brown Paper Bags
Dorothy continued talking. “Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books.
This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the ‘green thing’ back then.
A Growing Line
As Dorothy kept talking, a line of people had started growing behind. She could tell that the cashier was more interested in carrying on with the rest of the customers who had started to gather behind Dorothy.
While she could tell that most of them were anxious to pay, some of them had a look of intrigue on their faces. Dorothy’s speech had most likely struck a chord with some of the bystanders in the queue and her conversation with the cashier had become interesting.
Dorothy continued packing her groceries into the shopping cart while she carried on talking to the cashier. “We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building.
We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But you are right. We didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in our day. Dorothy was making a pretty good point about how much ‘greener’ the older generations had lived, at least in certain regards…
Dorothy then continued with her rant. At this point, most of the customers had become quiet. “Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind.
We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But, young lady, you are right; we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back in our day.
The TV has become central to the idea of the nuclear family over the years and soon after being released for the mass market back in the 50s, TV’s were in almost every home before the end of the decade.
“Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana.” That made one of the customer’s chuckle.
Making Her Point
Dorothy realized that she was holding the queue somewhat, but by the looks on most of her fellow customer’s faces, it seemed as though they had started taking an interest in what she had to say.
Some even had little smiles painted on their faces while the cashier simply didn’t know how to respond. There was no way to what Dorothy would say next, but she realized that she had a captive audience and that she would decide to continue to make her point.
Dorothy cleared her throat and continued with her speech. She moved on to kitchens this time and spoke about how things had changed over the years regarding even the simplest chores when it came to preparing food.
“In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.” Dorothy then made her point by flexing her arm lightly to show her muscles as a joke. A few people in the queue actually laughed at this.
Dorothy continued by saying: “Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.
We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But you’re right; we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back then.” In a way, this is a much better way to stay fit, as it doesn’t feel like you’re doing traditional exercise.
Dorothy started packing the rest of her bags into the trolley, she started talking about public transport and personalized transport.
It was kind of like she was giving a modern speech on climate change! She went on to say: “Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the ‘green thing.’
Dorothy had started rounding off her speech by touching on the subject of cell phones and how the modern generation was totally hooked to an electrical form of stimulation 24/7.
“We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.” This made a few of the customers laugh again!
As Dorothy’s speech came to an end, she started pushing her cart off to let the next customer through. The speech had only really lasted around 2 minutes, but the number of points that she had made, made it feel like a lot more.
The only way she realized that she had made her point was by looking at the face of the once condescending cashier who was now flabbergasted by Dorothy’s reaction to her simple comment about using too many plastic bags.
As Dorothy finished up her speech, she pushed her trolley out of the aisle and moved on to her car. She had decided that she had done enough, made her point and was ready to move on with her life.
However, unbeknownst to Dorothy, someone in the queue behind her had been recording her speech. As Dorothy drove home, anxious to unpack her groceries and settle down for the rest of the afternoon, she had no clue of what was about to happen next…
Sharing Her Story
Two days later, and totally out of the blue, Dorothy’s speech had made it onto the internet. One of the people in the queue had gone out and posted her speech word for word!
Reading it out loud probably made a lot more sense than the incident itself, but it seemed as though the people in the queue behind Dorothy weren’t the only ones who enjoyed her speech. In no time at all, the post had received over 2.2 million shares!
A lot of the people who were interacting with the article were moved by Dorothy’s wise and honest opinion.
It was like hearing how things used to be reminded people of how much more effective living a simple life can be for ensuring that the environment and all of those who share it live a better quality of life. Most of the people commenting on the thread were deeply concerned about plastic waste and its effects. Dorothy’s point had struck a chord with them.
Making A Difference
Dorothy’s simple and humble speech in a grocery store aisle had a much wider effect on the global community. Most of the people who had taken an interest in Dorothy’s story or shared her views, were deeply earth-conscious and the truth about a simpler way of life in the past, is something that has come back in a big way these days.
Despite doing something incredibly simple, Dorothy’s speech had made a huge difference in people’s perceptions of older generations and their roll in climate change.
Respect Your Elders
In many ways, Dorothy’s story had hit home on a lot of fronts. First of all, she was debunking the myth that the majority of global warming issues were directly linked to previous generations.
While we understand today that most of them had no idea of the harm their manufacturing sector(s) were having on the environment, many of the everyday things they did was less pollutant than what we deal with today. She also reminded us that it’s important to respect your elders.
One Cool Grandma
Ultimately, Dorothy had proved that being old meant you deserved a little extra credit and that her experience and point of view was worth a lot – even if we may feel it was a little out of touch with the times.
That doesn’t discredit her opinion and in fact, is something that we as a younger generation should cherish more. She also proved that she was a no-nonsense grandma who wasn’t afraid to voice her opinion. She is one cool grandma!