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Enthusiasm and Embarassment

July 6, 2011

So, I’ve decided that I have a new system of blogging. I really wish I had thought of this at the beginning of the whole experience, but whatever. It’s never too late to start. The theme of this summer, at least for me, is experiential learning and therefore, I’ve been trying really hard to throw myself headlong into experiences that I wouldn’t normally feel comfortable in. The result is that I’ve been involved in a lot of things that I’ve never been involved in before. I’m doing things that are out of my comfort zone because I feel like it’s the only way to learn. Therefore, for the rest of the summer, I’ll be documenting my firsts because I think they’re really important. Here we go. This summer is the first time:

1. I’ve told a room full of people my majors and they’ve responded with enthusiasm, as opposed to confusion.
Usually when I tell a person my major they respond with a slight smile and head nod. Instinctively, I respond with a head nod as well, not really knowing if the person wants me to elaborate because I can tell they’re wondering what the heck I’m going to do when I graduate. Unfortunately, all this head nodding usually results in an awkward pause as my converser and I look like bobble heads and I wait for the question I know will come next. This is the way the conversation usually goes:

Person: So, if you don’t mind my asking, what is your major?
Me: Public Policy and Sociology:
Person (nodding head and smiling): hmmmm….
Me (nodding head and smiling): …..
Person: So, what are you going to do with that?

This is an unfortunate question to ask because I don’t really know what I’m going to do after college. I’ve started just saying that I want to be involved in human services, in some way, to avoid disappointing people.
However, this long winded explanation is not the most important part. Two times since returning to Gettysburg, I’ve gotten an excited response! One person even responded with “Oh good, we need more of people like you.” I don’t really think it’s a coincidence that I’ve only just begun getting these responses this summer or that it’s the people I’ve been working with who’ve been responding enthusiastically. Since I’m working at SCCAP, I’m obviously interested in poverty issues. When I tell one of my coworkers that I’m a Public Policy major, they rightfully conclude that I’m interested in poverty policy. They know, and I’m beginning to figure out, that it’s extremely important to have that people involved in policy making who have worked directly with the people their policies will eventually effect.

2. I’ve spent over fifty dollars at the grocery store in one trip.
I don’t think this should be that surprising. I’ve never before grocery shopped for myself and I’ve certainly never spent time planning meals and figuring out what I’m going to eat for an entire week. Granted, some of this food (like the chicken) should last me more than a week but I only planned specific dinners for up until Sunday.
While, I was in the grocery store I made the frightening realization that I had forgotten to transfer money into my checking account. When I get paid, it gets directly deposited into my savings account and then I usually transfer some of that money into my checking account so that I can use my debit card. This is usually a good system. It forces me to save money and limits the amount of times I can use my debit card. However, after a long month of not being paid, I had a very low amount in my checking account. Luckily, I had some cash on me. Hopefully, between the cash and the debit card I should have enough to cover the cost of my groceries…as long as I didn’t spend too much.
As the cashier was ringing up my items, I watched the computer to see how much it was adding up to: 20…30…40…50…55. I immediately began thinking, “What if I remembered the amount in my checking account wrong?” “I haven’t used my card to pay for anything lately, have I?” “How can I con this woman into holding my food and letting me run home to get more money if this doesn’t work out?” It was going to be a close call and I knew that I would be mortified if my card was denied.
When it finally came time to pay, I handed the cashier my cash and swiped my debit card. Finally, the machine read: ACCEPTED and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
As I rode my bicycle home, I began to think about the fact this is many peoples experience every time they grocery shop, and they don’t have the option of running home to get more money. Some people worry as they watch the computer count upwards as food is scanned, every single time they enter a grocery store, or really any type of store. I was thinking about one of the men in the movie “Food Stamped” who carefully calculated all the food he bought in order to make sure that his food stamps covered it all. Even with all this calculating, he still worried as his food was rung up that he would have to face the mortifying experience of having to tell the cashier that he needed to return some items.
Luckily when I was in the grocery store it was not a very common shopping time, so if I had to return something it’s not as if I had an entire line of people getting aggravated with the fact that I was taking so long. Imagine having to return five items because you don’t have enough money, while 6 people look on groaning about the fact that they have places to be. Maybe I’m caring too much about what people think about me, but I just think that would be a completely mortifying experience.

Well, that’s all the firsts I have for today. I’ll probably do another blog this week because I still have a bunch of things to talk about but I don’t want to post a 70 page long blog, because I know nobody will REALLY read it. Thanks for reading.

Laura!

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