Preface to “Unit-y”

I had to check to make sure Preface is the right word; loosely, it is.

I had intended to write something entitled “Unit-y,” about the compartmentalization of modern(?) life. However, I didn’t feel I had time this week. Which in itself kind of serves as an illustrative anecdote of what I was going to write about.

So, provided I get around to it and feel I can, I’ll get on that soon.<> In the meantime, here’s a start:

“So you’re in your favorite coffee shop, carrying your own freshly-printed, freshly-purchased edition of the daily newspaper. Let’s say, the ______. You wait in line; you order a small coffee; you purchase a cellophaned bagel, just to tide you over until lunch time, which is to say, approximately 12:32, when you check the clock and realize you should probably claim your full half-hour of ostensible freedom. With the bagel you receive a small portion of cream cheese in a tiny plastic tub, no doubt measured with near-pathological accuracy to be 1 ounce by the dairy conglomerate from whence it came. Upon doling out the cash for your purchase – exact change, you have so many coins to get rid of! – you move along past the counter, past the biscotti selection, and receive your 12 oz cup at the other end. Approaching the napkin-straw-sugar counter, you shake the contents of two packets of sweetener to the far side of the pouch, empty them into the coffee, followed by two individual containers of half & half. Stirring the coffee with the peculiar variety of stir-stick that features the absurd, non-functional straw-like hollow, you wonder idly what percent of the garbage produced in coffee shops is actual food, not packaging. Glancing at your watch, you toss such speculation aside, nudge the door open with your shoulder – always the door to the right! – and hasten toward the corner as the bus approaches.

Count the units.

And if you diligently re-read the first paragraph, looking for instances of these discrete amounts – physical or otherwise – you just demonstrated exactly what I intend to explore: the compartmentalization of American (although not exclusively American) life. Did you count waiting in line for your coffee? Remaining in a designated place, behind the same person, until you can claim the cashier’s attention for sufficient time allotted to receive your item(s)?

Unit-ed we stand!

(to be continued … probably)


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