A few weeks ago I found myself guilty of rude behavior in a restaurant a dozen miles from Homestead 2.0 in Belize. My behavior was pointed out to me, in rather embarrassing fashion, by other patrons. Apparently I had become one of those people I used to complain about as I chatted loudly on my cellular telephone.
It started innocently enough. I arrived with two friends to an empty restaurant. We knew from past experience the restaurant has a powerful WiFi signal, and we were prepared to take advantage. We multi-tasked, catching up with email messages while eating. Then we called our faraway friends. In the midst of our calls we failed to notice the restaurant filling up with other customers.
It’s no excuse, but I was so happy to be able to make a call! Along with my friends, I was able to connect with friends in various countries. This is a rare treat where I live.
On a similar note, I often eat while I’m being interviewed. The sounds you hear during my audio interviews are forks and knives clattering on plates. Some listeners find such activity unprofessional. A few years ago, I would have agreed. Now that I live closer to the edge of daily misfortune, I rationalize my behavior with the notions that I’ve got to eat and I’m not being paid. Feel free to make a donation any time you find my work useful.
My life is virtually incomparable to the life I led in Tucson, Arizona less than a decade ago. There, I took for granted technology that has vastly improved since my time on campus. Here in Central America, I take few things for granted. Reliable telecommunications infrastructure certainly is not one of those things.
Most people in the “first” world have no idea how privileged they are. Never mind grid-tied electricity, abundant food at grocery stores, and water pouring out the municipal taps. Rather, let’s consider a flat tire on the highway.
The highway in the United States is probably part of the Interstate Highway System. If so, it is characterized by an amazingly high standard of service. Automobiles are racing in multiple lanes on asphalt or concrete laser-leveled with hardly a foreign object such as a piece of gravel within any 100-mile stretch. Yet a flat tire ruins the day of the typical driver. It’s inconvenient. It’s grimy. The driver is late for three meetings. I’m getting cranky merely thinking about it.
Now switch to slow-motion with me. Turn back the clock 60 years.
On several occasions I’ve come across a disabled vehicle on a dry riverbed known as a Belizean “highway.” The highway is comprised of rocks and dirt. It is visited by a road grader once yearly. The uninformed traveler could easily conclude the road was shelled recently by the United States Air Force as part of a training mission.
The disabled vehicle is a 30-year-old rusty pickup filled to overflowing with laughing children in the back. Two adults are chatting happily alongside the truck, which has black smoke billowing from the engine. I ask if I can help. I’m thanked and told with a smile that a brother-in-law is on the way. I continue, marveling at the good humor of the locals.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” we often hear. In light of near-term human extinction, it’s all small stuff. For most people here in Belize, a truck on fire is a minor inconvenience relative to feeding and clothing the family. A disabled vehicle in the middle of the road is “small stuff.”
In the United States of Entitlement, comments on Facebook influence individual wellbeing and financial success. In Belize, few people have the time or money for Facebook or other social media. Internet usage is purchased by the byte. Costs are higher than those in the U.S. for service that is slower and less reliable than dial-up connections of 15 years ago. Wages in Belize are abysmal.
None of this excuses my rude behavior, of course. And context matters. Until you’ve walked a few dozen miles in my shoes, you have no idea how it feels to be constantly attacked for promulgating accurate evidence, even in a crowded restaurant.
I’m scheduled to visit Norway in December 2017. My itinerary has me arriving into the Oslo airport late afternoon 9 December 2017 and departing late morning 17 December 2017. I’m willing to deliver a presentation or two if somebody will arrange a venue. I’ll engage in the conversation few are willing to have over a meal, if there is any interest. Please send me an email message if you’d like to pursue either option: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to my volunteer booking team for seeking additional volunteers in support of my speaking tours. If you would like to host me in your area, please send a message to email@example.com
I’m featured in a video series that airs now and then. Catch all released episodes of the Guy, Fawkes, and Jamen show here.
I’ve received several requests for a workshop focused on emotions for people who accept the evidence underlying our near-term demise. Such a workshop is described here. It is generally available at the homestead I occupy in Belize.
I’m booking guests at the mud hut. For details, click here.
McPherson’s latest book is available in audio, and can be purchased here. Ms. Ladybug and Mr. Honeybee: A Love Story at the End of Time is intended for ages 11 and up.
Mugs, tote bags, iPhone cases, tee shirts, and other pragmatic goods affiliated with the book are available here