My community is usually a pleasant one, maybe suffering from a bigger sense of entitlement than it should, but still usually courteous. (More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Last week was a lesson in what full-on pressure can do to routinely nice people.  The lists of school supplies had come in the mail, every teacher wanting a number of special items.  For example, you can find folders with pockets or folders with brads, but it’s hard to find them with both.  Guess what a lot of teachers want?  Composition books are harder to find than the Holy Grail.  If your student has more than one teacher, each one seems to want a one-inch looseleaf notebook, and you wonder how Johnny or Jill will carry them all.  Crayons for one class, colored pencils for another, and colored markers for yet another.  Calculators of specific type for every grade above four.  You get the picture.  Outfitting a single student could be maddening.  Try doing it with two or three kids.

Each child of course wants a particular backpack to lug everything in.  A particular color of shoe.  The clothes are too hot to try on and the whining begins, and besides “I want those jeans and I don’t care that they’re expensive.”

So imagine what happens to my pleasant community as parents and kids ready for the big day.  They’re having to make multiple stops to fulfill those lists.  They have opinionated and sometimes weary children in tow.  If there’s an infant in the midst of this, the screaming can be quite overwhelming.  They hit fast food restaurants for dinner, the traffic is heavy and many people are driving with half their attention on youngsters fighting in the backseat.

I pity those parents.  I find it hard to blame them when the glazed look comes over them and they completely forget they’re standing in the middle of the aisle.  When the three kids escape them and start having a sword fight with foam noodles, annoying everyone who tries to get past them.

In the midst of this stress, “Excuse me” and “I’m sorry” and “Thank you” nearly disappear. 

And then I think about all the students who aren’t making these shopping trips because their parents can’t afford any of it.  If your store has a donation box, throw something in it.  If you can’t find a place to offer some looseleaf paper or pens, then stop by your local school and ask how you can donate supplies for needy students.