We may not be getting better but we’re certainly getting bigger. You realize this every time you go shopping. Look how big the shopping cart is -- way bigger than it used to be. It’s like you’re pushing a truck down the aisle. The stuff you put in it is big too.
And we should have mentioned how big the store is. If you walked from one side to the other without stopping to put any big items in your big cart it would still take you five minutes.
The store is big because it has a big selection — not just groceries, but chairs and TV sets and toys and pharmaceutical stuff. Some of those things are bigger than you expected to find in a grocery store, but fortunately you have a big cart.
You pay your big bucks and wheel the big cart out to the parking lot, which is really big. Most of the cars in it are big too. That’s a good thing for carrying big groceries, maybe not so good in other respects.
In fact, there are a whole lot of respects in which big is questioned, but not by too many people yet. When “big” is used as an adjective in our society it means “good.”
Then you drive onto the big highway that goes where small neighbourhoods used to be.
It would all be alarming if you suddenly arrived from a place where things were smaller, but those of us who have been around here for a while have got used to all this bigness.
Look what we’re getting in Ottawa: more big buildings, a big development at Lansdowne Park, a big casino. You don’t see politicians bragging about the small things they’ve created. They may have forgotten how to do that.
Big is all around us. When we go to the movies it is to a big building with many big theatres inside with wide seats and ample legroom. When we order snacks at the movies the small popcorn is huge and so is the small drink.
It is no surprise that people are getting to be pretty big too. A lot of experts worry abut that, but how do you expect people to stay small in such a big environment?
Not that everything is big. Some things that we wish were big aren’t, such as parking spaces.
And then there are airplanes. About the only place where we are treated as if we were small is on airplanes. The seats are narrow and the legroom is only adequate for children. Those of us who are not children feel as if we have accidentally stumbled onto the wrong plane, a children’s plane. Maybe somewhere on the tarmac is the proper plane, a grown-ups’ plane with seats that fit us and aisles where two grown-ups can walk by each other.
But on this airplane we just feel too big now. The feeling intensifies when we are brought a meal. It is on a tiny tray with little utensils wrapped in plastic which we find there is no place to put once removed. Our fingers are too big to perform the tasks demanded of them. We are all thumbs and the thumbs are too big, too.
You know the feeling. As you wrestle with all of this your shoulders collide with the shoulders of the person next to you. Somewhere inside one of the bits of plastic are a tiny plastic fork, a tiny plastic knife, a tiny salt and a tiny pepper and something to wipe up any food you might spill if you are ever able to get it unwrapped.
You wish, while you struggle, that you were in a giant movie theatre with a small (big) popcorn and a small (big) drink and that the movie theatre could fly.
You appreciate bigness suddenly, except for your own.