Monday, July 17, 2017

Rabbit Ears & Cucumbers

Remember these? I bought them yesterday at work, $1.99.

I got these "rabbit ears" antennas as possible special-effects props, thinking I might one day get around to my old idea of making a low-budget sci-fi film, Starship 379 (oh, wow--I blogged about that in 2008). Or maybe--more doable--a series of still photos, telling a story (like La Jetée).

I thought these got on the floor by mistake--sometimes whoever's pricing and sorting donations lets worthless (useless, dirty, broken) things through, but looking it up, I see people still use these rabbit-ear TV antennas. 
From 2015: "Don’t toss away those rabbit ears just yet – TV antennas are making a comeback

I don't have a TV, but I felt a surge of affection, seeing these antennas. I loved messing with them when I was a kid: they're fun to twiddle, and they brought a better picture to our little black-and-white screen. But also, they're an admirably elegant piece of equipment––one of the few technologies that makes sense to me.
(If I had to choose to be someone, something else, I might be an engineer, which is a far stretch from me.)

I found them because it was my job at work yesterday to salvage (cull, weed) the electronics section of the store, which is always a crash of plastic and a tangle of wires. 
To me, they're all sci-fi gadgets:
unless it's something obvious like a plug-in clock, I barely know what half the things are, these receivers and senders of invisible rays.
But the customers do. 
One guy spent several minutes explaining different power cords to me, as I was trying to tame them with rubber bands. (They go out in tidy coils, but they don't stay that way.) I might learn something eventually, but I'm not motivated enough to pursue it on my own.


I'm much more interested in getting to know my coworkers, most of whom I like a lot. They're almost all from different backgrounds from me. There are several Americans from other countries--a Cambodian woman my age, for instance, who always brings a big glass jar of water with slices of cucumber, lemons, ginger root, and sprigs of fresh mint in it.

It looks so good, I brought a jar of water with lemon slices in it, and on break I told her she'd inspired me. 
"You need the cucumber," she said. "Good for the kidneys, and keeps the weight down."

Ha. Yes.

We talked a bit--she came here in the early 1980s. 
I said, "Oh, wow---hard times. Vietnam... Pol Pot..."

She raised her eyebrows, and agreed.

Differences in geography and politics are a big gulf, but the US-born working class folk can feel just as foreign to me, in some ways. 
I'm trying to practice Watch, Listen, and Learn, restraining myself from asking too many questions, for instance, since almost no one asks me questions.
Also, I'm aware that the way I bounce into a new social setting, bursting with questions like a socialite Tigger, can be invasive--and may send waves that swamp subtle messages coming my way.

Re my publishing coworkers, in contrast, I could probably compile a list of the many questions newcomers would exchange with coworkers–– almost every one of whom is a white, US-born woman with a college degree in English (or something similar)––a list of acceptable questions, as if agreed-upon, which they are, but not, of course, exactly consciously.
Nothing wrong with that--we're equipped with the same social technology. 

But ideally, humans are able to pick up signals from other humans, even on different channels.

At work yesterday, I told one of the donations sorters that my father had died. She was very sympathetic, more than most, and I asked if she'd lost a parent.

"My father killed himself," she said.

"My mother killed herself!" I said, and we sort of beamed at each other, and did a fist bump.

I'm going to the Asian market now, to buy ginger, lemons, mint, and cucumbers.

No comments: