Wonderings for summer – or anytime

Published Tuesday, June 21, 2016 in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal and the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Summer’s here, finally.  It’s that favourite, slower-moving season when we’re more inclined to grab our drink of choice and relax on the deck.  

Sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and think about nothing in particular.  But if you’re like me, perhaps you find your mind drifting from time to time to some of the puzzling ways of our world.  

Like why is it that, even though orange peels are 100 per cent compostable, the little stickers suppliers place on them are made of plastic and end up sullying the compost if you don’t peel them off?  

Why is it that the bananas I bought recently were proudly labelled as organic – with a non-recyclable cellophane tape wrapped around them?

Why is it that I get a dime off of my coffee for bringing my own cup, but those who get their coffee double-cupped do not pay an extra dime?

How is it that a nickel could seem to be so much when it’s the price of a plastic bag at the liquor store (ANBL stopped charging it in 2012 presumably because of complaints) but so little when it’s the value of a beer can tossed out the window?

Why is it that fancy four wheel drive supercab trucks are labelled as ‘off road’ yet the only place I seem to see them is on the road (and, really, most look to me like they’ve never been off the road)?  Why is it that many claim to be ‘super duty’ or something similar, but are usually carrying nothing more than a driver?  And why is it that they don’t pay any extra for parking when they extend beyond their space?  

Why do car rental companies call it an ‘upgrade’ to give you a larger vehicle than you’d booked, when fuel efficiency was why you booked a small vehicle in the first place?

Why is it that the server at my favourite sub shop typically gives me four napkins when I only need one?  

How is it that we are quick to heap scorn on the notion of a ski hill in Dubai, but we cheer the notion of an ice hockey rink in Las Vegas?

Why is it that we’ve come to turn our noses up at free water from a fountain, and instead pay good money for bottled water trucked all the way from Ontario?  I know we often have a perception that things from away are better, but I thought great water was one of NB’s natural assets.

In my neighbourhood, trash is picked up every week but recycling is picked up only once a month.  What would happen if that pickup schedule were reversed?

It’s great to stoop and scoop, but why is pet waste – which is compostable – often picked up in plastic bags – which are recyclable – yielding a sordid combination that is neither compostable nor recyclable?

When rail is by far the most efficient way to move freight, why is it that we seem to have so few trains and so many trucks – including more and more trucks with dual trailers that are actually called trains?

How is it that it takes a drought to get us talking about using water wisely?   

Why does a Conservation license plate just seem a bit out of place when it’s on a truck or SUV?

If life is already too short, why do so many of us spend so much time sitting in drive-throughs?

Why is it that, when buying a vehicle, a 40-cents-off-gas-for-a-year subsidy can hypnotize us to the reality that if the manufacturer has to resort to that kind of gimmick, it's probably a guzzler that will lock us into a lifetime of high gas bills once the subsidy runs out?  And where do those 40 cents come from anyway?

“Ah, you just think too much,” a friend told me years ago, shaking his head.  

Maybe he was right.  So I guess I’d better just have another beverage, and enjoy summer.