Tag Archives: give

Wes Side Story

Living in suburban Redwood City, as I do, I’m under constant fire from my neighbors for parking in front of their houses, or picking their oranges, unforgivable offenses my neighbors refuse to tolerate. They typically attack with angry notes left on my windshield or gate, and the occasional nail gun to my tires, anything to avoid a direct confrontation. All but one of my neighbors have proven to be total dicks. All but Camel-puffing, hoodie-wearing Wes, the one and only neighborly neighbor I’ve yet to encounter on my block.

The pile of oranges anonymously left for me by my neighbor Wes, minus the three I've already eaten
The pile of oranges anonymously left for me by my neighbor Wes, minus the three I’ve already eaten

One of the most frustrating conundrums of my neighborhood has always been the oranges. I don’t even like oranges. I’ve always disliked them, since my childhood when I once unknowingly swallowed and choked on a couple seeds. I’ve avoided oranges ever since. Plus, I just don’t like oranges. But my neighborhood is full of orange trees. And one summer day, I was getting dehydrated on the long trek home from downtown and resorted to an orange out of sheer desperation. It was delicious, and more importantly, it was seedless.

I stalked my neighborhood, in hot pursuit of oranges, scoping out which trees were within reach of the sidewalk and taste-testing samples from each one for quality. Some were a bust, but other were just as yummy and seedless as the first, and none more so than the ones at Wes’s house, two doors down from mine. The conundrum of the oranges is that all of them reside, uneaten and untouched, teasing me from the private property of the neighbors who protect those wasted oranges with their lives.

Except for Wes. Among the many oranges I’ve stolen, I’ve also come up on a shopping basket from my local Safeway, which has come in very handy hauling other stolen goods. One morning, just over a year ago, I knocked on the neighbor’s door, basket in hand, oranges on branch, and Wes answered. I asked if I could pick some oranges. He said, “Sure, help yourself.”

This was probably the first time these three words were uttered on my street. And help myself, I did. I filled that basket.

Anyway, the other day, I received an anonymous bag of the best oranges on the Wes Coast, and I know who they’re from, and this is just to espress my thanks to Wes for being a good person in a sea of fucking assholes. He even apologized that one time his step-dad left a mean note on my car.

It’s that easy. If you’re a fucking asshole with an orange tree, ask yourself, would you really rather see that good fruit fall and rot on your front lawn than see the smile you could put on someone’s face if you would share? Wes may not be rich or famous, but he’s a good neighbor, and that’s more than a lot of Americans can say for themselves. Thank you, Wes. Hope you don’t mind I shared your story.

Holiday $hopping Challenge

Dear Consumers,

“The Holidays” are closing in on us. Whatever religion you practice, whichever god you worship, or don’t—regardless, chances are some gifts will be exchanged in your near future. Each year is punctuated by the same consumer spike, the ever-dreaded holiday shopping frenzy. The shopping is done, no doubt, in the selfless, giving spirit of people just trying to espress their appreciation for their loved ones by means of some material reward.

Care to make it interesting?

This year, I propose a challenge. In fact, I propose a few. Pick one and actually do it. I dare you. Twenty points to the house anybody who accepts my challenge(s). Twenty points!

 

NOT BUYIN’ IT

You may not spend any money on anything that you present to anyone this holiday season. This means you cannot purchase any gifts. Nor can you steal them; that would be cheating. You must hand-make every gift out of materials you either find or already own. Get crafty. If you don’t know how to get crafty, get drunk. See what happens. If you don’t have the resources to construct something practical, when in doubt, make modern art. Anything goes with modern art.

If you choose to accept this challenge, be prepared to set aside some time. Home-making things is tedious. Also, be prepared to present relatively shitty gifts. You’ll be forgiven, but your gifts might be a bit embarrassing. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about your budget.

 

LEFTOVERS

Every gift you buy this season must be secondhand. You may buy anything you like, as long as it’s been bought by someone else before, used and/or forgotten about until it was no longer needed, donated, and then bought again, by you. This means nothing new had to be manufactured to satisfy your shopping list. Buying secondhand is more sustainable because it reduces our need to produce new stuff where old stuff can still suffice. Plus, previous ownership and disownership adds intrigue and character.

 

NOT TRENDING THIS SEASON

Every gift you give this season must be totally unique. Custom. Original. One of a kind. As uncommon as the individual receiving it. More and more of this world is mass-produced. Don’t risk buying someone the same thing somebody else already bought them (or worse yet, discovering that somebody-else scored a better deal). Eliminate this hazard altogether by purchasing something there is only one of. Something handmade, perhaps, not necessarily by you. Hint: this is a solid opportunity to support some of your local artists.