Touring Cape Town

The museum complex was mildly interesting, with a real caravel that sailed from Portugal to Mossel Bay in 1988, on the 500th anniversary of the first landing by Dias and his fellow navigators. I mailed a postcard to myself from the oldest post box in South Africa, which was originally––mythically––a boot under a milkweed tree. There was also a mollusk museum, where I finally learned what a limpet is and that some mollusks are poisonous enough to kill a man (move over, Great Whites). From 11h00 on we chased the sunset to Cape Town, with a stop at Steers, a South African fast food chain. Here I remembered that I really dislike sweet chili sauce.

Dias Museum Complex (L-R) | stained glass, caravel, whale bones

Just before dark, we pulled in front of the chief of the host families house, Avril and Peter. The group leader Kiersten and I are staying here for the next few nights. We deposited everyone at their respective host families, each time returning to the van with fewer people, Survivor-style. Meanwhile, we finally saw the colors behind Table Mountain, which is visible from where I’m staying. We ate dinner and then socialized for awhile over hard cider and the World Cup. Some people in our group were complaining yesterday of “separation anxiety,” but it’s been so relaxing to have a room (and a bathroom!) to myself, and at any rate, we see each other all day.

On Tuesday morning, Avril made me a delicious tomato-and-mushroom omelet, served with toast, strawberries, papaya, and rooibos tea. First for the day: the top of Table Mountain, via cable car. We only planned to be there for 45 minutes, which was ridiculous considering the amount of postcard-worthy photo ops. I circled the entire plateau, ending up back to the group fifteen minutes late. Kiersten understands that I have a tendency to adventure and “do my own thing,” so by that time, she had sent out a search party to find me. Oops.

After that fiasco, we drove back downtown for an Indian lunch, then tours of the Company’s Gardens, a slavery museum, and Greenmarket Square, an oasis of souvenirs. I would have rather hiked up Lion’s Head, but the majority of our group wanted to shop around for gifts.

The day exhausted me, but after dinner my host family drove Kiersten and I to a nearby mall for––you guessed it!––WiFi. We are truly dependent.

The next day, Wednesday already, included a visit to the famous Charly’s Bakery, District Six museum, and a tour of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 13 years. A visit to the bakery wasn’t part of the plan, but once we saw it, we decided it was a must. District Six was a neighborhood with people of all races and religions that was torn down during apartheid, leaving only whites. Every person of color was forced to move to townships.

After a picnic lunch, we departed on a catamaran for Robben Island, a 40-minute trip. We toured the island on bus, and then walked through the prison complex, led by an ex-political prisoner. What is remarkable to me is that the prisoners educated themselves in their free time, at first in secrecy, and then eventually striking to gain the right to learn. And of course, Mandela wrote the manuscript of A Long Walk to Freedom while imprisoned. When your day starts with a cold shower before sunrise, proceeds to eight hours of chipping at limestone, and concludes with urinating in a bucket in the corner of your cell, I know it takes strength to do anything extra. I finished the day with another WiFi run, while others accumulated ice-skating bruises.

On Thursday we drove to Lofdal mission, about forty-five minutes outside the city, in order to learn about their community projects and lend ourselves for harvesting carrots and turnips. From there we proceeded to Cape Town’s wine country. We tasted a few varieties of wine––the dry rosé was my favorite––and spent an hour wandering through Franschhoek (French Corner). This is a historic town of art shops and fine dining, surrounded by majestic mountains. I felt that I was actually in the French countryside.

In the evening, everyone gathered with their host families for an indoor braai. We listened to our “parents” talk about living through apartheid, as well as the District Six removal (they are all what South Africans call “colored”). One woman was part of the Black Consciousness movement, and she worked hard to enroll her daughter in a previously all-white school when it was forced to desegregate in 1994. Others have distinct memories of being unable to use a “whites only” swingset or toilet. As they talked of forgiveness and reconciliation, I felt the human connection, an ineffable feeling. I am connected to these people with whom we have spent less than a week. They opened their homes to us, and they truly care about us.

On Friday morning we moved to a guest house in Sea Point. The majority of our group then drove to the famous Cape of Good Hope, hiking up through the fynbos to see the waves crashing below the lighthouse on Cape Point.

In the evening we spent two and a half hours at Africa Café, where we served a little bit of more than fifteen dishes of African cuisine––Ethiopian, Egyptian, Xhosa (South African), Moroccan. I tried everything within my pescetarian limits, and it was beautiful. The decorations in the restaurant blew me away, all recycled art, beadwork, and colorful paintings. At the end of the meal, the waitstaff sang and danced for us, to the sounds of vigorous clapping and djembe music. We of course joined in!

Finally, our group split between participating in Longstreet nightlife, and cappuccinos at the mall.

Port Elizabeth: The End

My last few days in Port Elizabeth involved a soup kitchen, class awards, and a music festival, and yesterday we enjoyed a leisurely trip along the Garden Route, a scenic stretch of SA’s south-eastern coast.

Tuesday was the last time I was connected to the Internet for more than an thirty minutes at a time, so WiFi transitioned back to being a privilege and not a way of life. On Wednesday, instead of sticking to the routine, a few of us went to help at a soup kitchen run by local women. Later that afternoon we listened to Prof, the founder of Izizwe Projects, as he told us his life story.

Growing up, Prof played to his strength, which was not showing off his muscles in the schoolyard, but sharpening his mind in the classroom. He found that he was adept in all subjects, except math. He walked ten kilometers to school each day, often with no breakfast or lunch, and ten kilometers back to the white man’s land where he lived. He was set to go to university, but in high school, his girlfriend became pregnant. He was raised by a single mother, so for his kids he wanted to be the father he never had. He decided to work to take care of his family. Now, after decades putting in long hours––and, to be honest, leveraging his likability––he is in a position to support not only his wife and children but also his Walmer community through Izizwe.

On Thursday I finalized the details of awards I was making for each student in my class––with their name, picture, and something that made them special to Miss Amy and I. On Friday, my last day, I gave them to the students with joy and tenderness, and they received them with shy giggles and hugs. I was only able to say goodbye to the kids by telling myself I would write them letters.

On Saturday (June 21, the first day of summer and World Music Day) we wandered around a fête de la musique in Richmond Hill. It was fun for a few hours, but I was ready to go home far before the majority of our group. That sort of event requires money and/or alcohol to stay enjoyable, neither of which I had, especially as the temperature dropped quickly throughout the afternoon. Florence and I took a cab home before everyone else, simply because we our moods were falling with the sun.

On Sunday morning, we said goodbye to Port Elizabeth and drove something like 244 miles to Mossel Bay––the entire length of the Garden Route––with no less than a nail in our tire. We stopped in Knysna for yacht club photo ops and oysters, and Wilderness for a late lunch. (Mossel Bay is the exact half-way point between P.E. and C.T.) That evening, we stayed at a cool backpackers’ lodge, where I made friends with the employees and enjoyed a fantastic meal. This morning I woke up at 5am to see if there was any last hope of calling my parents before they went to bed (there wasn’t). We saw the sun rise at exactly 7:40am.

I already miss my Swiss roommate Florence. We had so many conversations (and coffee/WiFi runs) together while in Port Elizabeth. She’ll be there for the next 2+ months, while I leave to Cape Town and then home. Everyone in our group is part of a pair or at least a smaller group, and Florence was my pair.

Today we’re visiting the Bartholomew Dias Museum, which has South Africa’s oldest post box, and then continuing to Cape Town for four more days of adventures.


Teaching, Basketball, and Hanging Upside-Down

Today was my first day without Miss Amy. She’s gone to South Korea, and I’m left with an older black lady who is kind but not as adept at teaching or controlling the classroom. The first assignment dealt with reading calendars––a good thing for second-graders to learn. However, the worksheet she used was confusing to the students, with the questions marked 1a, b; 2a, b, etc. She did not explain the activity, but just had me hand out the sheets. Then, she had the students glue the entire page into their composition notebooks, but it didn’t quite fit. The students have been trained to keep everything as neat as possible, and the edges sticking out from their books bothered them so much that they focused more on trimming them than answering the questions. The kids didn’t understand “days of the week” in the second part of the worksheet, because their only reference was a month view of a calendar with “MTWTFSS.” I wrote out the days on the chalkboard, with the first letters a different color, and I explained the concept to the class as a whole at least twice and to individual students a dozen more times. Some of the kids got it, and some didn’t, which is always the case, but the ratio was off today.

After the break, their next assignment was to fill in the blanks of a sentence with their phonics words. First problem: the teacher did not explain what these words actually mean. Second problem: she wrote a sentence on the board with blanks that are too small to fit words into, which confuses the students as they attempt to copy it into their compisition notebooks. Third problem: she read them the completed sentence a few times, so whoever has the best memory does the best work, regardless of knowing the meaning of the words. So the kids are basically randomly filling out blanks of a sentence that they probably didn’t even copy correctly. It was something like this: “Watch the witch or else she’ll catch the cat to fetch a match to light the patch.” It took even me a few minutes to figure out which words went where. These kids are smart, and they speak English fairly well. But watch, patch, and match can be verbs or nouns, with different meanings each time, and she’ll is a contraction foreign to the students.

We left HDC early for a special activity this afternoon, and I was actually glad. I felt frustrated, and also worried about the kids’ futures. They have half a year left with this lady, and what if their grade 3 teacher is no better (which she is likely to be)?

This afternoon, Junayne the volunteer coordinator drove us around the colored part of town, north Port Elizabeth. He showed us where he grew up, described the territorial gangs, and we even met his mother. There are poor white communities and middle-class colored communities; race is the most divisive factor among these South Africans. If you’re black or colored, you can earn a lot of wealth and build a beautiful home for your family, but you will probably not be living in a white neighborhood.

Finally, we went to a park in Walmer for an hour or so of basketball as part of an after-school sports programme for older students. I had a headache and the wrong shoes, but I tried. When my game was (mercifully) over, I climbed the adjacent jungle gym. First I played some tag with the primary school kids, and then I learned their names. One boy asked me if I was a boy or a girl (it’s the hair that throws them off). Another asked me my age and grade, but they didn’t believe that I was any older than 15. They asked me if I lived in a township or suburb, which I wasn’t sure how to answer since nothing like townships exist in the U.S. They asked me if I had met Obama, and I asked them if they’d met Zuma. I got to talking with an 11-year-old named Mtha who described the problems of Walmer. Sixth-graders skip school and steal things in order to get money for marijuana. Ninth-graders get pregnant (they actually asked me if I had a child). His ability to be in his township but not of it, as well as his seriousness about the problems, was remarkable to me. I’ve heard that sometimes people become content with their living conditions in the townships, but this kid knows that things could be better. He knows his potential. He told me that he’s going to university, and I believe him.

Week 2 in Port Elizabeth (+ Tsitsikamma)

This week, the second of three weeks of serving at the Human Dignity Centre, has been one of finding a routine and building relationships. I spent approximately 21 hours with the children of Walmer this week. Here are some of the heart-melting moments I’ve experienced:

• One of the students asked me to draw him a doodle in my characteristic style so that he could color it, and I ended up drawing at least ten of them for the students. None of them thanked me except the one who had started it all; he hugged me and told me it was beautiful.
• As I read the classic bedtime story Guess How Much I Love You to one of the kids, he said, “Oh, I ate one of those once!” in reference to the hares. There goes any hope of the anthropomorphization necessary to enjoy the story.
• During playtime, one of the students was on one of the ropes they use for swings. Before I knew it, he slid down into position, and while still swinging, back-flipped.
• I showed a fourth student a map of the world as well as maps of South Africa and the U.S. He was so excited to see where he was, exclaiming “This is me?!” while point to the dot of Port Elizabeth.
• One of the girls used my colorful scarf as a traditional headwrap, and then posed like a queen. Today the girls wiped the glitter eyeliner off of my eyelids with their fingers and onto theirs, and then searched every other female teacher for make-up.

At one point in my life, I did not think of myself as a “kid person,” but in the past year or so, something’s changed. Now, every moment I spend with these eight- and nine-year-olds is precious to me. The hardest thing I’ve encountered while working here is learning that something like thirty percent of the children at the HDC primary school have HIV (the true number is impossible to determine). Just pondering that, with their smiling faces and loving hands in mind, is almost too much to bear.

On another note, I’ve been thinking about my expectations for this trip and how they differ from what I’m actually encountering here. During one of our seminars this past spring, we watched a video called “Extreme By Design.” This wasn’t meant to be an example of how to act while serving abroad, but as a brief preview of the experience. I took a few notes that struck me:

1. You WILL BE hungry, tired, sick, lonely at times.
2. Find motivation to push through your personal issues for the sake of the service at hand.
3. Group consensus takes time.

The first two items on the list defined my previous international service trips, but have not been an issue this summer. However, the third item on the list drives me crazy on a regular basis. Everyone in our group is an adult, with valid needs, constraints, and opinions, and making decisions that accommodate everyone is so difficult. It’s an exercise in patience for me, even though I’m not the one who makes a final decision.

When I travel, I never expect the lifestyle––the food, the bed, the washrooms, the technology––to be like it is at home. And in my experience, it is definitely different. One summer, I slept in a leaky tent, and another, I sent and received snail mail as my only form of communication with home, and on a third, I used a communal shower and Eastern toilets. Our guest house, however, actually has better facilities than what I’m used to.

The WiFi in particular, is beautiful, and I have my iPad here. I mentioned to my student leader that I felt too connected to technology, and the next day, in the middle of a call with my mom, I lost Internet connection. My iPad could no longer find our house’s network. For awhile, I tried to fix it––I wanted to fix it––but then I decided to embrace the disconnection.

I thought it would help me engage with the present moment. Instead of checking every feed or planning my next Internet-based activity, I could direct my full attention to what was happening around me, and more importantly, the other people physically present in my life for the remaining 1.5 weeks in Port Elizabeth.

The first day, I kept myself busy with walking to the post office to buy stamps and send my letters; swimming in the ocean; buying coffee with my Swiss roommate; making dinner; doing my laundry; reading a book; writing reflections––basically anything that I could do that did not involve the Internet. We also had an hour-long meeting after dinner.

The next day, I took a nap for two and a half hours, and then ate dinner with the group, but after dinner I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sat in the living room, and every one was holding their iPhones, scrolling and/or watching funny YouTube videos in pairs, so I decided to go to bed early-ish.

On the third day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked almost a mile to McDonald’s for their free WiFi (where I also enjoyed a cappuccino with my Swiss roommate Florence). When we got back to the house, I had the bright idea to reset the modem, and voilà! I was ridiculously happy––like, it’s absurd how overjoyed I was to be connected, after less than 48 hours without communication to the world beyond South Africa.

I called my mom, posted pictures to Instagram, sent an email… the Internet is such an integral part of my life. I’d like to think I can live life without technology, but I don’t think I can while I’m abroad. Perhaps it’s what’s keeping me from feeling isolated here. On the flip side, I worry that it’s keeping me from relationships with my fellow volunteers.

This past weekend was another experiment in unplugging. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in Nature’s Valley in Tsitsikamma National Park, and even though our backpackers’ lodge had WiFi, I didn’t bring any technology besides my camera. In contrast to the first time I was (unwillingly) disconnected from the Internet, these hours were fantastic, because they were filled with swimming in the ocean, hiking through “magical” forests and cliffs, drinking endless cups of rooibos tea, petting dogs, and chatting with other visitors to the Wild Spirit lodge. What a precious experience!

(Now if only I had been able to take the world’s tallest certified bridge bungy jump––we hadn’t the time to wait in the rain for me to have 30 seconds of adrenaline.)

Week 1 in Port Elizabeth

It’s hard to believe [or as I would say when speaking to my brother: I understand on an intellectual level but can’t process on an emotional level] that I moved into Chalmers 10 just one week ago. I don’t know how so much was fit into the space of seven days, especially considering the amount of napping, walking by the ocean, and social dining that also took place.

On Day One, we toured the Walmer township under the guidance of a local named Prof. This is a place of tin buildings, buckets for toilets, communal taps, and illegally electric lines. We closed the tour with an hour at a local “jazz bar,” a performance of traditional dancing, and finally dinner at Prof’s. Gotta love that mieliepap.

Day Two introduced me to my specific site of service, which is the Human Dignity Centre serving Walmer. This is a primary school up to Grade 3. The first day, myself and the four others with me toured the premises and shopped the goods made by parents through the Kwasa (meaning “dawn”) Training Project. I also allowed myself to be basically tackled by kids.

Day Three––Wednesday at this point––established my job as a teacher’s assistant. I spent most of the morning helping the second graders with their assignments. During their two 30-minute breaks I read to the little Xhosa children, and then they read to me! That afternoon we met Mama Gladys, who takes in needy orphans as her own. Her biography is one of redemption from difficult circumstances, since her own experiences motivate her to do the work that she does today.

Day Four was a full day of service (from 9am to 2pm). At the end of the day, I was hugging one of my favorite students, Yomelela. After a long moment, he looked up and said that he could hear my heartbeat. I absolutely melted.

Day Five was a short day, since we spent an hour in the afternoon practicing traditional African dancing for ourselves, and another hour at a mall/supermarket. That evening, we enjoyed a braai at the house of Khaya director Martijn. I went to bed before 10pm, and it was glorious.

I’ve mentioned that we’re staying in a guest house in an upscale suburban area, and to work in a less fortunate area forces me to deal with the feelings of privilege that come with this straddling of the stark contrast between first and third world. It was an option to stay in the home of someone in the township, but that’s not viable for our entire group. Living in the township would have alleviated my feelings of guilt about having WiFi, hot water, and a fully-stocked fridge––in other words, Western comforts––but serving from a place of self-imposed “suffering” is no better than coming from a place of privilege. As I reflect on this and discuss this with the group, I hope to be able to come to terms with my approach towards service.

Regaining sight of the big picture, I’m here because I’m interested in learning and discussing everything about community development, education, poverty, HIV/AIDS, racism, post-apartheid society––the whole package. I’ve also engaged in conversations on more personal topics: relationships, faith, and our futures. I want to experience everything and do everything within the constraints of my time and money.


On Blogging

I started blogging as a freshman in high school, over four years ago. I published over 220 posts for this blog, The Unvarnished Word, which started as “Unusual Passions.” The first name perfectly encapsulates my motivation when I began blogging: I wanted to build so-called “weak ties” with other people in the health blogosphere because I felt that my peers simply did not share my same interests. Later, I felt that the name was too pretentious, too exclusionary––my passions are different than yours and therefore somehow special. Something like that. My motivation for blogging transformed into something deeper for me. It became a way to be honest with myself and with other people when the spoken word was too difficult. I wanted to document all of my experiences and thoughts, to make a snapshot that I could always return to. I also found an outlet for creative expression in arranging photos and text on the post level and picking themes and widgets on the holistic/blog level.

When I came to college last August, I made most of the posts from 9th and 10th grade private; although I kept them for my own records, I felt like they did not represent who I am today well enough to exist on the public Internet. I mean, that’s 2.4 billion people who could potentially read what I’m writing. It’s not that that many people are reading my words––thank goodness––but it’s that they could. All together, the older posts are valid since they represent a development of me, but taken out of context and seen in isolation, they aren’t me.

I also stopped blogging regularly for this blog, for a couple of reasons. First, I pledged allegiance to Inside ‘Dores, because I was already writing about the “Vanderbilt Experience” and because I could earn a bit of money––not much, but enough to buy my family Christmas presents from B&N at the end of last semester. Enough to buy a bus ticket to see my best friend in South Africa this summer. Second, I didn’t like the idea of all of my words popping up in email inboxes, because of the same issue I mentioned regarding hiding my earlier posts––of how my blog posts represent me.


Throughout the past few days, I’ve reflected on blogging as a communication technology, as a medium for socializing and networking, and as a psychological phenomenon. I read peer-reviewed, journal-published studies on my hobby––who knew they existed? I didn’t until I found them in order to give an informative speech for my public speaking class.

I read these studies, and I found so many interesting facts and patterns that, together, point to why I am a blogger. For example:
• Compared to general U.S. population, bloggers are younger, better educated, more likely to be urban dwellers, and avid online shoppers.
• A study of personality among 367 students conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama in 2007 found that of the Big Five personality traits of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, those high in openness to new experience and high in neuroticism are likely to be bloggers; this is especially true of women. Neurotic people are more anxious than calm, more insecure, and more emotionally reactive. Open people are more imaginative than down-to-earth, more independent than conforming, and prefer variety over routine. This makes intuitive sense, as creativity is an element of openness and blogging is a form of self-expression. (I am an open and neurotic personality type!)
• Although blogging is like keeping a journal, a study of Stanford students in 2004 revealed that in general, bloggers intend for their blogs to be read. This is evident in the tools provided in blogging platforms to track reader statistics and pingbacks, and also distinct social actions such as salutations, advice-giving, and invitations embedded in posts. The social aspect of blogging is two-way: friends urge friends to blog and bloggers write posts with their audience in mind. The audience includes known personal social network and the larger blogosphere of unknown readers. Despite the fact that 80% of North America is connected to the Internet, unwanted attention is rare; in fact, bloggers typically find emails and comments from strangers “satisfying and motivating.” (So true!)
• One of the studies found that people blog in order to stay in touch with friends regarding activities, work through emotional issues, seek others’ opinions and feedback, and express their own opinions. One study participant said, “I am one of those people for whom writing and thinking are basically synonymous.” Other functions of blogging include creating relationships and interacting with others, establishing an identity and self-representation, and being able to find and reuse earlier writing for other purposes. (Me! Me! I do that last one all the time.)
Blogging allows greater control over the time and pace of social interactions. Due to the asynchronicity of blogging, post authors can take time to thoughtfully present their circumstances in the best possible light, and they can write long narratives that would typically violate conversational norms. (Ha.)
Blogging encourages physical and/or psychosocial well-being. A 6-week study of 121 blogs, published by Stephen Rains and David Keating, 2011, examined blogs written about health and well-being, ie. heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, and HIV/AIDS. The study found a relationship between support from readers of such “health blogs” and outcomes related to well-being: as support increases, loneliness decreases and self-efficacy increases. Blog readers often leave comments with advice, factual input, and messages of caring, concern, and empathy. Social support is a critical mediating factor between the stressful events of life and an individual’s stress response, but the type of support––the type of reader––is also relevant: family and friends want to know what’s happening in your life, but where blogging really shines is its ability to increase the authors’ access to weak ties, such as neighbors, acquaintances, and even strangers––people who are more likely to share similar experiences, offer more objectivity, present less risk associated with disclosure, and bear less obligation to give (or feign) support. Blogging removes tricky interpersonal factors such as the threat of disclosing undesirable information and facing potentially unsupportive listeners. In the study, a majority of readers were considered weak ties by blog authors.

I made a new friend this week, and he uses tumblr to collect favorite quotes and photos, and to express various and sundry thoughts. At 2:30am, while I was working on the speech about blogging, incidentally enough, we exchanged all our social media contacts. Later he wrote this: “Looking at the collection of photos/gifsets assembled on my main tumblr, reading some of the impersonal musings on my personal, and scrolling through the variety of quotes I’d amassed gave me a strangely out-of-body experience. If someone could only read and see those things about me to determine what kind of person I am, what impression would they walk away with?”

That’s a great question. When people read your blog, they are seeing the facets of you that are more reflective and analytical––and in my case, often more anxious and pensive––so of course readers will form a different impression than if they only got to know you in person. Who you present yourself to be in person does not––cannot––represent everything you are, and the same is true of the online persona. In high school I wrote because I needed to be able to express myself in ways that I couldn’t in my day-to-day life, even with some of my closest friends, but there was something about that divide between the real-life self and the online self that was uncomfortable to me, and I thought that if I could find the words to express something online, then I could find the confidence to express it in real life.

Blogging is my passion. The blogosphere is a valuable network. But in the end, I just want to remember and tell my stories, and I want to be known for who I really am––desires that are common to every human.

First-World Problems

If these are your problems, you live in the first world:

• you can’t get Skype to work between your iPad and your mom’s smartphone
• you’re locked out of yoga class because you’re late
• your iPad isn’t charged when you want to take it to the gym to watch TV on the elliptical
• Netflix doesn’t have the most recent season of your favorite show (ie. “Breaking Bad” and “Sherlock”)
• every elliptical and treadmill in the gym is taken
• you get tired of wearing your coat before winter ends
• you wake up to your roommate’s alarm
• you’re annoyed when you accidentally write through white-out
• you have to stand in line for twenty minutes to pick up a package that was delivered yesterday
• you’re dreading the expiration of your free six-month trial of Amazon Prime for students
• the salad bar is out of avocado
• you have to buy a USB cord for your WiFi printer
• a key pops off your wireless keyboard for no reason
• your nail polish flakes
• your bike is stolen because you were too impatient to use your U-lock
• your $16 haircut isn’t as great as your $25 haircut
• your favorite sticker won’t stick flat against your water bottle