Thursday, 26 May 2016

Thankful Thursday - A Lesson In First World Problems

A colleague and I are presenting an academic poster at a conference next week. As it would have been over $300 to get a graphic designer in Canada to do it, I went to the site fiverr and found a guy in the Philippines who would do it, using the template I provided, for $80. He said it would be done in 10 days.

10 days pass, 11 days pass, 12 days pass and I was starting to freak out. I sent him a not as friendly as it could have been email. Day 14 he emails me back, apologizing for the delay, he has been without power. I felt like a completely spoiled rotten Westerner. My thoughts were negative towards this individual and I did not consider that there may be environmental things happening beyond his control. It even crossed my mind that he was just saying that as an excuse, which also made me feel terrible and while he could be, I have decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The fireplace that kept us from freezing
The first year we lived here in Paradise we went 72 hours without power in December. No power = no water when you live in the country and have a well. We moved in front of the fireplace and the 2 dogs, then 2 cats, and us, all slept on a double mattress. When the power came on the area we were in was 13 C/55F. After my bath (which was glorious and hot), the tub was black with ash from stoking the fire for 3 days. The following summer, the power was out for 95 hours. That wasn't so bad as we weren't cold, BBQing was easy and we could swim in the lake to "clean off". After that we put a generator in and we have only had to use it once and it was only for a few hours.  Given my more recent experience without power I can understand how hard it is to not have it.  However, I can't imagine what it would be like to live without consistent power, and yet millions of people do that every day. We were able to afford the $3000 "insurance" of putting in a generator to prevent us from suffering. Not everyone has that luxury.

I was reminded with this encounter from with the guy from fiverr is that everyone has things going on in their lives that we don't see. We need to give people the benefit of the doubt when we don't know why they are not "living up to our expectations" or making things "stressful" for us. Really, the couple extra days didn't make a difference in my life. I haven't rushed out and got the poster even printed (I am doing that today, let's hope it doesn't take more than 24 hours). It was a bit inconvenient to me, but nothing else. It was truly a first world problem.

I am thankful for the reminder to keep my problems in perspective.


  1. Very good words indeed. Having traveled around the world (for work, not for vacations) I've seen people living with just a fraction of the things we take for granted - water, heat, a.c., regular food. Thank you for reminding us.

    1. I haven't travelled as much as I would like, but enough to have seen poverty. It is so easy to forget other have real problems. I think most of us need reminders often!

  2. Yes, perspective is important. We never know the weight of another's shoes.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

    1. Some people carry their true issues well. I am too much wear it on my sleeve, so it is easy to forget others may be more private.