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A Glass of Water Overflowing with Perspective


It was an extremely sad moment akin to losing the family pet. A large glass of water—obnoxiously big, according to my girlfriend—tipped from its resting place on my bedroom desk and poured its contents all over my six-month-old MacBook.

The horror.

The water damage on my now very expensive bookend was apparent enough that it won’t be covered by warranty. My eyes were building with moisture when I learned I’d be losing the joy of my home office. So I did the logical thing—hopped on the web, clicked a couple of buttons and had another one shipped out. The silver lining is the clever financing the online store offered me—I won’t pay a dime or interest ’til President’s Day, or shortly after a holiday bonus (hopefully) comes.

The process was seamlessly simple and pain free except the cost (ugh-hum, Ms. Publisher, please make that holiday gift out in the sum of $1,463.58, and you might as well send it straight to Mac Mall).

Let’s put in perspective how easy it was. While I crossed my fingers and waited for my beloved computer to dry, I took an unrelated field trip to the Caribbean.

You see, in Barbados it’s not that easy to get a laptop. There are tariffs, taxes, logistics, hurricanes, gawd awful heat waves and, of course, financial limitations that bring electronics and other toys to the top of Bajans’ luxury item food chain.

During our stay, we didn’t bask in the resort life; we relished the local version. In this case, my friend grew up on the West Indies enclave and we had the pleasure of staying with his family in a neighborhood as far from the glitz and glamour of resorts (such as the ever-so-posh Sandy Lane) as you could get.

We slept in a rustic home that forced us to rely on sheer heat tolerance rather than air conditioning. It was certainly roughing it for our group of Metro-Area yuppies, but to his family it was life.

And a good one, at that. You never realize how much you have in the U.S. until you see others living in relative poverty and enjoying every minute of it.

My friend’s siblings—ages 6, 10 and 12—marveled at our iPods, Razors and Blackberrys, playing with them ad nauseam. It was a treat for them to fiddle with the high-tech gizmos we take for granted.

Before you start asking where you can send money to make sure these kids can get every “advantage” a typical American child gets, you should realize that they don’t need all the bells and whistles that make our lives so comfortable. Give them family, food and an education and they’re off leading rewarding lives. Picture that.

There used to be a time just a few short years ago when children in the U.S. built forts in the backyard—and not on the web using the latest Sim software—to stay entertained. The kids in Barbados found fun in dragging each other around using a beat-up cardboard box. The only box today’s stateside youth seem to find comfort in is Xbox or Big Mac packaging.

Now I’m not suggesting we all throw away our valued possessions and live life according to the Buddha.

But next time you pull a bonehead move like pouring water all over $1,400 worth of electronics, just realize replacing that lost laptop isn’t so easy elsewhere. It should make coping with the loss a little easier.

And next time you travel be sure to get the real experience of the country you are visiting; it’ll make all the difference in putting your life in comfortable Colorado in perspective.

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