Róisín Ingle


. . . . on first world problems

THE FOLLOWING IS not a tale of woe. I need to point that out because these days it doesn’t do to be seen to be complaining about anything. Stubbed your toe painfully during yoga? Poured sour milk on your organic breakfast cereal? Realised you left your passport at home just as you reach the check-in desk? These are prime examples of first-world problems. “I hate it when I ask for no tomato in the deli and they still give me tomato,” that kind of thing.

The point is we should count ourselves lucky to have such “problems”.

Think of the poor people of (insert blighted region of the world here).

There is even a video on the internet of Haitian people with actual problems reading out a bunch of first-world problems to better hammer home the point that our “problems” are a joke compared to theirs.

“I hate it when I leave the charger downstairs,” is one. “I hate it when my house is so big I need two wireless routers,” is another. So this is not a tale of woe. All that happened is I lost some stuff that was sort of integral to the smooth running of my life. It’s no natural disaster or famine. I lost some stuff and I’m a bit down about it but hey, ho nobody died and life goes on.

We have a sign on the door that prompts “Keys? Wallet? Phone?” For the last week when I’ve seen it, I’ll check my pockets and then remember I don’t have any keys, wallet or phone anymore. Not to mention my digital recorder, favourite silver earrings and my make-up bag. “I hate when I have to use Vaseline instead of lip gloss,” a first-world problem extraordinaire.

I lost the phone while out drinking in a nightclub. A high-class problem if I ever had one. Losing it that way was an improvement on having it grabbed out of my hand which is how I found myself phoneless the last two times. The guards told me it’s madness to walk and talk with an iPhone in Dublin. I still do it though. I just hold the phone tighter and keep a vigilant eye out for people coming behind me on bikes.

The rest of my life was in the brown leather satchel my mother gave me for my birthday last year. I loved that bag. It looked like a schoolbag but still managed to make me feel grown up. She gave me another bag for my birthday this year. A black one decorated with diamante skulls, a bag for going out, a fancy pirate bag. I felt that day looking at the schoolbag and the sparkly one, admiring the contrast between them, that I’d never need another bag in my life. Now I have one bag again. I bring it to work and only display the side with plain black leather and hide the side with the work-inappropriate sparkly skulls.

This is not a tale of woe – I mean, far worse things happen at sea I believe – but here’s how I lost the bag.

There are some changes going about to happen in my life. Healthy changes, challenging changes. In advance of this personal new world order I was planning to have a last carbtastic hurrah. So when I had a very particular food craving for fresh cod and chips from Borza’s, I decided to indulge.

We sat as a family and ate them out of the paper bag in Sandymount Green, my old childhood stomping ground. And then we spent a good hour running around the green pretending to be the Three Bears and Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs. The crunch of conker shells underfoot triggered a comforting wave of nostalgia. I pointed out to my children the place where I got my head stuck in the railings and had to be pulled out by the fire brigade. When we went back to Borza’s where the car was parked, owner and family friend Bruno gave the children lollipops and we went home. I was happy. Chips in my belly and a fresh batch of newly minted memories in my heart.

I was going out that night so I looked for my satchel but it was nowhere to be found. I immediately decided that while we were getting the girls out of the car we left the door open and somebody must have snatched it. I rang Bruno. He said he’d check the CCTV footage. Later he rang me back. It seemed I left the bag full of life’s first-world necessities beside a park bench. I couldn’t blame anybody except myself. When we went back to the green, darkness had fallen and despite my belief that it would still be sitting there by the bench, like a discarded toy from my youth, it was gone.

For a good while I felt sort of lost and tearful, which I know was pitifully first world of me. So I am now choosing to see this as a letting go, a fresh start, a new beginning. I thought about it while eating my egg-white omelette for breakfast. I thought about it on my morning jog around the kitchen. I thought about it and realised that there is something to be learned from the fact that I forgot about my lovely bag and all the vital bits of my life while eating a big bag of chips I didn’t really need.

Definitely some first-world food for thought there.

In other news . . . those crafty Innocent people have us in stitches with their Big Knit campaign in aid of Age Action Ireland. Knit a wooly hat for one of their smoothie bottles and 25 cent will be donated by the company to keep older people warm this winter. For more info and knitting patterns see innocentdrinks.ie/thebigknit

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