“Bakery, line one … paging bakery line one … BAKERY! LINE ONE!” goes the loudspeaker.
I stood in line next to the organic French chocolate truffles in the candy aisle on sale for $4.99, the same spot I’d been standing in for 20 minutes, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. In this time, they’d paged the bakery about six times.
The guy behind me piped up, “I’m not too sure if anyone is actually in the bakery,” bringing some much-desired relief to the readily perceptible tension building in that line.
This was Truckee Safeway on a Tuesday night, at 5:30 p.m. I needed the modest number of things in my basket — my dog needed the canned pumpkin to calm her upset stomach, and I didn’t have a single thing in the fridge for dinner that night (I’d just moved). So yeah, I needed to stand there and wait.
This line was the epitome of all the questions I have on a daily basis about my choice to live in Tahoe, and it brought my life and future into sharp focus. The 10-month-old baby giggling and cooing in her mother’s arms in front of me — what if I choose to start my family here, where the income gap is stark, the medium income earners can’t afford a home, and the upcoming generation can’t find a rental or a decent paying job? The eight people in line behind me, making us a total of 15, stretching past the cereal, to the end of the aisle — what if I end up living here for 30 years, and, like my comedic friend with the bakery comment, end up watching it get “worse and worse every year?”
There isn’t a conclusive answer to these questions that satisfies me or seems fair to all involved. So, because I can’t answer the questions, I’m left with a common denominator: that at least knowledge is power. In my five years of school teaching prior to working for Moonshine Ink, I learned that every child — no, every human — receives knowledge differently.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t come down to how much a person learned. It comes down to exposure to a learning environment, which teaches you many things: how to deal with rules, authority, and structure; how to navigate, interpret, and process information in your own unique way; and how to meld with the rest of society, taking others’ ideas into consideration in a thoughtful manner and reaching real solutions together. Without the opportunity to learn how to integrate this kind of information, a person will endure great challenges later in life.
So maybe, if we continue to educate the people of our community, sharing valuable knowledge and the skills to interpret this knowledge, we are promoting the thinkers who will one day be our solution-makers. Let’s continue to ask hard questions of our friends in knitting circles and on ski trips, attend community meetings and request answers to what doesn’t seem right, and take our kids to the public library on the weekends. Let’s keep donating to schools, thanking teachers, reading with our little ones, and showing up for their educational needs.
So no, nobody ever answered “bakery, line one” that night, and some of us have to wait a long time in that proverbial line to learn the lessons proposed here, but what if we taught more people how to go home and bake their own cake?