From coffee cups to bombs, we’re obsessed with big

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
April 15, 2017 - 5:00am

I was out and about one morning this week when I felt a need for caffeine. Not a lot of caffeine, just enough to say hello to the day.

Pulled into the drive thru.

“Hi, what can I get for you today?!” asked the cheery voice on the speaker.

“I’d like a small regular coffee, with cream,” I said.

“Definitely! Would you like cream in that?!”

“Yes, I would definitely like cream.”

“Anything else?!”

“No, that’s it.”

“Right, tall regular coffee with cream!”

Stab of concern as I pictured this happy barista pouring the coffee equivalent of a Big Gulp.

“No! Small coffee!”

“Gotcha. One tall coffee! With cream, right?!”

Those damn speaker systems at the drive-thrus. They never work.

“No! Small coffee! SMALL!”

A split-second pause. “Small is tall.” The exclamation point had left her voice, replaced with a hint of bemusement.

“Small is tall?”

“Yep! Small is tall!” she said, brightening again, pleased, I think, with her teachable moment.

“Okay!” I said. “One tall coffee, with cream!”

It’s probably a generational thing that I still assume the smallest of something is called small. I should know that “small” is a bad word. At the very least, it must be “regular,” and even that is cutting it pretty thin.

I don’t have anything against big, per se. I’m typing this on a new 27-inch computer screen. I just had to have it. Size-wise, there was nothing wrong with my old 18.5 incher, but why not have a screen where you get neck exercise just by looking from one side of it to the other?

I was dropping off a friend of mine last weekend and he invited me in to see his new 65-inch TV set.

“Kind of small,” I said.

He looked sheepish. “I know,” he said apologetically, “but it was on sale.”

Same thing with cell phones. Was a time when smaller and thinner was cool. Now, it’s like carrying around a TV monitor in your pocket.

We have an obsession with big. The bigger and taller the truck, the better — doesn’t matter if we live in a condo and never drive farther than Victoria Street, we must have a big truck.

There’s a 6,000-square-foot home for sale in Kamloops right now for close to $4 million. Five bedrooms, six baths. When I was a kid, four us lived in 1,000 sq. ft. and shared one bathroom. We didn’t feel hard done by.

Houses, coffee, trucks, cellphones, breasts, butts, biceps, cereal boxes, whatever it is, bigger is better. Caught a bigger fish than you did. My zucchini is bigger than yours. Go big or go home. Downsizing is a bad word. Size matters.

On Thursday, Donald Trump dropped the Mother of All Bombs, non-nuclear wise, on ISIS. The bomb weighed 21,600 lbs., the largest ever used in “conventional” combat.

The military is pleased. American TV networks (who rounded up to 22,000 lbs.) are impressed. Donald Trump has a smile on his face. 

There’s something seriously wrong with us. This pre-occupation with big is, I think, based on some sort of inherent insecurity that goes back to when we lived in caves and were always looking for bigger clubs. 

If we start small, the only place to go is bigger.

This is why a lot of people believe in a God. There must be something bigger than us, and what’s bigger than us than a creator who’s in charge of everything?

I haven’t figured out the God part yet, but at the least there’s a big universe out there, and no matter what we do, we’ll always be very small. Maybe we need to accept that. Maybe we don’t need “Tall” coffee cups.

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