Thursday, March 28, 2013

First-World Problems

I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago about the problems he was having with his fleet of motor vehicles. He needed to charge the battery and change the oil on his motorcycle. He would need to get his RV ready for summer soon. The canopy on his boat had been crushed by the weight of snow over the winter, and would need to be replaced. His SUV was having some mechanical difficulties, and his wife's car was in the shop, too.

I'm in a very similar situation myself. I own two motorcycles, a '77 Yamaha XS750 that I'm rebuilding into a cafe racer, and a '09 Suzuki V-Strom 650 that is my "let's go exploring" bike. Spring is almost here, but neither bike is rideable at the moment. The Yamaha has been significantly disassembled during the rebuild process, and it will need a lot of work before it's ready to hit the streets again. The V-Strom is in much better shape, but it needs a new front sprocket, new wheel bearings, a new chain, and some work on the front tire (I can't get the bead to seat to save my life). Likewise, my Nissan Frontier is having some drive-line problems. It's running, but it's making some noises and is occasionally snatching when I'm in stop-and-go traffic. My wife's Ford F-150 is also acting up; she'll be taking it to the shop later today.

After my friend finished his litany of mechanical gremlins, he kind of gave me a wry smile and made a comment about "First-world problems."

Yeah, we've got it tough, don't we? I currently own five motor vehicles, only one of which -- my wife's '77 CB750A -- is running properly right now. The repair bills to get the vehicles working again sure are adding up. Man, it totally sucks to be me...

Unless you're the child in Honduras with Pepsi bottles tied to your feet for shoes...

Or the mom in Somalia who has no idea how she is going to feed her five children today...

Or one of the children in Uganda who has been forced into either prostitution or the army by the LRA...

Or one of the babies in Mozambique who was left to die at the dump because his mom already has more children than she can support...

As I was griping about having to spend $200 on a new chain and sprockets for my V-Strom last night, it occurred to me just how lucky I am to have such problems. For those of you living in a modern, Western culture -- and if you're reading this blog, I can just about guarantee that that includes you by virtue of the fact that you are sitting at a computer in the first place -- congratulations! You are one of the wealthiest people in the world. If you are starting to feel frustrated by your circumstances, consider that your problems would probably be considered blessings by much of the rest of the world. After all, you won't need $200 worth of parts to get your motorcycle back on the road this spring, if you weren't wealthy enough to own a motorcycle in the first place.

Amirite? ;)

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