I have been waiting for the trolley to stop on Main Street every since I came to Great Barrington. You can often see me sitting on the bench in front of Fuel. Luckily, I have a paperback mystery to read while I wait.

Occasionally, people will stop to tell me that it’s never going to come. But I know it just a matter of time. The Barrington Brewery-to-Guido’s Local.

Waiting for the trolley gives me plenty of time to think about the important issues of life.

Like facing up to the fact that I just can’t afford my own WAMC Alan Chartock bobble-head doll. Instead, I am hoping I can borrow David Scribner’s doll. He’s my editor here at the Berkshire Record and is much more generous than I am.

But thanks to The Depression 2.0, I am learning the difference between what I want and what I truly need.

This is, of course, an issue I struggle with each and every day. Maybe if it was a Pete Seeger bobble-head, I might have sprung for it. Although probably not, because I have my own collection of left-wing memorabilia, and I’ve heard and sung “This Land Is Your Land” more times than I care to remember, and it’s pretty much an exercise in wishful thinking.

I want potato chips with lunch, but honestly do I really need them?

The Depression brings its own illuminating light to bear on every aspect of life. Starting with electricity. The apartment I rent is bat-friendly because I pretty much live in darkness. Granted my TIVO never sleeps and my tired refrigerator is always complaining but why I am paying $45.00 a month to National Grid?

And why can I no longer afford to shop at the Co-op. I was one of the people who started the first co-op in Great Barrington and the whole idea was to provide healthy food to working people at prices they could afford. We set up in the basement of the First Congregational Church; we drove before dawn to the produce market in Springfield; we bought cheese and grains and nuts in bulk and we all volunteered to divide large amounts into small family size servings. And we saved a bundle.

So I’ve learned if you want to see ordinary working people shopping, you ought to go to Price Chopper and the Big Y. I happen to love the idea of “Buy One, Get One Free.” I especially love buying one Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent and getting a second one free. And I love my silver coins. I save money every time I buy bananas.

Because I spend a lot of time on the bench, I watch cars and trucks go by. Sometimes, if I sit long enough I can see someone drive south and then watch them as they drive by going north. Most often, these cars and trucks are driven by a single driver. And I don’t mean un-married. Which is all the more reason we need the trolley. And it doesn’t even have to be a trolley to begin with.

Have you ever been on a Caribbean island? I don’t mean the fancy ones for just rich people like St. Barts, but an island like St. Vincent. They have a whole bunch of vans that cruise around the island. You want to go somewhere, you go out to the road and wave for a van to stop and pick you up. They are reasonably priced and you can bring your chickens with you.

I like to think of Barrington Trolley as a jobs program. If you sit on the bench you see a lot of teenagers. I bet some of them would love to learn how to drive the Trolley. And if you add up all of the gas we’d be saving, we might be able to get some Obama money. This is a green jobs program. And if they throw in some tourist-promotion bucks we can call it Ye Olde Barrington Brewery-to-Guido’s Trolley.

Now people tell me they love their cars. They love the ability to come and go everywhere and anywhere whenever they want. And I understand that.

But this is the Depression and it’s probably time we all started thinking about the difference between what we want and what we really need.

Which is why you can find me on the bench waiting for the Trolley. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll have David Scribner’s Alan Chartock bobble-head doll waiting with me.


Mickey Friedman makes a meager living as a writer. You can buy his book at http://aredfamily.com.

Thursday June 11, 2009 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved