Chick Wit: Whole world's got problems, but first . . .

Posted: March 24, 2014

Mother Mary always says, everybody's got problems.

Once again, she's right.

I say this because the other day, I was talking with a group of women and the conversation turned, as it naturally would, to our problems. One woman complained about her cholesterol problem, another about a mechanic who ripped her off, and I started complaining about how the cable repairman left without giving me a new remote.

Then somebody in the group said, "These are really First World problems."

And we all shut up, having been told that our problems didn't matter.

I myself didn't even know what that meant, but I wasn't about to say so in front of everybody else, having already been informed that my conversation was unworthy.

So I went home to look it up and found that First World problems are those experienced by people in wealthy, civilized countries, as compared with the problems experienced by people in Third World countries, like malaria.

Still I was kind of bugged, because everybody knows that the Third World has king-size problems, but that's not where we live.

So we have First World problems.

We never said we had Worst World problems.

They're still problems, to us.

And if we can't talk about First World problems, I might never utter another word.

Also I'd be fresh out of column topics.

I read online that people were talking about rich-people problems and poor-people problems, and black-people problems and white-people problems and so on, but if you ask me, we're always being told to stop whining, even though we have an absolute, God-given right to whine.

And while we're on the subject, how annoying is it when the remote control doesn't work?

Yes, we're going to talk about that now, because it's still on my mind, and my bet is that it's on yours, too.

Granted it's not cholera, but don't you hate it when you have to push the Off button 400 times to turn the TV off?

And then through some mysterious mechanics in your remote, it turns off the cable but not the TV, or the TV but not the cable, and blue, green, and red lights are blinking like crazy? So you stretch your hand way up in the air and wave it back and forth like you're making semaphore signals, trying vainly to get the right angle on the TV and the cable box so that you can finally turn them both off at the same time and get to sleep?

I know it won't kill me, but honestly.

Do you really expect those of us in the First World to walk to the TV and turn it off?

We can't even find the button.

We hire people to do that for us.

Also, why don't they make a remote control that lights up at night, so you can see the On and Off buttons in the dark?

Daughter Francesca has one of those in New York, and it's awesome. Yet those of us in the First-and-a-Half World, namely the Philadelphia suburbs, have to hit 300 different buttons at the top of the remote, praying that one of them is the Off button, but instead is the AUX button, whatever that is, or the SETUP button, so we can screw up our television permanently by setting the language to Hungarian.

You guessed it, this is what I was whining about when someone reminded me that people are starving in Africa.

Yet you're probably having the exact same problem with your remote control, or a series of related problems, as remotes manifest an array of maladies, none of which involve tsetse flies.

Also it drives the dogs nuts when the remote control doesn't work, because they sleep clustered around me, and every time I start sitting up and waving the remote control, they get disrupted and it ruins their beauty sleep.

Yes, I have First World dogs.

American dogs.

You got a problem with that?

I don't.

Look for Lisa and Francesca's columns in their newest collection, "Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim." Also, look for Lisa's latest Rosato & Associates novel, "Accused," in stores now, and "Keep Quiet," coming April 8.

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