Monday, March 4, 2013

Modern Family

I was born and raised in Southern California and my entire family pretty much still lives there. As they would argue, “Why would anyone leave?” Being the too-independent-for-my-own-good, citizen-of-the-world type of girl, I left and have not lived in California for almost a decade. Unfortunately, this means that I have skirted my familial responsibilities merely due to geographic location. So I have missed many birthdays, rides to the airport, sick days, emergency pet-sitting, and broken down cars. As an 18-year-old, these are not the things you think you will miss when you leave your family, but they are the things that matter most.

But today the world is remarkable, and coincidentally, today my big brother has food poisoning. If I lived near him (San Francisco), I would have stopped by after work to check on him; bring him ginger ale, saltine crackers, and chicken noodle soup. As I talked with him on gchat about how awful he was feeling, it made me sad that I was thousands of miles away and could do nothing for him but recommend that he immediately begin binge-watching the Netflix original series, House of Cards. Then I wondered whether they have grocery delivery services in San Francisco, like they do in New York City. I tried Safeway, created an account in my brother’s name, and even filled up my shopping cart with the necessary get well ingredients. Unfortunately, upon check out I learned that you need to order by 8:30am in order to get same day delivery. Now, if I was up and accomplishing tasks by 8:30am, ordering groceries online would not be one of them. I was back to square one. But then, I found a website called Task Rabbit (https://www.taskrabbit.com/).
Today we live in a world where you can outsource anything: editing your dissertation, the design for your company logo, organizing your passwords to websites. Task Rabbit is a website where you can outsource tasks to people in the community. Within minutes I had an account, within seconds I had posted my request for groceries to be delivered to my brother, and within hours a lovely woman named Anne M. was calling to ask whether he would prefer salted or unsalted crackers for his soup. Needless to say, my brother was grateful for the reinforcements and, not to mention, impressed by my resourcefulness. Today is remarkable because a girl in Ann Arbor can send soup to her brother in San Francisco on a whim when he’s sick. Today is remarkable because there are communities of strangers sitting on their computers waiting to go out and do good on behalf of other strangers. 

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