School Has Me Writing!

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I was born in 1960, in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, in the middle of the country, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lush green rolling hills and fields of wheat, and white folks….nothing but white folks.  But why does this matter in the context of the assignment? 

It matters because we are inextricably linked to the world through our experience of it.  What I am and how I see things has been shaped by the things that happened to me and the people who influenced me.  It matters because it took years of time and personal effort to understand other cultures and ways of thinking when I entered the larger world without the filter of my parents to protect me.

It matters, because the effort to understand others is very often not something that people want to expend their energy on.  So, rather than getting to know the “other”, it is much more natural to be ruled by the status quo and seek to retain the norm.  People, no less than objects, are often ruled by inertia.  Society, like an object with mass, requires an amount of effort equal to the size of the problem in order to effect change.  But unlike an object, people very often actively and vehemently resist change.

Lynching was, at its very core, an effort to control the “other” and prevent change.  And resistance to change was driven by the fear of others, the fear of Negros and how their entry into full acceptance would change what had always existed in their experience.  And when people are driven by fear, they very often attempt to inflict fear and terror on others.  It’s a vicious cycle that feeds upon itself and breeds a hatred that goes beyond all reason.

And so the “unwritten law” is one of status quo or inertia.  The “unwritten law” is the law of societal physics; this is the way it’s always been, we like it this way, and we don’t want change.  The unwritten law of lynching was: whites are superior, Negroes are dangerous and need to be controlled, things were going well when whites were the masters, we must keep the Negro in his place, and therefore we must instill fear in him to keep him in his place.  Since the overriding fear of mankind is the fear of death, we will keep the specter of death ever present.

Because men were in largely undisputed control of society, any effort to control a population would be aimed primarily at the men of that group.  Also, there is the element of fearing that of which you are the guiltiest.  Since white men had been using slave women as sexual outlets with impunity, they naturally feared that men whose families had been the victims of such crimes would now seek to turn the tables on their former masters.  In this atmosphere of fear and lawless retribution, all a white woman needed to do was cry wolf to cause a black man to be lynched.  Indeed, many a woman who found herself pregnant out of wedlock would point an accusing finger at a black man to save her own skin. 

It took another 50 years from the time in which Ida B. Wells was on her anti-lynching campaign for the African-American Civil Rights Movement to gain enough momentum to break the grip of inertia that kept them “separate but equal”.  I, for one, find it fitting that in Marin Luther King’s last speech, he quoted FDR’s famous line, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.  Because it was only the refusal to give in to the fear, which for decades had been wielded with cruelty in support of oppression, which finally broke the back of the lie that was instituted into law by the Jim Crow statutes.

In conclusion, I would like to say that fear has not gone away.  Indeed, all of us must maintain vigilance against the specter of fear in our personal lives and in our world.  It is far too easy to incite fear, it is a powerful weapon that is difficult to recall and even harder to control, and ALWAYS stings the one who unleashes it against another.  If we would avoid a comeback of lynching, we must abhor the use of fear as a means of control.

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Bag THIS!

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I have spent my fair share of time bagging groceries and other items.  It’s part of the world in which I work and, therefore, part of customer service in my job.  And for the most part, bagging is not an odious task.  You pretty quickly get a feel for what will fit in a bag, what to put together, etc.  The lovely little bag carousel just goes around, you fill the bags, the customer pays, and you’re on to the next.  Life is good, the groceries are flying out the door, all is right with the world!

THEN, just when I’m in the groove, I look up and what do I see????  Aaaarrrrrggghhhhhhhh…….re-usable grocery bags on the belt, placed there by a politico-environmentaly (yes, I just coined a new phrase) correct customer who’s trying to save the planet – – – one,   little,   plastic,   bag,   at a time.  Well, congratulations, you’ve just burst my,   little,   happy,   bubble!

Oh, I know, I’m supposed to gush enthusiastically and rejoice with you at your contribution to sustaining Mother Earth!  But alas, I’m not convinced that these #%@#% reusable bags  are all they’re cracked up to be.

First, and absolutely LEAST important, there are my itty bitty feewings to consider.  (Yes, I’m whining, and I will be until you and your detestable bags are GONE!)  You see, these bags weren’t made for my carousel.  They don’t fit, they’re not uniform in size, therefore they’re harder to load, therefore they slow me down, because of that they make me grumpy, then they won’t stand up so I sometimes need two hands to bag stuff………in short…….they’re a pain in my keister! 

Having said all of that, I actually have a legitimate concern about the growing trend of reusables.  I will make it short and sweet………

People, Please…….CLEAN YOUR BAGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No kidding, I have had folks hand me bags with anonymous caked-on stains, bags with trash in them, bags so dirty I wanted to put gloves on to touch them, and – you won’t believe it – bags with so much dog and/or cat hair on them that I had to lint-roll my clothing after they left. 

Ask yourself this question:  Would you eat at just anybody’s house?  You know what I’m talking about.  I have been in houses where I couldn’t imagine partaking of food or drink…….it was just too filthy!  And guess what?  Those same folks are buying reusable bags, taking home their groceries, throwing those bags back in their car (or their trunk – eeewwwww), and bringing them to YOUR local store.  Where…….think about it……..they go on the SAME bag carousels that YOUR groceries are bagged on!  I truly HOPE I’m grossing you out right now, because you SHOULD be disgusted, and you WOULD be if you saw some of the bags that I have seen. 

Now that I’ve had my rant, let me suggest an alternative.  RECYCLE!!!  Yes, the plastic grocery bags at your local store can be returned to most of them, placed in a dedicated container, where they are collected for future recycling.  And recycling is a trend that I am most certainly behind……100%, no whining, no kidding.     😉

Word Evolution

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I recently read a post by an author who was disgusted by the use of slang phrases and words.  She mentioned several current phrases and words which she felt were flagrant violations of the English language.

Some part of me agrees with her post.  I do think it is important to know the basics of proper grammar and usage.  Without reservation, I am annoyed at otherwise intelligent people who are unable to distinguish between to and too, they’re and their, hear and here.  These are basic components of language.  As such, it would seem that any reasonably well-educated adult should know and properly use them in written communication. 

And when you think about it, much of our lives are shared in some written form or another, be it Twitter or Facebook, an email or a blog post.  We’ve all heard stories of those poor unfortunates who posted vulgar and inappropriate content on the web, thereby losing the chance at a job, promotion, relationship, etc. 

It is also certain that one could be eliminated from consideration by reason of fatal grammar violations.  “Not so”, you cry?  Think again, my friend, because I am one of those who would put you on the reject pile.  We are out there, never doubt it.

Having said that, here is where I part ways with her grievances.  I am not against the evolution of the English language via slang phrases and words.  In fact, one could debate whether any “living” language is, or should be, immune to such permutations. 

Language is as vibrant and changeable as the people who use it.  And while I am all for acquiring and using a wide vocabulary and properly applying it, I am not against the creativity of folks who are able to introduce new and clever ways of saying things.  Even when those phrases are somewhat redundant or nonsensical. 

So I say, go, all you evolutionists of English!  Get your groove on, fire up those neurons, and dazzle us with your music.  We will all be richer for having added a new note to our repertoire!

The Other Side of the Counter

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I was raised in an era when it was considered very bad manners to be rude to someone else. Nowadays,  rudeness seems to have become not only acceptable, but commonplace. Nobody seems to realize that their own bad behavior will be visited upon them in turn by other folks who are either unwilling, or unable, to control their infantile tantrums.

So, let me give some quick pointers on how to treat your fellow human beings, using the grocery checkout line as a case study.

Cashiers:  When a customer asks how you’re doing, what they really want to hear is that you’re GREAT!   They don’t want to hear about your bad day, the customer before them, etc. You can make their day great by giving them the most efficient service possible, being polite, and perhaps engaging in some witty repartee’. But take your cue from the customer, as not all of them want to talk.

Customers:  Please keep in mind that the person checking you out is actually human. They have feelings, concerns, and actual brain cells…..just like you!  Don’t be condescending by assuming that the position is an acceptable barometer of anything.  Also, your cashier has no control over the equipment and it does no good to be mad at them. And, sometimes they are having a really bad day, so forgive them if they’re not bubbling over with eagerness to serve you!

Bottom line:  We could all benefit from a greater awareness of how our behavior affects others. It is a wonderful feeling to know that your warm smile could brighten the day of the person on the other side of the counter.

Today’s Random News

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Today was productive in a weird sort of way, the capstone of which will be a post on my blog!  Yeah! 

OK, so I’m really only posting because I have a goal to meet, which is to write on this blog as often as I am able………relevance, information, entertainment……fie on you!  I laugh in the face of purpose!  Well, I don’t, but I’ve got 30 minutes to slap a post on this page and this is what I’m subjecting you to.  Dare I put a smiley face at the end of that sentence?     ;-D     I did, so there.

So, today I worked on a bracelet that a co-worker ordered, hand-delivered a resume and set up a 2 hour volunteer slot simultaneously, did my Pimsleur Spanish lesson for the day, helped a friend (I really wasn’t too much help) with her WordPress blog, and now I’m writing this post.  Phew, I’m tired just reading this.

So why are these accomplishments weirdly productive and not merely normal?  Well, none of them were what I expected and most of them were sort of UNdone.

Bracelet:  not done yet, several hours of work left.

Resume:  delivered, but a good two weeks away from any kind of closure.

Spanish:  lesson – taken;  mastery – far, far away!

Friends’ Blog:  linked to Facebook and successfully posted on same, took way too long due to weirdness happening on Yahoo!

My Blog:  nearing completion, but not a particularly inspired example of what I truly hope to accomplish is the future. 

Blog:  done;  mastery – nowhere in sight!

But in a weird sort of way, the mere fact that I’ve posted on my blog is enough.  Practice makes perfect, learn by doing, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.  Perhaps it’s good that I have so few readers yet?

Goodnight, world!  ‘Til we meet again!

The Blogging Journey

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Who knew that it could be so complicated to set up a blog?!? I like to write, but this is really challenging stuff.
Why, you ask? Well, because, as I said at the beginning, every writer wants to be read! Period, end of story. BUT, what do you, my friends, want to read ABOUT? And what am I passionate ENOUGH about to sit down at the computer and put down these words?
Also, it seems a little redundant to post things on FaceBook, Twitter, AND a blog. I don’t have endless amounts of time. What to do?
Sigh……so, for now I’m just writing as an exercise. My idea is that, by doing, I’ll be improving. I hope it won’t take too long for me to land on a specific direction for my blog, and that’s where it helps to have followers. But to have followers, they say it helps to have a specific direction! LOL That’s a dog chasing it’s tail if I ever saw one!

Customer Service?

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I work for a large national retail chain in the customer service department.  At my store, our managers say the same thing over and over……..”Make the customer happy!” 

OK, I can get behind that.  It’s obvious that no retail chain can succeed for very long if the customers are UNhappy.  But the question for me is this: To what lengths should a business go in order to ensure their customers’ happiness?

First, happiness is dependent on many facets of our existence.  So, obviously, we can never be responsible for the overall happiness of each and every customer.  Most customers who come to  the store in order to return or exchange something, or otherwise solve a problem, are happy to comply with the return and exchange policies of the store. 

So, what happens when your customers are not happy with the store policy?  Do you bend (or just blatantly break) the rules in order to satisfy the ephemeral goal of  “customer happiness’?

So, here it is……..my opinion!  More and more people are unreasonable in their demands when dealing with companies.  I have encountered customers who return items that are FAR outside the boundaries set forth by the written policies of the store.  When they are informed of the policy, their reaction is to throw the adult version of “The Tantrum”.  In other words, they begin to raise their voices, use colorful language, demand that their desires be complied with in spite of the rules, and cause general unrest and disturbance to all with earshot of their voices. 

How to deal with these overgrown toddlers?  Do you give in to their demands to “make them happy”? 

My opinion is that knuckling under to such displays of bad temper is ultimately destructive to business.  Anytime you give in to unreasonable demands, you set the stage for escalated expectations at a future date.  I likened this behavior to temper tantrums for a very good reason: let the toddler negotiate demands via temper tantrum once, be ready to experience more and worse behavior for the rest of your life! 

Now, you find yourself accepting returns at a financial loss more and more often.  Yes, this may ensure a certain loyalty to the retailer, but at what cost to the bottom line AND to more reasonable consumers? 

Listen, America!  All of your actions have consequences.  Yes, you may be able to scream and yell your way into getting your money back for the vacuum cleaner that you used to suck up water, shorted out, and ruined.  But don’t fool yourself.  The cost will ultimately be passed on to YOU, the consumer. 

The bottom line is this:  By all means, hold people responsible for delivering what you paid for.  Did it break the first time you plugged it in?  RETURN IT!  How else will the company get the feedback necessary to improve their product?  BUT…….if you used it irresponsibly, negligently, or simply broke it…..take responsibility for your own actions! 

In the end, you will benefit from responsible consumption. 

 

 

Here We Go!

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No writer takes the time to put words down on “paper” if they don’t hope that others will read.  So, welcome, dear reader!  I hope that you will benefit by reading this blog, either in practical ways or simply by having your intellect challenged.  At the very least, I would like to make you smile, and it would be really great if you laughed out loud. 

I will be sharing all kinds of things on this blog, from opinions to information about my world.  I would love to have your feedback and your comments will be welcomed. 

All things relating to this blog remain to be seen, however.  So for now, welcome to the ride.

Here we go!