Posts Tagged ‘people’

Driving Miss Crazy?

July 14, 2010

Being a good Samaritan can be rough. A while back. we were at a small graduation celebration for a friend of ours. After the celebrations and cleaning up were over,  I had to drive to Baltimore to pick up our daughter, who spent the day with her aunt.  We then found that there was  a lady there who actually lived there and needed a ride home.Well, the stars seemed to be perfectly aligned here; she needed a ride to Baltimore, I happened to be going to Baltimore and was more than willing to take her along, so I offered; ….that was my first mistake.

Miss Mildred, (the names of the characters have been changed to protect the innocent…….me) however, started to act all cagey about the whole arrangement. She seemed quite disappointed that things seemed not to be going the way she anticipated. The reason for Miss Mildred’s obvious discomfort soon became apparent.  In a ‘sideways, under her breath, jokingly, but not so much ‘  way,  she ‘kinda, sorta, in a manner of speaking, somehow’ let on that she was wary of taking the drive ……..alone with me…….hmmmm.

Now Miss Mildred was probably ‘pushing 60’  (to use a term that my wife regularly employs), and she did not bring to mind the kind of ‘older woman’ that some younger men chase after; I wasn’t Ashton, and she, sure as heck, wasn’t Demi. What I should have done at this point was, rescind the offer, and go on about my business. But ‘good samaritanness’ sometimes chases away all reason and common sense flies out the window. So I shook off the icky feeling and pressed on. …..mistake number two.

 When God opens a window; jump through and stop waiting for double mahogany doors and a red carpet.

 She eventually accepted when my wife agreed to come along. I think I was happier about this than Miss Mildred.

That being settled, I ask Miss Mildred for her address, which I personally thought was a fairly reasonable request; I’m thinking I’ll plug it into my GPS and we’ll be on our way; plain vanilla as they say. Turned out that with Miss Mildred plain vanilla somehow morphed into ‘rocky road’. What I got for my obviously unreasonable request  was another round of ‘kinda, sorta, in a manner of speaking, somehow’ kind of responses. To this day, I do not know Miss Mildred’s address; if knowing this were somehow vital to my existence, I would be up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle. 

That icky feeling from before, was now a sinking one.  The kind you get when you know that you should run for the hills at the next opportunity, but, at the same time, you know that when that opportunity comes you’re not going to. So instead of insisting that unless she gives up the address, we were not moving an inch, not even an iota, we chose to rely upon Miss Mildred’s declaration that; ‘ I know the way, I am a driver too’. Mistake number three…..the whole affair was turning into quite the fiasco. 

Anyway, we all pile into the Camry; Miss Mildred in the back seat, in a very festive mood, now that the plans of the ‘sicko with the Caribbean accent’ have been thwarted. My wife and I started to look at the thing in a whole new light. We started looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead of us.  ‘Miss Mildred’ I said, ‘lead the way’. Miss Mildred’s reply; ‘just drive, I will tell you when we’re close’. Hmmmm….here comes that sinking feeling again. The mistakes were piling up now.

So we trundle off to take Miss Mildred home.  Of course, since her address was a state secret, we just took the route we normally took and hoped for the best.  We drove along and chatted with Miss Mildred. She really was a nice lady. About a half hour in, we start to feel like we’re getting close, but we also start to notice relative silence coming from the back seat ; where before there was a happy, comfortable chatter, there was a cold, hesitant silence, which was then broken with a muted, ‘oh you passed on this side, I don’t usually pass on this side’.  I had a Ralph Kramden moment at that point; ‘One of these days…….one of these days…..POW!!!!! Right in the kisser.

I was drawn out of my sweet reverie by Miss Mildred stating in a very matter of fact way; I don’t remember all these green signs, they must be new’.  Lord alone knows how I did not run off the road; green signs Miss Mildred? You mean the exit signs? The ones that have been there (AND GREEN),  ‘ever since’?  The credibility of Miss Mildred’s ‘I am a driver too’ claim took a serious nosedive at that point, and depositing her at the nearest metro just seemed like ‘the right thing to do’….for the sake of my own sanity anyway. I couldn’t do it though, my parents raised me better than that (gee thanks), so, I determined, like the drunk said when he realized the woman he was dancing with was really a man, ‘ah done in it’; I had to see this thing to the end.

By some miracle, my wife was able to coax a street name out of Miss Mildred. It was like a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary world. We immediately booted up the GPS, and, for the first time that night, had some sense of where we were headed. We turned right, when it said to turn right and left when it said to turn left. In my anxiety to be done with this ‘adventure’,  I was driving way too fast, but the end was in sight and it could not come quickly enough. We were only vaguely aware of Miss Mildred mumbling things like, ‘ yes I know that gas station’, or “it’s coming back to me now” (where did it go Miss Mildred?). In a few more minutes we were at our destination experiencing sweet relief.

Miss Mildred thanked us profusely…..then tried to pay us. As I write this, I am chuckling as I remember the scene with her trying to throw the money at us and make a quick getaway. Quick getaways, however, were not in her sphere of expertise, and we were easily able to keep her and her money together. As we drove off, with that warm feeling you get when you  know that  ‘you done good’, a question flickered across my mind…….was Miss Mildred knocking on that door?……..naaaahhh.


Who moved my yogurt?

June 21, 2010

In this time of economic uncertainty, we find that many more people are taking food to work, rather than spend money eating out. The tanked value in the real estate market for residential and commercial properties, has caused a scarcity, and a subsequent rise in value for another category of space….the office refrigerator. For the more economics-minded among us, we say that there is an inverse relationship between prices in the real world real estate market and demand for goods and services that are highly impacted by recessionary events, such as, you guessed it, refrigerator space.

This post all came about because one day I attempted to put my lunch in the company-supplied refrigerator. I usually get in pretty early so the thought that there would be no room for my lunch, did not even flutter through my mind.  Boy was I wrong!!!! When I opened the refrigerator door, I had to shake my head vigorously and look around to make sure I was not in the supermarket. In fact, I knew I was not in the supermarket, because they don’t have that much yogurt there. From the looks of things, people were bringing in yogurt for the month and just stacking them in there. Yogurt must be the ‘on salest’ item on the planet.

Things got so bad that emails started being sent out, asking people to not use the refrigerators  ‘as if yuh in yuh house’ (or something to that effect). A riot almost broke out when someone left a ‘whole heap’ of venison sausage (deer meat for the unitiated) in the fridge.

To make matters worse, people started eating yogurt that they did not ‘deposit’ into the ‘yogurt bank’. Another economic concept soon began to take hold; the concept of the complementary good. This is something that is typically used in conjunction with another product, so if demand for one increases, so does demand for the other. Who knew that permanent markers were a complementary product to yogurt, frozen dinners and Rubbermaid containers. As it turns out though, they are, because when people start eating your food (apparently by mistake), you need to start writing your name on stuff, so the more yogurt you buy, the more permanent markers you wear out. Makes sense huh?

The whole ‘write your name on your food so that no one will eat it’ thing, does have its shortcomings though. One time an email came in entitled “yogurt in fridge”.  Not personally having and “yogurt in fridge’, pure curiosity drove me to open the email. Turns out one of the very people who write their names on their food containers, apparently reached blindly into the refrigerator and pulled out, what she thought was her yogurt. It was only after she was half way through that she realized that her name was not on the container; Oops!!! So, being the kind soul that she is, she graciously offered her own personally autographed yogurt as a replacement…….mmmm I don’t think so. I know the yogurt’s in a sealed container and all, but…well……… well……you touched it. I know I know, that’s a little bit weird, but that’s just the way I am. If I had been the ‘victim’ in this case. I would have just thrown it away. Hey, I’m just sayin….

People even started buying gallon jugs of milk and putting them in the refrigerator because, ‘I bring cereal from home’. Maybe you should also eat your cereal at home, because that’s a pretty big jug and it’s a pretty small fridge. Do you have any idea how much yogurt could fit in the space you’re taking up?

Then you have the whole ‘leftovers’ story; people leaving their half-eaten meals in the refrigerator, because ‘you shouldn’t throw food away’ so instead they leave all sorts of stuff in there, until it becomes completely unidentifiable under all the ‘wildlife’ growing on it.  At this point, you would think that they would have the decency to take their offensive property out. Nope, instead they mount a campaign, complaining about the absolutely disgusting state of the refrigerator and wondering why the cleaning people don’t do a better job.

Last I heard about the whole ‘fridge fiasco’, they instituted the ‘if it’s there. on Friday evening. it won’t be there on Monday morning’ rule, so basically you either stop treating the refrigerator as the overflow for yours at home, or you would find that your food has a diminished shelf life (yeah, use it or lose it, has so many different applications). I’m not sure how that’s working out but I did overhear talk of a brewing confrontation over some missing Rubbermaid containers. As for me, I’ll just bring sandwiches until the economy turns back around.

Is that seat taken?

June 1, 2010

So I was sitting in church one Sunday being all attentive to the pastor as he was preaching and stuff, when at the back of my mind, I keep hearing an insistent ‘is that seat taken?’. There was no need for me to look around, or even waste an entire thought wondering what the muted commotion was about.I already knew what was going on; one of the ‘special people’ had arrived at church.

The special ones are those people who insist on showing up for church at least an hour late every Sunday. Now I’m not talking about people who are visiting and may have gotten the time wrong; no, I’m talking about those who have been members ‘ever since’. They know exactly when church starts, in fact, they have the entire program memorized so they know what happens and when they happen. Basically this means that they made a conscious decision  to show up late and disrupt the service. But maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Maybe every Sunday, the same people get caught in the same traffic jam on their way to the same service… could happen; some people are slow learners.

My thing is though, slow learner or not, why do these people harbor the belief that church has assigned seating? Furthermore, why do they not dispense with this belief, when Sunday after Sunday they show up and ‘their’ pew is so crowded,that there is barely room to breathe? Even further, why is it that even after seeing that the pew is crowded, do they not find someplace else to sit? Nope, that would be way too easy. Instead, they literally squeeze themselves into the tiniest of spaces and then do the ‘Holy Ghost wiggle’; a neat little trick which consists of pretending  to get all involved in the preaching with lots of amens, hallelujahs, and hand waving,  all while wiggling your way into position so that you end up being the most comfortable person in the pew. Everyone else, by the way, is on the edge of their seats……..and not with anticipation.

These are the more brazen of the special ones. There is another group that shows up just before offering is taken up and hang around at the door. Then, when people are filing up, in complete obedience to the word and following the guidance of the ushers, these low down sinners, sneak in and steal their seats.  Have you ever come back to your seat after giving your offering and found that somehow, there doesn’t seem to be as much room as when you left? It’s like digging a hole in the ground and trying to fill it back up with the same dirt you just dug out….you just can’t seem to get it all in there. It’s pretty easy to identify the culprit though, just look down the pew for the person who is so intent on ‘their worship’ that they’re completely oblivious to anything or anyone around them.

As if showing up late and ‘discommoding’ (this is not a word, but my mother used it all the time to convey her angst at inconsiderate behavior) other people on your own is not enough, many of the special ones bring friends along with them. Now instead of one person stepping on your toes, you end up with an entire family trampling all over your ‘good shoes’, without so much as an excuse me. And why is it that there is always one in the group who has a weak bladder that starts to act up the second they sit down?

Some of them even send ‘scouts’ ahead of the pack. This person is particularly sneaky, because they arrive all smiling and polite and ask if they can sit there. You get all polite back and make room for them and stuff; then when they’re all comfy, they stand up and start waving at the back of the church. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you find yourself ‘invaded’ by the ‘country cousins’. You know what they say……no good deed goes unpunished, not even in church. Actually especially not in church; look at what happened to Christ, and all he wanted to do was to make things better for everybody.

Then you have the ones who think the usher is just like a Wal-Mart greeter; there to say good morning and hand you a program. These are the ones who blow right by the ushers and insist on finding their own seats. Of course this whole finding your own seat is a drama all on its own, since it usually involves standing conspicuously in the aisle, and spinning around while trying to make eye contact with someone to inquire (in your loudest whisper), as to the availability of the seat next to them. This usually ends up in a major communication breakdown, since, oftentimes, the ‘contactee’ may nod, yes, thinking the question was ‘is anyone sitting there?’ when the question was ‘is that seat empty?’. One can easily see how such an interaction could get all ‘involved’.

Of course this will never change. After all, as my mother used to say ‘monkey know which tree to climb’, so these people can be relatively certain that no one is going call them out on their behavior. It is church after all and ‘church people’ are nothing, if not polite. You can get away with all sorts of stuff at church; they have the whole ‘come as you are, turn the other cheek’ thing going on,  so you’re pretty safe acting like you have no training. People will make room for you and smile benevolently when you step on them, as you squeeze your way through.

This is where some people can learn a thing or two from the monkeys; not only do they know which tree to climb, but they are also keenly aware of WHEN to climb said trees, and this is where many of the special ones fall short. They don’t understand that ‘church behavior’ is an animal all its own, not to be mistaken for ‘regular behavior’, which tends to be a tad more reactionary. Have you ever met someone whose attitude was ‘not me an dem people in dat church nah, dey too hypocrite’?  That, my friend, may have been the lament of one who stepped on some church toes………on a week day.

Some people

May 27, 2010

It’s hard being ‘some people’. I’m not referring to anyone in particular. Rather I’m referring to the ‘some people’ we all talk about; the some people who  always seem to have stuff going on in their lives; things are always happening to them, or to people they know. They go through a lot. They deal with situations that we say (as we sit around in the comfort of our own uneventful lives) ‘no one should have to deal with’. When we say this, more often than not, we mean, ‘thank God, that’s never happened to me’.  At the backs of our minds, we think, ‘they must have done something wrong to have to deal with this’. Hardly do we ever consider that Providence is no respecter  of persons. If it happened to them, it could easily happen to you. Well, last week , ‘it’ happened to my family.

We found ourselves in a situation, that did not creep up on us, but rather it just jumped out at us  from behind a wall as we strolled along in the comfortableness of being us; same effect, just different method of delivery. One moment we were happily dreaming dreams and planning plans, and the next moment we were in a completely alien situation. By the end of the week, we had become ‘some people’. We were in the ever so popular ‘situation’, one that we never imagined we would ever be in. But here we were; some people.

Being some people gives one a whole new perspective though. You go from being the “called upon” to the ones calling and relying on others. You move from that place where you (sometimes with a ‘can’t you call someone else’ sigh) find yourself lending a helping hand wherever you can, to a place where you are reaching for that helping hand. Being some people is a humbling experience. If you ever start feeling a little bit full of yourself and start thinking that you don’t need anybody else, try being some people for a minute.

I know this all sounds like being some people is the worse thing that can happen to you, but it’s not all bad. I will admit that, oftentimes the thing that catapults you into ‘somepeopleville’, is not exactly the most thrilling experience and certainly not something you would want to repeat, nevertheless, it opens up a whole new world.

In this new world, despite how we got there, we made some very interesting discoveries. Our ‘arrival’ inadvertently allowed us to ‘test’ some of our relationships. Test is probably not the right word, because it suggests some level of uncertainty to begin with, which is definitely not the case.  The reality of relationships though, is that you never really know what kind of relationship you have with someone until something not so good happens; until the rubber hits the road; until walks must be walked instead of talk being talked.

There are lots of stories about the moral erosion of our society. I want to believe though that there are exponentially more examples of people helping people. We are, however so preoccupied with sensationalism today, that we prefer to dwell on the not so nice aspects of human behavior. Being some people though allowed us to experience the much more noble aspects of humanity.

This post, therefore, is a thank you of sorts, to those who have helped when we needed it most. To the much-loved “aunty” who stepped in and took care of the munchkin, so that we could be fully focused on  the situation at hand. To special friends, who just said yes even before questions were asked. People who dropped everything and came running; who just asked, ‘what do you need?’ To those who shifted plans and worked through the night so that they could be there for us. To the co-worker who offered to drive miles if we needed her to. To the friend back home who made international calls just to encourage us and to make sue that we were ok. To the anonymous ones who did not need specifics to petition on our behalf in prayer. Thanks is often difficult to say, moreso because although it is the ‘right thing to do’  often it falls way short of conveying the depth of our gratitude. How does one articulate what it feels like, when you truly do not have to worry because you know someone’s ‘got your back’.

Yeah, it’s hard being some people. You don’t want to be a bother to anyone, or interrupt their lives, but one thing I’ve learnt about some people is that their situations, more often than not, cannot be helped. They don’t choose to have stuff happen to them. I told a friend that we were probably being tested; her response,” just sounds like life to me”. Maybe it IS just life. After all, we are not the first ones this thing has happened to, and I’m sure we won’t be the last. There are many things happening to many people every second of every day. The way these are resolved depends to a great extent on the quality of the network. If it is a network of the proverbial fair weather friends, then things may not turn out so well. If the network is “genuine” then the outcome is likely to be brighter, and even if it isn’t, you at least know that you’re not alone.  Truth is, everybody needs somebody, so in some sense ………we are all some people.

A little bit full of yourself aren’t you?

May 18, 2010

I am not a reality tv buff, but I am partial to The Amazing Race and Survivor. The antics of the casts of these two shows kept me intrigued and there were more than enough nail biters to go around. If I were a nail biter, I would be experiencing a serious lack in the nail department right about now.

What I like most about reality shows though (at least the good ones), is the insight they give you into human behavior. Like, for example, why has there never been (at least to my knowledge) a real honest-to-goodness all female alliance in any Survivor season? Or why did the vegetarian sign up for The Amazing Race, when he knew there was a strong likelihood that somewhere along the way, there would be meat involved……and not anything as boring as chicken?

The most recent seasons of these two shows did not disappoint in the “are you kidding me” department.

First, let me preface what I’m about to say by acknowledging that I am sure that we all recognize that there is a large amount of editing that goes on to make these shows ‘ratings friendly’. Stuff gets cut, stuff stays in, all so that we could really get sucked in to the goings on and take sides, and cheer for our favorites. That being said, no amount of editing able to hide underlying attitudes and opinions.

Take, for example, some of the Amazing Race contestants, in particular the dating couple Carol Rosenfeld and Brandy Snow, and the other dating couple, Brent Horne and Caite Upton. Caite was a contestant in a Miss Teen USA Pageant a few years back and messed up big time on a question asked by one of the judges. She sounded like she did not have a clue. Of course, some of the other contestants had a field day with this. They had themselves a good laugh at Caite’s expense. This included Carol & Brandy. It seemed though that they were especially mean. It was no small wonder that when the opportunity arose, Caite took her revenge and u-turned the two, ending their quest for the million dollars. They, or rather I should say Brandy, did not take this very well. She became absolutely caustic. It was not a pretty sight. It became even less pretty at the end of the race, when she was, let’s say, less than sporting in her behavior.

Now I understand her being upset about getting kicked off and all that. What I was a bit confused about though, was how this grown woman could decide to ‘mix it up’ with someone half her age. Yeah yeah yeah, I get the whole ‘she’s over eighteen stuff’ and the ‘we’re all competitors’ stuff, and we’re all equal and so on and so forth. But come on Brandy, she’s a child to you, you were supposedly the adult, and as an adult, you have a responsibility to act like one. Instead you decide to join in the heckling and, in some cases, prolong the teasing. You saw absolutely nothing wrong with your behavior, after all, all’s fair in love and war (and the Amazing Race). Thing is, you made the mistake many of us make when we’re getting all caught up in the moment. You took the whole ‘all’s fair theory” and applied it …… yourself…..only. You never thought for one moment the “tiara wearing, dumb blonde’ could possibly at some point have your fate in her hands. Well she did, and she used the opportunity to avenge herself against any real or imagined slights on your part. And we all shook our heads as you cluelessly walked off still ranting against the child who engineered your departure, completely missing the irony in the fact that she was still in the race and you were not. Oh well.

The end of the Amazing Race gave me time to focus my energies on Survivor, another study in human behavior. It was a very enjoyable season, and I saw first hand (at least as first hand as you could get watching tv), the impact of ‘self talk’, or what my wife calls ‘believing your own press’. I saw this by watching two players, Russell Hantz and his ego. Russell convinced himself that he was the best survivor player ever. I’m not sure how he arrived at this conclusion, but he somehow did. From my couch, all I saw was a thug, who bullied his way to the final tribal council. There was no subtlety, no real thought, just mafia style threats and scare tactics. His fellow Survivor ‘Boston Rob’ said it best. Basically he said that Russell was able to play well enough to get to the final tribal council, but not well enough to win. Russell’s response to his loss, was one of his many profound observations (similar to when he hid his team’s machete and blabbered on about creating chaos and other such nonsense); there was a flaw in the game. The flaw was that America did not get to vote, because obviously (to him anyway) there is no way he could have lost. So I am left to assume that the real flaw was that Russell didn’t win. Either that, or he thought all along that he was he was on American Idol.

Even after his loss, he is still clueless; still making irrelevant arguments about changing the rules of the game, and complaining about how much of a toll playing back to back games had on him. Well buddy, did they shanghai you? Because if they didn’t you coulda said no. Instead he continues his rant about how everyone else is wrong, and that Sandra is such a weak player and yada yada yada. Yeah the same Sandra who walked away with ‘your’ million dollars. If you really were the best player, you would have won. The game doesn’t end when you get to the final tribal council, you actually have to get the votes to win. You couldn’t do that, you didn’t even get one vote (not even one dude), yet you are still somehow convinced that you’re the best player. Hmmmm………maybe back to back games is not the best idea.

Yup, I can’t wait till next season of reality shows. Maybe we’ll see Russell and Brandy again; he’ll be on American Idol, so that America could finally have a say, and she’ll make an appearance on Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader. Maybe she’ll actually win……maybe.

I’m right dammit!!!!!

April 16, 2010

Being right is like a steroid. There is nothing like it to motivate a body. Being right energizes you, it gives you a sense of power like no other.It makes you bold. It increases your sense of civic responsibility.It makes you want to go out and spread the “gospel of rightness”. You especially feel like you need to teach that person who is not as fortunate as you, a lesson. You need him to see the error of his ways and become a better person. Being right is such a big deal sometimes, it’s like a weapon of mass destruction. And just like a WMD, in the wrong hands it could lead to “all kinda ting” (according to my daughter who recently realized that her parents do not speak like she does).

I saw “rightness” in action when I dropped my daughter off this morning. The school tries to manage the flow of traffic during pick-up and drop-off times, so that they could minimize any potential “problems”, and, more importantly, ensure the safety of their charges. To this end, they have placed a large, rather conspicuous sign at one end of the pick-up and drop-off area…”PLESAE DO NOT LEAVE VEHICLES UNATTENDED”. Well this morning a parent… left… her… vehicle… unattended. She was obviously wrong to do this. She exhibited a complete lack of concern for other parents and for the safety of the students. It was a completely selfish gesture. That was pretty clear for all to see. It was especially clear to the parent who pulled up directly behind her. Without so much as a “by your leave” she was like “IS THAT YOUR CAR? YOU NEED TO MOVE!!! I NEED TO GET TO WORK!!!” …….then she stamped her foot, I’m serious, she stamped her foot (are you like six lady?). All this was done while her kids were still in the car seeing “mommy” act like an infant. But, of course, she was right. She had what people like to call, the moral high ground, and, to her mind, the moral high ground could never be lost. There was nothing that she could do that would diminish her “rightness”.

Another time, another parking lot (I told you parking lots were interesting places). Guy Number One pulls into a strip mall with his girlfriend. He stops behind two parked cars, effectively preventing them from moving if they wanted to, so that his girlfriend could go inside and purchase something. Never mind there were other parking spaces nearby where he could easily slip into and so not hinder the flow of traffic in the already congested parking lot. Of course, that would be way too easy, and easy is for punks. Better to take the more challenging route and make a complete nuisance of yourself. Raise your banner of selfishness for the world to see. Of course by now you see where this is heading. Up drives “Mr. Right”. Mr. Right looks like Walter Matthau (Grumpy Old Men) and obviously has the personality of a hammer. Mr. Right is very principled, and while he could simply drive around Guy Number One and go on about his business, he feels that it is his duty to take a stand for those of us who follow the rules and show some small amount of consideration for others. From his position of “rightness”, he take the course of action he feels is best………he leans on his horn…….and starts to cuss……and cuss, and cuss, and cuss. He was very poetic about, there were words used that I am sure had never been heard before. But, of course, he was right. He also had what people like to call, the moral high ground, and, to HIS mind, the moral high ground could never be lost. There was nothing that he could do that would diminish his “rightness”.

The thing about this moral high ground business though, is that, contrary to popular opinion, it is very easy to lose. When you get to the moral high ground, it’s not like you get lifetime membership. You have to be even more careful when you get there that you don’t let being right go to your head. Don’t trample on others (or at least try to) just because you think you’re right. Being right does not give you unfettered permission to “act the fool”. In fact, if you let yourself get carried away, you’re no longer acting, and if the target of your “rightness indignation” gets all “ignant”, you just might find yourself in traction……..but hey, at least you’ll be right, and that counts for SOMETHING……..right?

Comfortable shoes

March 29, 2010

I am no fashion guru (that was just a general comment, not a polling question so just leave it alone) but lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people (mostly women) with shoes that are way too big for them. Like this young woman I saw recently, she was dressed up in all black, looking very nice in her tailored outfit, and bright green shoes. She looked nice, made me take a second look………at her shoes.

I couldn’t figure out, for the life of me, why if you wore bright green shoes in a manner that drew attention to your bright green shoes, you would wear bright green shoes that were obviously TOO BIG. I figured it was an anomaly…….until I started seeing people with oversized shoes on a daily basis. I started to feel like the kid in The Sixth Sense…….I see big shoes.

So I’m really interested in this apparent new fashion statement. I know that buying big shoes is the norm for kids, because they’re growing. If you’re lucky, they’ll grow into them before they’re completely destroyed. But I’m talking about adults here, if your foot grows anymore,you may need to see someone about that.

Being fashionable can be expensive so maybe they’re just buying cheap shoes. Many of us remember (at least I do) going into the store to get that first pair of “dress shoes”. Your mother picks out what she thinks is a nice pair or leather shoes, and asks the salesman for your size. The salesman comes back with the shoe…….and a shoe horn. For the next several minutes you struggle to get the thing on. It’s kinda “snug”, but they (your mother and the salesman) both agree……”that is good leather, it will stretch”. Well maybe they don’t have green shoes in “good leather”.

Now this is not a woman’s issue, (lest I be labelled a sexist). I’m pretty sure we’ve all at some point or other seen the guys with the court jester shoes… know the ones that curl up at the front? Well if they went shopping with my wife, there is no way they’d leave the store with a shoebox the size of a briefcase.

Reminds me of the time my wife and I did go shoe shopping. I had these sandals I really loved and one of the buckles broke, so I went to get a new one (I’m easy that way, no need to fuss, if I like it ,I buy another one just like it). We walk into the store, I see my sandals, I ask for my size, then the salesman starts to get all scientific on me. He pulls out his foot measuring thingy, measures my foot then literally adds a size to it. Dude is standing there trying to convince me that this was my ideal shoe size, scientifically proven and all that. In the meantime, my wife is standing behind me “quietly” grumbling, and saying things like “crap” and asking questions like “who he feel we look like?” Needless to say,I left the store with sandals in a “less than ideal” size.

Hmmmm…….maybe that salesman became so incensed, he went off and started a revolution in shoes or something, and he was somehow able to convince people that these shoes really were the “ideal size”. Or maybe, he’s not really a shoe salesman but he manufactures slings and casts, and figured out the ideal way to drum up business.

Whatever the reason for the big shoes, I’m not jumping on that bandwagon. Those sandals I bought………they stretched.

Sense & Sensibilities

March 16, 2010

Caribbean people have a reputation for being friendly and very personable, especially to foreigners. We are very welcoming and would generally go all out to make strangers comfortable. There are, however, a few things that rub us the wrong way. We get “vex too bad”.

One is when people ignore the diversity that is the diaspora resident in the Caribbean Islands…”oh I just love your accent, I went to school with a girl from St. Lucia, and she sounded EXACTLY LIKE YOU”, says the foreigner to the Barbadian. Ummmmm……… she didn’t.Or when they exhibit their own ignorance by asking silly questions…..”So how do you all get around? Do you have cars?”…..naah, we typically swing on vines. Much cheaper that way, and you don’t have to worry about finding parking under the trees.Or the ever so popular “Do you speak english where you come from?”……well to be quite frank, after talking with you for the past half hour, I’m beginning to wonder the same thing.

But one of the things that really really irk us is when they “discover” things that we’ve known about in the Caribbean since, “rock of ages was a pebble” and turn around and wonder if we would be able “appreciate” these “new advances”. Friend of mine in Canada, for example met this lady who was doing some research for an import and export business…organic teas she said. Knowing my friend was from “the islands” (wherever that is), she was wondering if there were any pockets of people there who would appreciate organic tea……….can someone say bush tea!!! To add insult to injury she goes on to say that the more affluent the individuals the more attuned they are to general health and well being. So not only are we ignorant as to the “newly discovered” benefits of bush tea, we are too poor to even know that we don’t know. Never mind that, for the most part, in the early days (when bush tea was invented), it was the selfsame less affluent ones who used the stuff because they could not afford to pay to be killed by all the fancy medicine.

Its not her fault though. Her attitude is representative of the inward looking nature of many people who have become so used to their current environment, that they forget it wasn’t always that way. They forget that the thing which is now so much a part of their present is also part of someone else’s past. They forget that they are reaping the benefits of the experiences of others.

It takes all kinds to make this world the place that it is though and sometimes it is best to not let incidents like this get under your skin. Just say what my father said when he encountered a particularly silly state of affairs…………STEEUUUPPPPSSS!!!

Clean up on aisle 5!!!!!!

March 6, 2010

So my wife sends me to the supermarket the other day (one of the things wives do very well by the way). I don’t usually mind though because then I get to use that great timesaver, the epitome of efficiency….. self checkout. Now who could find anything bad to say about a system whose sole purpose is to get you out of a busy supermarket as quickly as possible (ok, so maybe that’s not the sole purpose….you do have the whole if we can get shoppers to pack their own stuff, while ringing up their own purchases, then maybe we could save some money by hiring less cashiers thing). Basically self checkout is the supermarket’s way of hiring literally thousands of employees without having to pay a red cent, no insurance no nothing, but that’s another story.

I will confess that I am a self checkout junkie. As long as there is self checkout, I will use it. Not for me the talkative cashier behind the counter, or even worse the not so talkative one who hates her job. I am drawn to the sense of power you feel from scanning your own tomatoes. (Sure, go ahead and snicker, you know you like hearing that beep that lets you know your item has been properly scanned.)

But I digress, what I really want to talk about, is not the self checkout counter itself, but rather the people who decide to avail themselves of the benefits of that facility. Now I am one of those people who starts planning their exit the moment they set foot inside the door of the supermarket. It’s not because I’m super smart, or that I have the legendary Type A personality. Nothing so exciting. I just hate hanging around in grocery lines, which is why I head for self checkout, credit card and supermarket club card in hand, looking to make a quick exit. Thing is though, hanging around in grocery lines isn’t very popular so a lot more people decide to take control rather than subject themselves to the mood swings of one of the cashiers mentioned above. Which is where the problem lies.

While patiently standing in line, waiting my turn, I begin to notice some of the people in line with me and I come to a sudden, stark realization……. SELF CHECKOUT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!!!!

Dude, if it takes you 3 minutes to find the barcode on a bottle of ketchup, then maybe you should leave the scanning up to the experts. GO join a line with a cashier. Oh and while you’re heading over there,take your buddy with you who insists on paying cash (credit cards are the devil), which is not in itself a problem, but do you really need to have your bills crumpled up to such a state that they cannot fit into the slot? Aaahhh, there he goes, wiping the bills on his shirt trying to flatten them out. That will certainly work.

Then there’s Ms. Assembly Line. This is the lady who scans her items at this end, then after each item, she walks (note I said walks)to the other end to immediately pack the item she just scanned. Seriously, this somehow makes sense to her.

Ms. Assembly Line is followed by the social butterfly of the group (I swear,there’s one in every crowd). She is the one who feels moved to talk to anyone who would listen. Not a big deal really,it helps pass the time,but my thing is, is it only me or does it seem like there is some requirement that for you to be a sucessful social butterfly, you must meet two criteria; 1)have a medical condition that requires multiple invasive surgeries, 2) have a willingness, no a burning desire to share the intimate details of those surgeries, along with your recuperation with any unsuspecting soul who happens to make eye contact (for those who don’t make eye contact, you just speak very loudly to make sure they don’t feel left out. You know all those people you see who keep looking down, and we hear all the psycho babble about self esteem issues and what not, uh uh….they made eye contact.)

The social butterfly more often than not usually makes room for Mr. I’m Feeling Lucky. This is the guy, who eases into the space left by the social butterfly because she’s not minding her business, while pretending he did not see everyone else in line. Come on dude, all the other lines are stretching all the way to the back of the store. Why would you think this line only has three people? He, of course, is not peculiar to self checkout, he typically tries this stunt anywhere. It’s a pretty dangerous maneuver though since, depending on certain variables, crowd reaction could range from the polite; “Excuse me sir, but the line is back here”, to the downright nasty which could end in violence.

Then of course we have the techie,or rather the guy who claims to know a guy who’s a techie. This is the one who, when he gets to the console, pulls out a card,which does not belong to the supermarket he’s currently standing in, proceeds to scan this card, and is absolutely incredulous because it doesn’t work. After he tries a few more times, with the same result, he tries to explain to the others in line….”buddy o’mine…really good with computers…he says ya don’t really need a different card for e’rry grocery store….says it’s all about the money, so he fixed mine, so I only need the one card. Dunno why it ain’t workin though….sum’n must be wrong with the store’s computer system. Y’all see any managers around?”

And of course, no event is complete if iPhone guy isn’t there. Naturally, he downloaded an app that tells you the prices of stuff at OTHER supermarkets, which are signifcantly cheaper. iPhone guy, however, does not go to those other places (that would be way too easy, and he likes a challenge), so he comes here. Of course in addition to apps that tell him the weather in the Congo (you need to know this because?), he has this little gem that allows him to “store” all his cards in his phone. I’m sure you see where this is going.

Well I finally made it through self checkout. I was tempted to hang around though because as I walked through the door Ms. Count the Number of Items in Everyone Else’s cart was about to raise a stink over in express checkout……..10 items or less. Oh well there’s always tomorrow……..

What do you want to be when you grow up?

March 2, 2010

Does everybody know the answer to this question, or is it the way I think it is; one of those journeys of self discovery that really has no final destination. Do we really want to be just one thing or are we looking to be one thing at a time? That of course is pretty much impossible since just about all of us fill several different roles at any given time……take me for instance, in terms of relationships, I’m a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a nephew, a friend… get the picture. Not all of us, however want to change those things, and, with the exception of one or two of them, we can’t.

The role that most of us would like to change and which seems the most difficult, relates to our careers. What do we wake up every morning and risk our lives on the roadways to do? Why do we subject ourselves to the company of people we would otherwise run away from screaming, for hours at a time? Well, ok, we need the money. Thing is though, I think for many of us that is the only answer.

Take me for instance. For all intents and purposes, I am an accountant. Pretty much all the jobs I’ve held have been related to some accounting function or the other. Do I like accounting? Do I get goose pimples whenever I open a spreadsheet (actually I do, but mostly its because I’m never sure what my laptop will do). But you get my drift. So what was my crime, you ask, for which I am paying such a high price?

Believe it or not, it all started when I was a small child, and committed the unforgivable sin of showing a teensy weensy bit of intellectual ability above the average….(now that I think about it, a bunch of the “absolute idiots” I went to school with, who have no degrees, now own their own businesses or are otherwise living lives and doing stuff they actually want to do). Hmmmm, do you think they were just pretending……….naaaaaahhhhh!!!!

The thing is that I firmly believe that we are born with a purpose. Now you need to follow the next couple of lines closely since they contain my rather simplified view of life, and are “the answer to life, the universe, and everything” (not sure if that is plagiarism or anything, but just to cover my bases, it comes from the title of a Douglas Adams novel). Anyway, like I said, I believe you are born with with a purpose. If that is the case, it means that there is something that you are already naturally capable of excelling at. It is the thing that excites you, the thing that occupies your mind when you should be focusing on that spreadsheet. Yes you may need training, yes you will need help, yes there will be bumps along the way as you try to do the thing you were born to do, but I believe that doing that thing, is the only way to guarantee that, when you get to the end of your time on earth, and you turn around and look back at where you’ve been and what you’ve done, you can go on your way with a contented sigh.

Anyway, don’t mind me……..I’m just thinking out loud.

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