Search This Blog

Sunday, October 28, 2012

9 More Days

How many times have I sat down with the intention of writing this post?  I have lost count...

Politics are tricky.  Bob Newhart once said that he never commented on politics because he would automatically lose half his fans.  The same can be said of friends these days.  With the explosion of social media since the last Presidential Election, we all know who our friends and acquaintances support in the election.  I would rather have not known.

I'm a Democrat.  I have (and yes, I'm ashamed) voted for a few Republicans, although not recently.   I could be considered more of a conservative one.  I think that people who can work, should work and support themselves.  I think that abortions are not a viable form of birth control.  I'm a Christian, but I think that churches shouldn't get a tax exemption when they can build cathedrals and pay their pastors enough to live in mansions, and when those pastors preach politics from the pulpit.

But I'm very glad that abortions are SAFE and legal for those who need them, that the welfare system is in place for those who need it, and that small churches don't have the additional burden of paying taxes when the idea of a 10% tithe is impossible for people who are struggling to feed their families.

I live in a heavily Democratic county within a state that is firmly on the other side of the fence.  Indiana usually goes to the right, leaving Lake County as a little blue corner.  My vote doesn't count for much state-wide.  And we get our television stations from Chicago, which is, like us, very firmly Blue.  We don't see the commercials because the Republicans don't want to waste their campaign funds on people who aren't going to vote for them and the Democrats know that we're going to vote for them anyway.  Only on my trips to swing states have I even seen any of the commercials for any candidates.

This is why I think the Electoral College should go away.  It's outdated and ineffective.  Why bother voting when Ohio or North Carolina or Florida are the real battlegrounds?  You don't want to campaign for MY vote?  Then why on earth would I give it to you?

Al Gore lost the 2000 election by 543 (or maybe 537) votes in Florida.  Even though he won the actual total vote count, he still lost because of an antiquated system.  None of our votes counted, except for less than 550 Republicans in Florida - and at least one Supreme Court Justice.

Added to that, millions of us aren't even registered to vote, and only 50-60% of registered voters actually go to the polls to vote!   Our forefathers would be horrified!  They braved crossing the Atlantic, fighting the British, and building a NEW COUNTRY because they didn't have a vote.  And WOMEN weren't allowed to vote until 1920!  They had to pass a Constitutional Amendment to get it! 

Registering and voting aren't that hard.  If you can update your Facebook status every time you eat or watch a funny television show, you can take the time to register and vote.

So, vote on November 6th, or earlier where possible.  No matter who you vote for, really.  If everyone who was eligible to vote did so, the results just might make a difference.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pausing to Remember

So I took a slightly unintentional FOUR months away from my blog.  What can I say?  It's been a busy summer! 

I have been consumed with the upcoming election.  Watching my party's convention, Sunday morning political commentary, and 24-hour cable news have made up a great deal of my spare time as of late.  There is so much that I want to say about the candidates and the issues!  But first, I couldn't let the anniversary of the September 11th attacks go by without acknowledging the victims of that horrible day, or the fine men and women of our Armed Forces who've been fighting for justice and freedom ever since.

No one can think about that day without remembering where they were, how they found out, what they were doing before they got to the closest television, and how the horrible sight made them feel.  I was home, getting ready for work when my husband turned on the television, having heard about a plane hitting the WTC on the radio.  We thought it was a tragic accident and nearly dismissed it as such when we witnessed the second plane exploding into the second tower. 

I remember every detail of the rest of that day, as well as most of the events of that week, even though it went by in a blur of grief and profound sadness.   People were kinder for a time, but that ended.  I've heard that crime was even down for a few days.  No planes flew overhead for the rest of that week, which was nice, considering the last planes most of us saw were slamming into buildings.

Almost 3,000 people died that day.   Moms and Dads, Sisters and Brothers, Sons and Daughters.  People in airplanes, people in buildings, people wearing uniforms, people at work, people walking on sidewalks, people stopping to look, people trying to get away, people praying for rescue, people who thought they were safe and out of harm's way.   Some of the souls we lost that day were Muslim, and about 10% of those who died were foreign nationals or citizens of other countries. 

Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have died since.  Approximately 6,300 U.S. Troops have died and another 42,000 wounded in the "War on Terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sure, we've killed a fair amount of the terrorists, including the masterminds of the attacks, but when is it enough?  Will it ever be enough? 

We can't bring anyone back.  What we can do, and have done, is clean up the mess they made, mourn our dead, and rebuild.  Once a year, we can remember the souls we lost that day.  We can fly our flags on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran's Day, and now on September 11th. 

We can be kinder to one another, the way we did that week.  That would be a nice way to remember.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

They're Going There With Their Friends!

Do They Still Teach Grammar or Spelling in Schools These Days?

Not that it would make much of a difference, in all seriousness.  The people who sat with me in English classes from elementary school through high school didn’t pay much attention when they had the chance. And I’m not talking about text-speak.  Everyone gets a pass on misspellings there; we’re abbreviating, I get that. 

I’m really not a grammar nazi, but I’m embarrassed by my own friends’ misspellings.

Before I really get rolling, I’ll admit that my own grammar is not perfect.  I end sentences with prepositions, misspell common words, and use too many commas.  I’m not talking perfection, I’m talking about knowing the difference between “they’re, there, and their.” 

Now that 50% of Americans have Facebook accounts, almost all of us have had a chance to see how our friends spell.  I don’t know about you, but most of my friends can’t.  A few of them are great at it, sadly most of the ones who are fluent in English are also English teachers. 

Here’s a partial list of the worst things I see, daily:

For the love of God, there is no D in the word congratulations!

Learn when to use “me” or “I” in a sentence, and when to use an apostrophe.  It’s not that hard.

Know the differences between ~ they’re, there, and their ~ you’re and your ~ to, too, and two ~ then and than ~ know and no ~ awe and awww! ~ hear and here ~ buy, bye, and by ~  break and brake ~ loose and lose ~ peek and peak ~ You get the idea, I could do this for days.

Does ANYONE remember: “i before e, except after c” ?


And while we’re talking about awesome things, let’s talk about the overuse of the words AWESOME and AMAZING.  I hear them everywhere, describing every imaginable thing in the world.  People sure have been awed and amazed at the most boring of things!  Please, people, find more adjectives.  Here’s a word for you: THESAURUS.  Please get one.

These days, we have to be concerned about potential employers asking for our Facebook passwords.  Everyone’s worried that they’ll find some old college pictures of us, drunkenly hanging off of our dreadlock-wearing, unwashed ex-boyfriend, playing beer pong and wearing bad 80’s fashion.  Maybe you should be more concerned about your spelling and grammar in the “About Me” sections.  Just a thought.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Turn Right At The Third Light

There are a lot of things that I don't understand about men and how their minds work. That's nothing unusual, of course. The mystery of the differences between the sexes is the subject of countless books, movies, songs, and drunken barroom discussions. Here is the one thing that really confuses me about guys: Why do they think that they are the authority and final word of direction-giving?

I've spent many years working in convenience stores and gas stations, which is where a lot of people go to ask directions when they're lost or looking for a specific place. I'm happy to help, and if I don't know how to get there, I'll find a way to help regardless. I've drawn maps, written step-by-step directions, called the place for them, and unfolded (and then re-folded) many a paper road map to help. Nowadays, I simply pull out the trusty iPhone and type in the place they're looking for. It's part of the job and I actually like doing it because it's one of those customer service things that people appreciate and remember.

And I've been told many times that I give good directions. Concise, clear, and easy to follow directions...even though I am a girl. I get around much better than my husband, he's more likely to get lost than me, and he's more likely to ask directions from someone than me. He asks me how to get places, and as his wife, I'm always pleased for the opportunity to tell him where to go. ;)

So why is it that when a man OR woman comes into a gas station and asks me for directions and I do so (quite well I might add), any man within earshot of my directions feels obliged to then give the lost person the exact same directions, verbatim, immediately after I have done so?

If the answer to that question is: To Seriously Offend And Piss Me Off, well then, mission accomplished. I gave PERFECTLY GOOD DIRECTIONS, sorry they didn't ask you first. It was not an insult to the size of your penis that they didn't ask you instead.

That's all for today!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Customer Is Always...

Since I’ve been in the business of Customer Service for about 32 years, give or take a few years, I feel as if I have the right (and the responsibility) to provide a few pointers to you customers out there on how not to piss off your customer service providers or your fellow customers. That’s right, because sometimes you are so self-absorbed that you irritate other customers.

You think it’s not your problem? You think that you’re always right? Weeeelllll, let me tell you, you are not. Sometimes you’re not only wrong, you are DEAD wrong. Sometimes you are stupid and rude. Sometimes we call you some very mean names after you’ve walked out of the door. Sometimes we wish very bad things upon you. You reap what you sow, people!

I’ve had poor customer service, but I have never been rude to that person. Really, never! Not even a little bit. Because that person is a PERSON. Being rude to PEOPLE is not nice. Why am I stressing the fact that these are people? Because sometimes, you customers treat us as if we’re not people. You are disrespectful to us. So first and foremost, remember that the person ringing up your purchase is just that, a person.

In no particular order, here are some other things that we customer service providers want to let you know.

1. When we say “hello” or “good morning” or some other greeting, it would be appropriate for you to respond in kind. When I say “hello” and you say “Large Coffee” that is not polite.

2. However, when we say “hello” or some other greeting, it’s just a greeting, not an invitation for sex. We are not flirting, we are being polite. If I want to have sex with you, I will be more direct. But unless we're in a strip joint, don't hold your breath.

3. If you haven’t bathed or brushed your teethe in the last week or your clothes are standing up on their own, you probably stink. And spraying half a bottle of cologne on yourself isn’t fooling anyone. If I step back from you, or blow a fan toward you and away from me, take a hint and hit the showers. You make me want to vomit.

4. With only the rarest of exceptions, the person at the register did NOT set the prices. Telling me that the price of one of our products is too high is pointless and annoys me. If you want a bargain, go to Wal-Mart.

5. Same goes for your complaint about the number of restrooms or parking spaces, how the building is laid out or the color of the floor tile. I didn’t design the building; I was probably not even born when the building was constructed. So either write a letter to our corporate office or shut up.

6. This one really bugs me…When you tell me that you can buy it cheaper at another store, I really want to tell you to go there and leave me alone, but I am not allowed to do that. So here’s the thing: Either go to the other store and save yourself the nickel you’re bitching about, or shut up and pay what we’re charging. Please.

7. When you are too clueless to work a credit card machine or a gas pump or any other simple piece of machinery or technology, do not get mad at the person behind the counter, get mad at your own stupid ass.

8. (This one applies only to gas stations, but I’ve worked at a lot of them and it still makes me shake my head) When you go inside to pay for your gas, it is NOT the cashier’s job to know what pump you’re on, it’s YOURS. Pointing at ALL of the pumps and saying “That one right there” does NOT help. Telling me it’s the white car does NOT help. Telling me it’s pump 19 when there isn’t a pump 19 does NOT help. Telling me it’s across from pump 4 does NOT help. The only thing that does help is knowing what the number is on the pump that you are parked closest to. Nothing else. When you don’t know your pump number, we think you are stupid.

9. When there is one person working behind the counter and there is a line, just get in the line. Coming to the front to ask me a question because you think you’re too important to wait is rude. I am doing the best I can. I see that I have a line and if there is someone else to help, I will call them when it’s appropriate. You are not the President and you have to wait in line like the rest of us.

10. When there are people waiting behind you and you are digging in your wallet for your money or debit card or a damn penny, they make faces behind your back. They wish you would die, right there. You knew you were coming to a store to buy stuff, and so you really should be a little more prepared. Get your shit together already.

There are a lot of other things that I could add to this list. Just be nice and polite and realize that you aren’t the only person in the world. That would really help. And if you think that this list doesn't apply to you because you are a wonderful person and everyone should who knows you should feel lucky, think again. If you think that then this list is definitely for you.

If all of the above makes me sound like a bitch that shouldn’t be in contact with other people, much less be left in charge of a cash register, well, maybe that’s true. But I can assure you that I’m nice to all the customers, even the dumbest of the dumb, the rudest of the rude, and the clueless-est of the…you know what I mean. I just received a certificate of excellence in customer service from my current employer, and it’s not the first time I’ve been recognized for it either. All of the above is what’s in my head as I’m giving you and the general public the best customer service possible.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eye Candy - Chicago at Dusk

This was the view from the ice rink at Millenium Park at dusk one evening last week. Looking Northwest from the park towards the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. Thanks to a little fog and mist in the air, the sky was looking pretty cool.

Friday, February 24, 2012

If You See Something, Say Something

Before you read on, stop for a moment and look at your hands. Are they clean? Now think back to the last time you washed them. Are they really clean? Are they sanitary? Would you go to your kitchen right now and make a sandwich, touching the bread, meat, cheese, plate and utensils without washing your hands first? Your answer should be “No, I would like to wash them again!" Since the last time I used the restroom and then washed my hands, I have touched my computer keyboard and mouse, my hair and face, at least two doorknobs, the oven handle and a dishtowel in my kitchen, and pushed my glasses up on my nose at least twice. Not so clean now.

Food borne illnesses are far more common than you think. How many times have you eaten and then had some sort of unpleasant gastro-intestinal episode afterwards? Have you ever had food poisoning? Maybe you’ve had an e. coli or salmonella infection and didn’t know it, or maybe you did know. Chances are you’ve had a bad experience with a restaurant that you refuse to ever visit again.

Next time you have the chance and feel like being grossed out, do what I just did - a search on your computer about how many illnesses you can contract from food. Many of them are due to poor food handling such as cross-contamination and improper cooking/cooling/holding temperatures and procedures. The rest of them could have been prevented if the food handler had washed their hands after using the restroom.

The reason that this is on my mind right now is that I recently visited a restaurant that I eat at pretty regularly. Before eating, I stopped in the restroom to wash my hands. While I stood at the sink doing that, I witnessed one of the waitresses walk out of the stall and straight out the door without washing her hands. She also pulled the door handle without using a paper towel, as I always do in public washrooms. I cannot imagine how many disgusting little germs she took with her to pass on to her poor, unsuspecting customers.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen this happen in a restaurant - or in any public restroom for that matter. We’ve all seen it, we’re all (almost all, I suppose) pretty disgusted by it, but what are we going to do about it? I told the restaurant manager what I saw, and since the young woman gave me dirty looks every time she passed through the dining room (I still ate there, but requested a different waitress), I feel confident that the manager addressed it with her right away.

I have been told that I should have not said anything, just left and eaten elsewhere, and minded my own business. Really? Because it IS my business. What if someone got sick that day because of that young woman? If I get e. coli or salmonella poisoning (the two most common illnesses you can contract from food preparers who haven’t washed their hands after using the restroom) I’m going to get pretty sick. Diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, all kinds of fun stuff, but survivable. But the elderly and small children are much more likely to get very sick and are far more likely to DIE from these illnesses.

That’s right…DEAD, forever, because some disgusting pig couldn’t take a MINUTE out of their life to wash their hands. That should be everyone’s business. Would you stop someone from bullying a kid or pushing around a grandmother? Then you should say something when you see someone putting innocent people at risk for DEATH.

That is why we still see those signs in public bathrooms: EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK. Why do we still need to remind people of this (not that it always does any good) in this day and age, with all we know about how important hand washing is, with every parent in America running around with a mini bottle of hand sanitizer in their purses and back pockets? Why is this still an issue with people? How can you not know that you need to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom? What more do we have to do to get through to people? I don’t know what else to say. Just please wash your hands, teach your kids to wash their hands, and if you see a food handler skip the soap and water, say something.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another One Bites The Dust

Sometime yesterday, Whitney Houston died in a hotel room in Hollywood. We don’t know exactly what killed her yet, but we are all assuming it was drug related. Whitney took illegal substances, that’s not a secret. She started out a singer but became a joke, and now she’s gone. Like so many before her, a beautiful voice and talent has died at his or her own hand. I could make a list of dozens of brilliant singers, musicians, and actors and athletes that have killed themselves with drugs and alcohol, whether intentionally or accidentally, too young. You know who they are, so I won’t make a list.

Whitney was born into musical royalty, had the voice of an angel, and an exceptional career, and then she did drugs and lost it all, and then she died. All the money and love and fans couldn’t save her. Not even having a child who depended on her was enough to make her stop and clean it up.

Sadly she won’t be the last famous or super-talented person to waste away and die from substance abuse. But if Whitney couldn’t make it back, or any of the others who had fame and fortune and died anyway, what chance does the average addict have of making it back?

Many people don’t have sympathy for addicts, me included. You knew that taking drugs was bad, but you did it anyway, and now you’re addicted. You want help, you say you have a disease and you need a cure.

I think you should have known better to begin with. NO ONE thrives in addiction for long, it all falls apart, sooner rather than later. Millions of people have died from substance abuse and addiction; millions more have ruined their lives if it didn’t kill them. So what made YOU think that YOUR story would be different? Drugs are a dead end, period.

I was looking forward to Whitney’s comeback, her triumphant return to music, her voice clear and strong just like back when she started, but a little bit stronger for what she’d been through. That’s not going to happen now, and that makes me sad and a little bit angry. Whitney should have known better.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's All About The Happy Endings

When I decided to start a blog, I made a list of subjects that I wanted to write about so that if I drew a blank in front of my computer and couldn’t think of the next subject, I would have some ideas to inspire me along the way. One of the subjects on the top of my list was Why I Love Romance Novels.

Before you judge, think less of me as a human being, or just plain start hating, give me a minute. I was you, five years ago. Romance novels? Puleeze! People who read “those” books, well, they’re not very smart. Romance readers are sad, hopeless mopes who wish they had exciting lives and good sex, or any sex. They only read “those” books to get what they can’t get in real life. And the books themselves are poorly written porn! They’re nothing but sex scenes strung together with little plot, the characters are one dimensional stereotypes with formulaic, cookie-cutter stories, written by sad women who couldn’t write real books and never had sex themselves.

I only read important books written by smart people!

So there I was, reading my important book while visiting my stepmom on a vacation. I came to the very depressing end with a heavy sigh, put it down and complained that it was the 3rd book that I’d read in a row with a depressing ending. I picked up the other book that I’d packed, a two-for-one deal that I’d bought at Costco the week before. My college-educated, super-smart stepmom said, “Oh, then you’ll love that book. Nora Roberts always writes happy endings!”

I didn’t know that Nora Roberts wrote romances. I knew that she wrote books. But a few chapters into it, I was hooked. It was a sweet story that ended happily and so I kept reading her books. I ordered her books from Amazon so I didn’t realize right away that I was reading romances, but by the time I figured it out, it didn’t matter. They were good, and they didn’t end badly. The books made me happy.

The biggest surprise that I got from these books was that the stereotypes I knew were all wrong. The heroines aren’t all large-breasted, bubble-headed, beautiful, or blonde/redheaded cut-outs. They’re flawed and sometimes flat-chested, usually ordinary women with ordinary looks. They aren’t about pirates or arranged marriages (usually), and they aren’t all about sex. They’re all about the relationship, how it begins, what the couple has to sacrifice to be together, how they come together as equals, how they overcome the obstacles to being a couple. Sometimes they aren’t even about a man and a woman. The genre has become a true reflection of society.

Later on, I branched out into the sub-genres of romance. I found that I enjoyed romantic suspense and paranormal romance mainly, but there are many others sub-genres, such as Westerns, Native American, interracial, GLBT, historical, inspirational, and even NASCAR. The sexual content runs from “clean” to erotic, and many authors release their books in hardcover (just like REAL authors!) first, before being released in paperback, so there goes some more stereotypes.

I joined online communities of romance readers, and I met smart, funny, interesting, educated women who had known that reading romance novels was a fine way to pass the time for many years.

I did some research, (most recent stats are for 2010) and found out that 90% of romance readers are women. So guess what? That means that 10% of its readers are MEN. Shocker! And I found out that 24% of all Americans read at least ONE romance novel. More people bought romances than mysteries, science fiction, religion/inspirational or even classic literary fiction. The average income of your typical romance (paper) book buyer is $58,000, and the average e-book romance buyer makes around $70.000. Not exactly what you were thinking, was it?

And yet, romance novels are in the back corner of most bookstores. I worked at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore for a year and put up with the somewhat good-natured teasing from my coworkers for reading this red-headed stepchild of literature. But they always asked me what the book I was reading in the break room was about.

I don’t hide my love for these books, I tell people all of the time that I’m reading a romance novel. I am convinced that the majority of people who have bought e-readers have done so to hide their scandalous book covers from the scorn of perfect strangers.

I’m not trying to sell anyone on romances. If you don’t think you’d enjoy reading them, then don’t. But don’t look down your nose at the next woman (or man) that you see in a waiting room or an airplane with their nose in a romance novel. They just know what I’ve learned about them: happy endings are a whole lot better to read than sad ones.

Brain Candy: Romance readers have senses of humor about their reading choices. Here are some of my favorite romance novel-related websites:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ten Things I Learned While Unemployed

I have spent the last two months, give or take, as one of America’s Unemployed. Don’t feel badly for me, I have a new job, starting next week, and it’s the longest time that I’ve been unemployed since my early 20’s. Not so bad. In addition, I didn't really mind losing my last job and I'm excited about starting the new one.

Because I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that every experience in your life is a lesson, I have been thinking about all the things I have learned while looking for a new job. In no particular order, here are my own personal lessons:

1. I LOVE wearing sweatpants. A lot. I have spent several weeks *not* having to wear dress clothes, or even jeans and shoes, on a daily basis. I have rarely “fixed up” my hair, put on a suit or dress pants, heels, or hose during this time. It has been fabulous!

2. Spending more time in the gym was a good idea, and nothing more.

3. I can make a dollar stretch a lot further when I have fewer of them to spend.

4. It was a good idea to write down every job I’ve applied for, the date, and the passwords to all of their websites for unemployment benefits purposes. I kept a journal of them, and it’s proven to be a wise move.

5. It’s a fallacy that you can’t make up for lost sleep.

6. How to make real, delicious, and not-so-easy shortbread cookies from scratch.

7. It is wonderful to have the whole holiday season off work. I did not have to work any of Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas weekend, or New Year’s weekend. This is the first year that has happened since my senior year of high school.

8. Christmas shopping on a strict budget is a challenge, but possible. And spoiling my nieces and nephews with extravagant gifts is not necessary. They love me when I buy inexpensive toys at Wal-Mart just as much.

9. Potential employers are not very kind to job-seekers. “We’ll call you by the weekend” is a lie, and they don’t care if you had your good suit dry-cleaned, woke up at 5 a.m., spent an hour in the bathroom fixing hair and face, and researched and rehearsed interview questions and then drove to another state in another time zone for the interview. Not only do you not get the job, you don’t get to find out why.

10. Last but not least, I was reminded once again that I have great friends and the best family in the world. They knew the right job was coming and believed that I was the right person for it, and if other people didn't see my value, they were just plain blind. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mob Wives

There's a relatively new reality series on VH1 called Mob Wives. I'm not sure if it's a realistic portrayal of actual mob wives, but if it is? Then these are some really terrible human beings, and Staten Island isn't a place that I ever want to visit.

There are four of them. Their names aren't important, but their mob connections are real. Two of them are estranged from their incarcerated and mob-connected husbands, the other two are daughters of infamous mobsters who are also incarcerated. The four of them alternate between being the best of friends and the worst of enemies, sometimes in the same episode. They fight a lot, physically fight. One of them goes to a gym and boxes with a trainer regularly so that she can be better at fighting than the people she is itching to fight.

They also use an extreme amount of profanity. It's barely bleeped out, just bleeped enough so that you know what the words are, you just don't actually hear the whole word. I wonder why the censors bother, really.

The women are all mothers, from a teenager to small children. They aren't really with their kids all that much, one daughter lives out of state...way out of state, in Arizona. The women don't seem to have jobs, but they all live in nice houses and don't have any issues with money. They have plastic surgery and sit around the pool, go to the gym, out to nightclubs and parties. So either VH1 is paying them very well or they're living off mob money.

In short, these women and their friends make the Kardashian sisters look like a bunch of Peace Corps volunteers. They're vapid and selfish and shallow and despicable. They talk about "the lifestyle" as if they're the poor victims instead of the people who their fathers and husbands and boyfriends have victimized.

And I can't stop watching them. Sunday nights on VH1, 7pm, CST.

Ear Candy....
The theme song is also kind of awesome:
(If you click the link to the song, don't worry. Miley Cyrus is only in the video as an actress, she doesn't sing the song. I would never make people listen to Hannah Montana.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eye Candy from Indianapolis Childrens' Museum

Guilt and the Salvation Army Kettle

Having just come out of the holiday season, unless you hibernate from Thanksgiving to Christmas or live off the land and have no reason to enter any kind of retail establishment, you have seen and heard them.  The Bell Ringers, I mean.  Every grocery store, drug and discount store has at least one entrance covered.  The mall probably has one posted at every door.

This post is not anti-Salvation Army or anti-giving to the poor, so don't get your knickers in a twist.  I give cheerfully to the Salvation Army and any number of worthy charities.  But how many times should you give?  If I dropped a buck into every kettle that I crossed during this past holiday season, I would have easily given $50 at bare minimum.  Honestly, I don't have that much to give JUST to the SA.  Not that they're not worthy, as I said.  I simply can't afford it.

I didn't give every time, obviously.  I rarely carry cash these days, I have a debit card like everyone else.  One would argue that they don't expect you to drop a dollar every time, or even a quarter every time.  I get that.  But I give a dollar, that's just me.   When I have $40 in my wallet that is specified for groceries down to the last dime, I can't give them a dollar.  Not today anyway.

But one day last month, I did only have a small amount of cash at my disposal on my way into the grocery store, and I had to buy a lot.  It *was* the holidays, I had cookies to bake and dinner to cook, tomorrow's lunches to think about.  And on my way in the door, the woman ringing the bell, who I always exchange pleasantries with, actively begs me for money for the kettle.  I responded with a smile and a "Sorry, not today!" and hurried my way in to fight the crowd.  No big deal, first time a bell-ringer ever called me out, but then she did it AGAIN on my way out!  I don't remember exactly what I said, but it got me worked up for the drive home. 

And it's not just the bell-ringers, it's the Little League and Pop Warner parents at busy intersections with long stoplight waits holding plastic milk jugs with pictures of their kids who need uniforms, the grocery store clerks collecting for the Food Bank, the gas station attendants collecting for MDA, and the bookstore chain collecting for kids' books for literacy.   Not to mention the multitudes of kids selling popcorn, cookies, candy bars, wrapping paper, candles, and every other imaginable product to raise money for their school or club or athletic team.   We are bombarded with people who want our money!

When is it okay to say "Sorry, not today"?  I say it a lot.  And then I feel guilty.  It's hard, lonely, boring work to stand there in the cold and ring a bell.  And it's a worthy cause, really.  And I'm not a Scrooge or a tightwad.  I just can't give every person who asks my money.

Sorry, not today.

Welcome to my blog!

I called it I Love Candy because I do love candy.  I love eye candy, ear candy, mental candy, and the stuff at the candy store.

But that's not all this blog is about.  Add in some comedy, personal observations, my opinions on everything from the latest book I'm reading to the upcoming elections, and just plain common sense.  Whatever's on my mind.  I'll try to make it interesting and not be too full of myself.