Archive | November, 2011

Hats Off to YOU, Black Friday Cashiers

24 Nov

I have been working in some form of a retail job since I was 14-years-old. In fact, this season marks the first holiday in eight years in which I will not be working an hourly rate, wearing a name tag or dealing with extreme-coupon-ing moms.

The (legally insane) crowd outside of Toys R Us on Thanksgiving night (wrapped around the building into the parking lot)... circa 2009

In my near-decade of retail experience, I have somehow managed to continuously get out of the Black Friday rush. Whether it be through school or some other stupid excuse ( I once had my Dad call up my job at the AMC theatres on Thanksgiving to yell at my boss about worker abuse… true story) I have gotten very, very lucky. Honestly, I have spent all day thinking about how I managed to fool almost 8 different companies- yes I jumped around jobs that often. I even had an over-drawn conversation with a Target cashier tonight, questioning how any job could let me get away with this for so long.

That same Target cashier, a lovely middle-aged woman with a name tag that read “Donna,” told me that this was her first year in retail, as she had spent the last 20 years in education. She laughed it off, as if getting fired from a life-long career was funny, but in our eye contact we both felt the pain in this realization.

The bottom line is that the world sucks right now. In the last four years I have watched people change, crumble into  sadder version of the person they once were. It seems like no one has anything anymore. Four years ago, when I stood looking towards my future, I saw so much potential and opportunity. When I first heard the word “recession” a few years back I brushed it off as an interesting story I could tell my kids (father: Brad Pitt… hey, this is my fantasy) from my Victorian mansion’s wrap-around porch one day. Now I spend my free time with my calculator open, re-figuring out how long it will take to fix my car, my computer, my future. Life isn’t fair.

What is even less fair is that these giant companies are taking their cashiers and forcing them into overnight employment on a holiday that should be reserved for family and rest. These megastores have ignored their hard working employees in exchange for Rock and Roll Elmos and UGGs. These employees don’t see the benefits, and they still have to work their butts off at a very mentally and physically trying job. You think your job is hard? Try spending 8 hours on your feet getting yelled at by soccer moms because a product adversided as $2.50 is ringing up as $2.52- and no I’m not being dramatic. That has actually happened to me.

These retail employees deserve trophies for working on Black Friday and Thanksgiving night. No, they deserve an additional bonus. Who wants a trophy anyway? They spend hours dealing with the craziest of the crazies, the ultimate shoppers looking for the ultimate sale willing to take down anyone that crosses their path. In the process the cashiers get hassled, talked down to and deprived of the social relaxation that should come with any national holiday designed for families. Yet they are still placed on the bottom rung of the business totem pole, treated like lower-class and second rate citizens. I would like these crazy people that wait in line for 24 hours for a video game to spend an hour working the job of a cashier: maybe then they will decide to spend Thanksgiving at home with their families, where they belong.

Listen, this was my life. I feel somewhat guilty not being there on the frontline this year, ready to take the hit and help my fellow warriors. And I will tell you honestly- because a Target commercial does a good job at hiding it- a retail position can be the complete and total definition of dehumanizing. When I worked for Whole Foods, I stood there every day wearing an apron, with my “New Team Member” button stuck to my chest, trying to push away the fact that I was just another road block for these customers. Then I saw my old internship boss. He turned the corner, in his dress shirt and tie, with a lunch that I could sell him, but never afford myself, and in that minute I have never felt so ashamed.  I  was humiliated. I wanted to rip my apron off, burn my name tag and scream “I’M MORE THAN THIS!” But a retail job often prevents you from doing that, because in a retail job you are just another barrier to break to get to the parking lot.

So this Friday, if you feel the desperate need to be out at unbelievable times in the morning, do me this favor: thank your cashier. Genuinely thank the college kid who left Thanksgiving festivities early to get some sleep before the early start, the parent who’s down on their luck trying to get some holiday cash for their kids, the graduate that just can’t get a break. Please remember that these are people, with lives to live and stories to tell and hearts to hurt, and every time you snap at them or ignore them for a more-important phone call you are making the conscious choice to make the world a slightly dimmer place. If you feel your ego getting the best of you, just stop, look at your cashier, and say thank you like you mean it.

We live in a world now where there is no shortage of need. Because of that we all have to be able to care just a little bit more for each other, and reach out in ways that we thought were once insignificant. This Black Friday, I am making an effort to be remembered, not as a pain but as a person that sincerely helped make someone else’s day just a little bit better.

What will you do?

Stop Occupying Wall Street (Please!)

17 Nov
No one can avoid the Occupy Wall Street/Philadelphia/every other city in the U.S. protests that are filling up the cities. Honestly, I’ve never much been into it. When it first started I thought, hey that’s a cool concept, but after a week I just saw the whole thing as an abuse of our liberties. I saw it as stupid and pointless and a giant waste of space.
Two months later, and I think that most of the 99 percent agrees with me: it’s time for this to stop.
Today I saw a photo (which unfortunately I can no longer find), of a man being forced away from the door to his company by a herd of angry protesters, I was so disgusted that I decided I needed to post something.
The OWS protesters are so self absorbed that they can’t see what they really are. Where is the peacefulness of forcing others away from doing their jobs peacefully? Blocking traffic, crowding a business district, screaming in the streets? Where is the accomplishment there? In the photo I mentioned, one man holds a sign that says “People Before Profits” as he pushes another person away from their right to go where they please, forcing him away like they control him. It honestly sickens me. Since when do these OWS think they can try and control others like they are, ruining cities and public parks that the general public might also want to use.
They are no longer for the public, they are for themselves. I am a part of the general public and not once have they tried to speak for me, or have benefitted me. In fact, being a young member of society, they embarrass me by adding me to their generalization. This abuse of our freedoms to hurt society and not help anyone but themselves is ridiculous. As Mayor Nutter said of Occupy Philly, they have made no efforts to continue to meet and try to vocalize their opinions. They sit in parks in tents doing nothing but hanging out and complaining to each other. What can anyone learn from that?

Occupy protesters in Philly said that Nutter is exploiting negative examples in the Occupy movement. How is stating true facts and saying that they need to end an exploitation of anything? The protesters have broken the law, they have blocked 1,000 people from working on a new project, they have taken away a park that the public uses and replaced it with a filthy camp. Who is exploiting who?

If you want to make an effort to get your cause heard here’s what you should do: Issue a press release, hold an outdoor event with speeches and presentations, pass out fliers. Don’t sit down in a park and pout, then yell at others who are trying to better their situation. Don’t force feed your disgusting habits and terrible attitude
Listen, I am part of the 99 percent. I am not making half as much as I would like to be, and after working my ass off for the last 4 years and doing everything I was supposed to, I also feel like I am entitled to more than I am getting. But I’m not going to force other people to have to walk around me and alter their lives to fit my own situation. I have too much respect for those involved in the businesses that people are parked in front of. People like our parents, siblings, boyfriends and girlfriends, who work inside those buildings making a modest wage. People who rely on those businesses to pay for their future. Not everyone in Wall Street is a monster. Why should the rest of the 99 percent working for a company with one or two schmucks have to suffer just because they have to feed their kids?
The bottom line is that almost all of the people walking the streets that these OWS protestors are filling up with madness and mayhem are a part of the 99 percent. They’re probably all struggling just as hard, but they are trying to better their situations, not make the whole world worse.
OWS isn’t fair to the 99 percent. Don’t make us all suffer because you’ve got issues with your own life. I’m part of the 99 percent, and you’re not helping me.

Leave Paterno Alone

8 Nov

By now anyone that has switched on a sports game/ news station or turned on a computer (I’m talking to YOU) has heard about the Jerry Sandusky trial. The former Penn State coach has been charged with 40+ counts of child molestation

I recently read an article (followed by several other articles) calling for Paterno’s resignation after an incident one of his associates reported seeing involving Sandusky and a boy in the campus locker room. Paterno has said that the reports weren’t specific in nature, but he still called in the issue and did everything he was supposed to. The author of t his article admitted that Paterno and the PSU President Graham Spanier did everything they were supposed to, as far as calling in and reporting the incident to the authorities they were required to report to, but they didn’t do enough. What is enough in this instance? They banned him from interacting with children on campus, but they had no substantial evidence to back up claims, so firing him without just cause wouldn’t be legal.

The article asked, “Where was Spanier’s concern when he first heard about the investigation?” Imagine if a person you knew was suddenly exposed as this horrible monster. To say that these people weren’t concerned is idiotic. It is impossible not to be concerned in this situation, but I believe concerns shift away from the media and more towards the inner workings of your institution. Spanier and Paterno had students, family members, coworkers and friends that also need their attention through all of this. It’s silly that these days, if a person doesn’t jump up and issue  press release right away about something, they are seen as fishy or suspicious and get burned in the media witch hunt.

This article says that Paterno should be allowed to “finish out the year and step down with honor and admiration”. Well, I’m so glad that a publication is giving him that honor! Hey, Joe: don’t let us boot you out the door this very minute, let us do so in a month or two so that we can pull your name through the muck a little longer and then let you “step down with honor and admiration.” Could they be any more reasonable and caring!? I think not!

I think that Paterno is being attacked because he is the only really popular name that the media can use to attack. Here is one of the most famous coaches in NCAA history. What is Paterno supposed to teach his “kids” by resigning and (previously) firing this coach before a just and fair trial? Is he supposed to give into the media witch hunt? To step aside and let everything that the justice system of this country stands for because you run a highly publicized football program? One day some of his players will be in the professional media spotlight on their own, and I hope that through his sensible and reasonable actions that they will learn to react the same in their own situations.

To generalize Paterno’s 45-year career through one incident that has just begun to unfold in the media with a minimal amount of actual facts related to Paterno is just bad journalism. I’m so tired of the media frivolously throwing people’s names around to create a story. None of us have the full facts on how Paterno acted, and no one knows how much he knew about Sandusky, so who are we to judge? Think about it, if you knew a guy was doing something so horrible for so long, how could you not speak up? To think that he wouldn’t is what is really ridiculous. I would hope that people within my own profession would try and see things through a more logical perspective, but it seems that all sensibility has been thrown out the window when it comes to this story.

I can understand why people are passionate about it, trust me, I am too. When I first heard about the news I was in a bar with some friends, and it took a lot for me not to cry thinking about the idea that so many children could have been hurt so horribly. Passion is fitting in this instance, but through that I believe that the stronger person will be able to find sensibility in this issue of Paterno and his staff that are not accused. You don’t build a team as loved and respected as the Nittany Lions without having a strong sense of moral judgement, and someone like Paterno deserves the respect that he has earned.

So leave Paterno alone, at least until the actual courts decide what happened, not the media.

Kar-azy Kardashian Krap

2 Nov

When I found out about the Kim and Kris divorce, at first I thought it was pretty hilarious. I mean, anyone with a brain would laugh at it. It’s painfully obvious that these Kardashian people have absolutely no reality in their actual lives,  even their underwear choice for the day is probably written into some bizarre script. I bet that, at their big, giant wedding, if the wind blew the wrong way the entire set that is their life would fall down and you would just find a couple greasy camera guys in a studio. It’s funny to me that everyone is treating it as if this is the disaster of a century or some giant shocking piece of news. Something can’t be news when its pretty much scripted!

First of all, I can’t stand that family. I can’t help but have zero respect for a family that pushes themselves into the spotlight through a twisted murder trial and a leaked sex tape.  The one that’s married to Lamar Odom and kind of resembles a Shih Tzu with botox (I honestly don’t know their names besides Kim. They all are just a bunch of “K’s”)  is by far the most obnoxious person I’ve ever heard speak or walk or exist. And then they push their younger kids (more “K” names, I’m assuming) into this lifestyle along with them, when they have no say in the matter. They’re going to turn into those crazy Jon and Kate kids!

Obviously I don’t just ignore the stuff going on in the trashy, celeb-media. I would probably be smarter and much more accomplished if I did, and I wouldn’t be sitting here dishing my thoughts on a 2-month old marriage where I know nothing about anyone involved, so I shouldn’t really be voicing my opinion in the first place, I suppose. But marriages end every day. Some don’t last as long as 72 days. The difference is, and what I believe gives me the right to stick my opinion in, is that those marriages aren’t shoved down our throats for months and months, force-fed to anyone that gets in line at a grocery store and stares at all those magazines with Kardashians pasted all over them while they wait to buy bread or beer or whatever. These reality fame hoarders take their big, gawdy, fingernails and poke us repeatedly over and over again right in the forehead, asking “Are you watching me yet? Did you see what I did? Do you see me yet? Huh? Huh?”, and then, the minute things don’t go their way, they demand privacy like they haven’t completely forfeited that right the minute they got their own camera crew.

Now that I really look at it, it’s not as funny as I had thought.

I think what really annoys me about these Hollywood reality-show lifestyles is what it is doing to our society. People famous for doing absolutely nothing to contribute to society: making millions for whining, eating and gossiping about pointless junk. How many kids out there think that this is how people should actually live? Another  marriage for the sake of media buzz in Hollywood, another bad example for people going into a relationship to compare themselves to. All I can hope is that young girls that are going into relationships and are beginning to turn into the adult-versions of themselves don’t look at people like the Kardashians and aspire to live like that. They are breathing Barbie dolls, moved and pushed into whatever it is they should be doing next.

At the same time I kind of feel bad for all those Kardashians. Originally I thought that I hated all this media buzz because I was jealous. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get payed millions to wear nice clothes, date hot athletes and party? Then I started to wonder if they’ve had a really genuine moment in their life in the last five years or however long that show has been on the air. I wonder if they even know what a real, genuine moment is now? When I see a person getting divorced after 2 months I see a person that has no idea what they want out of life, or what they should expect out of the process. I guess that is what happens when your life gets scripted, it doesn’t become your life anymore.

Now, let’s just ignore all this Kardashicrap and just move on to some new, hot dish, like Bieber’s baby Daddy drama…

Shoot. Looks like I got caught up in it again.