Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No condescension. please.

This is an essay I wrote a few years ago while I was still working as a cable splicer. During that time, I often wrote about "things that got to me today" whether they made me angry, happy, moved, whatever. I'll be posting them every so often, to get some old essays out of the drawer and up on the screen. Enjoy, and may us all try and remember we are in this world together.


I work for a utility company. I drive a big, white, dirty truck and get dirty every day. I don’t like my job, but appreciate that I have one. I attend college so I can someday, leave my job to do something I enjoy. For now though, it is a job that pays half of the bills my husband and I have to provide for our family.

Today, while working out of my big, white, dirty truck, getting my jeans and work boots equally dirty, I encountered a woman on the sidewalk. She, this woman, got to me enough that I am writing this essay about her.

I was working at a location at the entrance of a very nice, elite if you will, single family home community. In order to perform my job most efficiently and out of the way, I had to temporarily park my truck in a way that blocked the sidewalk. The city will not allow me to take up a lane on the main road. If I park in the narrow, one-way entry to the fancy subdivision, I would block large vehicles, delivery trucks and school buses. I don’t want to park on the subdivision’s landscape at it’s entrance, for it’s maintenance manager would surely run me off. So, block the sidewalk it is, only temporarily. I’d be sure to hurry.

There was quite a bit of foot traffic, all very friendly. Some smiling, saying “hello.” I would apologize for blocking the walk. “No problem, you’re just fine” they would say, and then quickly walk around my big, white, work truck.

If they stepped to the right around the truck, they would walk on dry grass. To the left were wood chips framing the entrance sign to the neighborhood. There was no mud, not a ditch, not a rock cliff or a bowl of quick sand, just grass and wood chips.

So this brings me to the woman who inspired me to write down the events of the day. She was blonde, casually but expensively dressed, kind of the $300 version of a sweat suit, with white tennis shoes. She wore her hair in a conservative bob and was about my age, mid thirties. I don’t know another thing about her other than she had walked out of this high end housing community where I was working.

She quickly looked me over in my dirty jeans and boots, and as snootily as anyone I have ever heard, she loudly whined “Do you have to block the sidewalk?”

She was visibly irritated. I quickly, and in my very professional utility voice, apologized and started to briefly explain my parking options when she interrupted–really fuming- “well, it makes it so difficult! I shouldn’t have to walk around you!”

It was as if to say, you are just a dirty utility company worker and I am a stay -at- home- whatever on my nine o’clock power walk and because of you, my $200 tennies are going to have to step off of the pavement. (Dry grass or wood chips, not certain death).

I am not sure why she was so unfriendly, so condescending. Maybe her well- to -do life on the inside of her upper scale home isn’t as pretty as it is on the outside. Maybe her dog died, or she’s got a cold, or her marriage sucks, or maybe her Lexus is in the shop. Truthfully though, I’ll feel better not to judge her, make assumptions.

It is true, I am a blue collar utility worker with a big truck and dirty work clothes. But I am a stay at home mom and wife too, it’s just that that part of the day doesn’t start for me until 3:30 pm. I too, pick up my kids from school, spend quality time with them, help with homework, give baths, cook dinner, clean house, do laundry, play in the sand box, trek the kids to wrestling, football, family reading night, music concerts and book fairs.

Speaking of my kids, my boys are well adjusted, well rounded, affectionate, funny and in the tops of their classes. They have many friends, all of which I know.

Oh, and after the kids are in bed, I do MY homework so I can complete my degree, because unbeknown to the lady on the sidewalk, I have a brain. And of course, I am extremely fortunate to have a helpful, understanding husband who wants me to succeed, who wants to relieve any stress I have in any way that he can. And that, my elite friend, is just Monday through Friday.

So I guess my point is this: What really got to me today? A woman who judged me solely on my appearance, my occupation and the fact that my truck was going to move her twelve inches off of her daily power walk route. She was rude and inconsiderate to my situation. In her world, she was the only one that mattered and screw anyone else and what they might need.

It comes down to this. I don’t like or respect rude, mean people. The world would be a lot better if people were nice and considerate to one another, no matter their differences, whether it be race, gender, or like today, social class. I do believe I am a happier woman than the one I met on the sidewalk I am thankful to have such a good life, and hope one day she can find a good life too. Maybe then she, too, will be happy, and not feel obligated to look down, let alone speak down, on others.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Leave Cookie Monster Alone

I thought I had heard the end of this argument, but apparently not the case. I'll warn you, I feel pretty strongly about this one.

You see, Cookie Monster was a pal of mine growing up. Absolutely loved him! (Elmo wasn't around yet). I loved everything about him. He was furry and lovable and hugable to all the kids on Sesame Street. He kind of talked like I did at that young age, not quite completing full, grammatical sentences. Mostly, he cracked me up.

I remember absolutely squealing when he would attack the tray of chocolate chip cookies with such gusto that the tray would go flying and cookies and their crumbs would topple in, then out of his mouth and all over the place, and he would continue this action until all cookies were demolished and the narrator came in to tell me about the letter "C". "Ynyum...ynyum...ynyummm..." he would growl, "ME LOVE COOKIES!".

Sometimes he would just sing a song with a friend, sitting on a porch. "C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me." Well, let me tell ya, Cookie Monster was good enough for me, and now some people are messin' with my pal.

This is where, in defense of my furry friend, the Breakfast Club in me wants to say "hey, don't mess with the bull, you'll get the horns." Then I pause and think, wait a minute...Cookie Monster doesn't have horns. He's got fur, he's got big white balls for eyes and the fuzziest, floppiest fingers around. He doesn't have laser guns or the video version of bloody skateboard injuries, he doesn't wear midriff- showing doll clothes or sweat pants that say "juicy" across his rear end. He's a big blue fuzz ball that digs his cookies.

And here lies the problem. Apparently there are those who think Cookie Monster is one of many culprits to the rising of obesity in children. I have a problem too. My problem is that Cookie Monster is being forced to eat carrots and celery! He's not a frickin' bunny people, he's Cookie Monster.

Of course, there are children who may prefer Cookie's menu of choice, or choose to emulate his not-so-desirable table manners. Well, guess what? That's what parents are for. It's up to parents to actually teach their children better manners by explaining that Cookie is a funny monster and is supposed to act like the silly guy he is, and that little boys and girls act differently.

This is exactly what makes Cookie so funny, because he is so silly, he can do things we know we shouldn't. And oh boy, what a treat when a child gets to have a cookie just like his furry blue buddy. The key word here is "treat" and again, that is up to the parents to control how many cookies their child consumes. Not far enough for you?

If you loathe the idea of giving your child a cookie (and their are many that are full of transfats and other awful, yet tasty ingredients), there are brands available that are a healthier option for a treat. Kashi is one that makes an awesome variety of cookies that are practically good for you.

With all of the crap--yes I said a four letter word, forgive me---that is out there exposed to our children, can we please leave the harmless classics, the fuzzy, friendly, innocent and delightful loves of our childhood alone?


People who sign up to be part of an organization, a voluntary organization, should be sure and actually do some of the volunteering. Before volunteering, ask yourself:

1. Why am I volunteering? Is this an organization I am really excited about and care about, or will it just look good on my resume to be listed as a member?

2. Do I have the time to actually commit? For most, the initial answer will be "no way." Fret not, there is always a way. Sharpen up on your time management skills and realize if you commit to an organization than you need to put in some of the work. If you really can't find the time, then gracefully bow out. You'll be more respected for stepping down than for being unreliable.

3. The more the merrier. Are there others who can join you in your venture? Whether it be family (some volunteering is a great way for families to spend more time together) or professional colleagues (can help with team building at work), having someone with you keeps you accountable.

There are so many great organizations that need good volunteers, and the personal gratification you get from helping out does really feel as great as they say it does. If this kind of reward is what you are after, then volunteer away. If there is an ulterior motive in your enthusiasm, perhaps you should rethink it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stop Overmedicating Now

I can't believe there are parents who still think it's okay to give a multi-symptom cold medication to their kids when they only have one symptom. If they need a pain reliever and just a pain reliever, why would you give them OTC medication that also contains an antihistimine, a decongestant, and sometimes more?

--Decongestants for kids under age six were pulled off the shelves for a reason.
--Two weeks ago the warning for long term or over dose of acetiminophen was all over the news.
-- We're currently watching the third celebrity prescription medication fatality investigation on every channel of our televisions.

What is it going to take? Why don't parents read labels? When are some people going to realize we aren't supposed to use allergy meds to promote a good night sleep?

As a parent of a child who has finally grown out of a chronic illness, I know the importance of medication, especially when it works. All I'm saying is if they don't need it, don't give it to them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Naked Truth

About every six months or so, probably more often and just not reported, some municipality or conservative organization insists that a piece of art, depicting human form, be removed from public display. Usually, even if the opinion that the piece is offensive is of the minority, it's easier just to remove or cover the art than it is to deal with the headache of those opposed, who would mostly likely continue to voice their opposition for the remainder of the exhibit, which is their right to do.

But what about the free speech of the artist? I know the argument is that the artist has every right to create whatever he chooses, but that it ought not to be forced upon those who do not wish to view it. Why can't those who wish not to see it merely ignore it? Like any other kind of self expression, which truly is what art is, "if you don't like it, you can choose not to look at it." Isn't that what people say when religious or holiday displays are asked to be removed from one's lawn or place of worship? It is not as if artists insist on putting their art on an individual's private property who wishes not to have it.

The right of free speech is the right of everyone in this country. Absolutely then, those opposed to some forms of public art have every right to speak their opposition, but they do not have veto power of the artist's same rights.

The opposition often states the art of the human form is inappropriate for children. Why not take the opportunity to teach children the beauty of the human form? For those with objections based on religion, is the human form not the creation of God? For those of the Christian faith, were Adam and Eve ashamed of their nudity as God created them? The answer is no, not until Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree of Life. Shouldn't we teach to be proud of our bodies, not ashamed?

It's no secret poor body image is cause to a number of problems facing today's youth, especially girls, such as low self-esteem, giving in to peer pressure, and no self-respect. Like an avalanche, these lead to undesirable behavior with even greater consequences. So couldn't it be argued that the lack of discussion about the body and censorship of art of the human form, which is an implication of shame, is having the exact effect on our young people that the censors are trying to prevent?

I think this discussion could go significantly deeper than there is room for in a blog, but I am fascinated by both sides of the argument. Personally , I think free speech is free speech. The artist has the right to speak through his art, and those opposed have a right to voice their opposition. If nothing else, at least it keeps us discussing it, and much can be learned through dialogue.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gracious Federer

Federer is so gracious as a 15 Grand Slam Title record breaker, that even when Roddick, who I had hoped as an American would handle his loss well, broke etiquette by mouthing off during Federer's speech, he still took the high road with a polite response showing compassion and understanding because he knows what it's like to lose. It was just last year that Federer suffered a painful Wimbledon loss to Nadal, who didn't compete this year due to a knee injury.

Roger Federer and Andy Roddick set a Wimbledon record, with fifteen games in a final.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Michael Jackson'd Out

Michael Jackson's death is a tragedy, as is anyone's. It is true, we must respect the dead, and he truly was a brilliant performer. That being said...

We haven't heard about the election/protests in Iran in a week.
We have marines in Afganistan that certainly deserve to be covered.
We are about to have a filibuster proof senate with 60 Dems
Bachman in Minnesota is REALLY trying to get people to avoid the Census (she knows that's illegal, right?)
California can't pay it's people...imagine working for a state government and getting an IOU for a paycheck.
And on and on and on...

None of these stories have been lead stories in days, some of them not in the mainstream media at all. With all due respect to the Jackson family and their fans...enough already.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

To Do or not To Do List

Woman. Mom. Wife. Writer. Entrepreneur. Volunteer, and on and on and on...you women out there know what it means to have a ton on your plate. Sometimes it's really hard to balance all of these roles, especially when they topple all over each other at the same time! I have been looking for a tool to help me not feel so overwhelmed when things get busy (which is all the time, right?). I have always been a "lister", I even have "make more lists" written on my to do list! I like the feeling I get when I get to scratch something off the list. I like it so much, that when I am sitting down to make my list initially, if I've already completed a task not on the list I will add it just so I can scratch it off!

You can see why I have been thinking to do lists might not be the most productive tool for me, no matter how gratifying. So...off to Google. I came across an article by Jim Bird, President of WorkLifeBalance.com and loved one of the things I read. Instead of making a to do list...ask the question "when am I going to do this?", then take that item, pick a time slot on your calendar, and insert it. It spreads out the work load, already gives me a sense of taking action because I suddenly know WHEN I am actually going to find the time to complete the task. I love this idea. It makes me think all of the things on my list are validated and deserve their own time and consideration. I'm going to give it a try...as hard as it may be to give up my "list". Wish me luck! I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today at Wimbledon

Serena Williams is rockin' it today at Wimbledon. Her opponent, Azarenka, is throwing a bit of a temper fit every time she misses or makes a bad return. It's early in the match and the energy she is putting into her temper could most certainly be used to better her game. A little composure goes a long way.

Airbusses are freaking me out...

I am not a fan of flying. I used to fly all the time as a child. I loved it then because at the ages of 7 through 13, I didn't pay much attention to the news. I've taken a a flight here and there as an adult, but in no way am I a jetsetter. I also know the odds of plummeting into the earth or ocean are no where near the odds of the risks we all take as we drive mile after daily mile in our own personal vehicles. I will fly, if need be, as I hate the idea of restricting myself from the rest of the world because of a fear that cannot be ratioanalized statistically. But it's hard to put news stories like the one mentioned above from NPR out of my mind. Two airbusses down in two different oceans... in a month.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I read this 642 page book in four days! If you like historical fiction (or is it fiction? :-)) and a story just creepy enough to make you think, but not too scary to keep you from sleeping, this book is for you. I feel like I've toured Istanbul, the south of France, then Romania and Bulgaria. The book takes you into the great libraries of Universities like Oxford, and the furthest, most remote historical monasteries. This is absolutely beautifully written, and I've never been so intrigued by the history of Dracula.

Detroit City Council

I can't believe Monica Conyers is trying to go to work today. She plead guilty for taking bribes. Ummm....somehow I think that undermines her credibility a wee bit. Speaking of illegal money handling, Madoff got his today...150 year sentence.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Testing 1, 2, 3

Well, I'm posting just to post...taking it for a test drive if you will. Speaking of driving...love the new Cadillac CTS! I want a red one, charcoal interior please.