Holiday Spirit – 20% Off

The holidays are upon us again. You know what that means. Holiday shopping. The time for all good folks to go into debt in a desperate attempt to show others that they care. For me, it’s time for 2-day free shipping and packages galore. Hey, I’m not going out there!  Physically going holiday shopping any time after Thanksgiving is insane. Speaking of which, what happens to people after Thanksgiving?

Back in the day, the craziness didn’t start until Black Friday – at an ordinary time. Now, in recent years, many retailers are opening before daybreak on Black Friday, and more and more stores are opening early Thanksgiving evening and staying open through Black Friday at midnight.  Like I said, insane.  I mean, here people are, spending Thanksgiving Day with their families, expressing gratitude (one hopes) for what they have and then suddenly at 8:00 p.m., they’re overcome with the need to fight a 95 year old woman for the last Minion toy in the clearance bin at their local big-brand department store.

It’s not a lonely occupation either… these early holiday shoppers seek each other out. They run in packs. You’ll overhear them commiserating: “What time are you headed out tonight?”  And they start mapping out their line of attack at the Walmart like they’re planning a special-ops raid. “We’ll hit up the electronics section first – they’re always the first deals to go, then we’ll head over to cash in on the home décor specials before heading to the clothing section to take advantage of this 50% off no holds barred coupon I’ve got burning a hole in my pocket. Remember, stay hydrated and if we get separated, meet me over in customer service!”

Personally, I can’t figure out why anyone would voluntarily go out at raccoon hours into stores infested with people just to save a few bucks. For me, the stress alone would negate any financial gains I might possibly experience.  And really, I question whether they’re even saving a few bucks. Oh sure, that 500-inch t.v. might only cost $100 for the day, and I admit, that’s a great deal and all, but seeing as they only have the one in stock (and oh yeah, the power cord costs $3,500)… but hey, since you’re in the store anyway, how about you buy this 5-inch t.v. for $1,999.99 so you can go home and pat yourself on the back for being such a smart consumer.

Luckily, I haven’t seen or heard of any instances of mobs running over innocent retail workers or fellow shoppers yet this year. Don’t scoff. It happens. Has happened. No doubt will again happen. And while you might think you’d be hard-pressed to come up with something worse than being trampled to death in a holiday shoppers’ feeding frenzy, trust me, “worse” is out there. It’s as if common decency and consideration – not to mention simple kindness, cease to exist. Sadly, it’s rage and selfishness that seem to win the day.

Society is fucked up in so many ways (**gestures vaguely at everything**) but it can really be viewed in all of its glory on Black Friday at a congested mall, overflowing with desperate, tired people, running on espresso and aggression, just waiting to blow up at anyone who dares to cut them off in the checkout line as fights over Minion toys are occurring two aisles over and gunshots can be heard in the parking lot… the tragic final word on who should get that last parking spot.

Holiday spirit indeed.

On the Topic of Value

Scrolling through Facebook recently, I saw a post where a young girl’s value was compared to that of an iPad. Oh yes. You read that correctly. It wasn’t an original message and wasn’t even written by the guy who posted it (though it did appear as if he was trying to pass it off as his)… whatever the case, he must have been in complete agreement, hence his posting it. The gist of the post was a father ostensibly helping a young girl see her value and worth and I know that in this day and age some people treat their electronics as children, some even spending more time with their phones than their children, but comparing a young girl to an iPad? Give me a break. Using my best Chandler Bing voice: Can this guy be any more shallow?

What makes all of this worse, is this guy apparently stole someone else’s photo to include in his post… a shot of two young women dressed as though they’re going out, standing in (presumably) their own backyard. So, while spewing his archaic and misogynistic views, he’s also exploiting and harassing two very real young women who were doing nothing more than existing. I blurred out the image because I refuse to perpetuate the harassment.

It wasn’t surprising to see that this * cough cough * gentleman and I were at odds in other respects as well… he’s an avid trophy hunter who thinks that there isn’t enough science behind Greta Thunberg’s climate change argument.

Needless to say, I saw red. You all know me. My reaction shouldn’t come as a shock. The fact that this guy is comparing his daughter to a literal object is incredibly inappropriate to say the least and I find it hard to address that particular issue without digging deep into my repertoire of colorful adjectives. The idea that there are people like this out there, raising families, and perpetuating this behavior by passing it down to the next generations is infuriating. He and others of his ilk are teaching their daughters (and sons) that women are “less than” and on par with a fucking iPad.

Let’s just be clear here… value isn’t determined by what a person decides to wear. Oh sure, you probably don’t want to show up to a Fortune 500 board meeting wearing your pajamas, but should one decide to do so, it’s NOT a sign of their intrinsic value, or lack thereof.

I love the quote, “Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” – Unknown

Or how about this one, “Don’t bury the treasure of your life under the opinions and expectations of strangers.” – Lisa Bevere

I’ll go you one better… don’t bury the treasure of your life under the opinions and expectations of ANYONE.

There is no question that women and girls seem to bear the brunt of the equation appearance equals value or worth. School dress codes are gender-biased and inherently put more importance on a boy’s education than a girl’s. Passers-by wouldn’t even bat an eye at something as simple as a man wearing dirty sweats and a ratty old t-shirt to the grocery store (cause you know, he’s getting shit done!) yet I wonder how many of those same strangers would automatically, albeit internally, criticize the woman’s choices while inventing a not-so-complimentary backstory should they see a woman wearing the same thing (oh my god, can you imagine what her home and kids look like!? what was she thinking? her life is just one big mess!).

One could argue that to dress conservatively protects a woman from rape or harassment or cat calls, that young women shouldn’t be so sexualized. And trust me, those agreeing with this guy’s post were saying exactly that. To this I say, HA! Yeah, right. This is so far from the truth, it’s scary. To me, this is one of those expressions of anti-feminism disguised as a pro-woman statement. How women are dressed will not stop rape or misogyny and it does not in any way illustrate her value as a person. Cause you know, women ARE in fact people.  Whether they wear a little black dress or opt for a niqab, women of all ages have worth. Say it with me, folks. Women. Have. Worth. And it’s NOT contingent on their wardrobe.

Imagine if we started to teach what real worth is? Society as a whole would improve because when people aren’t made to feel ashamed and worthless, and they see their true value, then they feel free to pursue and accomplish their goals and dreams.

But you know what would happen then? The patriarchy would crumble. And we can’t have that, can we?

The Ad Who Knew Too Much

Do you remember when I mentioned being targeted with Facebook ads?  I know I’m not the only one that this happens too. It’s an ongoing initiative by “big brother” to monetize their surveillance efforts.  But now, Facebook algorithms are aware of just how intrusive their shadowy observations have become. And it’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s worrisome to say the least.

An ad popped up on my Facebook feed – I don’t remember what it was for now, admittedly, my brain is a sieve… but as my fellow Facebook users will know, you can click on an ad and “hide” it so that you won’t be bothered with that vendor again in the future.  Well. When I clicked to do just that, the below message appeared, a new variant on the choices I’m always given when I do decide to hide an ad.

Note the “too personal” option. That was never there before. At least not since the last time I tried to hide an ad. Too personal.  Hmmm… you mean, too personal as in you secretly recorded my offline conversations and decided to use that information in the form of an insidious marketing ploy? Or too personal as in, you thought I might like a ball gag and handcuffs but suddenly realized that perhaps that was too personal of an offer to make?

What really has me concerned though, is the very new-to-me “knows too much” option. Do you see that? Are you as worried as I am?  Knows too much. What the hell does that mean?  Is that a sly admission to the whole “hey, we’re listening in to your offline interactions but don’t really want you to know that, and it’s just your imagination anyway — ha ha” scheme they’ve got going on? I think it is. I mean, what else could it be?  It’s not like it was an ad for a full set of encyclopedias, in which case, sure, yeah, maybe the “knows too much” would factor in.

No. This has to be Facebook messing with their users. Which begs the question, what kind of game are you playing over there Facebook? Knows too much, indeed.

 

Judgement at the Grocery Store

Okay, I know I’ve been quiet for a few days. But hey, I’m back!  Poor lucky you!

So, it turns out that one of my wrists is broken after all. The doctor simply missed it. Unfortunately, a specialist is now in order. On top of that, I just moved. Now, I’m no stranger to moving. I’ve moved many times in my lifetime and I have to say, the one that took place this past weekend was, in a word, hell. Needless to say, I’m going to forego the moments of joy for now (I’m still making notes in my journal, though!) and write about an annoying thing so as to have an outlet for my generalized aggravation.  Today’s topic is thoughtlessness.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes – especially on a particularly chaotic day, doing just the bare minimum can be difficult. A busy life tends to wear you down over time, even if you’re the poster child for completed to-do lists. At the same time, some tasks commonly considered to be the “bare minimum” are actually acts of common courtesy that in fact take little time to complete. Returning your cart to the cart return at the local supermarket is one of these, and yet, so many seem unable to follow through. Carts, carts everywhere. It drives me insane.

Me when I see a cart left sitting propped up on a curb or in a parking spot when the cart return is like right there!

I mean, it’s a matter of basic courtesy. You grab a cart, you use said cart to collect your groceries or other sundries, and then you return the cart so that others can use it. It’s stupid easy. Still… it’s the “return” process where people seem to have a problem (to be clear, I’m not talking about those who might have a physical issue that impacts their day-to-day life… rather, I’m calling out the deliberately thoughtless among us).

Catching someone returning a cart is the exception rather than the rule these days. When it occurs, it’s a glorious thing, like you’re witnessing a rare phenomenon of mythological proportions. You know, the kind of awe-inspiring legend people only whisper about, but never see for themselves.  It’s far more common to find abandoned shopping carts littered throughout the parking lot – taking up valuable parking spaces and sitting haphazardly on medians… though of course you never see the cart until you’re actually pulling into the parking spot it now inhabits.

Why is the bare minimum too much to ask?  Well, while I was stewing over the laziness of my fellow shoppers, I came across an article entitled, Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts. When I noticed this article was posted on a site called Scientific American, I knew I was in for a treat. Let’s be honest: sometimes the stupidity of others can only be explained through science.

Scientific American’s article broke cart users up into five different categories (parenthetical notes are mine):

  • Returners – those who return their carts to the cart receptacle each and every time (my favorite kind of people, quite frankly).
  • Never Returners those who never return their cart to the receptacle (I guess it just isn’t their job; they’re much too good for that).
  • Convenience Returners – those who return their cart only if the receptacle is nearby (come on, people!).
  • Pressure Returners – those who only return their cart under pressure of a nearby cart attendant or nearby car owner (you could save yourself a lot of worrying if you just did it every time… just sayin’).
  • Child Driven Returners – shoppers with children that see returning the cart to a receptacle as a “game” (I call this good parenting).

You gotta love science.

The article goes on to explain that although supermarkets attempt to coax us to do the right thing (return the cart to the cart receptacle), they’re fighting against our own “self-serving goals.” These goals include staying dry in the case of a day with bad weather or getting home as quickly as possible, or plain laziness. In a sick twist, a supermarket’s attempts to make it easier to return carts to their receptacles can justify our reasoning for not doing so. After all, do we really have to take the time to return our carts ourselves when there’s a cart attendant employed to gather the carts?

Of course, people don’t think that perhaps this person has other duties as well. Not to mention, they shouldn’t have to chase your errant cart across the parking lot to add it to the queue of carts they have ready to return to the store. Sure, it’s their job, but if you can make someone’s life – or job – easier, why don’t you? If it’s 100 degrees of hell out for you and you only have one cart to return to the freakin’ cart return, can you imagine what it’s like to return 200+ carts in 100 degrees of hell?  I mean, come on, people… get your shit together.

Okay, Wendy, breathe.

My point to this rambling is simple. Be a decent human being. Return. Your. Fucking. Cart.

 

Would You Like a Side of Hypocrisy with That?

Every now and then, I come across a story that absolutely blows my mind. While I shouldn’t be surprised by some people’s tendency to do things that make no sense, some things just get to me in an extra special “are you freakin’ kidding me” kind of way. I recently heard about one of those very things.

When I think of animal welfare groups and farm animal sanctuaries, a very specific image forms in my mind. I picture groups of people with an unrivaled passion for the protection of animals ranging from the casual to the devoutly committed to the downright radical.  Fanatics aside, I can’t help but admire the conviction one must have to make an issue such a large part of their lives. Unfortunately, however, there seems to be hypocrites everywhere these days.

What do I mean?  So glad you asked!  And remember, you asked. This rant is on you.

Well, a certain farm animal sanctuary (which will remain unnamed) decided to hold a fundraising event with some very interesting food options on the menu – meat. All kinds of meat. I’m going to repeat that for the people in the back.  This farm animal sanctuary served meat at a fundraising event for the protection of farm animals. Meat. To fundraise for farm animals. You know, the animals who usually end up as… MEAT. This is a true story. I’m not kidding.

This makes literally no sense to me and, frankly, pisses me off. You could probably tell by my excessive use of bold lettering in the previous paragraph. But seriously – how can you, in good conscious, serve steak, let’s say, at an event raising funds towards the protection of cows… the very same animals now sitting, medium-rare, on the potential donors’ plates? Well, not the very same animals, different cows, but still cows. One would think that this choice directly contradicts the non-profit’s so-called mission. I mean, of course it does.

To make things even worse, this farm animal sanctuary had the audacity to get combative and defensive when questioned about their choices! And not by me, either. Apparently, there were quite a few others raising their eyebrows before I ever got into the conversation. Their reasons behind this bold dining choice made no sense either. They claimed that to NOT serve meat would be confrontational and antagonistic to the meat eaters who might attend, and they felt that they should show them by example that animals matter… that they would take the opportunity to educate, rather than argue. Presumably this example-showing and education would occur on the tour of their animal residents who are, you know, farm animals… cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and the like. I’m sorry, but I have to call bullshit here.

I will agree with them on one thing; fundraising events are a great way to educate the general public. It’s an opportunity to showcase the organization’s mission and encourage support from donors by offering them new perspectives on the issues at hand. However, what this particular farm animal sanctuary (I cringe to even call them a “farm animal sanctuary”) failed to do was offer such an opportunity. What exactly did they do to educate the attendees? “Oh, this animal here was worthy of our protection. The one on your plate, well, not so much.” How is that showing by example?

I mean, I’m not one to say, hey, you can’t eat meat because I don’t. You do you and I’ll do me (food, people, I’m talking food here). But at the same time, I don’t think that serving vegetarian or vegan dishes at a FARM ANIMAL SANCTUARY fundraiser would be thumbing my nose at the meat-eating attendees. On the contrary, wouldn’t you think it would be a given? Wouldn’t you expect it? Not to mention, if their objective is to educate people on why farm animals such as cows and pigs shouldn’t be in the food chain, they blew a prime opportunity to showcase just how delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes can be. I’m genuinely confused by their choices.

Let me climb up on my soap box a little higher to say that non-profit organizations should be held to higher expectations than members of the general public… ethically, morally, and through their financial stewardship.  One should expect transparency and moreover, one should expect consistency and an adherence to the mission statement of the organization in question.  Especially the latter and especially when it comes to fundraising. Honestly, they should have anticipated the backlash and to double down by getting argumentative when questioned makes it all the worse.

I can’t even begin to understand what this group was thinking. Their entire program hinges on the concept that ALL animal lives matter and they all deserve to live a full and happy life. How do they fundraise to support this mission?  By serving the very animals they’re fundraising to save. Tell me how that makes any kind of sense at all?  I guess some animal lives just don’t matter after all.

Advice to a Friend

How do you prove a negative?  A professor once told me that you can’t… that to engage in such a debate will make you look insane. Let me ask you another question on this fine evening … how do you prove you’re not crazy? I get it.  We’re all a little weird. It’s just a matter of how high our freak flag flies. The problem is when someone describes you in a way that you can’t effectively disprove.

Usually, the purveyor of perceived personality problems is a narcissist … we’ve all encountered them, whether a colleague, boss, family member, significant other, an ex, and in this day and age, political figures.  If you think you can beat them at their own game, you’re wrong. It’s what they do, and they are really good at it. They have perfected their art. The only way to win is to not play.

You see, the worst part is, the more you try to defend yourself, the crazier you sound.

They’ll idly complain to their friends, “I was late coming home after work and she flipped out on me, started calling me all kinds of names.”  Well, that sounds like you are certifiably nuts with an out of control temper, right?  He won’t tell the rest of the story, though: he was late every day for a week, and you found his social media open with a stream of inappropriate messages to a coworker discussing their ongoing relationship and the so-called “dates” they’d been on that week.  Yet, when you try and explain this, you sound like a stalker with jealousy issues. Turning a situation like this around on the innocent party is a manipulation tactic. It’s a power play. It’s gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a favorite ploy among narcissists to control their victims.  It’s an abusive tactic that causes self-doubt, making the victim question their own memory and even reality.  Sadly, it works all too well. The term Gaslight comes from a film of the same name where a husband gradually made his wife think she was crazy.  Among the ploys he used was to constantly tell her friends and family that she was nuts, sowing the seeds of doubt and thereby giving her nowhere to turn.  Narcissists use gaslighting effectively in relationships and are usually unable to let go after the relationship ends.

Their need to control the narrative extends to their social circle, but it’s not enough to get others to believe your crazy. The successful gaslighter will make you question your own sanity.  Nothing sounds crazier than a sane person who has been driven to think he or she is insane fighting to prove they are, in fact, sane.

There isn’t really a way to argue the point without adding to it.  No matter what you say, you will sound insane. Which is kind of the point.

“I’m not crazy.”

“I never did that, I swear.”

“That’s not what (or, how) it happened.”

“He’s the crazy one.”

“I never said that.”

“Everyone wears tinfoil on their heads when using a microwave.”

Gaslighting in a relationship is very real, and make no mistake, it is a commonly used form of emotional abuse.  If your partner is making you feel that you can’t do anything, that you can’t accomplish anything, that you have no friends, that you have to walk on egg shells to keep from being criticized, or that maybe, just maybe, you really are crazy, let me be clear – get out. It won’t get better; these people are the sick ones, not you.  If you feel like you have no confidence around your partner, that you are never right, and that nothing you say will matter anyway, something is wrong. Love should build you up, not tear you down or make you feel less than.

Get Out.  Now.  If you need help, call a hotline.  Not all abuse leaves physical bruises you can see; some leaves a lingering scar on your mind and spirit.

Maybe you are a little crazy, like putting ketchup on pancakes crazy.  Our nutty quirks keep life fun.  If you are the victim of a sanity smear campaign, though, just let it go.  The only way to win this game is to not play.  Don’t drive yourself crazy proving you aren’t.

As for the tinfoil hat and the microwave?  I may or may not believe that alien technology radiates from the microwave on the “high setting.”   The voices in my head said so, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

Ugly Is As Ugly Does

Don’t let that gleam in my eye fool you… this is not going to be the usual, humorous fare you’ve come to know and love here at Musings. I know that I’ve regaled you with the catchphrase “I hate people” often, and perhaps, for a while, it lost the bite it once had. However, reading the news, as it so often does, brought this feeling to the forefront with decided force.

Do you remember the final episode of Seinfeld where the gang, as so-called “innocent” bystanders, were arrested for watching as a man was robbed and abused on the street? Yeah, everyone remembers that one.

Have you ever thought of what drove that episode, though? I’ll tell you what I think. Incidents like the idiots on the subway who sat by and watched as a poor, defenseless 78-year-old woman was kicked repeatedly in the face by a psychopath!

But really, who is the psychopath here? No one called 911. No one intervened. Instead of calling for help or better yet, putting down the cell phones and getting up off your asses to help this poor woman, a bunch of you continued to record the incident, some even went so far as to provide commentary. What is wrong with all of you?? How can this be okay? How can you live with yourselves after watching, while a woman feared for her life and lay there bleeding right in front of you? Didn’t any of your parents teach you better?  Your callous inaction was disgusting, and the fact that you could stand there and watch, while doing absolutely nothing, makes you disgusting.

Oh sure, you could argue that you were gathering “evidence.” Bullshit. I don’t buy it. When everyone is recording, and no one is helping (I’ll repeat an important point that was reported: not a single 911 call was made) … that right there is a sign of a bigger, much uglier, issue in our society.

What if she were your sister or your mother or your grandmother? What would you do then? Would you record someone in your family going through the same experience or would you help? I really want you to consider this, and then explain to me why there is a difference.

Is this what we’ve become as a society? An eager audience to someone else’s suffering? Or has it always been this way? I know the human race – as a general rule – is horrible but come on people! God damn it, get your shit together. We’re all in this world together and we can’t keep doing this to each other.

Get up, rise up, and speak up! Offer assistance when needed, give up your seat to stand up for others, be kind. Put down the camera and forego the viral footage in favor of nabbing the bad guy, not on tape but in real life… even if that just means calling 911. For God’s sake think of someone else sometimes, especially in pivotal moments when your action, your voice, can make a difference. Do the right fucking thing.

Okay, rant over. I need a drink.