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.

On Respecting Our World’s Creatures

Look at that, two rants in a week.  Lucky you!

This rant comes a little late in the game, as this issue reared its ugly head earlier this summer. But I wanted to address it nonetheless. I read all about this when it first happened, and I’ve had it in the back of my mind ever since. It’s a prime example of why I hate people (as a general rule).

In Alabama (sorry to call ya’ll out, bless your hearts!), beachgoers descended on the shores and, without so much as a care in the world, not only destroyed a colony of protected birds by invading their nesting areas, they used the birds’ eggs to “decorate the beach,” ensuring their path of death and destruction was complete. Are you freakin’ kidding me?

These birds are not placed on this beach for entertainment.  They are going about their daily lives, just trying to survive, and in this case, you know, trying not to become all extinct and what-not.

Which brings me to another aspect of this rant that I want to address. I’d like to go on the record as saying that I have an amazing capacity to be outraged by any number of things at once.  Yes, I’m concerned for the African girls who need to be educated, yes, I’m also concerned for America’s vast population of homeless that include veterans who fought for this country, and yes, I am concerned about immigration reform and all the pictures I see where kids are allegedly being kept in cages.  Don’t try to tell me there are bigger problems in the world than colonies of endangered little birds; believe me, I am well-aware there are other issues. Sadly, we don’t have to pit one atrocity against another as there are more than enough to go around.

The difference is, the people who donate time, money and effort into charities that help people do not share the stigma that animal advocates do; if you defend the welfare of animals and fight for the humane treatment they deserve, you are a nut case (unless of course you’re talking about dogs and cats … then you’re right in line with other mainstream advocates).  How did we become this divided in our view of world priorities?

Why does it have to be your concerns versus my concerns?  In my mind, they are all our concerns. Not only that, we can care about more than one thing at a time.

Animals are a gift to us.  We need to take responsibility for their welfare as we are most often the cause of their demise.  In some cases, like this one, it is senseless stupidity.  In others, it is deliberate; safari hunts, eating endangered animals for the thrill of it, wiping them out so we can expand our own flawed human needs… these are ongoing issues that need to be addressed.  Sometimes, animals suffer because of our thoughtlessness and complete lack of awareness of the “bigger picture,” like the humble honey bee.

Will my own personal day-to-day world be impacted by the extinction of this tiny feathered critter?  No, not one bit.  But sadly, their world will be, and ours as whole will be.  Unlike Jurassic Park, these animals and many others like them will not be cloned back into existence. It seems a simple request:  can’t we respect all breathing beings and accept that they have a place on this planet, too?

The ego of humanity is simply astounding.  We mistakenly believe that we are the ultimate culmination of evolution; realistically, you know, we’re not.  A thousand years from now humans will be only another link in the chain.  No doubt, we will do something to cause a mass extinction event to ourselves.

I want to believe that we will wake up from our selfish ways and start to care for all living creatures.  Guess what?  Respect for life, whether human or animal, starts at home.  If our offspring is raised to have so little value for life, we need to look in the mirror and place blame where it belongs.  It’s really not that big of a stretch to think that people who can destroy a colony of protected birds (or any birds) without so much as blinking an eye, in general think so little of life that destroying fellow humans will, within a few generations, become a familiar way of life.

Doom and gloom for a Friday night perhaps, but that’s just the way I see it.  Come on, people; we need to do better.  We MUST do better.

When Zoos Go Too Far

It’s been a while since I ranted. At least I think so… admittedly, my brain can be a sieve sometimes. At any rate, I guess it’s about time for another one … and on one of my favorite topics too, one with which I have a love-hate relationship.  Namely, zoos.

When do zoos go too far?  What is the magical line between research, conservation, and exploitation?

There are two types of people; those who love to go to the zoo to see animals they will never otherwise see in real life, and those who despise seeing majestic animals behind bars.  In my experience, there really is no grey in this one; you either love it or hate it.

April the giraffe became a world-wide celebrity a while back.  The world watched daily, heck several times a day, as she waited to give birth to her calf.  Make no mistake, I count myself among that number. Her due date came and went, and still we watched.  Finally, her calf, a male named Tajiri, made his adorable wobbly legged entrance into the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, and people watched as April tirelessly cared for her newborn son.  Then, as suddenly as she broke into fame, April was largely forgotten…but not before bringing in a pretty hefty revenue stream to the for-profit theme park where she lived.

April is now pregnant again, and I am pretty sure the zoo will once again cash in on her experience.  But what of the now forgotten Tajiri?  Well, according to this, he is now one year old and he will be loaned out to other zoos for their giraffe breeding programs.

I am enraged at this entire venture.  For one thing, with all the funds April raised for the zoo, you would think she deserves an updated pen.  Instead, they took “her” money, applied it to other areas of the zoo (not necessarily habitats), and now need more money to upgrade the giraffe section.  Only once they have earned the money to do the updates for the giraffe pens, will April be reunited with her calf.  God only knows what they plan to do with her current calf when she is born.  Holy exploitation, Batman!

Most deliberate zoo breeding is strictly for money.  The surplus animals are sold to other zoos, roadside zoos (which are a whole different class from “regular zoos” and a rant best left for another time), fake safari parks, and reports have been made that some unfortunate animals are sold for “canned safari hunts.”

To me, this is all just another example of using animals without regard for them.  April’s pen is badly in need of an update, yet they bred her again?  Just like some rescue facilities that have too many dogs, cats, horses, or whatever they cater to, if a zoo cannot take care of the animals they have they should stop bringing in more animals, and for God’s sake, stop breeding them.

Admittedly, some parks and zoos do keep animals for conservation and research purposes … there are some very good to excellent facilities around the country. Others, however, keep animals in unnatural, inhumane conditions, and then are shocked when these animals are unpredictable, or worse, (*gasp!) act like animals.  It’s not rocket science, folks.  Elephants, whales, lions, heck even penguins were not made to be penned for someone’s amusement.  Personally, I think it has the potential to drive the animals insane. Regardless of your views on zoos, surely, we can all agree that when these animals are placed in zoos, they become our responsibility.

Part of that responsibility is to make sure that conditions for these animals are as good as they can possibly be, not to keep breeding more animals into a bad situation to make simply money for the organization.  It’s funny to me, the people who protest puppy mills, where dogs – both female and male – are kept in horrid conditions and continuously bred for money, are probably the first ones sipping a slushee in front of the giraffe pen at the Animal Adventure Park.

As for April’s newest pregnancy, consider this:  if we follow her latest experience, are we part of the problem?

 

 

But, I Hope …

I saw this article today. It made me sad in so many ways … I could fill my blog for years discussing this topic. The writer, a special-ed teacher, explained, in no uncertain terms, that should there be a shooter at her school, she would not die for the children in her class as she did not want to die herself. She wants to go home to her own kids. She wants to be there for her family, her parents, her siblings. She wants to live. I mean, really, who doesn’t? She discussed at length how much she puts herself out for the kids in her care, how she worries over them, guides them, helps them … basically everything any good teacher does, that, to her, seems award worthy (okay, she didn’t say that, it was just my take on her tone).

However, when it comes down to it – when called upon to protect her charges, she would be hiding in the supply closet (her class’ go-to place in an active shooter event). Oh, not to keep the children who were lucky enough to make it in there with her safe, but to keep herself safe. She ended the article with a curt “I won’t save your child.” I have no doubt whatsoever that she means it.

I’m not a teacher. I don’t have to participate in active shooter drills or instruct a room full of kids on what to do in a life-threatening emergency. Ex-husbands and creepers aside, I’ve never experienced anything more threatening than a crowd-filled fight and being trapped in the perimeter … squashed in like cattle – no guns involved.

But.

I hope … I would sincerely hope … that if I were thrown into a sadly-not-so-unthinkable scenario, that I would do what I could to protect the children around me. Yes, I want to come home to my kids and my family … hell, I just want to come home to my dog. I have people who love me and count on me and I think, need me. Not counting those in my familial circle who would like to see me stick around, in a purely selfish sense, I do not want to die.

But.

I hope my ever-present compassion would come to the fore. I can’t imagine being in a situation where children are at risk of dying and not helping in any way that I could. I’m only human. Maybe if the time came, I would choke. I don’t know. I’ve never been called upon to do anything at all of greatness.

But.

I hope I could make a difference in this world. In my heart of hearts, I have faith that I would rise to the occasion and save a child whose life hasn’t even yet begun, whether they are mine or not, whether I know them or not.

Personally, the idea of slamming a door shut in the face of a child to save myself, not to mention a child that I see every freakin’ day … a child that I taught to read, a child whose shoes I tied, a child whose future I helped mold, is abhorrent to me. Oh, I can’t say as I completely blame this teacher for her way of thinking (I mean, I do, but still …). After all, she is living with the very real prospect of death every day, given our current climate of school shootings. So, it’s easy for me to say what I would and wouldn’t do as I go back and forth to my relatively safe job.

But.

I hope I would do the right thing. My intentions are there. Of course, we all know what road the best of intentions pave. It’s easy to say that I would jump out in front of a bus – or a bullet – to save anyone, let alone a child. However, when it came right down to it … would I make that leap? It goes without saying that if it were MY kids, that leap of faith would be as natural as breathing.

But.

I hope that when faced with an impossible decision in a horrific situation where kids were in danger, that I would make my own children proud … that I could face my death – or life – with the knowledge that I not just aspired to greatness, but truly achieved some small semblance of it through the life of a child.

I just know that when push came to shove, if I were the one coming out the other side … at the cost of a young life I, myself, could have saved and deliberately chose not to … well, I’m not sure there would ever be light or joy in my own life again. It’s certainly not a life I would want to live.