My husband teleworks every Tuesday and Thursday, the lucky guy, so I came to work solo this morning. On my walk in, I spotted a guy that I could not believe worked in this building. He wore cargo shorts with Teva sandals, a grey Hershey chocolate t-shirt that was at least one size too small, and a fisherman’s hat complete with lures pinned all around it. His long and curly hair was a total mess, sticking out from underneath his hat at all angles. As I marveled at his decision to come to work dressed like a Person Of Wal-Mart, I got stuck in line behind a man wearing what looked like fancy pajamas from the 70s. I know that the dress code for government employees is somewhat relaxed, but this is just ridiculous.
On a regular basis, I see women in sweatpants or yoga pants, two things that are not allowed to be worn in this building. Ladies flop around in noisy flip-flops, which are also not allowed to be worn to work. Men wear shirts that are too small, exposing their beer bellies. I see people dressed as if they are going to the beach, just crawled out of bed, or are getting ready to participate in a wet t-shirt contest. Call me crazy, but I don’t see how crocs are office appropriate footwear for a government building. My boss is in a suit and tie every day, supervising people who at times will wear baggy Disney t-shirts and stained polos to work. It’s not right.
Obviously the final decision on what is proper for the office is in the hands of the area supervisor, so I have to assume that we either have a lot of relaxed supervisors in this building or just a lot of people who don’t care. If one of my subordinates showed up in see-through white pants or dressed for the gym, I would send them right back home. There are certain standards one should have in an office, regardless of how important your job is. If standards are set low for personal appearance, how high can the standards be for the type of work performed?
I can remember being excited about getting dressed up when I scored my second job at a department store. I took a lot of pride in dressing well, even though I was only making around $6 an hour. I felt that dressing nicely helped customers take me more seriously and showed my supervisors that I wasn’t just some punk kid earning money for the mall. It has helped me in interviews and has helped me get promotions; no one wants to stick someone in a higher position in the company if they can’t even manage to dress themselves in the morning. I wasn’t blowing my paychecks on expensive designer clothes in order to impress anyone though, I shopped smart and dressed well so I could feel and act more professionally.
For the civilians in this building, there is better feeling of job security than in most jobs. Yes, furloughs may be in their future, but for the most part they live without fear of losing their job. This relaxed attitude seems to have leaked over into their personal pride, letting them reduce the amount of effort they put into their appearance without worry. If I wasn’t a little crazy and slightly uptight, I could see myself giving up a bit in the mornings here and there and wearing pajama pants to work because they could almost pass as dress pants. If my supervisor didn’t reprimand me, I could see it becoming a habit, and that is a habit that is hard to break once established.
Work is not a place for a fashion show, and I’m not saying that we should go all out and be fancy every day. But the Hershey fisherman this morning was simply unacceptable. Deciding to come to work dressed like a hobo is disrespectful to your employer and your coworkers. It’s unprofessional for any level of employment in an office, from supervisor to janitor. It makes you look like a walking joke rather than someone who wishes to be taken seriously. It reflects poorly on you and on your work, even if you’re a productive member of the office. It makes you look lazy, careless, and gives the impression that you don’t give a damn.
It’s such an easy fix; go to Marshalls or another discount department store, grab yourself a few pairs of dress pants and some nice shirts, make sure they are interchangeable, and rotate them out each week. Fridays are normally casual, so grab some jeans that aren’t acid washed and don’t have holes in the knees, pair it with a clean t-shirt without giant logos on it, and head on out. Don’t assume that no one telling you something is wrong means that you are right. Don’t become a slob just because your coworkers are slobs. Don’t settle for “good enough” when you know you can do better. I can’t take seeing one more woman with her muffin top spilling out of her sweatpants while I’m trying to do my job. Get it together, people.
The news has been filled with violence lately. People are shot in New Orleans, bombed in Boston, and kidnapped in Ohio. Some stories have somewhat happy endings, but they are all plagued with sadness, death, and heartache. When horrible acts get this kind of attention, the discussions of gun control are always very present and extremely heated. When a gun is used to take a life, we understandably get very upset and want to prevent future unnecessary deaths. The solution for many is to pass strict gun control laws that would keep weapons out of the wrong hands and would make the process of purchasing a weapon much harder.
A popular argument is “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” On the flip side, you have people who claim that the reason these violent acts take place is due to the ease of the purchase process. Sandy Hook would have seen less deaths if the killer only had access to knives instead of guns. Sandy Hook would have happened regardless because the killer is crazy. In our need to understand why these things happen, we look at the various ways it could have been prevented in the first place. Obviously the recent event in New Orleans relied on guns, so the reasoning is that we could have prevented it if guns were not accessible. But what would prevent the New Orleans event turning out like the bombing in Boston had guns not been available?
No amount of speculation has prevented massacres and attacks from taking place. The issue of gun control is visited and revisited time and time again with what seems to be the same result; we argue, laws may or may not be passed, and we forget about one event while waiting for the next. We react with shock when a child dies due to an accident involving a gun in the home, but we place the blame on the gun instead of the negligent parent who made the gun available. We sign petitions that eventually are forgotten, we write angry blogs, and we shout out for some sort of change. We do a lot of talking, but is it doing any good?
Obviously we need regulations that prevent certain people from obtaining weapons through legal channels, obtaining too many weapons or certain types, and owning weapons they are not properly educated on. Illegal gun sales need to stop, although the task of stopping it will no doubt be as difficult as it is to stop the sale of drugs and other illegal substances. Gun owners need to properly secure their weapons and educate their children and themselves on gun safety and proper use. There is a lot that needs to happen, but unfortunately the problem we have with guns cannot be solved simply by passing a couple of laws. There are multiple factors that must exist in order for a person or persons to go on a rampage and injure or kill others. Laws alone cannot stop this.
James Holmes, for example, does not seem like a person that would have been stopped by better gun control laws. He slipped through so many cracks on his journey to the movie theater that night where he stole the futures of innocent people. Controlling guns is only one thing among many that would have prevented him from massacring the theater. It is important for us, in our outrage and sadness, to focus on the whole picture and not simple the tool used to kill. A gun in his hands and a gun in mine are two very different instruments. The gun itself is only a piece of a very large puzzle.
It has been suggested that we begin to arm teachers in order to deter future school shootings. People who have never held a gun in their life are looking to purchase one so they feel safer in their homes. We want better laws but we also want to arm the innocent against the psychos out there who choose to use guns improperly. We are desperate to fix our nation but we’re not sure how to go about it. Do we fight fire with fire or do we try to extinguish all the flames? If guns were totally absent, would we be free of violence? If mental health assistance was easily accessible, would people get help instead of lashing out? It’s simply impossible to know the answers.
I wish I knew what steps to take, but I’m as clueless as the next person. I don’t know how we can preserve the rights of our people while still regulating the types of rights that the unstable are afforded. I don’t know if anyone could have foreseen the Boston bombing and been able to stop it, even with all the information that is now coming to light. We’re fighting a losing battle and I don’t know what the turning point will be. All I know is that we need to stop blaming the guns. We need to stop picking sides every time a violent act takes place, gun supporters yelling at anti-gun activists. It helps no one and it’s a fight we should know by now isn’t doing anyone any good. The reaction to a tragedy shouldn’t be a rush to pick a side in the fight for or against guns. We are in need of many repairs, but nothing will ever get fixed if all we do is argue.
Charley Ramsey’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongues lately, but not everyone agrees on whether or not it is for the right reasons. Ramsey, along with his neighbor Angel Cordero, saved three kidnapped women (Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, and Georgina DeJesus) along with Berry’s six-year-old child from the home of Ariel Castro who had kidnapped the trio ten years earlier. Berry’s child was presumably fathered by her captor or one of his two brothers who have also been implicated in the crime. Because of Ramsey, the four are now free of what the media is calling the “house of horrors.”
Ramsey was minding his own business and enjoying a Big Mac from McDonald’s when he heard a girl screaming. He rushed from the home and to his neighbor Castro’s home where he was able to free Berry, who then told him that there were more females held captive in the home. 911 was called and the girls were all rescued safely; Castro and his siblings are in custody. This story has become a sensation, not only because Berry, Knight and DeJesus were presumed dead, but because Ramsey has shown the world that he is quite the character.
Ramsey’s unintentionally hilarious description to the news about the rescue almost immediately caught the attention of the masterminds behind Autotune The News, who brought us Bed Intruder. They posted their video of Ramsey’s interview which is absolutely amazing. I love this song so much that I made it my ringtone. My hope is that the Autotune guys give Ramsey the same treatment they gave to Antoine Dodson and give him a portion of the proceeds if this song makes it to iTunes. Ramsey has already stated that any cash rewards he receives related to the rescue will go towards the victims, so it’s safe to say that any iTunes proceeds will go to them as well. He may also be eligible to receive the FBI cash award of $25,000, but that remains to be seen.
Unfortunately, not everyone is able to celebrate the rescue and celebrate the type of attention Ramsey is receiving. Aisha Harris of Slate.com is one who frowns on this trend of finding humor in these accidentally funny interviews. She states: “It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform. Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the “ghetto,” socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.”"
Due to the fact that the most witty interviews have come from black people who don’t live in the best areas and who don’t have the greatest jobs, or jobs at all, has led many to believe that the public is preying on low-income blacks in order to get a few cheap laughs at their expense. Both Sweet Brown and Dodson have been featured on Tosh.0, for example, a comedic show that highlights hilarious YouTube clips from all races, countries and genders. Brown and Dodson received the opportunity to capitalize on their fifteen minutes of fame by taking their unintentional funny moment and making it even better. Neither of them seemed bitter, ungrateful, or angry about the fact that eyes were on them; why else would they agree to go on a comedy show and take the joke further?
Unlike Harris from Slate.com, I don’t see this as an issue of race. Since I am an avid viewer of clip shows that feature funny clips from the news and elsewhere, I can see a pretty even distribution across the board as far as race goes. That said, Dodson and Ramsey have given us the best material. The most racist thing I can say is that black people seem to be better at being naturally humorous than white people. I see just as many people of other races get on the news and I just don’t see anyone else coming out with anything that strikes my funny bone. Fox Morning News will show housewives giving awful comments on random events, CNN will show guys at gas stations giving unhelpful feedback, and none of it is funny for the right reasons. If there is any laughter, it’s there because these people sound mentally deficient.
Ben Huh, CEO of the comedic Cheezburger Network, states that “the internet likes to celebrate our heroes. In our own way, this is our celebration of Charles Ramsey.” The various memes and videos of Ramsey have given the Ohio kidnapping case a special attention that it wouldn’t have gotten by itself. Various donation sites have been set up in order to reward Ramsey, money which will go to the victims and not Ramsey per his instructions. Huh went on to say “I’ve seen this happen to every race, every color, every situation. They love this guy, not because he is some funny black man, but because he did something great and didn’t walk away from a bad situation.” If Ramsey was simply a joke, why the outpour of support? Why would people begin to care about this man?
Yes, there are no doubt people out there who think Ramsey is just some uneducated man who made a fool of himself on the news. Those people are wrong. Ramsey did a fantastic thing that should be celebrated in whatever way we can. He saved lives, reunited families, and gave a young child the chance to have a normal life for the first time in six years. He gave this rescue a special attention that touched the hearts of many who are now reaching out to support him and the victims in a way they may not have if he hadn’t been so outspoken. Let’s leave race out of this for once and just be happy that four people are now safe because of the heroic actions of a witty man who did not hesitate to help someone in danger.
My husband made the executive decision to stop off at the Dunkin Donuts near our home for breakfast on our way to work this morning. I’ve been shying away from this place because of my experience the last time we went; my order was not properly prepared and was a major let down. The menu featured some new turkey sausage breakfast items, so my husband got a turkey sausage, egg and cheese English muffin and I got the same but prepared in a wake-up wrap (a toasted tortilla folded like a taco around the ingredients). The food was fantastic this time around, but the service left something to be desired.
I used to adore this particular location. There was a sweet girl working the drive-thru who never stopped smiling and got your order in your hands as quickly as possible. The staff inside was great as well; I took my son there quite a few times when I had a job that gave me every Friday off and it was always a great experience. We even had one employee who would bring the entire staff of my former office donuts and coffee in exchange for a quick chiropractic adjustment with the doctor. But sadly the staff has completely changed, freebies are gone, and my favorite drive-thru girl is no more.
The first change was pretty painful; my sweet drive-thru guru was replaced by a slow, overweight, sloppy looking woman who acted like a first day trainee every time we dealt with her. The staff inside was replaced by clueless teenagers and lazy adults. Eventually the drive-thru woman was replaced by a portly woman who worked at lightning speed while still maintaining a friendly attitude. I was excited to see her, but I only got to see her twice as she was either moved to work in the back or moved on in her career. Since then, there’s been nothing but disappointment in the Dunkin staff.
While I am glad that this morning’s breakfast was delicious enough to somewhat justify the nearly ten minute wait for it, I don’t understand why we had to park our car in the front of the building and wait for something I’ve seen the staff prepare in approximately two minutes. My favorite drive-thru girl, along with other employees at various other locations I’ve been in, work the toasters with magic and put together breakfast sandwiches with ease. Their toaster doesn’t take very long to add a nice golden crunch to bagels and English muffins, and the eggs and meats are heated quickly as well. Dunkin used to pride itself on fast service, and other locations probably still do, but ours now moves at a snail’s pace. When I worked a drive-thru myself, I always dreaded having to tell a car to pull forward. Lately, it seems like pulling forward is the go-to request for confused and busy employees.
The kicker this morning was the manager who brought our order out to the car. My husband requested our teas from the drive-thru employee prior to pulling forward, so she just had the easy task of bringing the small brown bag out to the car. Her long curly hair was unkempt and flying wild; I always had to tie my hair back while working with food so this worried me a bit. Her light denim shirt was stained with bleach spots and brown dirty smudges; it didn’t look like the normal DD uniform and there was no name tag. Her tennis shoes were unremarkable and I’m surprised I noticed them at all due to her mid-thigh length jean shorts. Jean shorts. Is there a new uniform that I’m not aware of, or is this a little strange?
Before you accuse me of being picky, let me say that I’ve worked these jobs. I’ve done fast food, sit-down dining, retail, call center, and other customer service based jobs where the customer must be number one. Often I’ve been the first person people come in contact with when coming into or being initially introduced to a business. I have undergone countless hours of customer service training and I believe that image and service should matter to a business. I don’t care if you slip burgers or manage a large office; the customer is number one and should feel secure, comfortable, assisted and happy. A certain dress code (including hair styles and jewelry) must be adhered to, the customer must not be talked down to, and smoke breaks need to wait until after everyone has been helped and the downtime for the break exists.
I don’t believe that the quality of people has changed since I began working in customer service up until now. Everyone out there is fully capable of providing great service after showing up to work dressed properly and smelling halfway decent. People should WANT to be great, regardless of how important their job is to the rest of the world. Managers and owners should demand excellence from their staff rather than taking customers for granted and becoming far too relaxed, letting the environment and service suffer as a result. Hell, even worthless Wal-Mart used to have standards for their cashiers. Yesterday, my cashier couldn’t even be bothered mumbling a “hello” or “thank you” to me.
This morning, my husband stated that this visit to our local Dunkin would be our last. Even though the food was on point this time around, and even though we love their unsweet tea, we have no reason to think that jean-short manager is putting the proper care into food preparation and handling when she can’t even dress herself properly and allows her employees to also be sloppy while putting little to no care into running the business the way it should be run. She could be the greatest manager in the world, but she failed to give us that impression and that’s the only thing that matters to a customer. We know what we see. We don’t concern ourselves with the behind-the-scenes action. We judge you by what you give us and what you put in front of our face.
If my standards are unreasonably high in your opinion, I wonder if it’s simply because your standards are too low? Was I wrong in leaving Hardee’s one day because the girl in the drive-thru thought it would be hilarious to speak in a piss-poor British accent while her coworkers giggled? Am I wrong for leaving behind a gourmet burger joint because the service has suffered as their business has increased? Or does the fault lie with employees and customers who choose to shrug and said “eh, it’s good enough,” choosing to give/receive poor services instead of pulling for something better? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d rather allow my incorrect view to push me towards better things than have my opinion make me constantly settle for sub-par services.
I recently wrote about Jason Collins, who decided to come out of the closet and let the world know he is gay. The news was received with mixed reactions and I received a couple of comments on that entry stating that we shouldn’t care, it’s not newsworthy, and that it’s not that big of a deal. I’ve heard discussion after discussion about Collins from people who say it’s not a big deal but who then go on to speak ill of the man for his decision to publicly come out with this news. I made the decision to write about it after seeing some negative feedback regarding his public statement because I did not understand why there was such a negative backlash.
Anyone in the public eye, be it an athlete or actor or musician, is forced to live their lives under a microscope. With social media outlets like Twitter spreading news like wildfire and gossip sites like TMZ working overtime to get exclusives, nothing is sacred anymore. As a gay public figure, you almost have to break the news yourself in order to have the story told properly. Coming out is a very personal thing and it’s only fair to allow someone to do it their way rather than have Perez Hilton do it for them. Collins decided to come out his own way so that he can go on and live his life without fear of US Weekly posting photographs and speculating until they’re blue in the face.
If you disagree with the news Collins broke, you have to also disagree with all the other coverage of people’s personal lives that we drown under each day. You can’t go crazy over the latest photos of Amanda Bynes, watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and Google Chris Brown’s latest antics during your lunch break, then get mad at a gay athlete coming forward. The news is no different from any of the other personal fluff that sneaks onto the main page of CNN.com. If there wasn’t such a demand for updates on the personal lives of public figures, we wouldn’t see so much of it. It’s unfair to keep silent about the majority of it, but get up in arms when someone decides to come out of the closet.
Before I continue, I need to clarify that this is not a personal attack on anyone. This is about society in general. This is about the people who like celebrity pages on Facebook, follow their favorites on Twitter, watch reality programming and E! news, and read entertainment sites and magazines in their free time. This is about those same people who can’t get enough of Lindsay Lohan’s latest drama, but throw a fit when someone decides to be honest about their sexuality. You can’t have it both ways. What sense does it make to be fine with the gritty details of your celebrity crush’s personal lives but be angry about someone making the tough decision to publicly come out as gay?
I know more details than I care to about the Teen Mom’s from MTV, not because I’m interested but because it’s near impossible to escape the coverage. One has a heroin addiction, one is a porn star, one is in jail; the details are everywhere and no one seems to have a problem with that. If you want to complain about someone exposing too much of their personal lives to the general public, complain about that. Don’t complain about a person respectfully breaking the news that he prefers the love of another man. Collins didn’t come out in an inappropriate manner, he didn’t demand anything from us, he simply stated a fact about his life and did it his own way so that no tacky news outlet could do it for him.
A few people I’ve spoken to have said that we should have a “who cares” attitude when it comes to Collins and others who decide to come out, and I absolutely agree. We should accept the news and move on without obsessing over it and turning it into something ugly. But that “who cares” attitude must extend outwards to all the other garbage as well. We can’t demand to move on from a celebrity coming out, then turn around and obsess over the latest details about Ryan Lochte. “Who cares” needs to apply to it all in order to make it effective. And the group of people who claim they don’t care but who continue to obsess need to wake up and realize how hypocritical they are being.
I’m thankful that I do see a few people who have honestly adopted the “who cares” attitude and who aren’t still calling Collins a disgrace to the sport. I’m thankful for the people who have respectfully accepted the news and moved on. Unfortunately, those people are the minority. There are still far too many who are up in arms about it or who have moved on from his story only to dive into numerous other stories that are lacking in substance and importance. A public figure is still just a person; they may have a talent that makes them famous, but that doesn’t make them special and worthy of this much of our time. If you don’t like these kind of stories turning into national news, then stop making it into news. It’s not news without an audience willing to soak it all in; refuse to indulge and it’ll vanish as quickly as it arrives.
MTV’s Jersey Shore was the definition of a trainwreck. It featured self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes spending obscene amounts of time consuming alcohol and having sex with strangers. This was of course in between their workouts at the gym, laying in tanning beds, and dropping off their laundry. Oh, and there was the “job” every season where they worked a few hours a week, if you consider their half-ass efforts as work. People were arrested, or just thrown out of bars for fighting on a good night. Tears were shed frequently as mistake after mistake was made. In spite of being composed of every horrible element you could throw into a show, it was popular enough to last six seasons.
MTV isn’t a network that shies away from a money making opportunity, regardless of whether or not the money comes from something of quality or something trashy. Nicole Polizzi and Jenni Farley, AKA Snooki and JWOWW, were given a spinoff where they live together and do… whatever it is the pair does. They have also done reasonably well as authors and have also branched out into design and beauty products based around their personal brand and style. Pauly D. received a spinoff as well, The Pauly D Project, but it did not fare as well as his former female housemates. I heard a rumor of a Sammi and Ronnie spin-off, which would be great for fans of Maury who desire more pointless fighting and stupid drama in their television lineup. When MTV announced that Vinny was the next to get his own show, my reaction was a very dramatic eye-roll.
The Show With Vinny is billed as a talk show, but takes place in Vinny’s mother’s home where he still lives. His mother, the typical loving Italian mom with a love of cooking and overfeeding everyone, is a charming woman with many unintentional hilarious moments. Vinny’s Uncle Nino is a hot mess; the mind and attitude of a 20-year-old frat boy in the body of an aging Italian man. Vinny’s sisters are also present, though not focused on too often. Unlike the other Jersey Shore spinoffs, The Show puts the focus on celebrity guests rather than on Vinny’s personal life and partying.
The premiere episode of The Show featured Lil Wayne and Jenna Marbles as guests. I enjoyed seeing Lil Wayne; he showed a shy and soft side of himself that I’ve never seen before. It was pretty funny to see Vinny’s mother bagging up some to-go goodies for Lil Wayne and his crew as they departed for the skate park so Wayne could show off and Vinny could injure himself. I had no idea who Jenna Marbles was and really wasn’t too impressed with her, although she and Vinny did manage to produce some funny moments. Her time with Vinny was mostly spent with her trying way too hard to be sexy as Vinny tried way too hard to work his game on her. All in all though, it was a decent show.
If any spinoff has a chance of surviving, it’ll be this one. Vinny is the most well-rounded and the most stable out of the entire Jersey Shore cast, which is like naming the sweetest murderer on death row, but Vinny is the only one who seems to still have a hold of his humble side. He’s not shy about having casual sex on camera, but does seem to enjoy his privacy and manages to stay out of the spotlight when it comes to his personal life. If he can manage to keep things light and witty with his guests, ensure the show does not become centered around him, and keep things unpredictable, his show has a good chance of having a strong run.
The nice thing about The Show is that it’s not one that demands the viewer be a fan of the Jersey Shore. Thus far, it does not look like we’ll be seeing people fall down drunk, pee in bushes, and smash grenades. Upcoming guest stars include Whitney Cummings, Mark Walhberg, Jenny McCarthy, Tyler the Creator, and more. Sounds promising, but the next episode is bringing us Scott Disick as one of the guest “stars,” and that guy is a sorry excuse for a celebrity and a human being. Thankfully, the good seem to outweigh the bad when it comes to the scheduled guests, so hopefully the producers can continue to ensure they know the proper definition of star and are able to stay away from booking the Disick class of celebrity too often.
Will The Show survive? It’s hard to tell. The Italian family charm and Uncle Nino antics do have the potential to get old if the focus is too heavy or if producers prod the family to go overboard. Vinny could doom himself if he makes the show more about himself than about the guests, but he also needs to take care to ensure that he does inject a small amount of his personal life into each episode to keep the welcoming feeling alive. This concept is not completely original, but it is different from other reality-based shows on right now and that helps make it appealing. Now let’s see if Vinny and MTV can manage to keep this show alive in spite of its lack of jello shots, nudity, and Snooki’s whining. Oh wait…
There comes a time in every child’s life where they have to step away from their parents, leave the safe haven under their wing, and truly become an adult. It doesn’t happen when you graduate high school and turn 18; leaving the big yellow bus behind and acquiring the ability to buy cigarettes does not make an adult. It doesn’t happen when you move out; one can get their bills paid and hold down a job while still relying heavily on good ol’ mom and dad. It doesn’t happen when you snag a highly successful and well paying job; money and success are both great, but they don’t always go hand in hand with growing up. In order to fully enter adulthood, one has to stop using mom and/or dad as a crutch to lean on for every little problem that comes their way.
That isn’t to say that a child must cease to rely on their parent(s) for everything ranging from a bit of emotional support to getting a ride to the airport before a vacation. Grandmas are great babysitters, moms are fantastic listeners, and dads are incredible problem solvers; it makes sense to go home and get help when needed. The problem arises when you’re picking up the phone every single time your car breaks down and calling only one number: mom and/or dad. Because you know they will not hesitate to help, they become the solution to your problem of having a junker for a car. You don’t see a reason to repair the vehicle because mom is a few button pushes away and she’s 100% reliable.
As a teenager or a broke college student, it’s perfectly fine to take advantage of your parents a bit and let them bail you out of bad situations. As an adult, you need to be able to bail yourself out. Dad should not have to “loan” you gas money every time you come to visit because you forgot your wallet, overdrafted your account, or forgot to factor the cost into your weekend budget. Mom shouldn’t be used as your personal (and free) daycare service while you work your night shift. They shouldn’t be doing your laundry, packing your lunches, running your errands, or paying your bills. When you reach adulthood, you have to stop using your parents as the solution for all that ails you, and you definitely have to stop with the “poor me” routine that makes every soft-hearted parent cave to your wishes.
It makes me sad to see someone I care about get taken advantage of by their child, who is older than me and who carries themselves as a very mature and well-adjusted individual. I’ll be 32 soon and I spent quite a few of my earlier post-18 years relying heavily on my parents for certain things. I put my first car in my father’s name to keep payments low and stayed on his insurance so my rate was low as well; even though I made the payments, I was still being carried. I didn’t start paying my own cell phone bill until I was 20, then got back on my parent’s plan after I had my son and couldn’t afford a plan on my own. I let them buy me groceries, gas, and other things I either couldn’t afford or didn’t want to spend my “fun” money on. But eventually, as it always should, the time came to cut myself off and learn to live without using their help as a backup plan for everything.
I got criticized for putting my son in daycare when he was slightly over a year old because it was “too soon,” but it was necessary. Not only did it help him socialize, but it allowed me to stop waiting tables and bartending at night and go out to get a real job with the normal schedule I would need when he eventually started school. Having him in daycare meant I was no longer relying on my mother to play babysitter while I was away. My husband and I currently ask his mother to take the boy here and there (we have a three day Chicago trip upcoming where she will be watching him) but we would never ask her to become a scheduled caretaker for him, be it full or part-time, because it’s unfair, inconvenient, and not something a responsible adult would put on a parent’s shoulders.
Most people would put their foot down after a while and tell their kid to knock it off and deal with it on their own. Unfortunately for the person in my life, she is far too kind to even consider this so she is at the mercy of her demanding child. Today, she was making phone calls and doing research for her child (who is sitting at her house and doing nothing) days after her child screwed up royally and had her chauffeuring her around town to deal with some other nonsense brought on herself. She has been sleeping on the couch for over a week so her child can have her bed. While her child’s spouse is at work (working 24/7 apparently), she is bending over backwards and then some for her child and has been working double overtime for nearly two years now. She does her child’s laundry, packs lunches, cares for the kid, does the grocery shopping, cooks every dinner, loans out her cars, and caters to every whim (be it as small as wanting chicken for dinner or as large as fixing a legal situation for her child). It bothers me tremendously.
An adult doesn’t ask these things of their parent. An adult may take up their mom’s offer to provide full time help when a baby is born, but they must say enough is enough after a couple of weeks and give their mom a break. Dad can treat you to lunch once in a while, but he shouldn’t be your go-to meal ticket. As an adult, YOU should be treating your parents here and there; pay for their lunch, cut their grass, get the oil changed in their car, or offer to buy on the next shopping trip when they try and pay for the whole purchase. Growing up means a lot of different things, but one of those things must be to let go of the dependence on mommy and daddy and truly become your own person.
Yesterday was one of the worst days for me as far as my allergies go. I woke up with bloodshot eyes and a stuffy nose, eager to get in the shower and wash away anything that could possibly make me sneeze or feel otherwise uncomfortable. I began feeling better afterwards but regretted popping my contact lenses in about 60 seconds after we dropped the boy off at school. My eyes felt as if someone had poured sand into them; gritty, itchy and irritated. When I arrived at work, the ventilation system was nice enough to bring the aroma of freshly cut grass right into my office, leaving me at the mercy of a box of Kleenex and Visine eye drops. It was all I could do to get through the day.
At around lunchtime, my eyes looked better suited for a zombie; puffy and a frightening shade of red. It hurt to blink, to move them, and to look at my computer screen. No amount of eye drops could scare away the gritty awful sensation. My husband took mercy on me and dropped me off at home before picking up the boy so I could tear my contacts from my eyes, ease the pain with allergy drops, and jump in the shower to wash the pollen away. Today I was a tad more intelligent about things and wore my glasses to work, but that creates a whole other feeling of discomfort.
I’ve been in glasses since I was in first grade. I went from a cute little kid to the subject of ridicule due to my new four-eyed look. Children who were my friends almost instantly began viewing me as a nerd, and it didn’t help that my parents had purchased me gaudy plastic frames. As the years went on and I entered the awkward phase of my life, the teasing just became worse. My frizzy hair combined with the grandma-like frames kept me low on the social ladder. I hated my glasses and I hated that it was the only thing people seemed to notice when they looked at me.
When I was 13, I was finally able to get contact lenses. The reaction from my peers was drastic; guys all of a sudden realized I was a pretty girl, the popular girls began to talk to me, and my confidence shot through the roof. I was still, and always will be, somewhat of a nerd but I was now a socially acceptable nerd. Contacts made middle and high school life bearable; it was one less thing I could be picked on about and one less thing I had to feel insecure about. I could go to the beach or in the pool without being blind, could shower and see my shampoo bottle clearly, and could enjoy a water park properly. I love contacts to pieces.
I’ve never been fully able to let go of the insecurity I felt as a four-eyed child. My husband is the only person I’ve romantically been with that has seen me in them. I’ve even been shy about wearing them around extended family, choosing instead to pop my contacts in first thing in the morning when aunt, uncles and cousins were visiting. I wear them to the eye doctor, even though I have to take them out almost immediately. I won’t answer the door at home while wearing glasses and won’t walk the dog in daylight either. It’s a silly insecurity, but there it is.
I considered wearing my contacts today even after the misery I endured yesterday because of them. I didn’t want to have to walk through security in my awful glasses, then sit in my office all day while people gave me funny looks and silently judged me. Walking down the long hall to my office filled me with fear; I felt like that nerdy 4th grader all over again. When I arrived, one of my coworkers told me how pretty I look today, but part of me still feels like it was a compliment made out of pity. It’s honestly pretty pathetic that I feel this way, but I can’t shake this awkwardness that currently blankets me.
We all have our personal insecurities about ourselves, whether it be something physical or something about our personality that causes us to shy away and want to hide under a rock. Even the most put together people I know will occasionally let their insecurity show through their tough exteriors. It’s not necessarily a negative thing though. It makes us human. It makes us approachable and softens our exterior. A little bit of insecurity makes us who we are. Unless you obsess over it, it’s not wrong to worry a bit about how others perceive you and about what impression you are giving to the world. The important thing is to embrace it and work past it, something I’m still working on.
I’m hoping that surviving the day at work while feeling like a goggle-eyed freak will help me get past the inaccurate description of myself as a goggle-eyed freak. No one else is looking at me and thinking these things, and if they are, so what? I’m the same person with or without glasses, so what does it matter? I’m working to get past this annoying and unnecessary feeling of personal failure over something so trivial and meaningless. I’m trying to focus on what’s important rather than the tricks my mind is playing on me. I figure if I can get through the day without hiding my head under my desk, I can chalk that up to a personal accomplishment, as small as it may be. Whatever the outward appearance, I am still me at the end of the day, and that’s all that should matter.
NBA player Jason Collins has decided to come out of the closet and announce that he is gay, something he describes as mind-boggling and something he hopes will encourage other closeted homosexuals to follow his lead and be open and honest with the world. He is the first active professional athlete to do this, making his actions into a milestone for the LGBT community. He says he did not set out to be a trailblazer but he is happy to have started a new conversation about homosexuality in our country. He has received a lot of support from fellow athletes and definitely has people talking.
It’s bizarre that in 2013, homosexuality still is not accepted in this country. We are split right down the middle when it comes to gay marriage, we still have people insisting that being gay is a choice and not something one is born as, and we still see people become extremely uncomfortable and sometimes filled with rage at the sight of two men holding hands or two women having a romantic dinner. We see people become angry when a woman dates another woman who has a more masculine appearance, asking why she doesn’t just date a guy if she’s going to date a woman we think looks like a guy herself. We chastise men for being “sissies,” mocking behavior we think is flamboyant. For some reason, society cannot come together and simply accept that being gay doesn’t mean a person is flawed.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a thing of the past for our military, something my favorite soldier at work is quite happy about, but it doesn’t mean that his struggle is over. He still gets ribbed by colleagues who think if he just found the right woman, he would be “fixed.” He’s even had a heart to heart with me where he considered trying to date women so his life would be easier. Male soldiers are supposed to be macho and tough, something that most people don’t generally associate with being gay. It’s the same for professional male athletes; they are tough alpha males who score the hottest models and who can have their way with whatever woman they wish. These tough guys shouldn’t be gay because homosexuality doesn’t fit our view of what an athlete should be.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s not a big deal that Collins came out and that he should just shut up about it instead of being out there and trying to be some sort of hero. I don’t see what he has done as an act of heroism though, I see it as no different from any public figure opening up about love or any other part of their personal life. People like the Kardashians live their life like an open wound and it’s accepted, but a homosexual decides to be honest and that isn’t okay? Collins isn’t dressing in rainbow-covered attire and dancing in the streets with men in speedos, he is simply making a personal statement and doing so in the hopes that his admission will move our society in a positive direction. There is nothing to be upset about here.
Collins is right on the money by calling this mind-boggling. As I write this, two of my coworkers are having a discussion about how this will negatively affect the team, the mood in the locker room, and the sport as a whole. It’s mind-boggling that people still think that being a gay man means being sexually attracted to every single man they come across. It’s mind-boggling that teammates could feel uncomfortable in a locker room with a gay man who has previously never done anything and probably will not do anything in the future to cause discomfort. Sexual orientation is one piece among many that makes a person who they are. It shouldn’t be the one defining piece and shouldn’t cause this much distress and outrage.
I’ve been in a locker room with lesbians. I’ve been in many restrooms in gay bars and clubs with lesbians. I’ve been harassed and/or made to feel uncomfortable zero times. The one time I’ve been harassed by a lesbian was while working at a shoe store. There is no reason for alarm and no reason to think that a gay man can’t play a sport because his teammates won’t be able to handle the homosexual vibe in the locker room. It’s not the gay person causing discomfort, it’s everyone else who won’t put aside their fears and who choose to focus on the fact that this man prefers the company of other men instead of women. Yes, there are gay people out there who don’t know how to behave, but that can be said for straight folk as well. The bad behavior of a few does not define everyone.
We need to treat the admission by Collins properly, which is to treat is as no big deal. He took a step out of the shadows in order to grow as a person and to be happy. He started a conversation that should be ended with acceptance and love. His actions will hopefully show others that being gay isn’t something to be ashamed of and isn’t something people should be fearful of. We need to rid ourselves of the stereotypical image of what a gay man or woman should be and accept the fact that gay people come in as wide a variety as straight people do. We are way overdue to drop this terrible attitude towards the LGBT community. None of us have the right to stand in the way of anyone’s happiness. If someone’s happiness comes from loving the same gender, who are we to oppose?