Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why I Hate Retail--A Rant and a Plea to Shoppers Everywhere

Today I came to the conclusion that when people go shopping, they forget everything their mothers taught them. I understand that a day of shopping, in most cases, is supposed to be a leisurely day, a day to splurge and reward yourself for all the great things you've done recently. (Or I suppose in some cases it's torture and you just can't wait to get it over with.) Nonetheless, I get it. The last thing you want to worry about is your manners.

But why is it so socially acceptable to forget them? Because serving you and putting away all the stuff you messed up is "what the workers are there for"? Fair enough--you don't remember where you got your book or which rack the jeans are on. But does that mean you should leave them sprawled on the floor? Or place them haphazardly in a place they clearly don't belong? Imagine going to a friend's house overnight and asking to borrow a towel for your shower and then just dropping it on the floor of the tub when you are done. That would be inexcusable. But it's ok when you're shopping.

Honestly, as someone who works in retail, I don't mind helping customers,I can even handle it when they get irrationally angry (although again, didn't your mother tell you: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything?), but every time I'm stuck at the store a half an hour after close because there is so much to put away and organize, it frustrates me that if each person* just made a tiny bit of an effort to be considerate, I would be able to go home.

As a side note, sometimes I wish it were socially acceptable, when I send a customer upstairs, to give them something that needs to go up there and ask them to drop it off on their way. Don't you think that would make the world a better place?

*I understand that many of you are considerate when you shop, in which case I apologize for the rant and I applaud you for that. Thank you for indulging me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looking Back on Reminiscing

Nostalgia is a funny thing. This morning, as I sat by the window in the house I'm staying in while its owners are away, the birds chirping in the bushes, the sun casting shadows of the trees by the sidewalk, and the occasional rush of a car passing, all reminded me of home. Living in an apartment in a city just isn't quite the same and while this suburban house still isn't as rural as where I grew up, it's much closer to it.

With this recognition of the similarities came a wave of nostalgia, and a little bit of homesickness. But then I realized it wasn't really homesickness--it was more like past-sickness. I was missing my childhood--sitting on the front porch of my babysitter's house, watching cars going by and making up stories about who was in them; climbing the tree in front of my house to read; sitting on the picnic table in my backyard with my dad to watch the sunset; playing basketball in the driveway with my brother. And I became sad. That life is not my life any more.

But then I got to thinking--when that was my life, I'm sure it wasn't as perfect as I remember it being. Even as a child, we have plenty of woes. And right now, in general, I have a lot of really great things going on. So what is it about us that makes us pine for the past? Usually, when I think about those years I think "Oh, things were so much simpler then." But why is that the only mark of happiness? I'm sure in 20 years when I'm paying a mortgage and my student loans and my kids are yelling at me, I'll be thinking the same thing about my life now. So why can't we recognize that and be just as attached, if not more so, to the present. I know it's an old, over-used cliche to say to "live in the moment," but usually that means not to worry so much about the future. I have more trouble relaxing my grip on the past, and while I want to retain all those great memories, I need to learn to appreciate all that I have now, which will become the memories I can't escape in the future. Rather than reliving everything the rest of our lives, how about we just live, and preserve if we can?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Does Canvassing Work (and Should It)?

About two weeks ago, I was having an especially pleasant day--the sun was out for the first time in weeks, I was not overly stressed about anything--and I saw a "Save the Children" canvasser on the street outside the college. So I thought "That poor guy, standing out here on this gorgeous day begging people just to stop." So I did the unthinkable--I stopped.

Now, I often feel guilty anyway when I don't stop for these people because of course I have time for the children, and for rights for gay people and for the politicians (OK, maybe not the politicians), but I know they are going to ask me for money, and that I do not have. But, on this day I thought I at least wanted him to know I had time for the children.

Big mistake. He was a really nice guy (or so he seemed), and he pointed out some great things about the organization. One thing I'd always feared is that there's no way to really know where your money is going. But he made it sound pretty legit. You get letters from the child you "adopt" and the organization has won a bunch of awards or something. But I still couldn't help thinking it could all be a big scam--I guess that's what you get for taking marketing classes, you learn nothing is ever as good as they make it sound.

But despite my conviction when I started to just hear him out but not promise any money, I found myself almost signing up. (The sad part is, I know the name for the tactic he was using to try to close the deal--an assumptive close). "So, you can just fill out your information here and we'll match you up with a child in whichever country you choose," he said.

"Well, I'd love to, and you're very convincing, but I really can't afford to commit to $30 a month right now. I'll look up your web site, and maybe I'll sign up in the fall when I don't have to pay for an apartment anymore," was my feeble attempt at a reply that wouldn't make him think I was too pathetic and selfish.

Eventually I managed to give him a one-time donation and run away, but I couldn't help thinking, is $30 a month really too much for me to give? These children can't get clean water, as he pointed out to me, and all I'd have to do is give up two meals a week and I'd probably have $30 to send. Now I feel guilty every time I decide to splurge on Sandella's. Oh, I could have bought some Ramen noodles instead and I'd be a quarter of the way there. I really don't think I spend much money on unnecessary things, but some days I seriously consider going to that Save the Children web site and signing up. The problem is, I'm still not sure I really trust them. But at least they got me thinking--maybe instead I'll just start by donating $5 a month to a local charity. Then when I'm rich and famous I'll sponsor a child. Or heck, adopt one. Sound fair?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Succumbing to Peer (a.k.a. the Real World) Pressure

It has recently come to my attention that experience with a blog, especially in the world of publishing, may be of some importance. Therefore, despite holding out for quite some time now, I decided to give it a whirl. Hopefully, it will also enhance my writing skills, since I will be using it to write (duh), and I plan on attempting to update fairly regularly. Theoretically, it will be a forum for my thoughts/reactions to events in my life, publishing, my town(s), my state(s), my country, the world, the universe, and maybe even some Heaven thrown in.

I tried the "follow" other blogs thing and then I noticed that the blogs I followed don't have that many followers, so if that was the wrong thing to do, I apologize. But it's easier for me to read your blogs this way anyway, so I'm ok with that. If anyone has any tips, please feel free to share. Wish me luck!