Thanksgiving–The Forgotten Holiday

•November 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I need the public’s help and support on something.

We need to get rid of the radio stations who play nothing but Christmas music from the middle of November (and sometimes earlier) until the day after Christmas.  It’s ridiculous.

Personally, it makes me tired of Christmas long before we even get to December 25th.   There are only so many Christmas carols, and these stations play them all on an endless loop for weeks.

Back when I was younger, radio stations would play the occasional carol after Thanksgiving, and slowly built up that number until they went full tilt on Christmas Eve.  This was great, especially as a little kid; tiny reminders here and there that Christmas was on its way, but not so much that it felt like Christmas was never ending. 

Nowadays, however, so many stations not only play Christmas songs before Thanksgiving, they bombard the masses. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday on its own, and it should be treated as such.  It’s an important holiday; not only that, but it’s a holiday upon which most people can agree.  It’s non-denominational, and in this day and age, it’s nice to have a day that people of all beliefs can observe without it being a fight.  It’s a day where we can gather with our families and loved ones, and be thankful for things we have (I know it doesn’t always work this way, but that IS the intent, and a lot of people do try to follow through). 

However, everyone brushes past it now.  As Lewis Black said, it’s Christmas Halftime.  Halloween decorations and candy are in stores by the beginning of September, and before that holiday has even passed, Christmas music is playing in some places (I’m looking at you, Bath & Body Works), decorations and wrapping paper and various other Christmas supplies are lining the shelves or your local Walmart and Target, with nary a mention of Thanksgiving. 

I’ll grant you; you’ll see the occasional turkey-themed decoration in the mix, but there’s no time dedicated to this national holiday.  It’s pushed to the side, swept under the rug; it’s as if it’s become the red-headed stepchild of American holidays; we know it’s there, but we don’t like to talk about it.  Besides, it’s only a lead-in to Black Friday which, as we all know, is more important than giving thanks.

But back to these radio stations.  I’ve tried emailing them, asking them to stop playing non-stop Christmas music, and to consider not playing it before Thanksgiving.  They told me it was very popular with the locals, blah blah blah.  Interestingly, I’ve heard a far greater number of people complain about the music than I’ve heard say it was something they enjoyed.  In fact, I can only think of one person EVER that said the holiday music blitz made them feel good.  ONE PERSON.

I do understand that radio stations are not typically a permanent fixture, that you CAN, in fact, change the station.  However, I have worked in places where I have no control over the radio, and have been forced to listen to this barrage.  To say that it makes me feel jolly would be perhaps one of the biggest lies ever told.

It’s gotten to the point where I almost dread the “holiday season” because I’m going to be tired of Christmas before December even hits.  I know I’m not the only one.  This sort of behavior doesn’t make Christmas feel special anymore; it feels more like an obligation, something we have to get through and endure.  It’s horrible.  It must be even worse for people who DON’T celebrate Christmas (yes; that’s still legal in the country).  Once upon a time, you could live your life with fairly minor signs of this holiday.  Now, it’s overwhelming.

So, what I’m proposing is this; ban these radio stations.  Maybe not permanently (though that would make more of a statement), but the moment a Christmas song hits the airwaves before Thanksgiving has even come to pass, stop listening that station.  If you’ve “liked” them on Facebook, “unlike” it at that moment.  Bombard them with complaints, and remind them about the holiday that’s in between Halloween and Christmas.  Make noise.  If even one station took heed and stopped with the incessant music, I’d consider that a victory.  I know it’s only a baby step, but if enough people took a stand and DEMANDED that Thanksgiving be recognized for the holiday that it is, maybe we’ll see a change.  Maybe Christmas will be that magical time of the year again when anything’s possible, instead of the endless marketing ploy it’s become.

Please, help spread this along; share it on Facebook, email the link, whatever.  I know there are more people like me out there, people who like to celebrate all of the holidays, and not just gloss over the ones that won’t make the most money.

Let’s get this out there.

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They’re All Gonna Laugh At You! — A Few Insights Into Carrie

•November 1, 2013 • 1 Comment

The Halloween season is upon us, and I thought I’d take a moment to weigh in one of the classics:  Carrie.

Here’s how I see it; Carrie isn’t really a horror flick; it’s actually one of the saddest movies and saddest tales you’ll find.

Think about this for a second—seriously.  Forget that it was written by Stephen King, master of horror (though, do try to remember that Mr. King has written a great number of stories that do not fall under the rubric of horror, many of which are actually deeply touching).  Forget the parts of the story that are meant to scare you (ie, the whole prom scene).  Just think about what this story is at its root.

It’s a story about an abusive parent, and a story about being bullied.

It’s a story about a young girl who was pushed too far for too long, and who was unbelievably hurt by the people around her.

Let’s break it down a little bit, shall we?

First, there’s Carrie’s mother, who is bat-shit insane.  We don’t know why (and it’s been so long since I read the book that I can’t tell you if that’s explained at all), we just know that this woman is damaged.  From what little exposition we’re given, it sounds as if she was always a bit unhinged, but her husband leaving her while pregnant really did her in.  So, she did what any logical parent would do—she took it out on her child.  Aside from locking Carrie in a closet for her sins (even though we only see it once in the movie, it’s pretty safe to say that this is a regular occurrence), yelling at Carrie because she got her period (which clearly means that the girl has sinned…clearly.  Even though it’s likely that Carrie’s mother was a virgin when she got her first period, so she would know it wasn’t true.  Though I suppose it’s likely that Carrie’s mother was treated in the same manner.  Abuse begets abuse, you know), she tells Carrie that she should have killed her in the womb.  Now, my mother has never said anything like that to me, but I’m pretty sure that having your mother say that she should have killed you before you were born because you are the cause of all that has gone wrong in her life would be pretty upsetting.

This is just the nuts and bolts of this relationship, but I think you get where I’m going with it; Carrie’s mother was completely fucked up, and had no business raising a child.

I should hope the part about being bullied is pretty obvious, but I’ll elaborate a bit anyway.

First of all, I don’t know if “bullied” and “harassed” is necessarily the same thing, but the outcome is fairly standard.  So if you want to say that Carrie was only harassed by the people around her, you can, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was treated like shit by everyone she came into contact with.  Even her asshole English teacher mocked her because she said she thought a poem was beautiful.  Heartwarming, no?

Let’s just check out those first few minutes of the movie, bypassing the few actual moments of gym class.  I’m talking about the locker room scene, and how all of those girls treated Carrie when she realized that she had blood all over her hands.

Granted, if a naked girl came running at me with bloody hands, I might not react well, either.  But to start throwing pads and tampons at her while she’s naked and cowering the shower…yeah, that’s down right cruel.  I mean, this is a girl who was seriously freaked out.  She had no idea what was happening to her.  It’s not like nowadays when she’d be able to see a documentary about a woman’s body on the nightly news.  Hell, she probably had to get a permission slip signed by a parent to be allowed to take sex ed, so we can all imagine how that ended.  She was genuinely clueless about what was going on with her body; she probably thought she was dying, and not one of those girls showed an ounce of compassion.  It’s terrible.

Anyway, against all odds, she winds up going to the prom, and not as some cruel trick by a classmate.  She receives a genuine, if somewhat forced invitation, and is encouraged by a kind teacher to go with this boy.  But this bitchy, douchebag of a girl, Chris, who is denied access to the prom because of the way she treated Carrie and her refusal to participate in detention, decides that she absolutely hates Carrie (because it makes so much sense—hate the girl who has done nothing to you, who didn’t even tell on you about what you did.  It’s totally her fault that you’re a twat), and convinces her boyfriend to help her get back at Carrie.  To do this, they slaughter a pig for its blood, and rig the prom court contest so that Carrie and her date will win.

In between this, Carrie’s mother tries to forbid her from going to the prom, even going as far as telling Carrie that they were all going to laugh at her.

Did I forget to mention that, periodically, we’ve seen Carrie exercise a few psychokinetic abilities?

Anyway, Carrie goes to the prom, and her date, Tommy, is super great to her.  Not that we saw him be mean to her beforehand, but it seems that he genuinely enjoys getting to know her.

Carrie gets to have a few moments where she feels like the average teenager.

Then, of course, she’s named prom queen.  And so the chaos begins.

I’m sure most of you know this by this point.  We all have a good handle on this story.  Whatever; it’s exposition.

The pig’s blood is dumped on Carrie’s head, and the crowd goes silent, stunned.  Chris’s friend, who helped set all of this up, starts to laugh.  Carrie, with her mother’s words ringing in her ears, hears everyone laughing at her.

So yes, her  psychokinetic abilities start to go ape shit.  Considering she’s only been expressing these abilities when she’s under stress, it makes sense.

But I suppose this is where my interpretation of the story is a bit different than most.  Most people describe this as a murderous rampage, but I don’t feel this is true.  Carrie wasn’t the type to do such a thing.  Did she snap?  Oh hell yeah she snapped.  But given the circumstances, anyone would have.  These people just happened to find a girl who had the ability to move shit with her mind.

But here’s the thing; people wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t been bullied and harassed to this point.  Getting a bucket of blood dumped on your head in basically any social gathering would probably fuck up just about anyone.  It’s truly horrible.

What Carrie did wasn’t right, but I don’t know if I could say it was intentional.  This would be a true case of temporary insanity; she was pushed past her breaking point.  Again, it doesn’t make it right, but does that mean this is some rampage she went on?  Not really.

Then to top it all off, when she went home to cry to her mother, her mother proceeds to stab her.  Yeah.  That happened.  That would have happened even if Carrie hadn’t managed to burn down school and all the people in her graduating class, and you know that’s true.

I think what makes this movie a horror flick to most is the fear, however remote, that this could happen to them.  Think about it.  I would be willing to bet that the bulk of the population that got freaked out by this movie are people who at some point in their lives treated others the way Carrie was treated.  The people worried about karma, and their bad behavior coming back to bite them in the ass.  They’re worried about the “What if?”

When I watch the prom scene, I’m incredibly sad.  I don’t feel glad that those people die, but I do feel so incredibly bad for this kid who had the life from hell, and just snapped.

Carrie is truly one of the saddest horror movies you can find.  But I should hope that the ultimate message should be very clear:  Be excellent to each other.  If nothing else, just in case.

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Instant Gratification Takes Too Long

•September 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

When did we, as a people, decide that population at large should have what they want the moment it pops into their minds?  I realize that advancing technology has been a HUGE culprit in all this, but aren’t those of us who help run the machine just as guilty?  Particularly those that are higher up, who have no concept of how dickish it is to decide at the last moment that someone has to work because of consumer demand?

We live in a world with instant gratification.  The world is literally at our fingertips.  Why send something via snail mail when you can send an email?  You know that there will be no delay in the delivery of said letter (barring a full mailbox on the recipient’s end, and isn’t THAT a pain in the ass), and that you can, theoretically, get a reply within minutes.  You no longer have to waste minutes of your life rewinding a tape in the VCR after you’ve recorded whatever show it was that you were going to miss; you can just hit a couple of commands and have Tivo or your DVR record everything you want and never have to remember when it’s on.  Don’t want to have to drive to the video store to rent a movie?  Netflix will deliver it right to your door.  Don’t want to wait the day and a half for delivery?  That’s okay, too, because now you can instantly stream a video to your computer, DVD player, Blu Ray player, Xbox, Wii, Playstation, and your cell phone.

We refuse to wait for anything nowadays.

Please don’t misunderstand; I’m just as much of a culprit as the rest of the country.  Look at this blog for example.  It’s a stream-of-consciousness that I can post INSTANTLY to the internet.  I don’t have to spend months or years putting together a collection of poignant thoughts and anecdotes; I don’t have to send my work off to hundreds of publishers in the hopes that someone will think my words are worthy of reading.  Instead, I post whatever I think of online, then constantly refresh my stats page to see how many hits my entries have received.

Also, I’m not knocking technology; I love my gadgets, and I think that, on the whole, the leaps we’ve made in technology in the last 20 years alone are astounding and have been fairly beneficial.  I can’t claim to know the extent to which technology has helped the field of medicine, but just hearing about surgeries that used to take hours, include several days in the hospital, and leave huge scars that now are basically done on an outpatient basis, in and out within a few hours with minimal scarring shows to me that technology has definitely improved our quality of life.

But we’re greedy little bastards, aren’t we? 

Look at the options for delivery times on most websites.  There’s typically a standard version, which is almost always free but can take up to ten business days (the horror!!!); then there’s some middle-grade shipping that costs a few extra dollars, but will likely get your package to you within five business days (better); then there’s a step above that offers 2-3 delivery for an additional sum of money (hot damn, now we’re talking!  You mean I can order it on Monday and possibly have it by Wednesday?!); and if you’re extraordinarily lucky, some will offer next-day delivery…but at a cost.  Usually in the ballpark of $30 and your soul.

How badly could you need something to require that sort of shipping cost?  Seriously?  I can think of so few situations that would require that sort of speed, and I’d be willing to bet that almost none of those situations include anything from Amazon.

I’ve been buying shit online for years.  Honestly; who hasn’t?  It’s convenient and often times cheaper.  (Yes; I understand that the cost effectiveness of online shopping is what is driving up the cost of brick and mortar stores, and what is also driving small companies out of business.  The economy is shit; if shopping local were a viable option for more people, it’d be great.  Unfortunately, there are many small towns WITHOUT local shopping options, or at the very least, without a wide enough variety of options to make trips to those stores worthwhile.  If you want a new TV, how many options do you have other than the superstores?)  When I was in college without a car, buying online was the easiest way to go; when I’ve been in search of an item and the only place I’ve found it is online, that’s the way I typically go, depending on how badly I want that item at the moment.

Do I get Impatient for my deliveries?  Hell yes.  Does that mean I bitch if I don’t get them the next day?  Not in any serious manner.  Yes, I’ll immediately be twitchy, but that doesn’t mean I’m expecting next-day receipt.  I’ve had occasions where it’s taken me the full ten business days to receive something.  I’ve also had instances where I’ve ordered something Sunday night/early Monday morning, and the item has arrived by Wednesday afternoon.  It’s a tossup.  Particularly when you buy something from a private seller; you don’t know when they’ll have the chance to get the post office, etc, so delivery time varies.

But, that changes when we order from a store.

There was once a time when, if you wanted to order from a store, you did so through catalog. 

Remember those days?

I only remember them vaguely, but I do remember catalogs.

Popular Club was one.  Avon was another (though, Avon is still, amazingly, almost entirely catalog to this day, so bravo).  If memory serves, JC Penney and Sears also had catalogs that you could buy out of if you couldn’t get to the store, or the store didn’t have what you were looking for.  I can’t be certain, but I’m fairly sure that delivery times were subjective, and you kind of got it when you got it.  I’m sure there was a standard delivery window (for some reason, four to six weeks sounds about right), but no guarantees beyond that, short of something in a standard contract that would instruct you to contact the company if your item wasn’t delivered within eight weeks, or maybe even twelve weeks.  Of course, none of these time frames included how long it took for your little envelope to reach these magical headquarters, or how long it took for someone to get to your envelope.  This window of time only included how long it took the company to actually process your order from the time it came out of the envelope.

Can you imagine the horror of not knowing about your delivery?

The agony of having to wait a whole month?

Without even a tracking number to use to find out where your package was in its travels?

CAN YOU IMAGINE?

And yet, somehow, people survived.  They managed to muddle through and live to see another day.  You sent in your order and more or less forgot about it until it showed up at your door.

Hard to believe, isn’t it?

It’s amazing that in a few short years, we’ve evolved (or more likely devolved) from catalogs and endless wait times to lightning fast internet speeds and next-day deliveries. 

When you put it in perspective, waiting almost a week for delivery shouldn’t seem so bad.

But still…it’s not good enough.  Those orders better be processed THE NEXT FUCKING DAY OR SOMEONE WILL BREAK YOUR SKULL.

This does not include orders that should have been processed within five to ten business day and have been in processing for a month—then you should feel free to contact the company and find out what’s going on.

But here’s where a big part of the problem is coming from; no one stops to consider HOW these orders are getting to the consumer.

Consider this for a moment.  I mean, seriously, think that through for a few minutes.  When was the last time you considered how this whole process was completed?

You never have, I bet.  You place the order and it gets to you and that’s all you know.

At some point during the process of placing catalog orders, it probably occurred at least vaguely to most that there were people somewhere processing the transaction.  You knew there were people somewhere because orders frequently weren’t processed on holidays and if you called customer service, there was a very good chance that, on the first try, you’d find a human being on the other side.

What’s been lost is the human element; consumers have become crazy, self-obsessed, selfish animals that demand the right to have everything they want instantaneously.  And someone, somewhere, decided this was a really super idea, and we’ve just run with it.

What people have forgotten, or never even realized, is that there are still people on the other side of the order who have to get that product to the consumer. 

These people are over-worked and under-paid.  They have managers who feel they can change the work schedule on a whim, demand that employees work more than their scheduled time at a moment’s notice, and should give up their weekends at the drop of a hat despite the fact that they are not willing to do the same. 

These are also the people who work on the holidays so these orders can be fulfilled.  Not only do they work the holidays, but they are told they HAVE to work those days or else.  These are people who will work a month and a half straight, ten to twelve hours a day without a day off.  These are people who come to work with the flu and stomach bugs and pneumonia, all so they’re not penalized for “taking time off” during the holiday season.

It’s a horrible way to live; I’ve been there.  I won’t say more than that other than it’s a work environment that I’ve personally experienced and it is HELL.

There’s nothing like being so achy and feverish that you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, and that you make simple mistakes, all while working eleven hours.

But the consideration for these people is taken off the table.  Just look at any website during a holiday.  There’s usually some sort of offer for free shipping that’s not usually in place, or some massive discount on this product or that combination.  Check even on the holidays that shouldn’t seem like a “shopping” holiday.  Pay attention during Memorial Day, and Labor Day, and even Fourth of July.  Huge incentives are given to consumers for purchasing during a holiday.

(Am I the only one who sees the irony in having massive sales in stores and online on Labor Day?  Or is Labor Day now to be taken literally?)

Personally, I don’t see the harm in placing notices on websites that state that, due to a holiday, orders placed will not be processed for several business days.  I think that’s a freaking swell idea.

Of course, that brings us to a different, but also sticky, situation of holidays and political correctness.  Not everyone celebrates this holiday or that holiday, so it shouldn’t be recognized at all.  Meh.  Listen; I’m not opposed to revising our holidays to more accurately suit the needs of the population.  I’d be happy to work a couple of days of Chanukah for someone if they were willing to work a couple of days of Christmas for me.  I think it’s perfectly fine for us to start acknowledging and even celebrating all of those Jewish holidays that mainstream America likes to forget about in its endless pursuit to wipe its Christian ass on the flag.  If your beliefs have you celebrating the New Year on a day other than January 1st, than you should be welcome to save that holiday until the one you observe comes ‘round.  Little things like that are often great for the moral of employees, but again…different topic.

Unfortunately, the pervasive idea right now is that consumers absolutely cannot and need not wait for satisfaction, and this comes at the very large cost of a lot of people being, again, over-worked and under-paid.

If the concept of people in some remote part of the world or country is a little tough for you to grasp (and honestly, it might be if you’ve never factored actual people into the equation), then consider the shit storm that has become Black Friday.

I know some of you out there know what I’m talking about.

I won’t lie—I go shopping on Black Friday.  I get up at stupid hours to go to the mall or Target or wherever.  Though, my standard intent is not actually shopping.  I enjoy the havoc created by the masses, and people fighting over things that will be on sale, probably for a lesser price, in a week or two is a great source of entertainment for me.  If I decide to buy something, I wait in line patiently, and take care to be extra polite and kind to the poor bastards behind the registers.

But what has really gotten bad about Black Friday is that it’s no longer just a few hours on one day; it’s become almost a weeklong event that eclipses everything else in life.

Black Friday used to be from eight or maybe seven in the morning until, at the latest, noon.  Usually they included holiday items and not much else.  Sure, you could get a set of Christmas lights for about five cents, but it wasn’t quite the Roman orgy (which, I realize, is actually a misnomer) that it is today.  In the evolution of my Black Friday experiences for the last ten years…to say that it’s changed would be an understatement.

A friend dragged me along at one point, so I got up at 3 or 4 in the morning to stand in line and be a part of this.  We only went to one store, and I couldn’t honestly tell you if the other stores in the shopping center were even open.

A couple of years later, I went to a 24 hour store for I guess you could call it a flash sale; the regular sales started at 4, but they had a few hot ticket items in limited quantities at midnight.  It may have been later than midnight, actually, but I can’t really remember.

A year or so later, a couple of malls started to open at midnight, so my mom and I would go for the novelty of it and nothing more.  Within the last few years, it’s kind of become our thing to get to the stores at four or five in the morning to see what’s happening and perhaps do a little shopping but mostly to eat breakfast.  I think it’s only been within the last couple of years that we’ve gone to places at midnight, and that’s simply because that’s when they’re open.  Also, because then we have time to go back to bed.  But somewhere within the last year or two, these sales have been starting at some point on Thanksgiving itself.  What the hell, man?  People in retail can’t even have one fucking holiday to themselves?  How much more money could they possibly be making?  I mean, couldn’t those sales start later on Friday?  Or run on Saturday?  Why is it necessary to make people leave their families on Thanksgiving?  What—did five people think it’d be a really great idea for the stores to open up on Thursday instead of Friday, and the rest of the business world just jump on board?  I understand, to a degree, that if your competitor is open and you’re not, you’re possibly losing money.  Of course, this only applies if you’re actually running sales yourself, but still.  When all is said and done, are you actually making money, or is it just another day that you’re open and now you’re losing money simply by turning on the lights?  Probably the latter, and all so you can say that you were open on that holiday, too.

What’s almost ironic is that most stores don’t actually make that much more money on Black Friday than they do on any other day during the holiday shopping season.  They’re just busier.  How much more money could you possibly hope to make when everything is on sale?

I realize that this may seem to have gone on a wild tangent, but really, it all comes back to the same point.  Stores opened early on the day after a holiday—not good enough.  Stores opened before sunrise the day after a holiday—not good enough.  Stores opened at midnight after a holiday—still not good enough.  Now they’re open on a holiday and have nothing to show for it except a lot of disgruntled employees who are inevitably being treated like shit by the customers, and are likely not even getting holiday pay.  All because the customer needs it now and wants it yesterday.

Instant gratification simply takes too long.

Why Treat People Like Humans When You Can Treat Them Like Shit?

•July 8, 2013 • 1 Comment

*please note; I wrote this at some point last week, and haven’t gone through it for continuity, errors, etc*

 

I love dick head employers.  Seriously.  They’re the absolute best.

When the economy turns around (I say “when” because, sweet baby jesus, it has to turn around at some point), almost every company that is currently employing people are so fucking screwed.

See, right now, companies can get away with treating people like shit because they know that the options for other employment are so limited.  They can pay a non-livable wage, screw with people’s holidays and scheduled time off, tell people at the last minute that their schedule for the day has changed, all of this nonsense that is not any way to treat a human being, and get away with it because most of the time, the only other option we have is unemployment.

Sidebar:  Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when being unemployed seems preferable to being employed?  Think about this; if you have a job, almost any job, you very rarely qualify for state or government assistance.  Even if you’re making eight bucks an hour, you’re making “too much” to receive help.  Let me tell you; unless you’re in high school and you’re just working to make money (which, great, good for you), people can’t live on that kind of money.  Not without constantly sacrificing one bill or another.  If you have to question which utility to pay each month, you’re not making enough.  It’s not about money management at that level of income; it’s about reality.  But because you’re employed, you can’t get financial help.  Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?  I know a lot of people who receive food stamps (some legitimately, others not so much), and it seems that the only cost they consider when applying is if you have children.  If you have kids, you can qualify for extra money.  I could be wrong on this; they may consider electric bills or water bills—I’m not really sure.  But it doesn’t sound like they consider things like rent, or mortgage payments, or old student loans, or credit card bills (which are, often, run up because it’s the only way one can afford to live).  That seems insane to me.  I would think that people who are trying to pay back college loans should be able to qualify for government aid of some form.  It seems ridiculous to me that people who have put out all this money that they didn’t have to begin with who now can’t afford to pay it back because they can’t find a job (or at least a decent paying job) because the economy is so shitty can’t qualify for something like food stamps because the loans they’re desperately trying to pay back aren’t considered as an expense when applying for food stamps.

End Sidebar.

So, asshole employers. 

As most of you know, I’ve stayed fairly silent about my job over the past year or so.  Mostly because bitching, no matter how anonymous, tends to catch up to you at some point.  Even when I’m on Facebook, I don’t mention where I work, or even mention if I’m working or if something about work has pissed me off.  Just easier that way.

But so much shit just builds up and at some point, it’s even vent or explode.

I’m choosing what is hopefully the lesser of two evils.

So, my lovely company has come up with this brilliant idea that, if we have a scheduled holiday that we are permitted to take (and sometimes we have to work the holidays, which is fine if there’s actual work to be done), we then have to work ten hours a day for the rest of the week to “make up” for the holiday.

Take a moment to reread that.

On top of a scheduled 8-hour holiday, we are expected to work 40 hours for the week.  I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before in my life.  We have to “make up” the time they’re giving us off.  How does that make any sort of sense?  Please—someone explain it to me.  It’s like being punished for having a holiday.

This is something completely made up; it’s not in our handbook, and it’s not something that, for the entire year this place has been open, that has been done.  Also, despite what one of the managers from one other buildings has said, this is not common practice at the other buildings.  I know this because people who have worked at those buildings have never had that sort of schedule, unless the work load has been such that was necessary.  And if that’s the case, the holiday is usually worked.

I’ll get to handbook issues in a moment.  Don’t let me forget.

Take, for example, the week of the Fourth of July.  Falls on a Thursday in ’13.  As such, our company, on the schedule they handed out to us, designated July 5th as company holiday so that we could have a long weekend (four days off in a row would be heaven).  Randomly, at the end of last week, the douches decide that, no—not gonna have Friday off.  Can’t do that.  Can’t have a four-day weekend.  What would the customer think?!  Their purchase would be delayed for a whole day?  *GASP* 

(This could bring me to a whole other sidebar about instant gratification taking too long, and how we as an American people have become way too accommodating to the population at large—we’re all guilty of demanding what we want the moment we want it, like stunted three-year-olds.  We are, somehow, afraid to tell people “No,” as if that would crush the spirit of humankind beyond recovery.  But I think I’ll save that for a later entry.)

Just to reiterate; months ago, every employee was handed two copies of our holiday/pay schedule.  One copy was in the form of a flyer, the other is a copy that can attach to our ID badges, so that they are literally always with us. 

A weekish ago, I start asking about our two-day holiday, and am met with blank stares from all of our forms of supervisors, as if I’m making this up.  As if they never once looked at our holiday schedule.  We weren’t told until just this past Friday that were not, in fact, getting Friday off.  Oh no; 10 hours Monday through Wednesday, off Thursday, then come back in for 10 hours on Friday.  What’s the point of having people work extra hours for work that hasn’t accumulated?  Where is the logic in this?  It’s so we “don’t have to work Saturday.”  Bull shit; they’re doing it because they’re assholes and because they can. 

It’s interesting to note that none of the mucky-mucks are here. 

Actually, one is here.  It will actually be interesting to see who’s here on Friday.

But seriously, the blatant disregard for the lives of the people who work here.  People have every right in the world to have made plans for their long weekend because they have been given no indication that their long weekend wouldn’t be a thing.  But believe me when I say that these dicks wouldn’t hesitate to write someone up for not being here on a designated holiday.

To go along with this, I’ve been hearing a whole lot of this “we’re a team” thing, which is a giant bone of contention within my department.  This is because any time some other department needs help, they completely stop our process so we can go help them, which usually puts us behind.  However, when we’re behind, not one other department comes over to help us.  In fact, I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched the other departments stroll out the front door early because they ran out of work, while we were left to struggle to catch up.  I wish I were exaggerating about this, but it is the norm.  We’re only a team if one or two certain departments need help.  If my department is struggling, it doesn’t matter.  They make us work the weekend.  99% of the time it’s without a supervisor or manager present, because THEY don’t want to come in on the weekends, though somehow it’s perfectly fine for the peons to give up their lives.

Seems fair, right?

By the way, I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now, thinking I should just suck it up; that’s the way it is everywhere.  While that may be true, that is most definitely NOT something that should be the norm.  The fact that most people go into work EXPECTING to be treated like shit shows that there’s something very wrong with our workforce.

At any rate, this “we’re a team” bullshit is their way of keeping us around longer, simply because they can.  Even though the other department does not actually need assistance at the moment.  Instead of letting people go home “early,” they find busy work to keep people around for 10 hours.  My hand is already twitching at the phone to call HR; the moment I find out they’ve let some other department go home and we’re the only ones sticking around, it’s fucking ON.  Being a team means we’re all supposed to be at there to get the job done, not just a select few who are constantly being shit on.

What kills me is that NO ONE FUCKING QUESTIONS ANY OF THIS SHIT.  One “higher up” person decides that 10 hour work days to compensate for a holiday is a grand idea, and not one manager, supervisor, whomever, fights them on this.  They just nod vapidly and pass on the information.  No one Is willing to fight this sort of bullshit.

I’ve tried.  I’ve contacted HR; they are supremely unhelpful.

Briefly (ish), about my previous interactions with these people…they’re not actually here for us.  They’re here to support the upper management and that’s about it.  If I’m not mistaken, my most recent entry was about the injustices that not only I, but my coworkers face daily.  Well, I finally got fed up and relayed most of that to HR.  At first, my contact seemed helpful and interested in solving my problems; it quickly became apparent that she felt, more or less, that I (and my coworkers, for that matter) should be doing her job.  That we should be confronting our superiors about these problems and handling it for ourselves.  I don’t agree with that; first of all, on several occasions for several issues, I did in fact speak to my managers about various topics with no results.  When that doesn’t work, aren’t we supposed to be able to go to HR?  If we’re not comfortable speaking to a manager (for whatever reason), shouldn’t HR be our option, if nothing else to have someone to help make us comfortable?  This HR chick kept reprimanding me for not going to our highest onsite person; she couldn’t or wouldn’t understand that I didn’t know this woman; aside from knowing her first name, I’d seen her in the building three or four times.  She wasn’t a person I considered an option; from what others had said about her to that point, she didn’t consider us an option, either.  The workers were not someone for her to talk to; that was the job of others.

Anyway, my contact with HR, without my approval, set up a meeting for me to have with this boss person, as well as the HR person who was on the phone.  Among other things, I was told in no uncertain terms that I would NOT be getting the pay increase that I’d been promised last year, and that if I was unhappy with what I was doing, I was welcome to try working in a different department (because THAT would help), and that my opportunities for increased pay would be at our annual reviews (granted, I realize that annual reviews with the possibility of a raise, no matter how small, is not the standard nowadays, so I try to be grateful for that).  But basically, that moment is your only chance to receive a pay increase.  So…what’s the incentive to try harder and distinguish yourself if the only chance you have of being recognized for that is at the same time the rest of the company gets “recognized” as well?  When I mentioned that I’m constantly having more work and responsibility put on my shoulders, I was told that was standard.  Perhaps, but more work and responsibility typically come with an increase in pay.  If someone believes in your ability to handle more than your coworkers, shouldn’t that mean there’s a financial incentive to take on these tasks?  If you do more work for the same pay as people who do less work, what’s the point of doing more work?

This is why communism failed.

Recently, I was speaking with someone in a higher-up department who, it seems, has been here for some time.  Without any prompting from me, this person said, “This place is so fucked up.”  We discussed how they’d been unable to fill a position that’s been open for several months, and I asked why they weren’t promoting from within.  Turns out, I work for a company that does not promote from within because, should they happen to do that, they won’t then train someone else for the job you’ve been working previously, but instead will expect you to do both your old and new job.  If they bring in someone from the outside, that means they have an additional employee.

Does that make any sort of sense? 

Doesn’t to me.  I don’t see what the difference is between hiring a new person for a “higher up” position, or hiring a new person for the likely lower position you just left.  I mean, if they’re going to hire someone one way or another.  Makes my head hurt.

But, it also says that there is literally no hope for advancement within this company.  No one will ever actually be promoted because, in their minds, in makes more sense to hire an “outsider” with no knowledge of the company than to promote someone who most likely already has a handle on what goes on, and then to just hire a new person to start at the bottom.

And if there’s no hope of ever moving up the ladder, instead you’re just constantly moving laterally, what’s the point of even doing a job?  Granted, there are some people who find a position and are happy with it, who have no real interest in more responsibility or what have you (and it must be nice to be in such a financial situation that a pay increase that should come with an advanced position isn’t that important to you).  But most people, one way or another, don’t want to be in the same position for the rest of their lives.  It’s depressing.

I work with a person who has been with this company (in all of its incarnations) for over ten years; this person has repeatedly applied for better positions and is never given an interview.  This person is more than qualified to be a supervisor, but the opportunity is never given.  And, amazingly, I don’t think this person is making even thirteen an hour.  Isn’t that some shit? 

So, let me get to the handbook, while I’m thinking about it.  Essentially, my company is owned/part of/whatever by a multi-billion dollar conglomerate.  This company has a handbook that they initially distributed, but now simply post online (which is convenient, seeing as how most of the employees don’t have access to this online site).  It’s our rules and guidelines.  Fine; makes sense.  But, and this is the truly astonishing part, the particular company I work for says they have their own set of rules that they can abide by.  These rules are posted nowhere.  There is literally no way to access them because these rules do not exist.  They only exist when a manager decides they want a new policy.  HR WILL ACTUALLY BACK THEM UP ON THIS.  How is that even possible?  How are they not opening themselves up for a world of hurt by making up rules and policies as they go?  There is no possible way we can follow the rules if they’re not available to us.  And we’re basically told not to take our handbook as gospel BECAUSE they can change the rules when it’s convenient. 

I understand, to a certain extent, when they say that each (for lack of better, obscure explanation) micro-company has its own procedures, because it’s sort of true.  To a degree.  But on the whole, to be able to say that an entire branch of a company can and will have its own rules and guidelines (that are not even posted and are completely up to the whims of management) is utterly ridiculous.  It’s the ultimate in setting people up for failure.

Being Female Is NOT A Handicap

•March 20, 2013 • 1 Comment

I know that I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while; that’s what happens when the only thing you do in life is work.  Not that I always work excruciating hours, but my job has drained pretty much all motivation out of my system.  I go home and watch TV, or read, or stare at the walls. 

I’m also extremely reluctant to talk about my job in the social media world because of all the horror stories you hear about people losing their jobs over a Facebook post or something (granted, if you call in sick, then show up on Facebook at the beach or where ever…yeah, you kind of deserve what you get).  Nowadays, it’s as if you can’t even make an off-handed comment about something at work without on your own time without someone catching wind of it and causing a stir.

However, this is important.  Seeing as how I’ve never mentioned my name, where I live, or where I work, I should be relatively safe.  And since this topic is gender discrimination, even if someone figured out where/who/what I was writing about, you’d be pretty fucking ballsy to press charges.

Basically, I work in a good ole boys club.  If you’re a female, you are basically considered second class and not worth the same amount of money as the penile-ly inclined.  Many guys here are hired on with a dollar more to their names; they are “equipment operators.”  Not one female has actually been hired on with that title.  And that title guarantees you a dollar more an hour. 

Yes; several women have been trained to use equipment, but I’m fairly certain that not all of them are given the extra dollar.  I even heard one say that she’d only been given something like seventy cents.

That be called discrimination.  If that had been me, I would have been all over HR.

Of course, I’ve been asking to be trained on the equipment so that I can do my own research instead of trying to track down someone every time, but those requests are ignored.

But back to my real issue.

Here’s the thing with my position within this company—I was actually trained for it.  People from the other buildings in different fucking states trained me.  They sent me to another state for more training.  So I think that I might have a pretty good handle on what it is that I’m doing.  Never mind that I’ve been doing this specific job since June. 

A week after I was given this position, another position was thrown in the mix.  So…two jobs for the price of one.

When I was offered the first upgrade, I was told I’d make an additional fifty cents an hour.  Two months later, word was passed down to me that giving extra money for these positions was NOT the company’s policy.  This is bullshit.  I know this because of those other people who came in and trained me, and because of those people who trained me in the other state.  This position comes with more money.

But not here.

So, flash forward a few months from June, and my job really starts to kick in.  Then I find out that…there’s more.  I have to deal with this, for lack of a better description, partner company.  This other company used to do what we do, but now they don’t.  Yet somehow, we answer to them.  Which means that, basically, half the shit that I come across has to be relayed to these bastards, who seem extraordinarily bitter that their jobs have become superfluous.  So they make us jump through hoops.  This means that the area around my desk is always packed full of shit I can’t deal with until I get the magical “OK” from these twats.

So, suffice it to say, I’m doing three jobs for the price of one.

At a rate that is so low that I cannot afford to live on my own.

A job that no one else in the building is trained to do, which means if I need to take a day off, I have to have everything ready for the day that I won’t be here because there’s no one else who can.

And still….no raise.

But this isn’t entirely about the money.

This is also about the fact that none of these douche bags listens to a word I say.  Both my lead and supervisor are guys, so despite anything I say, they just do what they want, even to the detriment of the company. 

Like I said, I was trained pretty extensively for this position.  I learned about the things we’re NOT supposed to do that will prevent us from losing money or being penalized.  When I point out these things, however, they just brush me off as if I’m stupid, as if I shouldn’t even worry my pretty little head about it (no one has actually said those words, but that is definitely the feeling you get when someone talks down to you—as if they’re patting your head).

I usually get one of them saying, “Well, we have time for it now,” or “Let me explain something to you.” 

Oh yeah…makes me want to junk punch people.

What makes this worse is that there’s this lead on second shift (who, for whatever reason, thinks he’s a supervisor) that whines about everything.  He doesn’t like the way we’re doing things, so our processes are changed to make him happy.  A couple of days later, he decides he doesn’t like these new processes, so throws a fit again and, lo and behold, we change shit AGAIN to make him happy.

He pulls these shenanigans at least once a week.  And every week—it changes according to what he wants.

But the emails I send him (and copy to our supervisors) about his people leaving shit at my desk instead of the assigned areas go basically ignored.  By all involved.  It’s awesome.

So, I know that if this dick happened to be the one telling people the exact same things I tell them, people would listen to him.  And we wouldn’t be doing the shit that we do now.

I mean, it’s not as if I ask people do something illegal or something that’s not standard procedure.  The things I’m asking for are things that are in the company guidelines.  They’re in the guidelines because they help make the company work, and it prevents shit from becoming mixed up and lost. 

But that doesn’t seem to matter.  And I’m 99.999999% positive it’s because of my gender.

Because around here, having a vagina means you can’t possibly know more than someone with a dick.

I have to tell the same people to do the same things ALL THE FUCKING TIME.  And every time, these people say, “Oh, I didn’t know.  Well, I’ll just leave that here anyway.”  If you try to tell them to do it the correct way, they get insulted and pissy.  But apparently, throwing new shit on top of the pile of shit (literally—there is shit everywhere) already at my desk is a swell idea.  Everyone does it, no matter how often I say not to because it just gets lost in the quagmire that already exists.  And no one regulates it.  No one enforces anything that might be beneficial to the three jobs I am currently juggling.

Did I mention that, for the time being, we’re not allowed overtime?  I easily have nine or ten hours of work a day.  Easily.  Now…it’s not all being completed.  Oh well.  What am I supposed to do about that?  I have 8 hours a day to do 10 hours of work. 

Of course, when shit keeps piling up at my desk and nothing is accomplished, I’m sure someone will have something negative to say about me.  “Well, why can’t you get all of your work done?  It’s only this, this, this, this, that, something else, and that over that that needs to be taken care of every day.”

Not to mention that I am CONSTANTLY problem solving for the people in my department, and pretty frequently in other departments as well.  So that has to come out of my 8 hours, too.  Some days, I can’t even do most of my actual job for all the research and problem solving I have to do.

Mentally, I’m done.  I’m tired of trying to work with these people and of trying to do my job correctly with no one to back me up.  So I’m just coming in, working 8 hours, and going home.  That’s it.  I do what I can do and everything else waits until the next day.  The result is more shit not getting done, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about that.  I’m not giving my lead and supervisor the cold shoulder—in fact, if they happen to ask how I’m doing, I tell them with as much enthusiastic sarcasm I can must that I am just great, that everything’s great.  They will not hear a negative word out of me.  Everything will always be just great.  Super.  Winning it.  Because they certainly can’t fault me for telling that everything is going well and that I’m not complaining about the job.  Seriously—what could they possibly say?  “We’ve noticed that every time we inquire about your health, you give us a positive answer.  We’re not comfortable with that.” 

Kiss my ass.

I wish I knew a lawyer/law student.  I have so many questions about the legalities of this place.

Further Adventures With Mommie Dearest

•November 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

No adventure, really, just my late-night need to vent about this abomination of a human being.

Basically, she refuses to take out the dog, even at night.

This pisses me off to no end.

I don’t think this is petty, either.  It’s her damn dog.  But she seems to think she’s doing me a favor by taking him out to piss or whatever.

See, I take him out in the mornings I have to work–since I have to be at work at 7, this makes sense.  I suppose she takes him out once or twice before she goes to work (which is usually at 10, maybe 9 once every couple of weeks, but sometimes it’s as late as 12), but then I get home and take him out as frequently as needed.  But, do you think she takes him out for his last walk at night?  Hell no.  She rushes to get to bed before me so I have to take him out.  Seriously.  She says something like how I’m always up later with him.  Uh, no.  That’s because she runs to bed so she doesn’t have to take the damn dog around the yard.  The only reason I stay up as late as I do during the week is because she gets home late, and I, for whatever reason, have this sense of guilt if I want to go to be earlier, and that I should stay up and eat dinner with her (usually around 9), then watch TV for a few hours.  (I realize that part isn’t technically her fault, though all of her children know that she is a master manipulator; I’ve told her that I have no will power and need her help to get myself in to bed earlier.  My whole life I’ve been a night owl, and it’s hard for me to make myself go to sleep, honestly.  If I could manage to actually get into the pattern of going to bed early, I’d be fine, but it’s a vicious circle.  And she doesn’t want to help me.)

So yes, I’m pissed off at the moment.  I just don’t think it’s asking so much that she take the damn dog out at night.  If it’s 11:30 and you know that your daughter gets up at 5 god damn 30 in the morning, be a fucking sport and walk the dog.  And do it without huffing and puffing and acting as if you’re being put out, you fucking cunt.

Hell, after my first day at my job, I was crawling in to bed, exhausted, and she jumped down my throat because I didn’t take the dog out.  Fucking seriously.

I can’t even talk about this right now.  It just pisses me off so unbelievably…oh my god.  She’s just a horrible, sociopathic, entitled excuse for a human being.  She’s also under the impression that she works so much harder than I do.  Because she’s old, that means it’s harder.  Never mind that half the time she’s at work, she’s sitting on her ass on a couch.  Reading.  Or knitting.  I’d say the average of 15 hours of actual labor she puts in during the week is more than off-set by the 25 hours that she doesn’t have to do much of anything at all.
Fucking cunt bitch.

Fifty Shades Of Meh

•September 24, 2012 • 2 Comments

So, I’m reading Fifty Shades Of Grey at the moment…I’m not sure that I understand the allure, nor why every person who reads it seems to think it’s the best thing ever.  It’s smut, for crying out loud.  That’s all.  Smut.  Woohoo.  I’ve read fanfics with better smut-to-story ratio than this, and that had better-written characters.

Seriously; the Anastasia character is basically a staple of the beginner fic writer.  Well, so is Christian, really.  I mean, c’mon…a timid, sexually inexperienced young woman and a wealthy, mysterious, kinky dude?  Yeah, pretty standard fare.

At any rate, I’m not finding it engrossing the way most seem to.  I find myself reading along hoping to find what it is that capturing the…ahem…minds of so many people, but I’ve yet to been able to do so.  It’s not doing it for me.  In fact, it’s quite a bit tamer than I was expecting.  Of course, since the next one is “Darker,” it could get rowdier.  And while it’s not the page-turner I was hoping to find, I’ll probably be willing to stick around through all three books, since I’ll admit to being mildly curious about the end result (though I’m banking on the cop-out of “love conquers all.”)

Will I say that anyone is stupid for liking these books?  No.  Hell, it’s getting people who hate reading (what the fuck is up with that, anyway?) to pick up a book.  Reading something is usually better than reading nothing, and sometimes it’ll get someone into the habit of reading once in a while.  But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking this is great literature.  It’s not.  It’s just a smut fic.  The only difference is between these books and anyone of the hundreds or thousands of stories like it online is that these were written about original characters, and not characters developed by another.

Perhaps, when I get to the end of the books, I’ll be able to write a scathing review.