Santa Doesn’t Come to Our House

Christmas for our family is about the birth of Jesus. I was always taught that Santa Claus was a fictional story. He was not banned from our house, but we never had photos with Santa or expected presents from the sky.  Our Christmas tree overflowed with presents for the entire month of December and we excitedly waited for our opportunity to open ours and pack our families’ presents to Grandma’s house.

I remember being around eight and rolling my eyes in my mom’s direction when my grandma told me Santa brought a present for me. Didn’t Grandma know Santa wasn’t real? However, when the same grandma banned me from on of her rooms because “the elves were working in there”, I was very confused and curious. Elves weren’t real. What was going on in there??

As I’ve grown up and come to work with children, I have adopted the disdain for teaching children that Santa is real, and we are now raising my nephew to know that is it just a story. I can see him trying to process this as his friends talk about Santa and he sees things on tv, but he also will verbalize that Santa is just a story.

Recently I shared this photo on Facebook: 23795780_10215114032864626_3208123645945498560_nI love physical comedy and the visual I get from this meme looks something like this:troll2

However, my reason for thinking this meme is mean is the same reason I do not believe in teaching children that Santa is real.

Santa Claus is a manipulation tool, not to mention a little creepy. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake”? Throughout my work in childcare I have regularly listened to parents try to goad their children into behaving because “Santa is watching”.

Is that really why children should behave? Because they won’t get any presents? Do we do the right thing so we can get something, or because it is the right thing to do?

Some people see Christmas as a holiday for children, but it isn’t. It’s not about presents or an individual person and I don’t believe we should be encouraging children to think it is. Christmas is about Jesus and should be a time of worship and learning that we are not the most important person in the world. As a matter of fact, we are flawed and undeserving. This is an opportunity to find the beauty and gratitude in realizing we are loved enough that the Creator of the Universe reached out to us.

I know Christmas has roots in pagan traditions and the date was chosen to offset winter solstice and other holidays. Many of the traditions are spin offs of pagan traditions or wives’ tales that have evolved into standard fare. If a person has a problem with these aspects of Christmas, by all means don’t include them in your celebration.

At its core, though, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ or, even if you don’t believe in Jesus, it can be about family. It is about giving – first God’s gift of Jesus, then the gifts of the wisemen to Jesus, and finally about giving to those we love. Receiving is involved, but a selfless person should not be focused on that.

Santa Claus began with the gifts of St Nicholas, who bestowed money on a family who could not afford a dowry for their daughters. His gifts prevented those girls from being sold into slavery. It is a story about selfless giving. However, the modern Santa and his elves, reindeer, and sleigh originated with Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” poem, and Santa’s suit was conceptualized by a cartoonist. Why did this become standard fodder for Christmas?

Because parents want to capitalize on it. It’s an easy way to convince children to obey and behave… so they can get STUFF.

Children should be taught to obey because they are under authority. Parents are charged with their children to teach them how to live. Parents know more about life than children can understand and so children must be taught to respect and obey their parents so the parents can guide children in learning how to think for themselves. Obedience is not for the purpose of getting rewarded, though that has its place in motivational charts and such. Ultimately obedience is for safety, learning to live, and learning to obey God and other authority like government. It is the right thing to do. I do believe we will be rewarded by God for our good deeds, but sometimes right is right and we do it because it is right.

In addition, there will come a day when a child learns that Santa Claus is just a story. I have never experienced this realization for myself or anyone I was close to, but if tv and movies are any indication, it can be quite a shock. Imagine learning that your parents have been lying to you your whole life, particularly if you have ever poignantly asked if Santa was real and had the parents said yes. It is important to me to be honest with the children in my life. There are definitely times when pretend is fun or a child isn’t old enough to understand that cartoons only exist in tv or they may not be old enough to know about certain things, but I want to always be able to say that I was honest, even if just to tell a child “I’ll tell you when you are older”.

I did not miss out on anything by not believing in Santa. If anything, I think it did me good. I adore Christmas, so much that I had a Christmas-in-July wedding! I put up my Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving (my sister put hers up on November 2), I have an Elf party every year, and drive around to look at Christmas lights. There was never a time when Christmas lost its magic and came to a screeching halt because I learned it was all a lie. It has always been the one day a year my whole family gets together, the time when I got to see my cousins and do fun activities with friends.

Most of all, the heart of Christmas is not magic, but miracle. It is a celebration of when God loved us so much that He sent His only son in such a humble way. It’s most likely not Jesus’ real birthday, but that does not mean it’s not an opportunity for us to develop wonder that heaven could touch our world and to gain perspective of what is important.

Santa is still around, of course. I love movies like Elf, The Santa Clause, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We even have several decorations depicting Santa Claus bowing down to baby Jesus. I wear a Santa hat on Christmas when I pass presents to my family. As a preschool teacher, I don’t assume it is my place to burst a child’s bubble by telling them Santa is fiction. Mostly I simply acknowledge when a child tells me a story. I do, however, share the nativity story whenever appropriate and avoid the topic of Santa. I hope my students will always know they can trust me to bring real magic and miracle to Christmas and to train them to obey and make good choices because it is the right thing to do in response to the gift we have already been given.


Hunting Ghosts

I believe in life after death, but not as spirits trapped on earth. I believe in heaven and hell, angels and demons, and that you live once and die once and are either with God or away from Him. 

Even so I am enamored with tales of hauntings. I guess I could honestly say I don’t believe that human spirits become trapped in a house or place, and I don’t believe in telepathy or psychics. I do believe that demons might pretend to be those things but probably I don’t really believe it will happen to me. I’m still a little bit careful, though. 

As a theory, though, hauntings are existential. If ghost hunters could solidly prove there are hauntings, they would know the meaning of life. If they could prove what kind of life or event would categorically lead to becoming one type of ghost or another, such as a hostile entity or simply a scene from history that replays regularly, then those scientists could help people choose what kind of eternity to have. If near death experiences could provide incontrovertible proof of heaven or hell and what gets you there, humanity wound have no choice but to convert to a universal belief system. There would no longer be need for faith.

I guess the production of proof begins with a belief. If shows like Ghost Hunters are any indication, there are people who believe in ghosts and energies and are spending their time pursuing these beliefs.

The people I know generally begin with the presupposition that the Bible is true. To my knowledge, they feel they already have the answers and the proof comes from time to time in the form of personal experiences.

If I had my way, live would be the end of it. I think people like believing there is life after death and that they will see their loved ones again. I, personally, would prefer to be done with it all. Regardless of what my acquaintances say, there is a lot of pressure to be a certain way and I can’t seem to do it right. It would be so much easier if there was a way out.

For the most part, I like the mental exercise of considering the theories, but I don’t really want to believe any of it. 

A Person, Not an Ideal

When you enter a committed relationship, are you committed to a person or to an ideal? Is your desire to grow and learn with that individual person, or are you only along for the ride as long as things are going your way?

When I was married, I was in it for an ideal. I have gone into every relationship with an idea of what a husband and a marriage was supposed to be. I expected the guy to behave a certain way and I would verbally lash out when he didn’t meet my expectations. When I was married, I had to realize the painful truth that I’m not even the wife I thought wives were supposed to be. I thought wholesome families have a working father and stay-at-home mother who entertains her children without television, gardens, and feeds her family organically.

Of course, I now realize these expectations are unrealistic and unnecessary. Even the women I know who do fit this profile may not have started out that way. They are who they are and have grown and learned as they have gone. They have struggled and fought. They have hurt.

I wonder if a lot of marriages start with expectations and then end when one person is no longer fitting. At some point someone wants to change or grow and the other person says no.

It seems like couples should be able to grow together. Instead of dismissing the other person for changing, I think marriage is a commitment to change together. Sometimes it might be hard. As life progresses, we all learn things about ourselves we didn’t even know, let alone the other person knowing. Life changes, situations change, medical issues come up, necessities crop up.

In a marriage, it seems that one person’s desire must become the other person’s desire as well. I have always thought that whoever is most passionate about something is the one who makes that choice. For example, if one parent is passionate about homeschooling and other does not care, the family should homeschool. If one person is passionate about eating organic vegetables and the other can at least accept it, the vegetables should be organic. You want to take a dance class. Let’s go! We have to live in a trailer while you start your business? That sucks but let’s do this (and BTW, please get us out of here ASAP).

It might require some discussion, but there needs to come a point where the two desire together or at least respect the other’s point of view instead of belittling it.

This has to be hard sometimes. In cases of physical or mental illness, the partner has a choice to check out or they can provide support. I know a wonderful man who chose to marry a wonderful woman who had a debilitating disease. Even though he chose it, it can’t be easy. It must be so much harder for people who did not know they were going into that. Remaining committed to that person requires changing one’s life to accommodate.

Even in cases of danger there is a way to continue to be committed to a person. It might become necessary to protect oneself or children through legal means, but commitment to a person might mean remaining open to reconciliation under the right circumstances. It might be painful. It might mean giving up things you wanted in life. However, I think this is what marriage was supposed to be. For better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live, not “for as long as it feels good and I get what I want”. I wonder if the excuse of “he’s not who I thought he was” is even good enough. Are any of us who we thought? Do any of us stay the same?

Most likely, the downfall of relationships isn’t danger but boredom or lack of commitment. People turn their focus to themselves instead of to the other person. When the partner says “I want that” the other person says “You can’t want that. Stop it. I won’t allow that.” Instead, the partner could and should say, “Okay, let me want this, too” or “I will help you get that” or even “I will protect you from being overtaken by that”.

It’s got to be hard. Maybe it is better not to go there and risk the unknown. Many days I appreciate the wisdom of being single and not having these things to think about. I hope that if the time ever comes for me to make a commitment like this, I will have a full and open understanding that I absolutely do not know what I am getting into and that the only thing I will be able to know about my future is that I will be doing it, whatever it is, with that one person. For as long as we both shall live.

What is Your Shopping Type?

I go shopping once every couple weeks or so for a cart full of stuff. Even working at a grocery store, I don’t want to shop every day. I would rather get it all done at once. This is how my family did it when I was growing up. Grocery shopping was an event. We went out for pizza at Round Table Pizza, played “I’m Too Sexy” on the jukebox at least five times, and then made our way through the store until our cart was overflowing.

Customers who shop like this might be regulars, but it takes a cashier a while to begin recognizing them because the encounters are fewer and further between.

The regulars are different types of shoppers all together. They come in every two or three days for a variety of ingredients. Often a vice is evident, such as energy drinks or beer, but otherwise it could be anything. A steak, spinach, and a can of shaving cream. Doritos, cabbage and a pie. It seems they come when they need something or they are just getting enough for the next day or two. These are the customers one gets to know. These are the people who choose your line on purpose. These are the people you look forward to seeing.

You learn a lot about people when you see them at the grocery store. Sometimes a great conversation is had about why they are buying a toilet plunger and a bag of apples, and other times you bite your tongue while thinking “well, I know what you’re doing tonight”.

Try people watching the next time you are at the store. You might find someone who could use a little of your help, or you might get a little chuckle.

Before It’s Too Late

My childhood friend died today.

I haven’t spoken to her in years. I knew she had gone down a rough path and I didn’t know how to deal with that. It ended up being her undoing. I chose to unfriendly her on Facebook rather than reach out and now it’s too late.

This is now the second friend I’ve had who died at age 35.

It has taken me much longer than it probably should have, but only these last couple months have I started letting go of my past. I never wanted old friends to be obsolete or old memories to be “so long ago”. When other childhood acquaintances can’t remember someone’s name or say, “I forgot about that” I haven’t been able to understand how that could happen. Even with 20 years between us, everyone who has crossed my path means something to me.

Something I have learned to embrace is the urge to tell people what they mean to me. I’m sure many a friend has been weirded out by “love notes” from me, but this is exactly why I do that. You never know when you won’t have time for that anymore.

I think it is a sign of growth that I have finally started to realize that my place in some people’s lives is only in the past. We have all experienced so much life that childhood friends are no longer a part of. So much change has happened that we aren’t really the same people we used to be.

Even so, I will never apologize for treasuring people or for telling them so, even if I freak some people out a little. I would rather know that I said what I needed to say before it was too late.

Be a Good Customer

People don’t deserve customer service.

What I mean isn’t that people don’t deserve respect or that businesses can’t be helpful. As a cashier at a department store, I can honestly say I enjoy having the freedom to give my customers a little extra. It makes them happy, I feel good, and it saves a ton of time rather than  jumping through hoops to fix various problems. I’m not saying customer service isn’t nice. I appreciate it as a customer. It makes my life easier. The key is that I appreciate it.

What I mean is that customer service, as we know it, is not a human right. Businesses exist to make money. Most businesses will advertise their quality service and they will train their employees to give it, but it is a means to an end. Businesses want you to return and they want as little hassle as possible in making their money.

As a consumer and a fellow human being, it is right for us to realize that a great deal of “customer service” is stuff that businesses shouldn’t really have to deal with. Dropped your beer in the parking lot? You’re clumsy. Isn’t it nice that the company gave you a new 6 pack? There is paperwork involved in that and the company loses money. Can they afford it? Most of the time, but that’s not the point. It makes you happy and it brings you back to give the company more business. Price rang up wrong? If someone failed to change the computer, you should be grateful that you live in a place where businesses must honor their advertisements, instead of a place where you get screwed on a regular basis. You read the sign wrong? Sorry. Read the fine print. But it’s easier just to change a few cents and save the time. Be grateful.

I think most of my customers are thankful, but there are many who act entitled. We are fortunate to have laws against issues like false advertising that protect us as consumers. That doesn’t mean we “deserve” them. We are blessed.

Here is a list of things customers should realize as they shop. This is not the venting of a frustrated cashier – it is a wake up call from another human being. We are in this together. You are one of many and are blessed even to be here. Remember these things as you go about your day.

  1. You are fortunate to even have a store! Isn’t it great that you can drive down the street to pick up whatever the heck you could possibly think of? Look at all the options! Look at all the brands! Look at the coupons and savings programs you can take part in! What if you had been born in Africa where you had to eat beetles under rocks just to make it through the day? Instead, you can go anywhere you please and get anything you want! Amazing!
  2. The employees only work there. They rarely make the policies or set the prices. They are only doing what they are told. They are making a buck so they can take care of their families. Help them out and be understanding that they are real people with feelings.
  3. The company can’t afford it. Okay, well maybe they can, but giving you free stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. When you steal or eat things you haven’t paid for or damage things, the company might let it roll off rather than fight, but they feel it. Companies actually have to budget for losses because customers (and other issues) cause them. This affects the employees and other customers in the way of wages and prices. The more you can make sure you are respecting the way stores work, the better it is for everyone. If the prices are too high, you have the choice of going to another store or taking advantage of other options. While groceries are getting more expensive, the store isn’t necessarily benefiting from your pain. There is insane cost associated with running a store, paying employees, dealing with wholesalers, working with unions, paying benefits, and covering losses. One factors into another.
  4. CEOs may or may not be rolling in the dough. I don’t know how much the CEO makes. Maybe it is big bucks. Maybe they could choose to take less and pay the employees more. There are ways to read about these things if you are overly concerned. Something I have come to realize is that most of those people who make the big bucks work insanely crazy hours. They are on the clock 24/7, often sacrificing their personal lives or families in one way or another to meet their responsibilities. If I wanted to make a million dollars, I could pursue that avenue and work those hours and get that promotion. So could you. Whatever choices we have made in our lives have brought us to the place we are at. For me, I consciously choose to make little money to allow me to stay home with my nephew. For my brother-in-law, an injury makes it difficult for him to climb the corporate ladder. For you, it might be something different. However, complaining about the bigwigs at the top of the chain is probably unfair. These people pay their own price for making the money, and you could choose to do the same if you want to get there.  We are so fortunate to live in a place that provides us the standard of living we have. Whether you are a rich CEO or a struggling EBT card user, you live in a situation that is much preferred to what it could be, and if you shop at my grocery store, you are doing pretty good. 

    Learning about Donald Trump

    I voted for Donald Trump, and I’m not sorry.

    Sure, sometimes I think he needs to stop talking. From what I read about his handling of Puerto Rico’s predicament, I wasn’t impressed. However, the reason I voted for him is that he is not a politician. He is not a bullshitter. He gets results.

    I am currently reading his book, The Art of the Deal, published in 1987. It isn’t award-winning writing per se, and is kind of tedious, as it is lists and details about business deals he has made over the years. Even so, I am getting a good picture of who he is. Side note, as I continue this post, I am not able to give proper citations as I am listening to it on audio, so do not have the page numbers. Here are some things I am learning:

    1. Donald Trump is a businessman, not a politician. He gets results. Politicians know the flowery words to say to make people feel good. Unfortunately, they are often lying and lining their pockets. On the flipside, Donald Trump isn’t about kissing ass, he wants to get down to business. The purpose of a business is to make money. I go to work to make money. If I didn’t need money, I would do much more interesting things with my time. Yet, I go to a business and help it make money so I can make money. I have heard people say that Donald Trump’s money was his father’s and that he can’t take credit for his fortune, but I don’t think this is fair. His father was an entrepreneur who started building sheds and houses before he was even legally able to own a business. He built his fortune through hard work and smart business choices. When Mr. Trump was old enough, he did go into real estate and development business with his father, having capital from his father, yes, but also having learned the skills needed to make the deals. As early as his 20s, Mr. Trump was dealing in millions of dollars. Even though he has millions and billions of dollars now, he is still a penny pincher and a negotiator. He puts in the work and gets the results.
    2. Donald Trump knows what he is doing. Throughout his book, as he details the events of each deal he made, he lists the facts about each property and building, laws, zoning, permits, and how his constructions will benefit the area in which he puts it. If I were to dream of opening a hotel or casino on the East Coast, I wouldn’t know the first thing about where to begin. However, Mr. Trump purchased the air rights above Tiffany’s in New York because he understood how the deal would benefit both him and Tiffany’s, and also knew that Tiffany’s would never need the rights and would profit from selling them. Mr. Trump understood the need to limit the Hyatt from building a second hotel in the New York area and was able to communicate that to a funding broker to protect the interests of his hotel as well as the broker. He was able to make a deal with the state of New York (I think) to effectively obtain tax abatement while still basically paying the same amount of money in rent and profits – basically a loophole to get the funding and/or zoning he was looking for. The man knows the rules and knows how to use them.
    3. Donald Trump knows people. Yes, he is a businessman looking to make money. He makes his money by catering to the people he is marketing to. In his book he speaks of insisting his employees order the street vendors to move away from one of his properties in order to maintain a pleasant atmosphere for his customers. He invests in beauty, luxury and splendor in his buildings because he wants his places to be places people want to visit. He speaks of the marble used inside Trump Tower and how customers described it as calming and energizing. In commentary, Trump’s book states “I wanted customers to feel comfortable being in the atrium and feel energized to spend money”. He is catering to the people and what it will take to get the results he wants – money, through retail sales or through hotel bookings or through apartment occupancy. His methods work. Honestly, after reading this, I want to visit Trump Tower just to see it.
    4. Donald Trump values excellence. Mr. Trump went into business with the Grand Hyatt Hotel, putting up much of the construction costs but outsourcing the running of the hotel to the Hyatt company, while still retaining 50% ownership. He writes about how he would send his executives or even his (ex) wife, Ivana, to “check in”. Apparently the Hyatt did not appreciate this. If these representatives, especially Ivana, found dust in the lobby, she would insist someone come clean it. If she found a bellhop with a wrinkled suit, she would say something. Perhaps she was bossy about it, I don’t know. I do know from my own experience that people do not like being told what to do. In my days working in childcare, there have been many times I have had something to say about what a room was looking like or how chaotic a classroom was and I would get all kinds of excuses and inappropriate solutions to the problem. The answer is to figure out how to do everything needed in a timely manner. In Mr. Trump’s case, when the Hyatt would call to complain about these visits, he would say something to the effect of “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I am not going to apologize for asking for things to be done right”. Donald Trump deals in luxury and he expects the experience to be perfect, from the marble floors, to the several story fountain, to the customer service, to the cleanliness and presentation. It’s not only about money, but about experience, and he wants things done right.
    5. Donald Trump works ALL THE TIME. I often have customers in my checkout line comment about how the big wigs at the top level are making big bucks. Maybe that is true. It’s always nice to hear about a CEO who took a pay cut so their employees could have a little extra. However, I am learning that these big wigs who make all the money also put in all the time. Even as I have worked for various childcare centers, almost always startups, I see how the owners are always on site, always on the phone, always dealing with issues. I feel a little jealousy when they are able to go away on a Caribbean vacation, but that is only after they have spent the last 350 days at the office. Donald Trump is always on the phone, in a meeting, at a function, doing research, on site of a project, busy, busy, busy. Now, as president, perhaps he isn’t doing quite so much personal business, but I can imagine he’s just as busy working for our country.

    I know very little about politics, and a little more about business, as a business major. I can’t say I agree with all of it, but I also can’t say I don’t understand. Donald Trump could certainly gain a little tact in communication, and he needs to work on his “resting bitch face”. However, the guy came into office looking to bring America back to a focus on itself. His desire is to play by the rules and enforce the laws, hence his immigration efforts. He wants to regain the respect – fear, if you will – of the States in order to increase our security. He campaigned under the value of bringing jobs home, which seems to be happening.

    I am not educated enough in politics to say whether Mr. Trump is a good president or not. I am trying to learn. I do not, however, believe that the commentary about him is right or fair, if only for the fact that the underlying values of criticizing him are inaccurate. But, again, I don’t know enough to have a debate about it. What I can say is that I continue to be hopeful that he will get results for our country and I am glad that our current president is not a politician.

    Shopping Tips

    Though I identify myself as a preschool teacher, my current “job” is cashier at a local grocery/department store chain. I have been compiling a list of tips for being a good shopper. I truly enjoy my job and, though I work with people (and that isn’t easy for me), my encounters are 30 seconds – 10 minutes long on average so those less-easy-to-work-with individuals go very quickly. I have, however, recognized certain irritations caused by customer habits.

    From a cashier to you, the shopper, here are some ways you can make your cashier’s (and others around you) life easier.

    *THE CLOCK IS TICKING. I am happy and eager to help you check your groceries. However, as soon as I scan that first item, an actual clock starts timing my transaction. Each item gets a certain amount of time it is supposed to take to ring it up and the computer is keeping track of my scan time as well as my total customer interaction. I am honestly happy to help those who need a little more. However, if it is physically possible for you to complete this task in a short amount of time, you are helping me keep my job. The following requests will help with this…

    *PUT YOUR ITEMS ON THE BELT WHILE YOU ARE STANDING IN LINE. Most things have to be scanned across the belt, especially produce that has to be weighed. Please use your waiting time to put things on the belt instead of standing around until it is your turn. If you are using reusable bags, put those up first. I try not to start until I have somewhere to put things.

    *LEAVE HEAVY ITEMS IN THE CART. We have snazzy magic wands that can scan barcodes from afar. Twenty pound bags of dog food and 12 packs of soda wear on our backs if we are twisting them around 20 hours per week. You probably don’t want to lift it up anyway, and neither do we.

    *GET YOUR MONEY HANDY. You’re going to pay, right? You probably need your wallet or to have your card or cash in your pocket.

    *READ YOUR COUPONS. Coupons are tricky. They might not be for what you think. Just because a coupon is hanging next to something, does not mean it is for that item. If you are buying baby formula, Pampers knows you have a baby, so they might hang a diaper coupon next to the formula to coax you to find their diapers.  Also, coupons often exclude brands or sizes, so make sure the item you are choosing is not excluded by the fine print. It never hurts to ask, but if a coupon doesn’t work, the cashier can tell you why. We don’t write the coupons or program the computer, so please accept that a coupon might not work.

    *CHOOSE YOUR ITEMS AND PUT BACK WHAT YOU DON’T WANT. No problem if you need to check a price or ask a question about something. However, if half of your cart ends up being things you need to put back, put them back.

    *PUT THINGS WHERE THEY GO. As you are putting back the things you don’t want, put them where you found them. Do you have to walk all the way across the store to put it back? Go for a walk. Be responsible for your choices. If you are in a hurry or forgot about something until you got to the register, please PLEASE give it to the cashier instead of leaving it in a random place. Pansies obviously don’t belong in a bin of Twizzlers. If it is cold, leaving it elsewhere will make it go bad. Just give it to the cashier.

    *IT’S NOT YOURS UNTIL YOU PAY FOR IT. If the baby is screaming or someone is having a health emergency, we completely understand if you need to break into the cereal bars or orange juice before paying for it. However, you know who you are. Just because you are hungry or something looks really good does not mean you can eat it. If you haven’t paid for it, you don’t own it and you are stealing by eating it. Paying for it after the fact is making restitution for a wrong, not an acceptable scenario for eating what is not yours. In addition, if you eat a banana, there is no easy way to charge you for that banana because it is sold by weight. You just stole a banana. The store might not say anything to you for doing this, but employees aren’t allowed to sample or open things before paying so this is evidence that the store does not think this is ok.

    *DON’T CUT THROUGH LINES. People generally know not to “cut” in line, but it is not uncommon for someone to squeeze behind a full line of people and shopping carts to get to the restroom. It’s rude and invades people’s personal bubbles. If the lane is empty, come on through, no problem. But if there are people in line, go around. Yes, go all the way around all the registers. You need the exercise anyway.

    *PEOPLE ARE WAITING FOR YOU. Other customers are waiting in line. When your items aren’t ready or you don’t know what you are doing or you didn’t read the signs or you don’t have your money out, other people are at your mercy. Please be prepared and as quick as possible. Remember, too, that the cashier is waiting on you, too. 

    However, if no one is in line and you have finished paying, take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere and no clocks are ticking so I’m happy to chat or help you organize your stuff.

    Happy shopping!

    Responsible for Your Own Situation

    Life is inconvenient and we are each responsible to overcome or deal with our own inconveniences.

    I do a lot of business through a phone app called OfferUp, where I list items I no longer need, and other members message to buy them. We then come to an agreement on price and meeting place and make the transaction.

    I have had no bad experiences with this, per se, but I have gotten to the point where I do not go out of my way to sell something. If someone can come pick up on my porch and I only have to put it outside, great. Otherwise, I will agree to meet them somewhere I will already be, such as outside my workplace 30 minutes before I have a shift. I’m already going to be there anyway, so if the customer doesn’t show, my inconvenience is minimal.

      There was one time in the past that I agreed to meet someone at a store, so I went out of my way with three kids whining in the backseat and waiting 30 minutes for the person not to show up. She told me her husband, who was supposed to do the meeting, had forgotten his phone so we rescheduled for later that same day. I returned to the same place with kids in tow, only for her not to show again. No more.

    This weekend, I got a “bite” on two toddler suits I have been trying to sell for months. I agreed to drop the price from $15 each to $10 each for the both of them and I asked the person to meet me at my work place. She said she does not drive and can I bring them to her development. This violated my personal decision not to be inconvenienced by buyers.

    This weekend, after some discussion, I told the person I would take $20 for the suits if she would meet me at my work or I would charge $30 to come to her. She said no, so I said no.

    A couple days later she messaged again and was still interested. I said we could meet at my work. She said she couldn’t drive. I asked if she would pay $30 for the suits if I brought them to her. She said no. I declined.

    I looked up the address and it just so happened that it was on the way to somewhere I was going so I went ahead and offered to bring them to her. I wasn’t happy about it, but I had been holding on to these suits for months and at least she was willing to pay $25. We agreed. And then she messaged “Bring change for $40”.

    Are you freaking kidding me? Maybe if I had $15 in my wallet, I would have went with it, but in this case I would have had to go to a store to get cash back in order to have proper change. These were her responsibilities. It felt like she was saying “You have to come to me and being me money”. My temperature was rising. If she wanted these suits, she should be coming to get them. I simply said that I would not have change. If she had given me any kind of objection, I was seriously going to give her a piece of my mind. As it was, she figured it out and I got it over with. 

    I get that people have various life situations. Last year I went without a car for a period as I had to get my transmission fixed. I learned how to take the bus, and was grateful and impressed with the availability of it. However, during that same period, I started a new job in an area where there was no bus service. I asked relatives if I could borrow a car, but when it became clear that would put them out, I rented one. Yes, it was expensive, but it was my problem to deal with. Not my family’s. Not my new job’s. Mine.

    I have a hard time believing this person, who does not drive, never leaves the house. She must get out somehow. She wasn’t really all that far from my workplace. She could have walked if she had put her mind to it. She could have taken the bus. Maybe whoever gave her the change for a $40 could have given her a ride. At least we could have met on a day when she was planning to go to the store or something.

    Each of us needs help sometimes, and it is my joy and pleasure to provide that help when I am able. I have left my house early and gone out of my way to take an acquaintance to work. I have made quick stops to pick up disabled friends when we were going somewhere. I am happy to do it, and it is my responsibility to make sure I am a generous person and willing to do these things.

    However, it is the other person’s responsibility to 1) seek help when needed and, 2) be grateful when it is given. My heart goes out to those friends of mine who suffer from debilitating conditions. I feel real regret that I was not more helpful to my mom toward the end of her life. I do not, however, have sympathy for people who behave as if it is other people’s problem that they have a problem. This is a form of entitlement. We are blessed to live in a country and city where resources are available. The government offers assistance for food and home care, the city offers transportation, stores offer home delivery or quick pick-up service. None of these things are “rights” – they are luxuries and we must be grateful for them.

    For the lady on OfferUp today, she got a bad review from me. I saw from her an expectation that I needed to accommodate her limitation and I’m not sure she was grateful that I did. I don’t blame her that I went because I chose to do that, and I take responsibility for my choices. It would be nice if she had done the same.

    I Met a Guy

    I’ve reached a milestone this fall. I met a guy.

    Before everyone gets excited, it’s not going to work out. As a self-identified workaholic, he finally gave me the word that I could make an appointment with him during his work hours but otherwise he would not be available. Bummer.

    I have to say that I am very proud of myself for trying. He is a regular at the store where I work and has been catching my eye for months. Sure he is good looking, but that is rarely my MO. Something about him got my attention. I was sure he must be a husband and a father and so I kept looking for him to arrive with other people. Something about him gave off that vibe, but there was never anyone. Even when he wasn’t in my line, I would notice him coming or going. The day I finally asked his name and determined he was not wearing a ring, I decided to try to get to know him.

    Even one of my supervisors was in on it. She saw me rubbernecking at him after I had been watching for him all day, only to see him go through a coworker’s line. After that she was in on trying to get me in an express lane to increase my chances of interacting with him, even offering to redirect him to my line if I saw him elsewhere.

    • I finally took things into my own hands and strategically went shopping at a time I expected to see him. I found him in the produce section and casually pretended to look at bananas, then greeted him.

    My hopes were up when we chatted for 20 minutes standing there and he left, offering my his business card. I thought he was an IT professional, but learned that night that he is actually a professor of secondary education and psychology at a local college. Everything he was talking about, from teaching techniques to synaptic connections, is utterly fascinating to me. He has a doctorate, for heaven’s sake! Boy did I feel lame as a grocery store cashier.

    I carefully followed up, sending an email, waiting a couple days to call him (then learning that my email had gone to his junk box), and letting him respond about getting together, which he did. I was getting the impression that he thought I wanted to talk about going back to college, but at least the door was open. I hoped that we could have a great conversation and I would be honest about my intentions.

    Alas, I did get the hint when he was not choosing to text me, even though I gave him my number at a natural opportunity, and he eventually shot straight with me. By this time I realized he wasn’t giving me playful responses and figured we wouldn’t be such a great match.

    Regardless, I left the invitation open and I will back off. If he decides to go out in the future, I will take the chance.

    I’m okay with the quasi-rejection. Something is awakened, though. I am open. I don’t need a relationship and I’m not going to go hunting for it, but I am amazingly ready to move on. I feel no ties to my past, no need to hold onto pain, and no guilt about moving forward.

    Furthermore, this experience has given me an exercise in positive self-talk, so to speak. I have always been put off by the idea of talking myself into thinking I’m worthy, because truth is truth. However, this time I chose to put all that self deprecation aside. I could have hid behind insecurity about my job or my body. It definitely crossed my mind that I have no money and only just finished my bachelor’s degree, in contrast to his doctorate. Instead I pushed forward.

    What I realized is that I truly believe I am capable of being the things people see as great. I can get skinny. I am capable of earning a doctorate, if I so choose. I really believe that.

    Amazingly, now I am thinking about those things in earnest. Maybe I will go back to school for my Master’s. Maybe I will go back on my diet. The reason I haven’t so far is because I no longer cared about myself. I think I’m regaining my motivation.

    And yet, I am content and grateful for the life I do have right now. Who cares if I don’t have money? I have time and family and that is what I would rather have. I’m actually not doing too badly.