Living through an American Recession

Dealing with never ending life changes. Who says making lemonade is the best thing to do with those lemons life throws at you?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A sense of Entitlement

Legality aside in general, the word entitlement refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit. A "sense of entitlement" as it is commonly used.

As I watch the restaurant I work in close, a select few seem to exude this sense of entitlement, rationalizing and satisfying it by stealing. I have become a babysitter slapping hands as they try to fill their pockets with money, booze, equipment, and food, countered with resentment and lost friendships.

I'm not sure why this generation is so jaded and shocked by my lack of a sense of entitlement.  Perhaps it was that the previous generation was so graciously rewarded with company paid college, retirement, paid vacations and a sense of job security, travel and comforts?

As a  Gen Xer I certainly understand this feeling. My father was a WW11 veteran of the Air Force, received and engineering degree from UC Berkley paid for by a company that he retired from. As a senior he collected disability from the military, retirement and interest on savings. He never understood my struggle to attain loans for college, work entry level jobs with no sense of job security.

"Hard work, loyalty and commitment pays off." He said
"When? We are expendable." I replied.
Perhaps the sense of entitlement was always there, they just got what they wanted.They fought for equal pay, unions, safe work environments and labor laws.

So where does that rational to steal come into this picture?

If Mr. Jones across the street says

"Hey kid, I'll give you $20 if you mow my lawn every week."

You agree and continue to mow for 6 years. One day  Mr. Jones puts up a sign in his yard  advertising the house for sale. The house sells. Are you then entitled to go into Mr. Jones' garage and take his things because you feel a sense of entitlement? His things are still his personal property on his private property. There is no entitlement. You may be entitled to unemployment, earned sick time or unpaid vacation if that was part of your contract for employment but you are certainly NOT entitle to steal Mr. Jones' belongings.

Rebel without a cause

What is a rebel without a cause? Wouldn't the thing that caused the person to rebel be the cause? Perhaps this person is just doing his thing.

It always bothered me when people called me a rebel. Looking up the words actual meaning to see if I actually qualify as a rebel, it states:

A rebel is a person who participates in a rebellion.
A rebellion is a refusal of obedience in order aimed at replacing or destroying an established authority.

I would never consider myself to be a rebel according to social description. I have been labeled this only for the fact that I question things in life that I don't understand to be relevant to the situation. In no means have I ever wanted to destroy or replace authority or refuse to follow rules or laws.

Laws and rules are in place to provide consistency, flow and fairness for everyone. It eliminates favoritism and confusion allowing maximum function. Take stop signs for example. On a small road with minimal people converging at the same time, a stop sign is appropriate. Without one, people would decide that they should go first judging their situation to be more important than the other person going left. Putting up a stop sign and establishing rules that go with that sign are in place to stop possible bad situations from happening so everyone has an equal shot at going next.

But what happens when there is now too much traffic for everyone to stop? It now becomes a  problem interfering with the flow and creating traffic jams hence no longer serving it's purpose. The city must now listen to the complaints of the people, reassess the situation and create a new solution to the problem if one is needed and act. A traffic light is born.

When I was a kid I did't understand why I had to use a yellow #2 pencil vs. my .05 mechanical pencil or a green #2 that consisted of the same graphite?

Why do my red tennis shoes bother you? This isn't Catholic school. You're wearing blue.

Why does it matter that a man's hair can't touch his collar in a business office? I can clearly see how that would totally interfere with his accounting abilities. Or why woman had to wear skirts and blouses in a business office. How the hell can you be a good secretary wearing pants?

My response is always the same when I hear someone comment about being a rebel.
"Oh yeah, I can see how that's completely relevant to the situation. Where's the rebellion that they are leading?"

Perhaps any situation that causes an uprising should be assessed of the relevancy of it's laws and/or rules that govern it given current circumstances. People by nature are not mean nor rebellious. Our very nature is to just live and exist. People want fairness and equality not conflict and hardship.

When people complain about something it usually means it isn't working for them. Whether we live in small towns and huge cities, work for small businesses or large corporations, these "rebels" are everywhere. A simple woman like me sees a dysfunction in the flow and instantly becomes a rebel. Is an engineer a "rebel", a politician, a lobbyist, a priest?

Maybe we are all rebels at one point or another all seeking a better world.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Managing restaurant employees through a closure

I was recently promoted to supervisor in a restaurant 4 weeks before it announced it was closing it's doors in 4 days. The first day of the announcement was more rant than it was rest. Emotions were flying high. The original close date would have given everyone almost 3 weeks to find new employment, but considering business was almost at a stand still, another supervisor had "leaked" information of an impending closure causing people to quit, panic and start stealing, the company needed to pull the plug sooner...

A little over a month had past after the new GM arrived bringing with him a new supervisor, new ideas and plans of getting our restaurant back on track and making money when I was promoted. I was proud to supervise such a great group of people, even though a few of them had me worried. Not sure how they would take the news of someone who had only been with the company 3 months would go over with more seasoned veterans. Low and behold, they were all supportive and happy.

Our new kitchen supervisor had been on my "watch" list suspected of stealing money from the office and missing alcohol. As soon as he realized I was watching him, he immediately quit. Since then, nothing missing. Go figure...

It never ceases to amaze me the differences between the way people handle stress. Some just go with the flow, do their jobs while others act out. As a supervisor having never been in this particular situation before I'm learning quickly to roll with the different reactions.

On one hand I have those who are trying to help, empathizing and informing the customers smiling and keeping calm. Their tips are HUGE since the customers are now empathizing with the impending doom of them being out of work in 4 days. While others are stomping around threatening to quit, complaining about "fairness" and others just doing a half assed job. By the end of the night their tips reflected the attitude.

At this point we are on a skeleton crew in the kitchen and dealing with a dwindling supply of food, the 86 list is rising. So how do you as a supervisor handle the stomping, complaining few?

1. Know that getting them to understand or empathize with the companies loss or delema is pointless. Panic has set in and all they can see is rent, bills and food. Their basic survival needs are number one, not yours.

2. Praise, thank, listen and offer to do anything to help everyone through this. Suggest places to find employment, pick up slack where people have quit, etc. The decision has been made by corporate and there's nothing that can be done but to finish working to earn as much as possible and look for another job.

3. If you have enough staff, send them home. This is a prime example of a few bad apples will RUIN the whole by causing more stress, angry customers and a possible expedited closure on an expedited closure. If they threaten to quit, clock them out and accept their resignation.

4. If you don't have enough staff, damage control & communication with your customer is essential as soon as possible. Especially if you run the possibility of reopening another store or location. You must protect the name of the company for future business. Inform the customer of your closure, apologize for any inconvenience, for being short staffed or low on supply. They will understand.

5. Refer to number 2.

Loosing  a job is a major stress like moving or death. The ones that have been there the longest will hurt the most. Not only are they loosing a job but friends that have become family. They will act out angry or distant, the outward/inward projection of energy. Some will want an apology letter from the company and/or to be recognized for their years of appreciated service, some look for something tangible like "what are you going to do with the tv's", or the quiet ones who may be crying on the inside that need reassuring everything will be ok.

Either way, as a supervisor offering to talk anytime about anything is important at this point. Some of these people may have no one to talk to about what's going on and feel alone. Fear stimulates people into making bad decisions, especially when they are quick like this. Panic causes fear, fear causes stealing, anger, and depression. Everyone goes through the cycle of emotions either internally or externally. Being empathetic and offering a real open door policy is number one.

Everyone needs help in life to move through these natural cycles. Some get stuck in the anger phase, some in the depressed phase and some die and bloom regularly. As coworkers and friends just being empathetic and not judging people no mater what phase they are in is huge.

Judgement shows ignorance and ignorance is easily cured with knowledge. 
Non-judgement without knowledge shows curiosity and curiosity leads to knowledge. 
Judgement is the disease of knowledge. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

half the sky documentary
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

This week PBS started airing a documentary based on a book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn called Half the Sky. You can follow the link for more information and to watch the series. It follows ten celebrity women to ten countries world wide confronting oppression of women with real solutions. These issues are barbaric, sexist, racist, extremely dangerous and take away the human right to live happily and free. Although centered around women, it's oppression spreads much deeper and wider affecting everyone involved with that woman, her children, siblings, friends and relatives of all genders. These women are controlled not only by gender, but by status, tradition and religion.

It's shocking to see that things like this still exist in our century. Many ancient traditions are held so deeply, refusing to let go or change and are mistaken for something that once held function hundreds or even thousands of years ago. They are not relevant to our current situation. Change and progress is global, awareness through mass communication is global, consciousness is universal.

The government has changed, the climate has changed, modern conveniences have filtered in, new discoveries in medicine, technology & communication. The oppressors have adapted to living in buildings vs. tents and huts, have cell phones, drive cars and utilize all the modern conveniences of our ear but hold on with a death grip to barbaric religious practices like cirucumcising & cutting women so they will ever enjoy sex once in their lives by controlling their assumed "promiscuous behavior". A practice that averages between the ages of 7-9 usually with no anesthetic causing massive scaring and a lifetime of pain. The WHO estimates 135 million women & girls worldwide are victims of female genital mutilation, all against their will. This is not only cruel, controlling and permanent but finding fault in your gods creation who gave women the right to enjoy sex, not just a man. You are literally altering your gods creation to suite your needs. If he instructed you to do such a thing then why did he not create us that way!

Women are not allowed to study past 6th grade, sold into prostitution by family members forced to entertain 20-30 men a day! Can you imagine the scar tissue built up inside the woman? They are not allowed to work, drive, show their faces, socialize with boys or even go into the market without a male escort.

It is not that women are rising up and rebelling against society or trying to take over the world. It's our planet as a whole that is changing. Technology, education, commerce, awareness of human rights. Old ideas have new information, science has new discoveries, psychology knows of the contribution a woman makes to society. There are literally more women on earth than men. The dark needs the light to exist, the seasons need each other to feed each others function, the universe is constantly moving. Our spirituality has grown, our consciousness has grown  evolving to an "awakening" awareness. There is no way to put this back to sleep. Men are going through their changes too, this is not just a female issue.

I want to thank PBS for it's continued airing of such wonderful eye opening stories contributing to the awareness and education of our planet. I am more grateful everyday that I live in such a country that truly is plentiful giving me way more than I need to live comfortably. It is humbling knowing that I am a whole woman, sleep without fear, have food, clean water and can go to school anytime I want.

Thank you to the compassionate warriors in the trenches who risk their lives everyday to bring a little peace, education and awareness to those in need. Although a world away, you are in our thoughts.

If you have clean water,modern conveniences, and food, you really don't know how lucky you are! After viewing shows like this, it's no wonder why people want to come to more developed countries. Humans have the right to live in peace.

"Creativity is global, opportunity is not".
                                               -a quote from the documentary

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Non-Religious persecution

What is it about the human mind that naturally seems to want to categorize and compartmentalize everything. It seems we must associate ourselves with religious & political organizations, feminist, race or humanitarian groups, clubs & cliques and when we don't we become wanderers, vagabonds and pretty much scowled at by the general population as "lost". I am by no means "lost."

In my experience, people who are part of any group that believe in a single god, creation from this god, a great spiritual war and a punishment/reward system seem to be the most dangerous forces. Since I associate myself with no group, organization or club it appalls me that these groups seem to know what is best for the rest of us.

Every human, animal and plant has been granted the right to exist in the universe. Life itself needs many elements to flourish; food, water, gasses, sunlight, shelter, social interactions, love. Our nature is to be curious about our universe, to explore and discover. We do it from the moment we are born. We feel love and fear, it's natural. But so many people seem to wonder into churches met with a promise that "this is what you were searching for".

The feeling of love happens when we let go of fear. When you turn  on the light, the darkness goes away. It did not cease to exist, the light is now on. When we are in fear we can't feel love. Our minds are focused on our bills, car issues, health issues or whatever. When we go to church our focus is now on a something else, a promise that everything will be ok letting "Jesus take the wheel".. That feels good, comforting and that's wonderful just like your mother hugging you after a bad day at school listening to your experience and telling you everything will be ok.

There are the rest of us who feel our existence to be something different. We focus our thoughts on art, science, children or dancing; we feel love and peace just like you.

I am not looking for anything, I am discovering everything. 

Too many times we get so focused on the end destination we forget to see the things in between. Being a painter taught me it the process of painting that creates the painting itself. One of the most bitter/sweet experiences I've had was when my car broke down and had to rely on public transportation, bikes and walking until it was repaired. My perspective of the world completely changed. I never realized how many cigarette butts there were on the road. My perspective of people changed, assumptions and judgments dissolved, found money, got a glimpse into people's lives listening to conversations on the bus, and felt a sense of convergence of beings all going to the same place coming from different experiences. It was quite eye opening.

It was then that I realized how different beliefs in the afterlife, ghosts or gods was completely irrelevant to life itself and how these beliefs manifested into judgments, hatred, pity or bad behaviors. When science makes a new discovery they advertise it making everyone aware of it's existence. This discovery may be completely irrelevant to one quarter of the population and no one forces you to change your life base on it. Religion reels people in with promises of virgins, gold, health and eternal life in love and peace. SOLD, who wouldn't want that? But it's the fine print one must read...

A hierarchy reward system listing all it's "side effects" of following a god or belief system. Hell, fire, persecution, a being that is watching you 24/7 creating "god fearing people" hiding in closets, under covers and in dark ally's. People manipulated into tithing (which oddly means tax), going on missions of recruitment, although they call it "educating", making people repent and feel guilty so they can make you feel better. Sounds very controlling to me. Create a problem, bring a solution and people will love and follow you. Classic model.

So after being manipulated into seeing the horrible sin in the world they are driven to go out and make the world a better place. Well who doesn't want that? We all do.  In their hearts they want to save people from hell and eternal suffering, it's natural to want to help someone you know may get hurt. Doesn't it make you angry when someone insists on doing it their way knowing they are going to get hurt and having an "I told you so " moment? Well when it comes to the afterlife, there is no way to have an "I told you so" moment. We are all guessing, and to claim to know a god, heaven or hell exists is just being hopeful.

Once your mind attaches itself to a belief, that belief then stops your mind from continuing to explore new possibilities. Science holds to a system of understanding that says "At this moment, given all the information available, we believe x,y,z to be true" As soon as there is more information available, the belief changes. Religion feeds off this phrase as their "I told you so" moment referring back to a god for answers.

The kindness and love taught throughout religion has been poisoned with greed, control and politics filtering it's agendas into the general population by passing laws that persecute those who don't believe or care that no such god exists taking away human rights. You have the right to believe, I have the right not to believe.  Morality is not owned by religion.

I have heard many people say "god will take care of him". ONLY perhaps if he does not ask for forgiveness. According to religion, if Hitler asked for forgiveness before he died he's going to be walking those streets of gold with you for eternity along with all the other murderers, molesters and bombers. If we're all here to learn and experience life, what's the point of a hell? Seems a pointless game of souls the gods play on us.

My point being is that if you want to educate people about your belief system, forcing laws on them, calling the names, excluding them from your circles, killing the infidels, scaring the shit out of them with hell is not the way to do it.Everyone has the right to believe what they want. Christian people would not like Muslim laws implied on them nor do it's citizens want any religious laws implied on them. It contradicts the right to practice statement in the Constitution. Which basically means "We don't practice religion, but if want to, you have the right to."  And no one is taking away anyone's right to practice in America, so why is it allowed to flow into our government? Who's being persecuted here?

I have been called horrible names by the same Christian people I once prayed with. Pitied by believers and reminded of my place amongst the fire, seen lesbian friends denied rights others have and loose property to the government because they were not married and become homeless, women bringing children into the world abusing them because their church frowned on abortion then condemned them for being single parents and having premarital sex. How is this positive for peace in the world?.

Until I began to entertain all possibilities on the existence of a god and excommunicate myself from the church did I realize how nasty the people were that I spent the first 15 years of my life with claiming to be so loving. I once heard in Sunday school that "believing in Jesus was going to be hard because the devil is everywhere and trying to win the war by tempting you into sin. The world is full of sin." Making me see the world as a horrible, scary place. Church control IS the scary place, the world has been nothing but beautiful to me. When I started flowing with nature, life became easy and smooth.

One does not need religion  to feel love, to smile and show compassion towards our world. To see someone struggle should not come with persecution and judgment. Put away phrases such as "god will help them", perhaps your god is working through you to do just that. You were granted the universal gift of awareness and it is YOU who can choose to help or not. Humans make mistakes, education helps them to avoid future mistakes, not threats and fear......  

The Non-Protesting Protester

How can you protest something without protesting? You can't. Once you become aware of something your actions, or lack of action becomes your protest.

"The biggest protest one can make against anything is simply not  do it."

People like me exist out in the badlands, vagabonds of society milling amongst you as assumed non caring oafs. Just because we don't join forces with one particular group, organization or club doesn't mean we are not on board with their agendas. A close friend once asked me to come along to protest a business known for its' bad practices.

"People like me don't hold signs or chant mantras around buildings, we write letters, talk to our friends and/or stop visiting such businesses." I told her.

Education and awareness are the two largest forces behind anything. When information becomes available we become aware, awareness becomes action. Whether holding a sign, recognizing abuse and saying something or making a different choice when buying chicken, it all makes a difference.

In a conversation with my son one time, I said "I am like a bee in a field of flowers. We are very powerful, spreaders of information quietly from flower to flower. Never assume we are not part of the swarm."

Any and all Information may be true, false, mixed up or confusing. It is up to us to determine whether to believe it or not. In the age of mass communication knowledge is no longer a 6 month sail away, it's a click away. It's a wonderful right to be able to speak your mind, educate people or bring into existence knowledge that may not be unknown.. People like me are turned off by anyone who threatens us for not conforming.

Never assume that those of us not holding a sign are not protesting....We are still part of the whole.