Monday, May 21, 2012

Perception is Reality or Haters are Funny Creatures




Whether you know it or not, you have haters. These haters lurk in the shadows, cavorting and whispering behind your back, assuming that they know everything there is to know about you -- and despising every bit of it for a variety of ridiculous reasons. These ill-informed malcontents then make it their purpose in life to be a complete ass to you, for no other reason than they think they know it all – and because they think they know you. Because after all, perception is reality.

Unless it isn’t.

The other day, a friend of mine made a Facebook post asking opinions about petty people. Naturally, I gave my two cents on the subject, and some guy I didn’t even know took a virtual jab at me once I was finished.

When the question of a petty, overly dramatic, nasty, belittling person was posed by the author, this individual felt it was his civic duty to respond with, “That person lives in <insert my city of residence here>”. I know this gentleman’s comment was aimed at me, since my location is usually posted alongside my public updates, because I live in a small suburb and because his post was immediately after mine -- obviously, because he wanted me to see it. He isn’t on my friends list, I never met the man and I don’t know why he despises me so, all I know is that he does.

I had a choice to make.

I could respond to aforementioned rudeness in kind and get roped into some ridiculous back and forth or I could take it on the chin and move on. I decided to do the latter.

I did this for two reasons. First, I don’t know this man, nor does he know me from Eve, and if he is so dimwitted and dull as to think my public Facebook postings are the sum of all my parts … his loss.

Secondly (and frankly), because I have more class than that. I’m not going to jump into the fray with some virtual nobody because he wants to provoke me, try to hurt my feelings or because he needs to get his rocks off by believing he slighted me in some way. Therefore, I will let this gent get his virtual pats on the back from his hate-filled fan club swollen in mediocrity and bathed head to toe in ignorance, and I will go on my merry way. I’m refuse to let petty people spoil my happy mood.

So why bring it up?

I bring it up because haters are, indeed, funny creatures. People will hate you for all the wrong reasons and justify it in their own minds for even more wrong reasons. Why? Because perception is reality.

And all of this junk about perception might be true; perception might (indeed) be reality, but your perception is your reality, and my perception is mine. Don’t try to pawn your reality off onto me.

For me, it all comes down to this: If you don’t like me, that’s awesome; it truly doesn’t bug me,  because at the end of the day, the feeling is most likely mutual. I just have enough class to avoid going out of my way to point it out.

With that said I want to know, how do YOU deal with haters?

Friday, May 18, 2012

What’s Left but Participation Ribbons?




I HATE the notion peddled in schools nowadays that “everyone is special”. I hate that gifted and talented students are pushed aside, because “no one should have hurt feelings.” I hate it because sometimes, you need that kick in the ass, that failure in life in order to inspire you to do something great, to work harder, to do better and to do more. If we don’t fall down, we never learn how to dust ourselves off and pick ourselves back up. We become a society of people who are perfectly content collecting participation ribbons by the armful.

But life isn’t a participation sport.

The weak don’t survive; indeed they shouldn’t. People need to evolve, to change and to strive for better. Plants, animals and even bacteria evolve in order to survive. Yet humans stagnate. Kids today get a pat on the back and obligatory “atta boy” regardless of whether or not they actually deserve it, and they get it from grade 1 to grade 12, and they stagnate, they never evolve.

And then those kids grow up. They make Christmas lists. They say someone else should pick up the tab for their college tuition. They believe they are “owed” a job. They think someone should pay the down payment on their house, that someone else should pay for their car. They evolve into adults with a highly developed sense of entitlement. Because they are special. They are entitled to all of these things. Public school and their parents told them so.

What is wrong with starting in the mail room? What is so horrendous about working your way up the corporate food chain? Why is it not your responsibility to save your own money? What’s the problem with buying your own car and your own house? What is so evil about finding an idea and making it better?

It all comes back to participation ribbons…
When you “give” someone something and you don’t attach some kind of accountability for how they spend it or how they use it, you take away their need to change their lives; to earn it for themselves. If you celebrate mediocrity, you breed more of it. You take away the need to work hard to earn something bigger, better and worth striving for. 

I was listening to a radio host the other day offer garden variety OWSers a job for $15 an hour, but they wouldn't take it. Apparently, the task is “beneath” him or her. They “feel” as if they should be making more. Well folks, guess what, the job market is just like the real estate market; your value is in direct proportion to what someone is willing to pay for services. Period. And when you need to feed your family, it’s time to put your pride away and take whatever job you can get.

I have. In fact, I have put my pride away many, many times, and am a better person for it. There is a certain glory; a sense of accomplishment in sweating hard for what you earn, and truly earning it. There is humility in having to ask for help, but strength in not taking help for long. There is something to be said for knowing you earned a promotion instead of having one handed to you. Pride, work ethic, patience, perseverance, failure, strength, common sense…these are not old-fashioned ideals, but guidelines for better self-esteem -- real self-worth.

Today’s OWS perverted the original sentiment of the movement and turned it into something unrecognizable and self-serving; something full of entitlements. Shame on them.

When all is said and done, when the protesters get that wealth distribution they crave; when they have the house, the car, the job and the college tuition handed to them on silver platters and eat from silver spoons we will all be left with nothing left to work for. Except, maybe, a participation ribbon.




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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Taxi Cab Confessions: Blogosphere Style



I have a confession to make: I hate people.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have likely heard me say as much. But do you know why loathe the human race?

Sit down, this might take a while.
I entered the workforce when I was 15-years-old, and have been working ever since. I have had every job you could ever imagine -- minus anything with any kind of pole --, but soon found myself firmly planted in the service industry.

I read Tarot cards for 900 number hotlines, I sold cars, I tended bar, I sold real estate, I worked in education, I worked for doctors, I worked for lawyers and even peddled alarm systems. And no matter the job, I have always (and I mean always) had a job where I have dealt with people on their absolute worst behavior.

You’d be amazed at the things you see when you tend bar; the lying, the cheating…it’s enough to make you hate every person alive.

You would be disgusted at the displays of deceit and greed you see in real estate –, and I’m talking about the clients.

You would turn over in your grave, if you had even the slightest idea of how dodgy the car business is. 

You would blow chunks if you knew how many horrible things your waiter or waitress is doing to your food.

You would be flabbergasted if you knew how many people will run out on their bills, their families and their obligations and never look back.

And you would probably slap someone’s mother if you knew how many people every day give up on getting an education because “collecting money from the government is easier.”

And truly, I’m just getting warmed up. There’s more, but I think you get the idea.

Indeed, I have seen it all. I have heard it all. And I’m tired. I’m tired because it never changes. Because people never change. They make it easy for me to hate them. 

Instead of living in an imaginary world, believing that people (at their core) are honest and that everyone just needs a little help, I got to see the majority of mankind when they were at their lowest points. And trust me, the majority of humanity is full of anything but good intentions.

But cynic that I am, I still believe that deep down I can make a difference.

About a year ago, I started “paying it forward.” I didn’t have a particular reason. I suppose it was just something I felt I needed to do – this type of thing happens to me often. One day, I just decided to do something kind for a random stranger, and have since repeated this routine for 384 days now.

Sometimes I get the coffee for the person behind me in line. Other days, I give a fast food gift card to a homeless person I see on the street. Still, on other days, it’s picking up the tab for the fella in front of me at Wal-mart who can’t pay for baby formula and motor oil, and giving him some extra “tide me over cash”. Yes, every day I do a little something for someone else. It’s tiny, it’s concealed, and it’s a random act of kindness.

The difference between me and many other do-gooders is that I don’t tout these things aloud. I believe that announcing your virtuous deeds cheapens them and robs them of their nobility.

So instead of touting my meritorious deeds every day, I complain publically about the person who couldn’t put their cart away or the rude fella on the phone, but if you are smart enough to notice – and wise enough to read in between the lines – you will notice that I am never doing such heinous deeds myself. I am solely crying out for change.

At the end of the day, all I genuinely want is a little change from my fellow man, and for everyone to strive to be a better person than the one they were yesterday.

My only remaining question is: when will they?



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Monday, May 14, 2012

The Trouble with Karma







Has a haphazard series of calamities ever made you question your karma? Yeah … me neither.

Let me tell you about my fantastically sucktastic week.

Monday: My icemaker craps out. My kitchen is engulfed in floodwaters of scriptural symmetry. I'm not happy, but I suck it up and drive on.

Tuesday: My six-month-old dishwasher breaks. Rinse and repeat epic floodwaters. Head? Meet wall.

Wednesday: My Apple TV goes on the fritz. I'm pissed. In a feeble moment, I let loose the question that the Universe forever takes as a challenge, “What else can possibly go wrong?”

Thursday: Of course, the cosmos accepts my gauntlet and a great deal more goes awry. At about 11 a.m. I got some unusually deplorable news. After which I realize, I need more Xanax.

Friday: In order to get a refill on my Xanax, I have to go to the doctor for blood work. Yet, no doctor, no nurse and no lab tech I have met in almost 33-years can get my vein on the first go around. Generally, it takes the individual doing it anywhere between five and nine pricks before they can elicit a ampoule of blood from my limbs, and my latest exploit was no exception. I left the doc feeling like a voodoo doll and looking like a heroin junkie.

To put the cherry on the crest of my suck fest sundae, I had to take a  trip to the DMV in order to renew my license. Naturally, since everything else had gone so wondrously for me all week long (note caustic attitude) that brief escapade alone took four teeth grinding, saliva amassing, nose sniveling, stinky feet filled hours.

Where am I going with this?
After hearing my tale, some might pronounce that I have a karmatic black cloud raining down on my otherwise cheerful parade. But those hoi polloi are a bunch of blockheads anyway, so I pay them no mind. 

Contraptions break and unpleasant things happen to everyone, regardless of  karma.

So what’s the trouble with karma?
Karma -- if you believe in such things -- influences an existential component of our lives. In other words, karma isn’t bonded to tangibles like dishwashers and car engines.

When it comes to my karma, I have no complaints. No matter what falls apart in my house, however many deluges I have to float through or irrespective of the number of times my physician looks at me sideways, I have a family that loves me. Regardless of how long I have to wait in line at the DMV or however deplorable any long-distance tidings may be, I have the best friends in the world. If I were to put my life on a scale, my "blessings" outweigh my curses 10 to 1.

So the next time something in your life goes askew and you discover yourself raking your psychic rolodex, urgently trying to solve your karmatic faux paus…shrug it off and examine the karma in your life that matters most.

Because the only trouble with karma is that it is so immensely misunderstood.

What are YOUR thoughts on karma? 


Thursday, May 3, 2012

No Justice, No Peace



Everyone in the country is waiting and watching, anxious to see what will happen to George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case.

And as is only natural, everyone has an opinion as to whether or not the shooting was racially motivated. The truth is, we will probably never know. The verity lies somewhere between a dead 17-year-old and the man holding the smoking gun. However, what unsettles me about all of this is something that very few people are talking about, but something that many more people should be.

I remember reading about the Trayvon Martin case for the first time. Within hours, I watched as thousands of my Facebook friends demand “justice for Trayvon.” I remember following the case almost daily, and I recall my outrage after NBC released the 911 call. I remember feeling disgusted when, a few days later, NBC was called out on an “editing error”; an editing error painting George Zimmerman as a racist, in contrast to the facts of the call. Then, of course, there were the photos of Zimmerman’s blood soaked scalp suppressed by mainstream media until much later, which might support his “self-defense” claim. And while everyone was rightfully up in arms about all of these items for one reason or another, others took up arms in the name of Trayvon Martin.

One thing I have remarkably little tolerance for is violence in the name of justice. Unfortunately, violence for justice is a trend spreading like a macro virus across this great nation of ours. Arrests and racially motivated hate crimes have been on the rise ever since the Martin case surfaced. Angry individuals and mobs are using their “anger” about the Martin case to justify thefts and beatings, to express their disdain; and they do so all in the name of Trayvon Martin.

Where is the national outrage for this? Where are the efflux of Facebook posts for people like Matthew Owens? More importantly, how is violence for violence “justice for Trayvon?”

However, this alone doesn’t unsettle me as much as the potential for this trend to continue works it’s way deeply into my craw. I suspect current trends of violence escalating significantly, in the event that Zimmerman is acquitted of the second-degree murder charge and I predict rioting the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1992, circa the Rodney King verdict. And again, I ask: How would any of that be justice for Trayvon?

And in the wake of high tensions and abounding hate crimes, few people are saying anything of value. What happened to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, did they suddenly fall off the planet? They should be spearheading campaigns to quell the violence. They should be using their influence in the community to remind America that hate for hate never wins, and that violence against innocents is most certainly never justice. What is being done to stop the outpouring siege of viciousness and animosity? Nothing. Who is speaking out for these victims? No one.

Hate crimes are never okay, no matter what color you are, what religion you observe or what your sexual orientation may be. That is the message of justice we need today. Because where there is no justice, there is no peace.

If it’s justice for Trayvon you are after, believe in our justice system. If you crave peace for his family, then pray. Nevertheless, stealing purses from little old ladies or beating up a man because of the color of his skin dishonors the Martin family almost as much as it dishonors your own.

Of course, that’s just my two cents.

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