On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation! ~Thomas William Parsons
Today, for the first time in my life, I celebrated Memorial Day weekend with a trip to a national cemetery. I admit that with no small amount of shame. I only personally knew one of the many who now rest there, and I give my appreciation to them all, those who sacrificed for our country.
A question I’ve often asked myself: If you have to spend money to “save” money have you really “saved” anything?
Something tells me Benjamin Franklin would say, “no.” Saving is saving and spending is spending and never the twain shall meet.
Last night we went to visit some friends we hadn’t seen for a while. We handed over our coats, settled in and made idle chit chat while their kids ran around screaming.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at one point our hostess disappeared and starting fiddling around in their pantry. She left the pantry door open and I peaked inside. My first thought was, “Wow. Look at the size of that thing.” My second thought, however, was, “Look at all that stuff!”
On those pantry shelves was an amazing accumulation of stuff. It looked very much like a well-stocked grocery store. There were multiples of every item. Five boxes of Cherrios, five boxes of Frosted Flakes, five boxes of Fruit Loops, and multiples on practically every other item as well, like Dow Scrubbing Bubbles, shampoo, deodorant, Rice-A-Roni, air freshners and much, much more.
“Holy cow,” I said. “You have your own little mini-mart in there!”
The wife of a fireman who works 48-hour shifts, our friend has had some interesting hobbies and habits as she spends a rather unusual amount of time home alone. She has always really been in to watching TV. She has all the channels and a DVR and has made it a way of life.
But now, she explained to us, she has a new hobby. It’s known as couponing. My web browser may not understand the word (and highlights it as misspelled) but punch it in a search engine and you’ll see that the internet certainly does.
“It’s a great way to save money,” she said, “especially if you aren’t picky about what you get.”
So it’s her new hobby. Her latest obsession. She says she can often go hours at it and gets things she doesn’t even need. (I even saw containers of anti-constipation stuff.) She also admitted that she’s spending money to get some of these deals – like “buy one get one free” or “save 50 cents on purchase,” etc.
Is it just me or does that sound a bit nuts? Spending money to get things you don’t really need and sometimes things you don’t even want. And I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the things she gets are highly processed and/or full of chemicals. Ugh.
I’ve heard modern lore that if you apply yourself, do it intelligently and put in the time, couponing can lead to cart-loads of deals. I’ve heard of $125 trips that we completely free. I admit if it is usable stuff that I’d otherwise mostly want then that’s probably pretty cool. No doubt it would be a more productive use of my time than sitting on my ass.
So my friend has a hobby and like most hobbies, it isn’t too surprising if it ends up costing a bit of money. If she enjoys it as such then good for her.
When we left their house that night she loaded us down with four bags of stuff. I tried to refuse but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. We had breakfast cereal (although she kept the Fruit Loops for herself, dammit), scrubbing bubbles, body wash, deodorant, and chicken-flavored Rice-A-Roni. Since we’re vegetarian we gave the Rice-A-Roni to the gerbil who seemed quite excited to have a free meal and immediately made himself a box.
This just a quickie post about a grammatical error I made in a comment last night. It was an error that caused me to do a very rare thing: smile.
Maybe it was caused by the tequila. Maybe it was just the normal way my fingers tend to disconnect themselves from my brain during the act of typing.
What I wrote:
“No doubt some have sacrificed others.”
What I meant to write:
“No doubt some have sacrificed for others.”
Two slightly different meanings, eh? 🙂
The first phrase I find to be amusing and rather serendipitous. It is now a leading contender for a new line of t-shirts! Or maybe a book I have planned regarding daily negativity musings. 🙂
What would you spare for a stranger in the name of common decency? Polite consideration? Manners? Good form? Fuck, would you even do some small tidbit of niceness for someone you don’t know in the name boredom or trying something new?
Would you even bother to spare a mere five seconds of your time on this planet even if it didn’t line your pockets with gold?
Would you bother to move a finger a couple of inches for another human being? No, I’m not talking about The Finger! I’m talking about the supreme effort required to do something as simple as using your turn signal.
These questions occurred to me this evening as I drove down the street. I was even minding my own business and hadn’t done anything overtly provocative. 🙂
When the chips were down, I have no doubt that some people on the Titanic were selfish assholes. You know, the “every man for himself” type of thing. On the other hand, I’m sure some stepped up. You know, giving up their seats for women and children in exchange for certain death. That’s a fairly bold move. You might even call it an “ah ha moment.” I’ll be honest. I’m not so sure that just because someone is a “woman” or a “child” they automatically deserve a shot at life and I don’t. So I’m not exactly sure what I’d do in the same situation. (However, peeing myself is a given.) But I can certainly acknowledge the awesome level of sacrifice that some voluntarily made to make such a decision.
So I guess the real question I’m struggling with is, as a society, how much do we really give a shit about each other?
- I was driving down the road. I was the only car as far as the eye could see. At a cross street a car had just arrived and was about to cross. Based on my rate of travel and distance, there clearly wasn’t enough time for the driver to go. So naturally they went anyway. I had to hit the brakes to avoid plowing in to them as they deserved. (Trust me, it would have been my pleasure.) It would have taken an additional five seconds or so for me to clear the intersection. Moral of this story? “I can’t spare a mere five seconds for you in order to proceed safely and courteously and have the whole street to themselves.
- I was driving down the road. Suddenly the car in front of me slams on the brakes. There is no turn signal. They slow to almost a complete stop and then turn right. Moral of the story? “I can’t be bothered to play ahead and/or use my turn signal even failure to do so might kill us both.” Again, turning on their blinker about five seconds earlier might have helped.
Finally it dawned on me. This five-second thing is a trend. It must be significant. A hypothesis was slowly beginning to germinate in my mind:
When a society reaches the point that members can’t be bothered to spare five-seconds for each other then that society has reached “critical mass” and must leave the planet immediately.
We are the five-second society. The five-second rule is now in play.
I just wrote this little ditty in honor of the end of the week…
Bad Mood (An Ode to Friday)
Bad mood, whatcha want, whatcha want
Whatcha gonna do when you go on and make me
Come for you tell me whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
Bad mood bad mood
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When I die from you
Bad mood bad mood
Whereya gonna go, whereya gonna go
When my head asplode
You went and made me hate
And now it’s a little too late
You act the fool making me blue
Time for my body to stage a coup
Where you gonna live when my brain vacate
Shush! Don’t tell anyone what I’m about to share. This is secret. That’s why I’m only putting it on my blog.
I previously wrote a post entitled “How to destroy your employees.” It’s about the place I work and is probably one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. If you haven’t seen it I hope you’ll consider taking a look and letting me know what you think.
In that same vein…
There was a movie called “Training Day.” It starred Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. The synopsis: “On his first day on the job as a narcotics officer, a rookie cop works with a rogue detective who isn’t what he appears as.” Welcome to a slightly different version of that same tale.
Our company recently hired a new grunt to make our widgets. The company had wisely fired the previous grunt before hiring and training this new one. It turned out that New Grunt was a very young man, married, and his wife was pregnant. He also had a master’s degree in theology. And here he was in our humble little shithole accepting a minimum wage job. The young family needed a little extra income and jobs are damn hard to come by in our area so he took a job with us that was way below his pay grade.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that someone with a master’s degree in theology was filled to the brim with ethics and morality. If you’ve read my essay on “How do destroy your employees” then you know what that means. A guy with ethics and morality around here? Trouble!
New Grunt turned out to be a little slow to know but a great guy. Once I got to know him, though, I really liked him. He learned quickly, was highly intelligent, warm, personable, honest and very ethical. What’s not to like? We had some great discussions about a wide variety of weird topics like evolution to philosophy and more. I learned a lot from him.
He moved his way up the ladder very quickly. Soon he was presented to us as a “management trainee.” No, I wasn’t offered the spot. They know I’d hurl if asked and that I have absolutely no interest. The only other long time employee around here also has zero interest.
It wasn’t long until New Grunt found his way in the manager’s office with the door shut every day. Training had begun! They were going over all the secret stuff that makes this company so very, very special.
Things seemed to be going well until – POOF! One day New Grunt suddenly put in his notice. One week later he was gone. It all happened amazingly fast.
The company was now left with no one to make widgets. That can put a slight damper on the ability to turn a profit. The company went back to Old Grunt and asked him back. Suddenly they were willing to give him a “second chance.” Yeah, right. More like “get us through this tough spot then we’ll fire you again.”
I lost a lot of respect for the Old Grunt when he accepted and returned to our company.
So what was it that made New Grunt bail? I found out later that there was a certain aspect of his training he found a bit … unpalatable. It seems he was actually given training on, get this: how to listen to employee suggestions and pretend to give a shit. He was taught how to respond, what to say, how to feign appreciation, and that employee suggestions would normally not even be considered. Wow.
Tons of books on managing employees say your front line employees are a valuable resource and crap like that. Well, it sure as fuck isn’t that way around here!
I am not making this up. He was systematically and deliberately trained on the best way to be an asshole and that employees were basically the enemy. Surprisingly that sort of thing didn’t sit well with his highly-developed conscience so he simply split. Having a master’s degree gave him a few more options than the rest of us idiots.
One of my problems is that I’ve had real management training. So I know the difference and that what my company does is bad. When I was a manager if we pulled any of this shit we would have been tossed out on our asses.
And that’s the story of my company’s failed attempt to train a new asshole…