The responsibility of grown-ups to give a shit.
I went to a local grocery store last night. I shouldn’t name it. Let’s just say that food and the king of the jungle were involved. I bought $14 something of stuff, and gave the (college?) kid a $20. It’s late, I’m idling, I’ve been writing all day. The kid hands me a 5, a 10 and some coins. So I says to the kid, I says, “Hey, buddy, thanks for the tip!” “Huh?,” he nimbly replies. “Thanks for the tip!” I repeat. “Huh?’ “Um, you gave me $10 too much.” “Oh.” He retrieves the $10, and starts talking so some other cashier kid about something else. So what is appropriate here? Walk out, assume that cluelessness is permanent and irredeemable and that the Corporate King really doesn’t care as long as He has a 98.6 degree body there? No, you know me. So I says to the kid, I says, “This is the part where you say to the customer, ‘Thank you, sir.’" And damn if the kid doesn’t ignore me and keep talking to the other kid. And I carefully enunciate, “You. Weren’t. Listening. To. Me.” “Oh, thank you,” he mumbles and resumes his irrelevant conversation. Am I peeved at the kid? Not much. This guy has been raised in an era when human communication consists of texting and facebook, not looking people in the eye and using actual English and honesty. Commerce means the internet, downloading and debit cards, not actually having to count and use physical money. Hell, this kid is as culturally deprived as a Biafran kid is nutritionally deprived. No, the responsibility lies with the supervisors. This kid's attitude and performance last night was, I presume, not out of character or isolated. If supervisors haven’t seen it, they haven’t been looking, i.e., they haven’t been supervising. If they have seen it, they have let it slide, probably because people in business today do not have the guts to require that employees keep up their end of the bargain they made when they signed on. Who loses? The customer, sure. The organization, yes, they have a pretty website full of smiling people who look like they are polite and involved and perform their jobs with gusto, but I’m thinking that Dr. Reality isn’t the webmaster. But the big loser here is the employee. This guy and how many others like him are getting told by bad example and by gutless omission that it is OK to be mediocre, unfocused, unfriendly and generally not to give a healthy shit about performance. When the time comes for those kids to move on, they’ll be moving on, but not up. There’s another kid who used to work there who I liked. He worked, talked to customers like a gentleman, didn’t screw off, and was the kind of kid who, if the register wasn’t busy, grabbed a broom or replaced bags or did other stuff that needed doing, rather than standing around trying unsuccessfully to put the moves on the young ladies. Recently, I saw him up at Fairmont General, in a job that has him wearing a tie and moving around a lot talking to people and delivering some sort of customer service. Had he stayed with the king of the jungle, he would still about now be wearing a tie, supervising people and both delivering and teaching good customer service. Eagles fly. Chickens peck. Chickens can grow into eagles, but somebody's got to teach them.
Grown-ups have an obligation to teach young people. Young people can teach old people, too. EMS has changed a lot in 20 years, and Tim has taught me a great deal. “Brother Doc” is maybe 30 and is a hell of a physician. I would trust him with my life. Friend Torri, a behaviorist in weight management, ditto. Generally, though, older people know stuff to teach younger folks. Social and professional and business interaction is part of that. I remember blowing in that store a year ago. A couple of elderly men were in line in front of me. They were chatting and fumbling with coin purses looking for exact change and annoying picky stuff like that. (I never understood the whole coin purse thing until Friend Dave got me to try one. Damn thing works.) As they were going out, the two male college kids working that register started making fun of them, rather loudly because they were obviously hard of hearing, and when one used the term “pathetic fucks,” it was time for scripture. I told those boys who those guys were. One was a former U.S. Marshal who an organized crime guy had gone after. (That’s a euphemism for “tried to kill.”) That marshal helped the gangster take over a piece of land - one measuring about 7 feet by 3 feet, permanently. The other was a former Sheriff of Marion County who once went alone into a house and brought out an armed & barricaded murder suspect. The scripture was the part about kids knowing that the bar has already been set a hell of a lot higher than they can imagine.
We have a responsibility to youth as a whole and to our nation as a whole to cooperate, and to share commonly accepted wisdom. Lots of things are subject to varying opinion. Which way you put your toilet paper is up to you, my opinion doesn’t count. Democrat, Republican, whatever. But things like take responsibility, work hard, don’t bitch and moan, look people in the eye, those are not merely hokey things, those are among the commonly accepted truths that make humanity function at all. If we don’t foster this in those coming up, it’s our own damn fault.
A dissenting view on the wonders of medicine
Apparently, I’ve gotten something called MRSA, an infection by an antibiotic resistant staph strain which, in my case, has turned one leg a nice bright pink/red, caused lots of pitting edema and, until yesterday, an impressive little fever. If oral antibiotics don’t start working real quick, the fight re temporary residential status resumes. My doctor is as big a curmudgeon as I am. Both his med student intern person (a nice young woman whose husband's aunt was Betty Gill, a great lady, good friend, and one of the best supporters Marion County Rescue Squad ever had) and LaJ thought that the last interaction was humorous. Ha, ha. Dammit, the bug that bites me is going to die a nasty death.
Damn, I’m adventurous
I’m writing a long post on “art.” Part of it involves music. I listen to music a lot, part of which is to reduce random confusing imput to help me stay focused and partly to offset some hearing difficulty. And I like music. AOL “radio” recently changed format and is now somehow connected to CBS Radio. One of the stations (the one I listen to the most) is “New Age.” (Stupid concept, good music.) When I went looking for it today, a channel called “Adult alternatives” came on, billed as being "for the musically adventurous." You have to be kidding me. By sitting on your ass listening to the radio, you’re being adventurous? Hell, if that’s the case, I went down to use the microwave, so maybe they’ll let me in the New York Explorers Club now. We are gushing about the stupidest shit and ignoring the important things.
News to me?
Maybe I should save this and develop it and think about it for a separate post, but my damn leg hurts, I’m agitated, and blowing curmudgeonhood onto the screen is a whole lot safer than blowing it into the atmosphere shared with LaJ.
This week, I’ve looked at news, as usual and been really annoyed. Not that that's unusual.
What has been in the news:
1 - Earthquake in LA, 5.4 Richter, no deaths, no injuries, the city opened it’s EOC (or whatever they call it there) to assess damage. (And the story didn’t say, but you also do that as a drill for when you have a large scale incident that does cause a lot of human damage/danger, that’s just good sense in the emergency services business.) That story could have been told in, oh, an hour or so. CNN, Fox, etc., stayed on it all day, the same information, the same interviews (“It shook, I was scared.”)
Now, there could have been two side stories. One, emergency services is the unacknowledged bastard child of government until a disaster, and then it’s the star for the first 10 minutes and then if it’s a real disaster, it’s a bunch of incompetent boobs who caused the earth to quake and the hurricane to come ashore. Two, knowing that there are events which are statistically certain over time, we keep doing stupid stuff that denies they'll ever happen. We keep building stuff in LA. We keep building stuff in San Fran and much of that is on fill which, in an earthquake, acts like a fluid rather than a solid. We insist on rebuilding a city that will be hit by a hurricane below sea level. (I think I may have just peeved Rosary again. Darling, I’ll come to you, sweep you off your feet, candlelight dinner, porch swing . . . hmm, I wonder if LaJ will buy the candlelight dinner as a strictly platonic thing?) However, those are stories certain not to be reported. They might make someone mad, and then they wouldn’t buy the Cheerios or listen to Bill O’Reilley or buy or do whatever else is advertised.
2 - Britney wore a bikini somewhere that left nothing to the imagination.
3 - Brad and some woman whose name I forget picked somebody-or-other as godparent for a baby or two.
4 - Somebody found a 44 pound cat.
5 - Several actors & actresses had sex with other actors & actresses (or both) to whom they were not married.
6 - One or more of those sexual unions resulted in progeny who will be financially secure and emotionally hopeless.
7 - A small animal’s body washed up out of the Atlantic, but was too decomposed to identify.
8 - Some tow truck drivers are not nice people.
9 - Astrology warns that some people are in for trouble.
10 - Katie kicked Tom’s mother and sister out of the house.
Other stories we didn’t see or were buried:
China has shut down half the industry around Beijing so that the air will clear up to the point that the Olympic athletes can breath efficiently.
Several thousand Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan need to wear body armor, ride in (poorly) armored vehicles and look for bombs that target them, and 2 - 3 of them are killed every day on average.
Global supplies of halfnium, gallium and zinc are within two decades of total exhaustion.
The Rural Utilities Service (part of USDA) is spending money on functions that were completed by 1970.
A new study shows that half of teenage transplant patients lose their insurance within 44 months, and those patients are nine times more likely to die than those who still have insurance.
Why are we invited to focus on crap and ignore real issues? More later.