Category Archives: Life Lessons

Job (In)Security

We may live on a small island but our proximity to the US means that we’re made aware of its many controversies, so in the latest episode of “He said/She said what????”, an American sportscaster is starring as the newest person trying to pull his foot out of his mouth – since speaking freely sometimes ends up costing a lot.

Because some people are so thin-skinned that you expect it to tear at any minute, you really can’t call them names or say that you don’t like them or what they do. Add to them, the people who have suffered at the hands of others or who declare themselves to be minorities in some way, and you will realize that it’s a minefield out there.

There really should be something in there first Image credit: tumblr.com

There really should be something in there first
Image credit: tumblr.com

But as my husband would say, there doesn’t seem to be any learning taking place. Some people continue to only think several days after they’ve already spoken and then end up deepening the ruts they’ve made when they find that they have to back that shstuff up.

So this sportscaster guy decided to blame the victim by saying that when some women are abused it’s because they somehow brought it on themselves and that they really need to stop doing the things that cause it to happen.

Well, (as we say locally) “who tell he say dat”? Didn’t the comedian DL Hughley already put his foot in it a few months ago (on the very same topic) and end up having to prostrate himself on the media altar because people didn’t get the joke? And given that social media is where everything’s happening these days you can’t tell me that this guy didn’t hear anything about it.

So of course, after the twitterverse went crazy on his posterior, he did what everyone else who gets caught in that situation does and proceeds to put things in reverse while declaring, “Well what I really meant to say was…”

Now confidentially, I have to admit that I’m not shaking my fists and thumping my chest in indignation, but any fool can see that his words were poorly chosen. But I am going to get on with my day because I’ve heard this story before and I know how it ends. Either it dies down until the next outrage surfaces and/or his head ends up on a platter.

But the really confounding part for me refers to the reason for the sportscaster’s comments in the first place – a football player’s mistreatment of his fiancée in the worst way.

The only reason that there is any evidence at all of the incident (besides the bruises she would have had), is because an elevator security camera captured it. The video didn’t show this, but I’d bet that it wasn’t an isolated incident. Nonetheless it didn’t seem sufficient reason for her to call the wedding off, but maybe him sitting out a few games is penance enough for her.

I’m not aware of whether she pressed any charges, thought about pressing any charges, or dropped the charges, but it seems that she and a million other people believe that the ones who pay his salary are the ones who should teach him a lesson.

Not the justice system or even the person directly involved. Because a worker’s actions have to be corrected if he or she is to keep the job.

But you can’t please everybody, because even when he is reprimanded and he’s made to feel it where it hurts the most, some people still think the employer didn’t go far enough – since they’ve been keeping score. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t follow sports all that closely, but it seems like once you get to the big leagues these people can be all up in your bed grass.

So maybe it’s because of who he works for – or where he works.

Can you imagine if as an employer I said to my employee, “You know what? I’m aware that you’re using your hands/feet/mouth in ways that aren’t socially acceptable so I have no choice but to suspend you for a few weeks and dock your pay while I’m at it, because you have to be made an example of and besides, everybody’s looking at me”.

But I don’t pay my workers nearly enough to be able to do that. And I don’t make enough money to have that kind of clout. Or maybe we haven’t developed the right sensibilities yet.

However, in those utopias where everybody gets along, where people always play fair and where everybody’s rights are equal and respected, there is also the freedom to punish those who disturb the reflection of perfection. And most will feel secure in the knowledge that it’s the right thing to do.

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Ray Rice and Stephen A. Smith – The Manifestation of the Hypocrisy of Sports – The Shadow League

Stephen A. Smith apologizes for domestic violence remarks – The Root.com

Enough is Sufficient

A lot of people (myself and Dr. Phil included), agree that allowing yourself to be continually disrespected means that you will continue to be disrespected.

As with most things, it’s always easy to see what’s happening to someone else. Not so easy when it’s all about you.

Some people close to me know that I am fond of saying that a person must “like it so” if what is obviously a bad situation for a person is encouraged by the very same person. And given that, it doesn’t make sense for me to be the only one who’s worrying about it.

A friend frequently remarks that most of us who live here don’t seem to have a problem with the disrespect and disregard that is sometimes meted out to us as voters. Because why else would we grumble under our breaths instead of demanding that they “come better than that”?

So you can’t really blame the politician then, for assuming that he or she, is doing everything right.

But just like there are many reasons why voters continue to suffer in silence (including giveaways, duty free allowances and next month’s loan payment), I’ve come to appreciate that you can never know what’s keeping somebody in a bad situation or a toxic relationship.

So I no longer judge, because realization is never late – it comes right when it’s supposed to. And when it arrives, by that time, “enough” has not just become enough, but to quote a family member, it has become “sufficient”.

They Won

A friend of mine left her job the other day. She’d been employed at the establishment for less than a month. When she told me why, I was sympathetic, but when I examined it a little closer I had to admit to myself that she probably made the wrong decision – or at the very least – she quit for the wrong reasons.

I won’t burden you with those reasons. Suffice to say that if I told you what they were, you’d think that we were in grade school all over again. I’m not belittling her feelings and I realize that nobody wants to get up every morning to go to a place where they don’t want to be. And stay there for eight hours every day.

Because after a while it’s bound to get on your last nerve, and work just becomes an excuse to get money to do the things you need to do in life, like pay bills (necessary), eat (more necessary), and contribute to somebody else’s mortgage (is that really necessary?). And I know that sometimes external stresses can cause internal pain.

I’ve said before that there aren’t a lot of us who absolutely love what we do for a living and as a result can greet every day with the best attitudes (even if we are morning people), so the least a person can hope for is to work in a place where everybody can at least get along.

But what if that isn’t possible? What if some people that you work with do everything in their power to make you uncomfortable and make no bones about the fact that they don’t want you there? When I was a younger adult, I used to be upset when people weren’t drawn to my effervescent personality which I cleverly disguised.

A talk with my mother made me see that the loss was theirs and not mine. And I’ve learned that not everybody in life is going to like me, and that it’s okay if they don’t. And even though it may bother me – as it sometimes does, because we are all human – there isn’t a way in hell that I’m ever going to let that person know it.

Maya Angelou declared that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles a rainy day, lost luggage or tangled Christmas tree lights. Of course I had to see how I measured up on that score. More on that some other time.

But her words ring true, when in her book “Letter to my Daughter” she writes, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”.

So while I know that my friend will surely find her happy place, I have to tell her that this time, unfortunately – she allowed them to win. But, I’ll also say, as my mother would, “Don’t let it happen again”.

Good Guys Finish First or “What did you just say to me”?

I didn’t watch the Super Bowl again this year – not even the half-time show (sorry Bruno Mars), so I also didn’t see the commercials that air whenever there’s a break from the action. But as usual, the commercials that stood out because they were funny, touching or smart were highlighted the day after.

I happened to see the makers of two commercials – ordinary people whom we later learned have a desire to be in the entertainment business – who got a foot in the door when Doritos continued their commercial-making contest which promises the winner and the runner-up one million dollars and five hundred thousand dollars respectively. And of course, visibility beyond their wildest dreams.

As I’m sure we’ve all seen by now, the winning ad showed a boy fooling off an adult with a time machine that looks like it was built from the box that your refrigerator comes in. We think he’s just playing along until the jig is up and we realize that adult really wasn’t acting the fool – he was one.

But I loved it. That kid obviously picked the right back yard to play in.

And then I saw the ad that won second place. The mother arrives home and her arms are full with two bags of groceries. Her two boys are playing in the front yard. She asks whether she can get some help to carry the bags. And one of the boys, busy relaxing on a recliner involved in a video game, says, “I don’t know. Can you?”

Well Lord. Look at trouble. Had I done that then, I wouldn’t be writing this now. And even though I will admit to being a more lenient parent than the ones I grew up with, even I know that such a response would mean that somebody had better start running – away from home. If, my mother went into the house without saying anything to me, I know that she’d be coming back out with something else that would have me speaking in tongues.

However, the minute that the mother tries a quick bribe by letting him know that a taste of Doritos is off the table, the little ingrate finds his feet and is running towards the vehicle to claim the bag.

But the smaller boy, dressed as a cowboy decides that this impolite behaviour on the part of his older brother cannot go unchecked. So he calls his dog, mounts him and lassoes the bag of chips right out of his hands, ties the brother up and eats the damn chips himself. Because rudeness should get you nowhere in this life.

And for that alone, the mother who designed this commercial should have won first place.

What I Know Now

This gray hair has got to count for something. Unlike some people who took the express train to premature grayness, I took my time, but now it’s on board and passengers are being added almost  daily. So if I have to wear the badge I had better have something to ‘know’ for it.

What do I know?

That it’s taking decidedly more work to stave off the middle age spread that is attempting to show up before I reach middle age.

That some friends actually treat you better than family, and that some relatives were definitely grafted onto the family tree.

That wearing glasses becomes less about the look and more about being able to see and recognize the silver lining.

That everything does happen for a reason, but sometimes it’s on a need-to-know basis, and I don’t always need to know.

That weddings and funerals, where the central characters look their best, are sometimes the perfect occasions for seeing the rest of us at our worst.

That we can’t all love what we do to make a living, so we should find a space to do what we love to make living better.

That the friends worth keeping are the ones who accept your store bought gifts as graciously as they accept your criticism.

That if more than a few people say the same thing about you, you either need to change what you’re doing or keep doing it.

That tolerance involves knowing that sometimes you have to adjust your bar of acceptance.

That there’s nothing wrong with raising it after you realize that you’ve set the bar too low.

That a soft word does in fact turn away wrath, but if the person can’t hear me I’m going to have to say it again – louder.

That we all say that life is short, until we have to make amends; then, we believe there’s all the time in the world

That putting off for tomorrow is not about procrastination – sometimes I just don’t have the money to do it that day.

That just because my children didn’t ask to come here, doesn’t mean that they should get everything they want.

That if following my instincts sometimes leads me astray it just means I was supposed to go there.

That it’s okay to say “no” if you don’t really want to do something, otherwise, be prepared to explain why it wasn’t well done.

That if somebody really wants my business, I shouldn’t have to look like I’m training for a marathon to give it to them.

That maturity doesn’t have a thing to do with age.

Property Rights

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You may have heard about a news item that went viral many months ago. The subject matter concerned a mother who gave her young teenage son a contract for an iPhone that he got for Christmas, after he had been begging for it all year.

His use of the phone depended on his acceptance of eighteen rules laid down by his mother. Among the caveats were admonishments against using the device to lie, fool or deceive another person; to remember his manners when using the phone, to turn it off in public, and not to use the camera feature as a memory keeper. But what tickled me the most was the first statement, which said, “It is my phone, I bought it… I am loaning it to you”.

That’s the way I feel about most of the things that I buy my children. Sure none of it can fit me and I won’t use any of the items, but they are still mine. So when my husband and I present our children with footwear for school, he tells them not to kick out “his” shoes. Even my daughter’s hair accessories belong to me – never mind that I don’t have much hair to put into them. When they lose an item, even if relatively cheap, we ask if they intend to buy it back. And they pull out the change from the piggy bank in response.

So my son has been counting the number of times that he has washed the dishes and rolled in the garbage bin and has been busy assigning a dollar value to this “work”. He didn’t tell me whether he was saving for anything in particular or just looking to pad his wallet, (or pay for lost items), but we had to inform him that since he was living rent free in the house, and had clothing, schooling and food provided gratis, we were in fact not going to pay him any money.

Rainbow colours

Rainbow colours

In the meantime, my daughter has been fantasizing about the colours that she would paint the rooms of the house when she gets older – “all the colours of the rainbow” she says. I told her that the only place that would happen is in her own house, where she could then do what she liked. She was shocked to realize that she was expected to move out when she got older, and I was thinking how sweet it was that she wanted to stay home with her Mommy even when she got older.

But that wasn’t it. She thought that when she got older, I would be moving out.

My Hope

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“If I knew, I’d try to change the world I brought you to

Now there isn’t much more that I can do

But I would, if I could.”

Regina Belle sang these words in a song titled “If I could”, and every time I would hear the song, I would feel a little sad. I guess I knew innately, that raising a child isn’t something to be taken lightly, and after I had my first child, and experienced the “baby blues”, the feeling of being overwhelmed was exacerbated by questions about whether I had done the right thing – the world being what it is.

Because as much as most of us want to procreate, it is an awesome responsibility once the child leaves the womb. There is so much that we cannot control as our children grow. My sister when inquiring about her niece and nephew refers to them as “the little people” – because even though still children, they are prone to all the hurts, embarrassments and insecurities that we grownups have to face. And so we want to shield them from the harsh realities of life for as long as possible.

But even though we want to help them, it is important not to promise them wings, before they learn to run. And not give them the world, because as Heather Headley sings,” exactly what would that do?” My hope is to raise children that are thoughtful and mindful of others – it’s a struggle, but I’m trying. I read somewhere that US President Barack Obama said that his mother taught him compassion for others, by using the well worn how-would-you-feel-if-someone-did-that-to-you example.

A lot of our children grow up having a little more than we did, and tons more than their grandparents had, so I guard against my children having a sense of entitlement. On a trip to Disney World, I was amazed at how unfazed they seemed by the ‘magic’ of the kingdom. In my day, I’d have been giddy with excitement. To their credit, however, they do talk about the trip quite often, so I guess it’s the memories that matter.

At the Magic Kingdom with Grandma

At the Magic Kingdom with Grandma

I want my children to recognize special occasions for what they are, and that sometimes they don’t even have to cost a lot of money. And that eating out at their favourite restaurant is not a weekly event, and birthday parties will not happen every year – not even every other year. I hope to raise a son who is respectful of women and a daughter who knows her beauty because (as my sister-in-law says), she’s told so at home.

But my greatest hope is that after all the telling and the talking and the scolding that I will have done, and they are faced with hard decisions or face pressure from their peers, they will hear my voice in their heads. And I hope that this will guide them.