Monday, November 28, 2011

Deck the Halls with Pepper Spray

Words I never expected to hear as part of the news, "A search is on for a woman accused of Pepper Spraying a crowd in order to get a deal on an X-box." Black Friday has gone from people injured by over zealous shoppers who push, shove and even trample (bad enough) to people being beaten up, threatened and yes now pepper sprayed. Shopping by any means necessary is an aspect of reality I can deal without.What has happened to the "Holiday Spirit"?

Stores have been enticing us to shop since the Sear's Catalog  first showed up in houses along the Prairie. I am all for proper marketing but I am not all for the mass exploitation of each holiday that seems to be part of our current culture. I hate that I cannot fully appreciate and celebrate each individual holiday without the next looking at me from aisle three. I hate that we not only cannot just appreciate the holidays for what they are and truly mean but that my inbox is inundated with ads telling me where to shop, what to buy and when. I hate that it's all about getting the best deal on the most poorly produced products instead of about investing time in the people we love.

I know I am not alone in how I feel. There have been posts everywhere depicting Santa in a most unflattering light vs a Thanksgiving Turkey. Nordstrom's has made a point of informing us that it will not start any Christmas talk til the 30th. Various other businesses are trying to follow suit. Should we as the consumer sit idly by as innocent individuals are destroyed by the gluttony of others? Is saving a buck worth losing a limb? Can we not take to Cyber space and end this mass consumerism in deference to the human and humane element of the holidays? There has to be a better way to get "deals' on these supposed "must have" items which doesn't involve pepper spray.

Thanksgiving is on a Thursday in November and yet all the stores have been prepared for it since well before Halloween. Christmas isn't until the 25th of December but at the same time as Halloween there were aisles in many stores dedicated to Christmas cards, plastic trees and decorative lights. The Monday before Thanksgiving the news analysts were already predicting spending for Black Friday, which somehow has become an unofficial official event. All morning today the term "Cyber Monday" has been bandied about as today is the onset of online deals which will help further stimulate the economy. None of these conversations are about peace, love or family. None of these conversations are about being thankful for your health, work and  general welfare. None of these conversations are about anything of true value.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beep Beep!

The coyote hears "Beep! Beep!" and he's off to chase the roadrunner. His hunger, much like Pavlov's dog, is triggered by a sound. So too is our world controlled. It was simple at first. We awoke to the sound of an alarm clock. We waited for the sound of the beep for the answering machine to record our message.The novelty of quick cooking created the microwave whose beeps alerted us to the finished food. From there, we moved on to car alarms which honked or should I say beeped the car's horn to alert us that someone was too close to our vehicle. Pagers and cell phones were next on the scene; Convenient devices which control us with the sound of a beep. Beeping, incessantly loud beep, beep beeps surround our lives on a daily basis.

Not only are we inundated by this sound but we are controlled by, slaves to and victims of it as well. How many times have you caught yourself hearing a beep and wondering if it was you? How many times have you said "Was that my phone or yours?", during the course of a conversation? How many times has a car door being opened by the remote triggered you to check your phone? How many times have you ignored the person with you to check the mechanical device beeping at you just to see who it was and if a message or text was left? How many times have you shushed a clerk, waiter, waitress or other service person doing his or her job so that you could answer the call of the beep (ring or other tone for that matter)? We are all guilty of doing all of the above to some degree. There are individuals more guilty than others but for the most part we are all now giant experiments trained to respond to a beep.

We lived without the beeps for years. We answered calls and others received a busy signal. If it was really important an operator would actually break through.  We now are oddly aware of little noises signalling an incoming message. We jump to our phones like good little doggies. We hear car doors and automatically check our purses, packs and pockets to see if it was for us. Now we are all trained that the sound of the beep must be instantly answered and the flesh and blood individual with us is somehow less important than whoever sent a text, left a message or called.

Like every interesting science fiction film we must learn to break our programming. We must return to a world where people and manners matter. We must learn that whomever we intentionally chose to be with that day has priority over the caller at the end of the beep. We must remember that the person waiting on us, behind the counter or helping us in any form is the correct individual to engage in conversation and not the mechanical device attached by blue tooth or other means to our body. Keep in mind, the coyote was often hurt along the path of following the beep. He never learned. We can change our story. Beep, Beep!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Would You Like a Ride?

"Would you like a ride?" If that question comes from a friend then the answer could be yes or no but the question would always be acceptable. Usually I personally have heard that question from strangers. To be more specific I have heard that question from strange men as I make my way either to a favorite venue so close I don't need a car or back to my humble abode. Apparently a woman walking automatically means she needs a lift that won't necessarily take her to her final destination.

I know that there are kindhearted and generous souls to be found across the globe. I know that danger isn't always lurking behind every corner. I know that people are capable of generous deeds. I know that I do not live in Utopia and that when I am suspicious of the man offering me a ride I have every right to be so.  It amazes me that the men seem offended that I, as a single woman walking down the street minding her own business, will not blindly take this coveted treat without hesitation.

It is sad that we no longer live in a time where we could readily accept what could be an innocent offer to assistant someone struggling with packages. It is sad that the hidden meaning of words is what we look for and the words themselves have been lost. It is sad that most of the time "Would you like a ride?" has nothing to do with the vehicle in question. I see the look in your eyes when you ask.You aren't fooling me with your question. I know better than to accept your offer. However, to the men with no ulterior motive, I say, "No, but thanks for asking."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inanimate Objects

We are often told that it is just stuff. We are told that objects can be replaced. We are told that things mean nothing. In a sense it is true. Objects Can be replaced and will be replaced over time however they do mean something. When we are attached to an object it is not necessarily the object that we are linked to but the memories the object represents.

Yesterday I said goodbye to an object. A beautiful sturdy, gigantic and gorgeous papasan chair. This chair has been a part of my life for nearly 18 years. I am actually feeling sad that it is not in my living room awaiting me. I am sad that it's round form no longer greets me. I am sad I will never sit in it again. You may say it is just a chair but after 18 years it is more than that.

It was an old friend waiting to take the load off a tiring day. It was a  safe place to retire to in the middle of the night when the bed just seemed too far away. It was a sleeping spot for a friend's young child just right for her to curl up and feel comforted. It was a sought after spot when company came as it sat in the perfect place to see and be seen. It was a kissing booth and romantic place to begin or end a passionate embrace. It was more than an object and now it is gone.

I have purchased a new chair. It is completely different from my papasan. A new chance for special memories. A new place to sit and ponder. A new spot to curl up with a good book. A new chance for romance. In time it too will feel familiar but for now it is new. I miss my old friend. Do not judge too harshly all who love an object. Some have a love of material things but others have a heart filled with memories and although they are able to let the object leave when it is time an empty space is left behind.