Monday, October 31, 2011

My Hometown

I was born at the hospital ten minutes from where I write this. Half of my children were born there too. Every day I travel the same familiar streets of my youth and other than a short stint away at college, I have lived in my hometown all my life.

Maybe that makes me a bit of an old school flake to some, but I don't see it that way. There's something comforting that comes with knowing where the best barbershop is, who can change my oil and rotate my tires on my lunch hour, where I can park for free downtown, or how to quickly detour around traffic.

Many friends from my youth have long since vanished from here. But I still see many who have disparaged our city back at our shopping malls on weekends, on our sports fields in the evenings, and travelling our roads on their way to and from work. Hometowns are funny that way; you're never gone for long.

When I was younger, opportunities to leave this place were common, but I never did and never will. I love my hometown. It fits me like a glove.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pollyanna Goes Shopping

I'm three-for-three this week at the grocery store checkout.  I've been there three times and all three times some mumsy in line ahead of me disputed a price.  I know it's not the greatest issue of our time and these things happen, but is it always me?  I've never tracked the stats and my evidence is purely anecdotal, but I'd bet good money that of the 1000 times I've been at a checkout in my life, well over half of those times there's been some sort of discord ahead of me in the line.

Who here looks like they may have an issue or two?

I've even went so far as to switch lines when the dispute became protracted only to (you guessed it) wind up with a dispute in the new line.  And then the original line starts to move in such an orderly fashion that those who were behind me in the line are checking out before me.  Is some higher being punishing me for my impatience or just getting a good laugh at my expense?

I'm beginning to think that I could be blindfolded, brought to some foreign country, to some unfamiliar store, load up on some random items, line up at some random checkout and STILL end up with some contentious issue in front of me that would eat into my day.

I've always assumed that this was just the way it is.  But then it occurred to me that if this is happening 50% of the time, why am I never the cause?  I've never had to dispute a price, never tried to pay with counterfeit currency, never had my card declined, never forgot my PIN,  never had an expired coupon, or never spent 90 seconds rifling through my pockets for exact change.  I'm not that guy.  So if you're part of the 50%, what's your issue?

I'm not sure who's usually at fault, but I suspect it's you.   And what's particularly irksome is the carefree and cavalier attitude you have while "bottlenecking" a lineup.  Those behind you in line have lives to lead and want to get on with their days without the extra crapola.

During the most recent occurrence, Junior behind the till actually left his post to go check a block of cheese that the consumer swore was 50 cents cheaper than the price that "rang up" on the electronic tally.  Minutes elapsed.  I quickly did the math.  If you value your time at $20/hour, is it really worth waiting five minutes to save 50 cents?  No, it's not even close.

Here are some more timeless tips for gladsome grocery shoppers:

No sampling or snacking while shopping.  That's just tacky.  This includes items you intend to pay for later.

Don't thumb through the tabloids or your favorite lurid picture-book at the checkout while you should be loading your goods on the conveyor.  The library is down the street.

May I help the next person in line?  When a new till opens up and the clerk offers to help the next person in line, they mean just that.  The next person in the queue will be the one who has been waiting the longest, so it's only just that they are next to be served.  In my experience this rarely happens.  More often than not, some ill-mannered type at the back of the line runs up to the newly opened till to be served.   Look up "discourteous" in the dictionary and you're apt to find a picture of these oafish types.  Don't look for these boors for help if the building ever catches on fire; they'll trample geriatrics and young children to get out first.

Stay out of the express aisle if you have more than the stated number of items.  The sign is posted for a reason; it's troubling that it's largely ignored.

Don't pull your vehicle up along side the fire route adjacent to the store to facilitate the transfer of your goods from cart to car.  Your cart has wheels to make your life easier and the exercise won't kill you.

Carts go back to the designated areas.  Don't leave them beside your vehicle or in the empty parking spot next to you to get windswept into the side of some poor bastard's car.  Getting them back to the general vicinity of the designated area isn't good enough either and there is no special dispensation given when it happens to be raining, snowing, windy, or past your bedtime.

Do your part, good citizens.

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Anarchist By Any Other Name Would Still Stink The Same

Lately I've been occupied with the Occupy movement that has swept across North America and Europe.  From what I've gathered from their incoherent hodge-podge of arguments, I've concluded that the collective is simply disenchanted with their prospects in life.

I wonder how many of these "occupiers" bothered to vote in their last election or would even consider the democratic process as a means to exact the change they seek?

"...a cacophony of random rhetoric blather..."

Don't be fooled.  This is nothing more than another group of anarchists, their enablers, interlopers, and hangers-on who want something, but don't feel particularly compelled to work for it.

Demands posted on a website mention irrelevant arguments about better bank lending practices and prosecution of corrupt corporate fraudsters.  These "fixes" from the last economic meltdown are already in place.  Yes, it may still seem unjust that the CEO of Bank X earns 100 times more than the employees, but that's called supply and demand; something leftists and children don't comprehend.  Moreover, what do CEOs' compensations have to do with anyone else's lot in life?  Has a disproportionate increase in CEOs' earnings ever prevented anyone from carving out a life for themselves?  Of course not.  It's just a talking point and fodder for a group that isn't quite sure of what their goal actually is.

Other demands include:  better health care, employment, education, immigration, racial and gender equality, or in other words, the same things "the people" have sought for generations.   These changes, when sought by the majority, have occurred and will continue to do so through the democratic process.  Yes indeed, in the same democracies that afford these malcontents the opportunity to "occupy" in the first place.

These demands should be tabled and lobbied for in Washington, not on our downtown streets.  Preventing us from getting to work while subjecting us to a cacophony of random rhetoric blather does nothing for anyone's "cause".

I suspect that the only winds of change upcoming for the occupiers are winter's chill.  Grounding them once and for all, at home, snug in their beds, asleep 'til noon, while the real 99% remain hard at it.