Losing Faith in Humanity on Repeat

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The first time I lost faith in humanity was Halloween. I was perhaps 12 or 13, and my dad and mom took my sisters and I out Trick-Or-Treating. My dad, in his infinite trust in human nature despite being a lawyer, decided since no one would be home, he’d leave a brown grocery bag full of candy out and duct-taped to the wall, along with a note saying “Please Take One.” Well, as you can imagine, we returned to find the bag shredded and empty, flapping sadly in the breeze, victim of teenagers’ greed.

So I learned people aren’t as nice as I think they should be. It would never occur to me to take more than my share when faced with a bowl of Halloween candy or otherwise, but this day and age, it’s an out-dated and old-fashioned notion. Everyone is out to get what’s coming to them before everyone else. At. Any. Cost. Certainly I don’t need to go into politics here, but a mere sideways glance at the TV this election season will tell you that much is true.

Stooping to levels never before measured. Taking pot-shots at the innocent. Filthy language, foul tempers. Stealing what isn’t yours. Interrupting. Screaming matches. Long-drawn-out emails detailing every perceived wrong. Beating up on teachers because no one takes a teacher’s job seriously, and a student should be handed A’s at every turn. Yeah, I’m talking about daily life in a school, not the most recent televised “debate”.

I’m tired.

Eighteen professional years worth of tired.

Eighteen years of successively-growing-worse parental and student abuse. Yes, I said abuse. What else would you call the behavior listed above? I am NOT an indentured servant, yet this is what American society treats me like: Dobby the house elf. And they get away with it because somewhere along the line, administrators started bending over backwards to keep the parent happy. Integrity and study skills be damned. It’s all about the grade.

I. Am. Tired. As an educator, my job is not only to teach the curriculum, but to teach the student to be a good human being. But, brother when I do that, they are calling for my head on a pike. Try to teach a student to take on a challenge, practice that ridiculous concept of “resiliency”, and I need to be fired. Never-mind I can grade 171 essays and get them returned in a week. Never-mind the ability to wrangle 37 prepubescents three times a day for an hour and a half each time in a tiny, stifling room where angels fear to tread. Never-mind the state of my house, the size of my bank account, or the cost to my own family.

By the way, rarely does this happen to a male teacher. Nope – as has been all over the media these last weeks, it’s much more fun to belittle and harass a female teacher because you can get away with it. I haven’t a clue why this makes people feel powerful; to me it’s akin to kicking puppies.

So I’ll return from break, plaster on a smile, and wait for that final straw. It’s coming; I can feel it. But maybe I’ll get in one more life-lesson to a grateful teen before I go. And then maybe one more will be learned the day after that. And perhaps the following day a grammar lesson will finally sink in. And step by painful step, I’ll try to forget that disrespect just comes with the educational territory.

 

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Pedestrians Really DO Have the Right of WAY!

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For what seems like the umpteenth time, I’ve nearly been run over while in the crosswalk, with the right of way, mind you, in my neighborhood. Unconscious drivers in their unspeakable hurry, have cut in front of me while I was walking, driven immediately behind me, or in one instance, nearly hit my daughter as apparently waiting for the pedestrian to be safely back up on the sidewalk was just too much to ask.

The law in Colorado states:  “Vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within a crosswalk that are in the same half of the roadway as the vehicle or when a pedestrian is approaching closely enough from the opposite side of the roadway to be in a danger.” Leave it to a lawmaker to complicate the language enough to make most readers wonder what this means. It means, in plain English, that the car must stop when the pedestrian is about halfway across. This does not say “Go ahead and cut in front of them, or honk your horn as you pass ten feet behind them.” Yes, both of which have happened to me.

I’ve complained to the mayor about the lack of sensitivity on drivers’ parts in my own neighborhood, especially after one had to run off the road to avoid hitting the car in front of him that had actually stopped for my family. I am happy to report that there are changes in a particularly dangerous crosswalk underway as I write. The effectiveness of these changes will be indeed interesting to see.

A car is a 3500 pound chunk of hot metal, filled with flammable liquid, and capable of incredible speed. A pedestrian is at the driver’s mercy, certainly, but what if we drivers go back to doing everything we can to protect the pedestrians with these giant shields? A pedestrian no matter where they are in the crosswalk should have the right of way. That little green man means they get to cross!The least a driver can do is wait until the pedestrian gets to the median.

Look at these numbers: “In 2012, pedestrian deaths rose to their highest level since 2006, increasing by 6.4 percent from 2011 to a total of 4,743 pedestrian fatalities. Injuries rose by 10 percent during the same time period. Furthermore, pedestrian deaths now make up 14 percent of the total traffic deaths in the U.S., up from 11 percent in 2011.” Pedestrian Laws 50 State Summary This is taken from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and was updated in April of this year.

Distracted and hasty driving behaviors are surely partly to blame. Let’s make the roads even safer for those traveling by foot. This pedestrian, and many many more at least in my neighborhood, would love to know they can safely head out for a stroll any time they wish.

Coupon Clipped!

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I am one of those people who can happily clip coupons for an hour, then leave them in my car or at home, along with my reusable grocery bags. I really would like to save money, but somehow the effort put into collecting the coupons is trumped by my haste to get the shopping finished.

So when I do remember the coupons, I find it extremely annoying that there are limitations in the fine print on said coupons. And it is almost always on the specific items I would like to purchase. The first time this happened, I intended to buy a make-up item, but naturally the brand I wanted was listed in the fine print as being among those where the discount did not apply.

The second time a nice coupon from being a member of some loyalty program came along, that same thing happened. I went to purchase the item, happy that I was getting a 50% break on the marked-up price, only to find out that said item was not included in the discount. “That just figures,” I snapped. I felt as though I had been duped again, lured into the store with what appeared to be something great, and then leaving angry.

Retailers, listen up! Either offer a coupon that applies to EVERYTHING. or do not offer one at all! Consumers join your loyalty programs left and right, only to discover that their savings are extremely limited, or their VIP coupons do not work on everything they wish to purchase. Lord knows you’ve already jacked up the prices to cover untold costs and still ensure a profit, so why limit what is supposed to be a reward? And you restaurants? Ditch the “buy one/get one half off as long as you buy two drinks” deal too! Every consumer out there knows your soda fountain syrups only cost the restaurant pennies! Why continue ensuring profits but losing customers this way?

Remember the rule: it costs you seven times more money to land a new customer than it does to keep a happy and returning customer.

Businesses simply need to stop toying with coupons and discounts to ensure they actually stay in business. And isn’t that what a business dreams of in this unstable economy? The next time you are about to offer a coupon, make sure it is genuine and all-inclusive, and then sit back and watch your customer base grow.

Is it me, or is product quality really falling?

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Strangely, I am noticing more and more that the quality of products whether imported or domestic, is falling. Now, I am old enough to know that part of this is due to the fact that I AM now old enough to notice things not being up to par. It is a trait of being younger that one just accepts inferior quality. As an older, more seasoned consumer, those precious dollars I bust my heiny for had better be purchasing quality.

On two recent occasions, I have had to contact fairly well-known companies to tell them, “Hey, one of your products is not doing what it should be doing.” On both occasions, the product was replaced. Major customer service salute to Columbia, the outdoor clothing company, for replacing a defective pair of boots I had help on to for 12 years! The second company was Silpada, the network marketing jewelry company. A chain I had purchased seemed to be showing unusual wear for something that was supposed to be Tiffany-grade silver, so they are replacing that, too.

Needless to say, this kind of customer service gets a major salute from me, but should these products be showing lesser quality like that in the first place? Now, I know some of you (that is is anyone is actually reading this – after all most blogs are an exercise in vanity) are crying “Foul! Those boots were 12 years old!” Yes, it’s true, but when I noticed the cracking, it was clear to me and the company that this was not your normal 12-year-deterioration. Is it our mass-production world leading to inferior quality? Our imports from countries with lower standards than America has?

Whatever it is, I choose to look on my incidents as not a practice of complaining to get what I want, but as a reach-out to the company in question to seriously assist them in making their products better. I knew the Columbia thing was a long-shot, and I really did not expect anything from them in return. I simply assumed they may want to know their product was “behaving badly.” They went above and beyond to remedy the situation, and in the snowy climes of Colorado, I am happy to have a new, functional pair of snowboots. In the process, they have made a Columbia customer for life, which is always far more productive and profitable than trying to land a new consumer.

As for Silpada, I knew they backed everything they make with a guarantee. When I noticed what would appear to be silver-plated product to most consumers, I needed to let them know this was not acceptable, if indeed that was what it was. They were quick to decide a replacement was in order, and for that I am thankful. Especially when the item was not inexpensive.

The thing is companies cannot make things better if they do not know there is a problem in the first place. In our disposable society, most consumers figure they ought to just throw said item out and purchase a new one. However, this is a Catch 22; the company cannot improve its products until someone informs them of the defect, and products will continue to be defective on occasion if the company does not know to fix it.

It most circles, this is known as “feedback”, and it is this kind of feedback that will improve things for everyone. Do yourself and a company the favor of giving feedback on products so we can enjoy more and throw out less. Teach your kids to look for quality. And by all means, let yourself begin to view what was formerly called a complaint now be titled “feedback” in your mind. The world will be a better place for your efforts. And you companies who continue to view this kind of feedback as a favor, I salute you.ImageGet the book!

Rated “V” for “Vile” – The Disgusting Findings in Women’s Restrooms

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A toilet paper roll

A toilet paper roll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ImageYes, I saw you, lady, leave the restroom without washing your hands. Vile. I guess I should not be surprised as it has been established that 58% of women do not wash their hands, compared to 75% of men not washing. And middle school aged boys? Try only 8% of them even using soap! No wonder kids are sick all the time.

But I am here today to talk specifically about the Ladies’ Room. If you are eating, I suggest you stop. What has been thought of as a haven of cleanliness is FAR from it. What finally put me over the edge was using the facilities in a well known chain restaurant and seeing what I could only guess was excrement on the wall and door. Are you kidding me?? What kind of subhuman would actually do something like this and derive pleasure from grossing out others??

And believe me, it gets worse. Consider yourself warned; I am going to bring it to light here as I know women are capable of better behavior than what I am about to reveal. Really, if you are eating, you are going to want to stop NOW.

Blood. Yes, blood on the floor that some slob couldn’t wipe up in the name of discretion. Mucus wiped on the walls as if there isn’t a roll of toilet paper RIGHT THERE. I can think of three letters that represent “disbelief” on social media that would be perfectly appropriate right here, but I shall refrain from using them.

It goes on. Hair in the sinks. Makeup spilled on the counter. Urine all over the toilet seats from the “hoverers”. You were warned in the title that this was vile, vile stuff. I only wish all this was exaggeration.

Come on! We can do better, women! If you are going to make a mess, clean up after yourself! It is not rocket science, it is not that hard, and I am 100% certain most of you have uttered those very words to your offspring. And wipe that notion out of your mind that “they pay people to clean up in here.” Aren’t YOU appreciative when your kids don’t purposefully leave a disgusting mess for you to clean up?

I am begging you women to restore the luster to the myth of the pristine female restroom. Prove to me, and every other woman that has suffered the indignation of possibly viewing the same things I have seen, that we are indeed “the fairer sex”.