Friday, May 30, 2008

Earth to Parents...

This sign now graces the door at the office where I work.

It is a sad situation when adults have to be reminded not let doors slam into their children.

However, so many parents needed to be told to hold the doors for their kids that the receptionist finally just put up a sign.

Stress and fear can cause people to forget to look outside themselves. There are many other causes of selfishness, though, some of them not so understandable.

Everyone has a battle to fight, I get that. But even if it is just about making sure doors don't slam in their faces--literally or figuratively--children need our protection. These days, I think we all need a little kindness--and an open door is a pretty nice place to start.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Leaning on the lamp post

The Herman's Hermits were one of my favorite pop music groups as a kid. I remember going with my bff "hilba" to the Continental Theater in T-town where we'd munch on chocolate Flicks candy and watch those cute British boys' movies. The velvet seats and curtains looked pristine in the half light, and the summers seemed to last forever. It was an innocent time, and the music was a perfect score.

Now, though, thinking of hermits makes me think less of "Hen-er-y-the-Eighth-I-Am" and more of how much I'd like to be one. A hermit--not Henry the 8th. I'm so very tired of being disappointed in people. I'm tired of rudeness and I'm tired of haters. I don't want to have to crank up my iPod in the grocery store to drown out parents screaming at their children to "shut up" or bribing them with candy if they'll just sit down. I'm sick of switching news channels just to hear more "experts" yelling at each other, as if the pitch of their rants proves the validity of their argument. I don't want to think that my own city government was threatening to sue another city councilman because he questioned a decision.

A presidential candidate refers to his wife with the C-word? Oh please just give me a shack in the mountains. People say someone diagnosed with cancer "deserves" it because his political views differ from theirs? I just want to be off the grid, please. I don't think Mr. Twitty will miss me. A child tells me his mother says he's "worthless" because he forgot to take the bus home? Please let me stay in a corner somewhere.

Maybe the Herman's Hermit's line about "leaning on the lamp post" was right in one sense. It isn't "in case a certain little lady walks by" though, it's because I've got to keep myself upright. If I can't be a hermit, then I've got to keep fighting the fight. I'm raising a child in this world, and I'll be damned if I'm just going to sit back and let it be the sort of place where the mean spiritedness that seems so prevalent is acceptable. Someway, somehow, the pendulum must swing to a place where people think before they speak. And where thoughtfulness and consideration are expected, appreciated and acknowledged.

...second verse same as the first...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Riverside Chevrolet in Tulsa, Oklahoma Scams Old Ladies

My mother turned 80 years old yesterday. Life without my dad over the past 13 years has been hard for her, and it gets harder as her bank account dwindles into nothingness.

When she got the flyer from Riverside Chevrolet, she said she was going to toss it in the trash like she would any other such brochure, but she got side-tracked by a neighbor. She wound up scratching off the covered area that the flyer said would show whether she'd WON A PRIZE!!!! if the numbers matched.

Of course they matched.

The prizes ranged from something like $100 to $1000 in WalMart gift cards and prizes and a new Chevy Van.

She asked the neighbor if this could be real. He'd gotten the same flyer but his numbers didn't match, so they decided that maybe it wasn't a scam. He called Riverside Chevrolet to check it out.

"All you have to do is come to the Lot and claim your prize," they told him. "You're guaranteed to win!"

Now my mother no longer drives. Osteoporosis has taken her from a statuesque 5'11" to a tiny thing with fractured backbones and twisted ankles. She pays people to drive to the myriad doctors she sees weekly and who essentially make up the bulk of her social life. So, she had to find someone who could drive her the twelve miles round trip to the showroom to "CLAIM HER PRIZE!!!"

So the night before my mama turns 80 years old, she stays up most of the night thinking about what a blessing it could be if she really, truly won $100. About how that money could make such a huge difference this month in her budget. She didn't really allow herself to believe that the $1000 or the Van could be a possibility, she said, but she'd dreamed a little bit about how many months that money could last if she gotten it as well.

She prayed, too. Thanking God, she said, for the possibility of the extra money. She said she never did feel really excited about the whole thing, that she'd not really gotten her hopes up too much.

Oh how I hope that's true.

Because of course when they got across the river to the car lot, they discovered they'd been scammed. There was no prize. There was no $100. No $1000 at Wal-Mart. No Chevy van.

Oh, wait, they got a $5 coupon at Wal-Mart, which my mother gave to the man who took off work to drive her there.

I'll call them, and the Better Business Bureau, and such, but how can I get the image out of my head of my mother, awake by herself, hoping against hope that she'd won this little prize? It's not about her having some time of happiness imagining the winnings. When you are elderly and frightened, it's not about "winning prizes" it's about surviving month-to-month and what that little extra can mean. And then to go all that way to find out you've been scammed.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Searching... for trees

Just by changing the search engine we use, we can help a world-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

Give it a try: Go to Ecocho and run a search. It uses the Yahoo search engine technology so you get plenty of relevant hits, and for every 1000 searches Ecocho sponsors the planting of two trees.

When you click on their site, scroll down towards the bottom of the page, then click on "what's ecocho?" You'll get the straight goods about how the system works and how you can verify that they're actually doing what they purport to do.

I've been a die-hard Google user for a long time, but I've found that the Ecocho search engine gives me equally good results. And if I can help the planet even just a tiny bit by doing this I can't think of one good reason to not use it.

If we all use it imagine how all the tiny bits can add up.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Cut off your nose to spite your face?

If the cable TV media is to be believed, scores of Democrats sit with their pocket knives open, poised and ready to slice off their noses, just to spite their own faces.

Pundits are tripping over themselves trying to convince us that Democrats are so enamored with one candidate or the other that if their's isn't nominated they'll simply vote for the Republican candidate John McCain.

Could someone who believes so intensely in what Barack Obama professes to uphold so easily sell out for four more years of economic peril, war and soaring energy costs, just to spite Hillary Clinton?

Or could a Hillary Clinton supporter be so petty as to just throw away their purported standards simply because their candidate didn't win?

An election for President of the United States is much, much more than a competition about personalities. It is also about a platform and standards and an overall philosophy. It should never be so simple as just flipping from one party to the other because you don't get your way.

The decisions we face in the next four years are monumental and we must take this election as seriously as if it were a matter of life or death.