Saturday, July 13, 2013
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Funny thing, time… we can’t hold it or touch it, but it slips through our fingers. We constantly say we don’t have enough of it and how great it would be if we had just a few more hours in the day. Then we turn around and waste the time that we do have.
I think I can say that time has always been important to me, even more so than money. (Right now I would gladly welcome a little bit more time or money.) Let’s say that maybe you had an unexpected car repair or you needed to pay an unexpected bill and you come to me and say, “Sonia, I’m in a real bind, I’m totally broke until payday! Do you think you can help me out?” If I can, I will. If I have a few extra bucks, I’ll help you out. Now, let’s say you never pay me back. Sure, I’ll be disappointed. But the world isn’t going to end. I’ll go to work and I’ll earn more money. I remember hearing someone in a movie say, “Money is the most common thing there is! They print more of it every day!” Sure, I may be bothered for a little bit, but I’ll get over it.
Now time, time is a different animal all together. I cannot stand it when someone wastes my time. If I make plans with you, that means I have set aside time to spend with you. This is time I could have spent with my daughter or my mom. This is time I could have used to work. This is time I could have spent with other good friends. It could even be time I could have spent on myself giving myself a mani-pedi. But instead… I set the time aside to spend with you. So if you show up late, or cancel at the last minute or do something else to screw up our plans…then you have just wasted my time.
I think the reason that screwing with my time bothers me so much is because I can never get it back. It’s gone. It’s not like I’m going to walk down the street and look down and see that someone dropped three hours on the side walk like an abandoned $5 bill. That time wasted is never coming back. Perhaps it’s because I have been so busy during the last few years that time has become such an issue for me. For the longest time, I have had very little time to myself.
The issue of time, time wasted and time spent was really driven home last week. My cousin passed away suddenly. She was only 27 years old. 27 years old and her time is up. She has no more time left to hug her family, send an email to keep in touch with far away friends and family, no more time to sit and watch the sun set.
And I’m here on my couch, watching a rerun of SVU with the time I have.
None of us are promised tomorrow. Hell, we’re not even promised next month or even 20 minutes from now. You could choke on a grape in the next hour. Tomorrow, you might get hit by a truck. Or maybe that dull pain you’ve been ignoring is really something big that you shouldn’t ignore.
Let’s all pretend that we know for a fact that we will pass away exactly 6 months from now. If we knew that we had so little time left, would you really spend it watching Big Brother or playing Halo or trying to create the perfect body impression on the couch? I think that if we knew our time was up, we wouldn’t waste that time on stupid shit…instead we’d go out and really live.
But we don’t know when our number is up. Instead we meander along like we have all the time in the world. We stay in relationships that leave us feeling empty rather than fulfilled. We think of friends we have lost contact with and say that we’ll reconnect with them…and then we don’t. Instead of watching the sun rise or set, instead of watching waves crash on the shore, instead of watching out children grow…we watch TV or we have our noses buried in a tablet of some kind.
And we waste our own time. The same time we wish we hadn’t squandered when we reach the end of the line.
I’m glad my cousin really lived while she was here. She touched lives. She influenced people.
She left a mark on those who knew her.
I think it’s time to stop wasting time. I think it’s time for us to truly live.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Here's the thing...
1. Yeah, they do come here and take jobs. But they're the jobs the overwhelming majority of you do not want to take. Do you want to work long hours in the sun picking vegetable? Do you want to scrub dishes in a restaurant and then run off to the next job cleaning offices at night? And do you want to do it for minimum wage? Let's keep in mind, if a person is here with no documents, they many times work for less than minimum wage. Beggars can't be choosers so they'll take what they can get. Seriously, if you are really mad because you didn't get the job at the chicken slaughter house, and an undocumented immigrant did, perhaps you should re-evaluate your career path and give your resume a good make over.
2. I don't understand how they can come here and sponge of the system when they don't have a social security number. No social security number no benefits. You cannot get welfare, food stamps, section 8 and other assorted benefits without a social security number.
3. Your grandparents were immigrants a zillion years ago? Big whoop. Good for them. Back then they handed out visas and green cards like they were nothing. Visas and green cards are so much harder to come by, especially when you are brown. In fact, if you are just some poor little person who just wants to feed their kids, chances are you are not getting this magic slip of paper that will let you come here legally.
Sooo... the life of an undocumented immigrant is not an easy one. You risk your life to come here. Yes, immigrants have died on their journey. Some have been murdered, some have been injured or become sick. Some have died of thirst. Those lucky enough to get here with their lives work, work, work their asses off to make a wage you would find insulting. They rent a room if they can, or room with a lot of people to pay cheap rent. This way you might be able to send money home and feed yourself at the same time. These immigrants will take whatever abuse their employer throws their way because they fear losing their job and being deported. These abuses have included violence and rape. And they take it...because their kids are getting fed.
I've heard people go on and on about how they would not make the same choice as these immigrants because they would want to do it legally and according to the law, blah, blah, blah...
I am willing to bet that if our economy were to completely bottom out, if there were no safety nets, and you stood there day after day after day hearing your children cry because they were hungry, your opinion would change real quick. You wouldn't sit around filling out useless paper work for a visa you knew you would never get because you have been deemed "undesirable." Instead, you would gather whatever money you had to pay someone to smuggle you into Canada so that your child could go to bed listening to a lullaby and not the sound of their stomach growling.
Sorry if this makes you angry or uncomfortable, but I felt the need to vent. Please enjoy your comfortable life.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I was pretty steamed for the rest of the week.
I had never been called up to HR before... EVER! You'd think I'd react like any nerd would
on their first trip to the principal's office, but I didn't cry. I was pissed.
I didn't think anything of it. I just thought it was part of the new culture in the prestigious
organization. Moving on... or so I thought.
About a week later, I was approached by a producer at the prestigious organization. She's
pretty high up on the food chain so I never talked to her since I was just a little cog. She walked
right up to me and said my name...I was shocked...I had no idea she knew who I was.
"DID YOU GET CALLED UP TO HR FOR SAYING TAMPON IN THE SPEAK EASY?!?"
My jaw dropped! How the hell did she know about my spanking in HR?! I was so shocked that
I could hardly speak... which is actually pretty odd for me since my big mouth is what got me into
trouble in the first place.
"IS IT TRUE?!"
I collected myself and said "yes," or rather I tried to say yes, it came out more like a squeak.
"THAT IS SUCH BULLSHIT!! I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY DID THAT TO YOU!!"
I could not believe this woman was talking to me let alone letting the word "shit" fly freely at
full blast! She said something about wanting to start a ruckus, that something had to be done,
I think I may have blocked out most of her tirade.
I was approached by people high up in my department and other departments. All women, all
pissed off! I guess I didn't realize how far the ripples of my own tirade in the ice cream line
would go. After a couple days, it all died down, and it was back to work until my last day.
The things that I remember the most about this experience are the little things. The outraged producers
were cool, I guess. But there were smaller things...
I actually received thank you notes.... some from friends and some from women I didn't even know.
Some women said that for the first time in weeks, they started seeing tampons again in the ladies room on their floors. One woman said her monthly friend showed up early and she was desperate. Out of desperation she opened the tampon dispenser. It had been empty for weeks...but she opened it anyway... and found it was full of tampons!
One woman said "Thank you for bringing back the tampons! You're a She-roe!" I thought that was pretty cool!
Since my days at the prestigious organization were numbered, I really didn't feel the need to work at full capacity. I figured I was being shown the door and I got spanked for saying the dreaded "T" word, it was my form of silent protest.... or maybe I was just resentful... after all, I had been there for 7 years!
One day I wandered down to the second floor to waste time with some very cool ladies who worked there. One of them said to me, "Can I ask you a question? Were you the one who said tampon in the speak easy?" I laughed, "Yeah, it was me."
She just laughed and said "Oh my God!! You're Tampon Girl!! You guys!! She's tampon girl!! SHE'S TAMPON GIRL!!!"
Since we were all Latinas she said, "I knew Tampon Girl had to be one of us!!"
"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What did you call me!?"
"Tampon Girl! That's your name! That's what everyone has been calling you!"
It took me a minute to take it all in...
"Joan Baez is writing a tribute album for you! We're planning a parade! Now that we know it's you, we can have your statue commissioned!!" (OK...this part about Joan Baez, the parade and the statue aren't true...but I can dream!)
Turns out that my tampon comment had taken on a life of its own and from the hyperbole and exaggeration, Tampon Girl was born! Tampon Girl!! A mysterious, masked figure who attacked the policies of upper management with tales of the female reproductive system and feminine hygiene products!
In retrospect...it was only tampons. It really wasn't a big deal. But it turned into one. Parts of the story are funny and in hindsight sometimes I laugh about it. But in reality, the experience of being called up to Human Resources was demeaning and scary. Who knows, they could have fired me right there and I would have been shown the door with no unemployment benefits. Then me and my daughter would quite literally be on the street. Luckily, things did not go that far...but c'mon... just give us the friggin tampons!
Perhaps this is TMI...but clearly its not my favorite time of the month. I don't know any woman who looks forward to her monthly menses. Bleeding for 5 to 7 days, along with mood swings, craving and bloating is not as much fun as it sounds!
I understand that times are tough and things had to be cut to save money and hopefully jobs, which is what they promised us. But of all the things you choose to cut to save money, you choose to cut the tampons?! Not the fancy lunches the executives have. Not their travel. They didn't cut down on all the new vice presidents they were hiring! Instead they cut the first aid kits and the tampons!
(Although I will say that the top executives who make over a quarter mil did take a pay cut... 5%.... way to did deep guys. After hearing of their contribution I became gravely concerned. Sometimes I would lay awake at night wondering if they had enough money to put gas in their boats after such a hefty sacrifice... I was so worried. But I digress...)
I guess I'm glad I'm gone. The place that fired me was not the same place that hired me.
Oh well, at least I got a great idea for a Halloween costume.... Tampon Girl to the rescue!!!
Friday, May 6, 2011
There are details about my lay-off story that are still a bit fuzzy to me. The order of certain things is kind of unclear. Did I get THE phone call before of after the speakeasy? Did I know for sure that I was being laid off before or after I said "tampon?" I can't really remember. But at some point I had already learned that I was being laid off and I had already said that word in front of the President and CEO of the prestigious organization.
I was getting my things together and I preparing for a long overdue vacation. I was going to visit my cousin in Texas. I had purchased the airline tickets before I received news of the layoff...so what was I supposed to do? I packed my bags and my kid and I would take off to the Lone Star State. But in the days before my flight I received a phone call. I wasn't actually there to take the phone call, but I listened to the message...
"Hi, this is Badskin McFrizzyhair. As you know, your contract with us will be up soon and I wanted to set aside a time to chat with you about your benefits and answer any questions you might have. Also I wanted to schedule a date to have you exit interview. "
This was the part that pissed me off! I received this phone call in April. My last day of work at the prestigious organization was during the last week of August. I could not believe Badskin McFrizzyhair wanted to schedule my exit interview so soon. It kinda felt like they were twisting the knife. She ended her voice mail with a cheerful closing and asking me to call her.
I had no intention of calling this bitch back. So off I went to Texas to hang out with my cousin, drink too much and eat steak!! I had the time of my life!! And then I came back...
It was my first day back and I was trying to get back in the swing of things. I was reading an employee bulletin that announced FREE ICECREAM!! A new ice cream machine was making its big debut with us. It could make a custom scoop of hard ice cream in a variety of flavors and toppings in less than a minute. Not a bad way to start the week! And then I got the phone call....
CALLER ID: "McFrizzyhair, Badskin - HR"
Good lord she was persistent! I took the call. I probably should have let it go to voicemail, but I took the call. I made an appointment to see her that afternoon, and then I would go get my complimentary scoop of custom made ice cream.
I didn't realize what I was walking into. What was the point? I was going to be let go and be left with nothing! Why did I need a big meeting to state the obvious? And I was right...she ran down a list of things I already knew... no job...no health insurance...possible severance...COBRA is super expensive...blah, blah, blah!
When I decided I had wasted enough time I piped up and said, "so, I guess we're done then?"
The following is what transpired:
BSMFH: Well actually, there is something that I need to chat with you about.
BSMFH: Well, its about an issue that was brought to our attention.
Me: Ok... (This is where I start furiously going through the mental roladex to narrow down what I might be on the hook for...)
BSMFH: At the Speakeasy, you brought up something about aspirin, and that was great. But you also brought up something about tampons. We just want you to know that you made A LOT of people really uncomfortable.
Me: I did?!?
BSMFH: Yeah... We just need you to understand that The Speakeasy is not the right venue to talk about tampons.
Me: But its The Speakeasy!
BSMFH: Yes, absolutely. But its not the right venue to talk about that sort of thing! The thing about the aspirin was great! But the it isn't the proper venue to talk about tampons.
Me: Ok...then what is the right venue to talk about tampons?
BSMFH: Well, if you have questions about tampons, you can always come and talk to me because I'm you're HR business partner! (She said this with the chipperness of a chipmunk!)
Me: So, if I have questions about tampons I should always come to you...
BSMFH: Yes, absolutely!
Me: Because YOU are my TAMPON CONTACT...
The smile dropped from her face and she glared at me...."Yeah..."
Our conversation went on for a little longer. Turns out, we were no longer being given tampons because it was no longer the policy of the prestigious organization. When asked why we weren't given notice of this change in policy, she just kept parroting the same phrase over and over again, "It's just not our policy any more...It's just not our policy anymore..." It was kind of sad in a way....that's all she kept saying...but then again, what was she supposed to say? The men in charge don't want to pay for your monthly bleeding issues?
When she had finally had enough she said again that at speakeasies I could ask about aspirins, just not tampons. "Ok...so while we're on the subject, where is the aspirin?" Turns out the prestigious organization wouldn't be bringing those back either. Turns out they did not want to be held liable in the event that someone took the aspirin and got sick because they did not know they had an aspirin allergy. To this day, this has got to be one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.
I ended our meeting by letting her know that she should go back to the suits and request that they re-evaluate their values. There is something definitely wrong when letting someone die of a heart attack is better option than providing the aspirin to begin with and running the risk of someone not knowing they have an aspirin allergy.
I was so angry I could have spit fire.
I walked down to the lobby where the ice cream machine was. Standing in the very middle of the line was my union buddy D. She is every bit as loud and nutty as I am, so I walked up to her, "I was just in HR...."
I blurted everything out. Told her everything that happened.
Since we were standing in the very middle of the line and I didn't bother to whisper, the news traveled down the line in opposite directions like ripples in a pond.
At the time, I didn't realize how far those ripples would actually travel.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
When I think about The Speak Easy where I gained my super hero status, I often wonder if I should have just kept my big mouth shut. Maybe if I had kept my yap closed, things would have turned out differently. Or maybe I would have gotten laid off just the same.
Is it better to get laid off and leave quietly or is it better to go with some notoriety attached to your name? I guess going with the former, rather than the latter, leads to a less interesting blog.
Since morale in the prestigious building was at an all time low, The Suits decided that it would be a good idea to set up special meetings called Speakeasies. A place where the common worker bee could ask a question of management and get an answer without power point presentations or agendas.
People had questions about the budget, new vice presidents that they would have to answer to, the new direction we were going in... I figured my question was pretty small potatoes, not much of a big deal. All I wanted to know was where the aspirin went!
Since we had to cut back and save money, management decided to stop refilling the first aid kits. Instead of headache, allergy and stomach meds, all we had left was band aids and burn gel. In the employee news letter were were told that in order to save money the first aid kit would only be stocked with things we needed in an emergency. So basically, if I decided to slit my wrists or if I suddenly burst into flames at work, we'd be all set with everything we needed.
But I started thinking.... ALWAYS A BAD IDEA! With a little bit of nursing school under my belt and a smidge of first aid training I deduced that if their argument was supplying us with things we needed in the event of an emergency, we needed the aspirin. If a person in the prestigious building had a heart attack, one of the things we'd need to do first is give this person some aspirin.
So off I go to the Speak Easy to make my case for some basic pharmaceuticals. While waiting for the meeting to start, some female co-workers were chatting about the lack of tampons. Tampons and sanitary napkins were supplied for free to the female employees since the 60s. Now they were nowhere to be found! The tampon machines were not being refilled. We were not even being given the option to pay for them with a stinkin' quarter! And we were given NO notice. No memo, no email, no article in the employee newsletter. Nothing to let us plan ahead. We were literally caught with our pants down! Literally!! Pants down!!
So the President and CEO of our very important workplace started the meeting. I decided to go first since I felt no one wanted to talk about aspirin. So I made my plea and I was great! I talked about what a heart attack is...how a thrombus forms... how aspirin keeps the thrombus from getting any bigger and causing tissue death...and how it can very well save someone's life...and how we need it in the event of an emergency, since that was their argument to begin with. The President was very impressed, even gave me a little applause and said how happy he was that I brought this to his attention. He said he was definitely bring this up again with his people to re-evaluate their decision because they clearly hadn't thought of that when they decided to nix the aspirin.
Maybe I was drunk on the adulation from top Suit so I opened my big yap and said, "And while you're at it, if you could fill up the tampon machine, that would be awesome! For a lot of us here, that's an emergency too!"
I got a big laugh from the audience...I got a big laugh from the President himself...apparently the only person not laughing was the head of Human Resources who was sitting in the back of the room writing down my name and department!
This is how my story begins...
Friday, April 22, 2011
It's Good Friday.
I have been wrestling with a spiritual question for some time now. I haven't shared this with anyone because even wondering this, silently to myself, was disturbing...even to me.
Am I an athiest?
When I was a child, I believed very deeply in God. I believed in God so profoundly that when I prayed, I believed someone was actually listening. But as I grew up, cracks started to form in the foundation of my faith.
First, being sent to Catholic school didn't help much. Nothing helps strengthen your faith in God like asking your religion teacher a deep spiritual question about God and being told, "Do you know what your problem is? You think to much! Maybe you should just stop asking questions and do what you're told!"
I know that as far as lives go... I've been pretty lucky. I've always had a roof over my head. I may not have always had what I wanted, but for the most part, I've always had what I needed. My life has been a lot easier than a lot of people on this blue marble we live on. Lucky....my mother says blessed.
But on occasion, life has thrown me a curve ball. My dad was sick for a while. My marriage was far from successful. My pregnancy was troubled from the very start. Maybe some of my dreams didn't come true. People I loved disappointed me and broke my heart. And sometimes it felt like these little things piled up into one big overwhelming thing I had to shoulder alone. And I started to ask myself...
When I pray, is anyone even listening?
So I stopped praying. I stopped blessing myself with the cross. I stopped going to church. I walked away.
From time to time friends I've made along the way would tell me how they were saved. They would share their beliefs with me and how they would go to church faithfully every Sunday with their families. And it would bother me so much. Maybe I was jealous because they had so much faith and I had so little. They were filled with their faith. I on the other hand would feel utterly empty. Sometimes I felt like I was going a little nutty because I was talking to myself a lot. Maybe it was my replacement for prayer.
I know I talk a lot of trash about my mom sometimes, make little jokes at her expense, but she said something today that made me think and re-evaluate.
I said to my mom, "I'm sorry I'm not like you. I guess I'm more like my dad, he didn't have any faith either!"
My mom looked me in the eye and very calmly said, "Your father believed very deeply in God...it was the priests that he hated!"
Turns out that my dad avoided church because he didn't like priests, not because he didn't believe in God. He felt that a priest was a guy just like himself...just a man. He hated how many people tripped all over priests like they were special. He saw them for the flawed human beings they were...just guys...and this is what they do. Some people grow up to be dentists or mechanics...some guys grow up to be priests.
I was stunned. That's why my dad hated going to church?! I thought it was because his time could be better spent watching TV and drinking beer. I didn't know he had an actual reason. And what was more shocking... a reason that I agree with!!
Just like my dad, I've always had a problem with church. I don't like going. I never got anything out of it and I didn't feel it brought me closer to God. And on top of that, I didn't like the idea of what I was being told...God is in heaven keeping a running tab of every little thing you have ever done wrong and on top of that, he takes attendance on Sunday. Awesome. And I hated how a lot of these religious folk who talked non stop about their church and their faith were, more often than not, faking it! Who among us doesn't know someone who constantly goes on and on about how good and holy they are and when they think no one is looking, they are the sneakiest, most dishonest people around?
I('ve made mistakes and sometimes my moral compass does not entirely point due north. But for the most part, I try to live my life as a good person. I help out when I can. I treat other the way I want to be treated. I'm trying... So because I don't go to church every Sunday or ram my religious beliefs down people's throats, does that mean I'm not welcomed in heaven...if there actually is a heaven? Is it even the way its been described to us since child hood or is heaven something else entirely different? Who knows...
But I do know this! I am taking a page out of my dad's book. If you go to church and it fills you with absolute joy, then good for you, I am happy for you, I really am. But its not for me. I have a better chance of squeezing into a size 2 than falling head over heels in love with organized religion.
Now, here's a funny little tidbit. All this time that I turned my back on God, I started talking to myself a lot. Thinking out loud, reflecting on stuff. The funny thing was...it felt like someone was listening. Just because I wasn't praying the way I was taught, or expected to, doesn't mean I wasn't talking to God. I was just doing it differently.
So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to park it on the couch and have a private chat with God.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
In the city of Boston there is a prestigious building. Within this building, drones work tirelessly to produce content meant to educate the general public. Content, shows, programs that are meant to open the eyes and feed the minds of whoever sees it...reads it...listens to it. And tirelessly the drones worked on in hopes of reaching the masses and satisfying its thirst for knowledge!
Once upon a time, the drones worked with pride...tirelessly...always tirelessly.
But as the landscape of the nation change... so did the focus of the public.
The public for whom the drones worked to satisfy no longer yearned for ABCs...or Physics...or History... or the tales of the peoples of far away lands.... in the modern age, the public yearned for something else entirely different. Who was voted off the island? Who did the bachelor pick to be his bride? Who sang until their throats were raw in hopes the public would vote for them to sing again another day?
And still the drones worked tirelessly....
And as the landscape continued to change....so did life in the prestigious building. New faces, strangers to the land of public broadcasting, took the lead in the executive offices. Before long, the drones heard dreaded words that shook them to their individual cores... furlough... lay-off... downsizing... restructuring... change.
And from these seeds of discontent, Tampon Girl arose!