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The Narcissists I’m Not Labeling

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Department Of Why You Don’t Want Me To Fill Out Your Survey

Dear, ____ (name of artistic group whose events I patronize),

I know that you-who-sent-moiself-this-survey – or the consultants which convinced you to do so, to justify their services – hope that having me fill out your survey will help you to  “gain insights into the kind of audience” you are attracting, or wish to attract.    [1]

 

 

However, I am slightly annoyed/somewhat mystified by the myriad of (what I consider to be) none-of-your-business/how-does-this-matter? questions.  Checking “prefer not to disclose” was not satisfying, to moiself…then, my annoyance morphed into delight, when I came upon this question in your survey:

Please select any of the following sexual identities/orientations that describe you.

Aromantic
Asexual
Bisexual
Fluid
Gay
Heterosexual or straight
Lesbian
Pansexual
Queer
Questioning or unsure
Prefer not to disclose
Other:

At first glance I thought the first option was “Aromatic.”  Which I decided to disclose to you, under “other.”  I also thought about checking “pansexual” (I have this thing for cast iron skillets)…but…nah.

Anyway, thanks for the entertainment.

 

Are those your grill ridges, or are you just happy to see me?

 

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Department Of These Labels Violate My Boundaries

Sometimes moiself  wonders if social media has amplified the tendency we all have toward practicing amateur psychiatry.  We scoff at our social media friend who barks, “Don’t poison your body – do your own research!” and sends us a link to a 15 minute video hosted by a dubiously-credentialed Guy In A Lab Coat®  who spouts conspiracy theories contradicting 15 years of medical research on RNA vaccines.  Then we turn around and employ (and misuse) psychological concepts and diagnoses, such as boundaries and narcissist.

In psychology jargon, boundaries are rules and guidelines we set for *ourselves,* to help us set realistic limits on activities and relationships.  We choose and set these boundaries; thus, it is we who are in charge of enforcing them.  Yet, those   [2]   I hear (or read about) who use the term boundaries emphasize the actions of *other* people – extended family; coworkers; friends and neighbors – whom they accused of ignoring or violating their boundaries.  They forget the crucial point of boundaries (or perhaps never understood it in the first place): boundaries are rules that *they* set for *themselves,* not for others.

 

 

” Yet even as ‘boundaries‘ have taken off, the concept has become misunderstood, joining gaslit and narcissist in the pantheon of misused psychology jargon. When you want someone to do something, throwing in the word boundary can lend the request a patina of therapeutic legitimacy.

When imposed on us, boundaries can feel upsetting. Because many people view happy relationships as problem-free, a request to behave differently can feel like a rejection. Some people—out of trauma or other wounds—interpret a ‘no’ from a loved one as the end of a relationship. But boundaries are supposed to help preserve relationships, not destroy them. ‘People typically believe that boundaries are to control people, and in actuality, they are safeguards for yourself and for peace and comfort in your relationships,’ says the therapist and Drama Free author Nedra Glover Tawwab.”

(  “The Most Misunderstood Concept in Psychology: What are boundaries?”
By Olga Khazan” The Atlantic 8/23 , my emphases )

That article got me to thinking about more misuse/misunderstandings of the other two psychology terms the article mentions – terms that but get diluted with mis- and over-use.

Narcissist.  How many times have y’all heard that term, used as a pejorative and also as an analysis of a difficult spouse/coworker/person/family member, despite the fact that the person being labeled a narcissist has not received a Narcissistic Personality Disorder diagnosis from a mental health professional, nor has ever even visited a counselor?  [3]

” ‘One of the internet’s favorite diagnoses is that someone is a narcissist—which has become shorthand for anyone who appears self-centered or entitled. The term is ‘thrown around so carelessly,’ says Jacquelyn Tenaglia, a licensed mental health counselor based in Boston. ‘I see narcissism being especially misapplied when it’s used to label someone who exhibits qualities that someone might not like.’

While it might feel good to call your frenemy who only talks about herself a narcissist, mental-health experts suggest refraining. Narcissistic personality disorder is a clinical diagnosis….”

( “Gaslighting, Narcissist, and More Psychology Terms You’re Misusing,”
health/psychology, Time.com, )

 

 

And gaslit – I’m hearing that term more and more, to describe the allegedly nefarious actions and/or motivations of someone we don’t trust and/or just don’t like…but, are we really using it correctly?

The term is derived from the 1944 movie,   [4]   GaslightGaslight tells the story of a late 19th century woman who is whirlwind-romanced into marriage, by a man who wants to gain access to her wealthy aunt’s estate, in which, he’s discovered, many valuable jewels are hidden.  The husband tries to convince his wife that their house’s gas lights, which flicker and fade (but only when she is in a room, alone) are not in fact actually dimming, and that she is imagining the sounds she hears coming from the attic. The husband himself is the one behind both the noises and the dimming lights, in a strategy to drive his wife mad and have her institutionalized.

 

 

Someone can treat you poorly, even lie to you, without “gaslighting” you.

“Although in most cases the word serves to expose implicit power dynamics and level the playing field, it can also be used to do the exact opposite. That’s thanks to a process called ‘semantic bleaching,’ where a word’s true meaning gets diluted through imprecise and bad-faith usage…. woke—a word that originally meant ‘socially and politically aware,’ but now can be used to mean ‘sensitive’ and ‘irrational about social and political issues’ because of semantic bleaching by right-leaning media.”

( “Are you using gaslight correctly? ”  The Atlantic, 4-11-22 )

Moiself  highly recommends these articles I’ve cited (and hope I’m not violating any of your boundaries with this suggestion).

*   *   *

Department Of And One More Thing We’re Overusing/Doing Wrong:

Can we please stop referring to people as toxic?

“One of my most important rules as a therapist: Ignore all adjectives. When one of my clients says someone in their life is selfish, or cold, or hot-tempered, it doesn’t tell me much about the problem. Adjectives aren’t facts.

That’s especially true of ‘toxic,’ an adjective that’s become increasingly popular in and outside of my office (it was even the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year in 2018). It’s also easily overused — a way of reframing a difficult relationship as one not worth having.

So, when I have a therapy client who uses ‘toxic’ to describe someone, I don’t ask them to clarify, or to reconsider the word. Instead, I focus on the facts of the challenging situation they’re telling me about….

When you feel anxious around another person, your brain will begin to take emotional shortcuts that usually involve fighting, fleeing, or complaining to others. You quickly label the person as ‘toxic,’ declare their toxicity as the cause of your anxiety, and assume that escaping them will fix your distress…

When one of my clients starts getting into adjective-heavy territory, I redirect them with questions like, ‘What did they do?’…and ‘Where and when did this happen?’ and  ‘How did you respond?’  Notice that none of these questions have the word ‘why.’ This is because ‘why’ usually requires you to guess a person’s motivation, or label them as a certain kind of person….”

(“Why Therapists Avoid Using the Word ‘Toxic’ –
Labeling others can stunt your own growth,”
Forge.medium.com ; my emphases )

 

Hey, I enjoy petty name calling as much as the next guy.  But do I really think the person who annoys me – or even the who has treated me poorly  [5]   for years – has venom running through his veins, and that touching him would set off an anaphylactic or neurological reaction?  Or is it that he does ____, and ____, and ____, and thus I believe it is ultimately unhealthy for me to be around him?

Delineate, please.  Be specific; calling someone toxic tells me nothing, except that you don’t like them.

“Toxins are poisonous substances produced within living cells or organisms and can include various classes of small molecules or proteins that cause disease on contact. The severity and type of diseases caused by toxins can range from minor effects to deadly effects. The organisms which are capable of producing toxins include bacteria, fungi, algae, and plants. Some of the major types of toxins include, but are not limited to, environmental, marine, and microbial toxins. Microbial toxins may include those produced by the microorganisms bacteria (i.e. bacterial toxins) and fungi (i.e. mycotoxins).”
( 14.4A; Toxins, Biology Libre Texts )

 

Is your boss doing any of this?  He may be a brazenly manipulative asshat, but he’s probably not toxic.

 

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*   *   *

Department Of Affirmations Gone Astray

Moiself  received yet another solicitation to purchase “anti-aging” products.  The misogyny and (ultimate) futility of the concept behind the term “anti-aging” I have railed articulately commented about, many times, in this space.

 

“Viral on TikTok” and “proven by science” – such a deal!

 

This time I had a minor epiphany as to the appropriateness of the term.  Anti-aging: it is, indeed, anti– aging…which therefore makes it anti-life.  Because if you’re not aging, you’re not alive.  The only people who do not (who cannot) age are dead.

Feeling rather smug, I briefly meditated upon another embrace-the reality-maxim:

Today I am as old as I have ever been,
and, as young as I will ever be.

That didn’t go so well.

 

 

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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [6]

“I realized early on that it is detailed scientific knowledge which makes certain religious beliefs untenable. A knowledge of the true age of the earth and of the fossil record makes it impossible for any balanced intellect to believe in the literal truth of every part of the Bible in the way that fundamentalists do. And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong, why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically? . . .
What could be more foolish than to base one’s entire view of life on ideas that, however plausible at the time, now appear to be quite erroneous?  And what would be more important than to find our true place in the universe by removing one by one these unfortunate vestiges of earlier beliefs?”

 ( my emphases, Francis Crick,   [7]   from his memoir,
What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery )

 

 

*   *   *

May you always identify as the Best-Smelling Orientation;
May you remove unfortunate vestiges of earlier erroneous beliefs;
May you enforce boundaries with the narcissistic gaslighters, real or imagined, in your life;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] I know this because it says so on the survey’s intro.

[2] These folks are not mental-health care professionals.

[3] Oh, but that would be typical of a narcissist, right?

[4] Adapted from the 1938 play of the same name.

[5] Maybe, even gaslit me!

[6] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

[7]   British physicist and biologist Crick, along with James Watson, Rosalind Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins, helped decipher the structure and replication scheme of DNA, for which he (and others) won the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine.

The Common Ground I’m Not Forging

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Department Of This Is Beyond Depressing
Sub-Department Of Are We Abetting A Nation Of Crybaby Snitches?

“As gold sunlight filtered into her kitchen, English teacher Mary Wood shouldered a worn leather bag packed with first-day-of-school items….
Everything was ready, but Wood didn’t leave. For the first time since she started teaching 14 years ago, she was scared to go back to school.

Six months earlier, two of Wood’s Advanced Placement English Language and Composition students had reported her to the school board for teaching about race. Wood had assigned her all-White class readings from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me,’ a book that dissects what it means to be Black in America.

The students wrote in emails that the book — and accompanying videos that Wood, 47, played about systemic racism — made them ashamed to be White, violating a South Carolina proviso that forbids teachers from making students ‘feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress’ on account of their race.”

( excerpted from, “Her students reported her for a lesson on race. Can she trust them again?: Mary Wood’s school reprimanded her for teaching a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Now she hopes her bond with students can survive South Carolina’s new laws.”
By Hannah Natanson, The Washington Post, 9-18-23 )

 

 

I read Between the World and Me.  I think every American should read Between the World and Me.  I wish that a book like Between the World and Me had been published when I was in my American History and social studies classes in high school, and if it had been, I know we would have been able to read and discuss it.

Gaaaawwwwd, it makes me feel old, to read about this shameful South Carolina policy.  Old in a different way than the usual, “In my day…” story, which is often the tag line for a Good Old Days ®  conservative cultural sentiment.

Why does it seem as if we are going backwards?   [1]  Moiself  was able to benefit from so many high school classroom topics and discussions that some people, apparently, would find “controversial” (read: threatening) today, but that which we students managed to deal with.  Isn’t that the point of education?

 

 

I remember when a couple of friends of mine, who were taking the Logic class given by one of our high school’s most respected teachers, told me about how they were frustrated after a classroom discussion wherein a student brought up the topic of religion: this student thought that some idea(s) presented in the class threatened his religion in particular and/or dismissed the idea of taking something “on faith” in general, and wanted the class to discuss it.  Being a class on logic, i.e., a class on learning to employ and evaluate different kinds of arguments   [2]   and learning how to recognize good or bad arguments, students who made illogical and or unsubstantiated claims re their religion were challenged, and the mistakes in their arguments and claims were pointed out to them, by both the teacher *and* by fellow students.

( I sooooooooo wanted to be in that class!   [3] )

I listened to my friends’ recounting of the class’s discussion; I pointed out where I thought the other students and teachers had made excellent points, and gave my friends the, “Hey, chin up – this is good for you!” support.  My friends accepted my feedback – one of them had to pout for a minute, as she was initially put out by the fact that I didn’t just jump to her defense, no matter what, but she was thoughtful and gracious about it.

And that was that.

It never occurred them to run whining to their parents like a tantruming toddler:

“Mommy, Daddy, that mean Mr. Guggenheim made me feel uncomfortable!
My teacher corrected me when I made false assertions
and used faulty reasoning!
My teacher introduced me to new ideas!
My teacher attempted to teach!
WAAAAAAHHHHHH! “

 

 

What’s with students – in an *Advanced Placement* class –  turning into narcs?  WTF  ?!?!?!  Coate’s book is just the kind of thought-provoking material “advanced” students should be reading and discussing.

This is yet another sad example of the wimping out by and dumbing down of the American student, and it is happening on all sides of the cultural and political spectrum.  Those college students who essentially put their hands over their ears and assume the nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you posture, as they bleat, “We feel threatened! We need safe spaces in order to learn!” while they shout down and/or attempt to censor professors and guest speakers with whom they disagree?  Same coin; opposite side.

And what kind of parents would report a teacher for…..arrrrghhh.  My own parents were conservative, both with regards to politics and religion, but it never would have occurred to them   [4]   to presume to tell my teachers what and how to teach.

 

 

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Department Of I Don’t Give A Rat’s Ass About What Percentage Of Tag Fees Go Toward So-Called “Conservation Efforts,”
I Wish All Hunters Would Hunt Each Other And Leave Other Creatures Alone

Yet another misguided attempt at forging common ground. Because, yeah, what can unite us human beings – despite our differences in skin color, origin, religion, ethnicity, etc. –  is the All-American ® desire to kill other living beings for the sheer, bloodthirsty fun of it sport.

“Hunters of Color, founded in Corvallis in 2020…is a nonprofit intent on diversifying the outdoors, specifically hunting. The organization has flourished since its inception, with ambassadors in Texas, Washington, New Mexico and many more states. It offers a mentorship program, hands-on restoration opportunities and anti-racist education services. The organization aims to confront and remove barriers for people of color interested in hunting.”
( excerpt from “The outdoors are for everyone:
Oregon nonprofit aims to diversify hunting,” Oregonlive.com )

 

 

*   *   *

The Podcast I’m Looking Forward To
(Sub-Department Of Note To Moiself:
Time To Stop Complaining And Appreciate Something)

Moiself  has a long line of podcast episodes in my listening queue, but the one going to the top of the list will be the one that was previewed on the last Clear + Vivid podcast I listened to, which was C+V host Alan Alda’s interview with Maya Shankar. Shankar, a gifted violinist, had her hard work and dreams smashed by an injury which ended her dream of a musical career.  Yet it was the end of that dream, and that career, which led Shankar down another path: to a PhD in neuroscience…which led her to being appointed to science advisory posts with both the Obama administration and the United Nations.

As if that episode wasn’t interesting enough (and it was), here was the teaser for the next C+V episode, featuring Matt Walker, the “…go-to expert on everything to do with sleep, from how it keeps both mind and body healthy to why we dream.

(Walker speaking; my emphases):
“I often think of dream sleep as a Google search gone wrong.  Let’s say that I type into Google, ‘Alan Alda,’ and the first page is all of your…accomplishments, but then I go to page twenty, it’s about a field hockey game in Utah, and I think, ‘Hang on a second, that’s not…’  but if I read it and I look, there’s a very distant, very non-obvious association.  When you start to collide things together that shouldn’t normally go together, it sounds like the biological basis of creativity.
And no wonder, as a consequence, no one has ever told you, ‘Alan, you should really stay awake on a problem.’

 

 

How can I not resist a preview like that?

Sometimes I feel as if Alda and his C+V staff write their podcast episode previews for an audience of one: moiself.  The podcast’s focus is on communication; host Alda has a passion for the subject, both as an actor and as a lifelong science devotee (Alda hosted Scientific American Frontiers, and founded Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.)

Here is the mission statement for C+V:

“Learn to connect better with others in every area of your life. Immerse yourself in spirited conversations with people who know how hard it is, and yet how good it feels, to really connect with other people – whether it’s one person, an audience or a whole country.
You’ll know many of the people in these conversations – they are luminaries in our culture. Some you may not know. But what links them all is their powerful ability to relate and communicate. It’s something we need now more than ever.”

Alda’s guests include many scientists, but not exclusively.  He interviews people from across the spectrum of professions, including music and art.  One of his most memorable guests (IMO) was Paul McCartney.  Alda spoke with McCartney about communicating through music and the process of composing a song.  Some of Paul’s songs he crafted deliberatly:  When Paul was struggling with his grief over John Lennon’s death, Paul’s late wife Linda, knowing music was the vehicle through which her husband dealt with emotional issues, suggested he write about his feelings for his childhood friend and former Beatles bandmate…and that prompt resulted in McCartney’s heartfelt song, Here Today.  [5]    Other times, McCartney noted, although he would still apply his musical skill and experience in fine-tuning a song, the original idea for a song appeared organically, or out-of-the blue, as when he awoke one morning with the complete melody for Yesterday in his head, after having “composed” it in a dream.    [6]

Here are just a few of the guests and subject titles of recent C+V podcasts. 

* Adam Mastroianni: Why You So Often Get It Wrong
* Nancy Kanwisher: Your Brain is a Swiss Army Knife
* Dan Levitt: You Are Stardust. Really.
* Adam Gopnik: The Joy of Getting Good at Something Hard
*  Brenna Hassett: Why We Are Weird

So, if you haven’t already…check it out!

 

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Department Of Reasons To Read Your Junk Mail

Because you may just stumble upon gems like this:

Robyn, you’re invited to a FREE Seminar and Meal!
Presented by
SMART CREMATION – your local pre-planning experts.

*Smart* cremation.  As opposed to, uh, foolish or stupid cremation, where you, like, stumble into the crematorium chamber when you’re not really dead yet?

Also head-scratch worthy: the invitation’s envelope was addressed to, “The Robyn Parnell Family.”  Hmm.  Does my family have plans for me, to which I am not privy?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [7]

 

 

*   *   *

May you not “stay awake on it” when contemplating your next challenge;
May you occasionally, actually, read your junk mail;
May you creatively “collide things which shouldn’t go together”;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Perhaps because WE ARE.

[2] Such as categorical syllogistic logic, propositional logic, predicate logic….

[3] But, alas, I was never able to fit it into my schedule, which was weighed down with everything else I either wanted to or had to take, and the class was offered only once a semester, at one time of the day.

[4] And I did ask them about it – about what they would do in similar circumstances –  years ago.  This was when I’d read an article about students complaining to parents about a teacher teaching something that the student didn’t like – something which was not factually incorrect, or presented in a rude or condescending or nasty way, but a mere fact, which made the student (translate: a fact which their parents had told them was not a fact, as in something about religion and/or the civil War) uncomfortable.

[5] from the album, Tug of War

[6] The song, with over 1600 cover versions, is the most covered song in music history.

[7] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

The Existential Concepts I’m Not Debating

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Department Of My Work Here Is Done
Exhibit A.9995

Can anything match the parental pride such as that experienced by moiself, when son K’s first reaction upon reading the name of the offender in the news article, Serial flasher gets long sentence for exposing himself… was, “It’s the role he was born to play.”

“Washington County Circuit Judge…handed down a sentence…to Michael G. Dick, who pleaded guilty to two counts of felony public indecency…”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Spending Too Much Time Thinking About
An Existentially Inconsequential Concept.

As heard on a commercial for Saatva dog beds ( the ad was in a recent Hidden Brain podcast, “Be kind to Yourself “):

.”…these dogs beds are not your typical slabs of foam covered in polyester.  They are true inner spring mattresses that provide unparalleled back support and proper spine alignment for dogs of all sizes….”

I can’t remember if it was on an earlier HB episode or a different podcast where I also heard an ad for Saatva dog beds, in which it was claimed that a Saatva dog bed is the mattress “your dog deserves.”

This sterling example of the sentimentally manipulative capacity of marketing got me to wondering: How can a dog *deserve* a certain kind of dog bed?

 

 

deserve
transitive verb: to be worthy of : MERIT
(“deserves another chance”)
intransitive verb: to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or requital
( from Merriam-webster online dictionary )

I can understand a dog wanting something (a tummy rub) or needing something (a drink of water); I can understand a person wanting or needing something for their dog (a trip to the dog park; a leash).  I can understand a person rewarding their dog for a specific act – with the reward directly connected to the act so that the dog understands that it did what was asked of it (e.g., giving the dog a treat for obeying a command to sit or heel…), and thus you can say the dog “earned” or merited the treat.

But how does a dog merit a piece of furniture that will be given to it – *must* be given to it (it’s not like the dog can take its Mastercard and go to Petsmart) –  by its human?

 

 

I don’t know about that superlative.  A dog meriting a bed is perhaps not the greatest mystery.  But it does get me to wondering, about other mysteries of life and human behavior (this dog bed thing has everything to do with human motivations and almost nothing to do with dogs),  including….

 

*   *   *

Department Of Existentially Consequential Concepts Which Deserve All The Time In The World To Contemplate…
Despite My Doing So Not Making A Damn Bit Of Difference

Sub-Department Of I Blame Vladimir Putin,
For Everything…

…including the fact that beloved friends are going through a grueling Something which has afflicted them, for reasons unrelated to them personally and/or anything they may have done.  Like Putin vis-à-vis the Ukrainians, there is this Something out there which is trying to torment and kill them, for no rational reason.

The cosmos is full of beauty and wonder and misfortune and pain, all of it unevenly and randomly distributed.  Understanding this phenomenon is the key to equanimity…along with being able to tell the truth in all circumstances.  Say, this is dreadful, when it is dreadful; cry when you have to and laugh when you can. 

 

 

Moiself  knows that disease organisms, like all primitive of life forms, just do what they do: try to survive and replicate.  Got it.  But, dammit it, you flaming asshole tumors, pretend for one nanosecond that you have sentience.  Get some self-awareness here:  if you kill the host, you die, too, HELLO !?!?!?.

We humanist/religion-free folk know that such afflictions are not personal: we know we’re not being punished when illness and injury occur, nor are we being rewarded when we somehow avoid or recover from the same calamities which afflict others.  Still, as human beings; we suffer when hurt.  At least we are spared the suffering from cognitive dissonance and the mental gymnastics that come with trying to live with and justify concepts such as karma and fate and believing the existence of deities which are supposedly all-powerful and thus *could* choose to alter the Something…but simply *don’t.* 

So, we can admit upfront that contending with lethal illnesses et al sucks, as in,
“This is massively, putridly, ginormously, donkey-dong sucking….”

 

“Hey! I thought you weren’t going to get personal?”

 

….even as we live in a world where, come yet another day, there will also be the mixture of the profound and the mundane to be appreciated, in, say, the sight of the morning dew sparkling on the araneus diadematus’s web, which she’s anchored between the raspberry bushes and the recycling bin. And neither phenomenon – the simple but stunning example of the splendor of the natural world, and the specific ordeal of the illness we battle in that same world – is one we either caused or merited.

 

 

The late great Roger Ebert, noted film critic and freethinker,   [1]    shared his thoughts about his then-imminent death in his blog post, Go Gentle Into That Good Night.  This was during a time when Ebert’s mental faculties were as sharp as ever despite his body having been ravaged by both his disease and the treatments for that disease.  His perspective is one that is shared by many humanist/religion-free thinkers.  It is a lovely meditation (excerpted here), the entirety of which is worth reading and rereading, no matter what your worldview is regarding your own mortality or that of a loved one. 

“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear… I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris…

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.
To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Because I Was Trying To Avoid Something I Need To Work On,
And For Some Reason Had A Flash Back To This Topic

That topic, broadly speaking, would be co-worker relationships.  Most of us have had a combination of ups and downs in that category, but have you ever had a coworker for whom your mere presence was apparently so annoying that it motivated them to play a petty (but delightfully so) prank on you?

Last week my remembrance of one such “relationship” resulted in a FB post from moiself.  And now, my social media secret is revealed: the main reason for almost any story I post (or tell at the dinner table) is related to what inspires 5-year-olds to play doctor:  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.  I love to hear and read the stories of others, so I share one of mine, as a prompt.

 

 

My post:

“Okay, it’s another thinly disguised story prompt (I’ll show you mine if you show me yours): please share any similar stories you may have re a really poor relationship you had with a petty, nasty, bigoted, misogynist, and/or just plain stupid coworker, which led to an amusing incident.
Here’s mine: On my first day back on at second season of a summer job (Disneyland; The Hungry Bear Restaurant), one of the kitchen crew clicked the play button on a mini-cassette recorder he had in his pocket, and serenaded me with Elton John’s, ‘The Bitch is Back.’

And dammit, although I got comments, for the first time no one shared a similar story.    [2]

As you can imagine, this workplace incident didn’t happen out of nowhere.  A friend requested the backstory; and so:   [3]

 

 

At the end of my senior year in high school, anticipating the need to earn college tuition money, I began working weekends at Disneyland.  I obtained “seasonal” worker status, which was the status of the majority of my male and female coworkers with whom I shared summer shifts at  Disneyland’s Hungry Bear Restaurant (HBR).   [4]   Once we were hired by The Happiest Place on Earth®, if we seasonals worked the entire summer season and at least one other holiday season (winter or spring breaks; Thanksgiving…) we were guaranteed a job for the following summer. 

The serenader in question – moiself  will refer to him as Kid Rock  [5]  ( who wasn’t a thing then, but if he had been, I think my serenader would have been a *big* fan ).

Kid was a boor from the moment I met him.  His square-jawed face’s limited repertoire of expressions were all variations of a smirk, and he oozed dumb jock attitudes and mannerisms.  Moiself  initially experienced a wee bit o’ guilt for judging him at first glance, until my second, and third, and one hundred seventeenth glances and encounters (as well as my observations of his interactions with others) confirmed my stereotyping assessment astute perception of who and what he was.

With his male coworkers, Kid was constantly jockeying for position, ingratiating himself with his kitchen shift managers, and attempting metaphorical pissing matches with the other kitchen guys.  [6]   He considered himself to be above his peers (although they were all doing the same job, at the same pay scale), even as he courted their respect (or fear) for being a “player,” with an edgy (read: mean and stupid) sense of humor.  The nice guys in the kitchen crew (and there were several) earned Kid’s contempt, because being a nice guy meant being well thought of by the HBR females (we were “the girls,” of course).

 

“I can smell that creep from here.”

 

No surprise, Kid also had a binary way of relating to the HBR females: they were either objects of his sexual desire or not worthy of it.  His preferred mode of communication with female co-workers was a combination of peacock preening, barely-masked sexual come-ons, and furtive insults (aka, “jokes”).  He got giggles from some of the girls, but, as I observed, those girls seemed to be giggling to mask their unease, and trying to prove that they could “take a joke” and weren’t prudes.  If Kid’s thinly disguised sexual banter was rejected by a girl, he’d let it be known that he hadn’t really wanted her at all – he’d just been trying to make her feel better, because she was unattractive.  I saw him behave this way with *every* female at HBR, with the exception of one of the counter area managers, whose slight but noticeable physical disability effectively neutered her in his eyes.

And, as was typical of many guys of the time (even the not-so-loathsome ones), when Kid complained about his male coworkers he was able to do so using specific language re what bothered him about their actions:  they’d been slow on the grill, had been late to their shift, had burned a batch of onion rings, had neglected key steps in their closing shift, had acted too passively, or aggressively…..  Any complaints he had about a female coworker came under the cover-all of critiquing her very essence, with no particulars as to behavior:  “She’s just a bitch.”

 

 

Kid’s attempts at titillating braggadocio didn’t impress moiself  (SURPRISE !), and I limited our interactions as much as possible.  Whenever possible, I ignored him.  Therefore, of course (and, yay!), he had to announce to one and all that he didn’t find me appealing.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  It took me awhile to figure out the source of his irritation with moiself  because I didn’t spend much time considering it – which was, for him, the issue.  He seemed continually annoyed by my lack of interest in what he had to say, about anything.  

 

 

In Kid’s eyes, I had committed the worst sin possible for a female:  I’d indicated, not by saying so but by merely not engaging with him, that I had no interest in his opinion of me.  I did not wear his taunts and insults as a badge of honor (as did a couple of my bad ass, feminist HBR colleagues), I simply stopped hearing them.  I realized for the first time what it meant to hold someone beneath contempt.  Strong emotions, including contempt, require effort and time to maintain.  To moiself, Kid was just…macho flotsam.

I did not engage Kid in the repartee – playful, and with occasional double-entendre overtones –  that I did with the “nice guys” and my female colleagues. We were all mostly within three years of one another, age-wise; naturally, there was workplace banter and casual flirtation and good-natured kidding bordering on insults.  With regard to the latter I punched up, never down, with both male and female colleagues.  The few guys who harbored a nasty streak stayed clear of me, after one of them, the Assistant Shift “Chef,”   [7]   tested my limits on my first week on the job.  He did this with (what I later found out was) his standard routine with which he teased the new counter girls:

Assistant Shift Chef summoned me to the kitchen area, informing me that it was SOP to give counter girls a tour of the kitchen facility, even though they’d be working out front (later I was told that he always did this “tour” with others present, as having an audience was a key component of his routine.)  Under the pretense of wanting my opinion about a possible flaw in Disneyland’s chef’s apron design, which seemed to have pockets and a seam or something no one could quite figure out, he reached down, fingered the outline of his crotch, and ask Newby Counter Girl ® moiself, “Do you know what this is?”

I’d been informed re the HBR hierarchy on my first day at work.  Despite his title, Assistant Shift Chef had no authority over me (or any female HBR female), so I decided to go for it.

“Hmmm.” I assumed a wide stance, one hand on my hip and the other slowly stroking my chin in a gesture of solemn deliberation.  “Wait; don’t tell me, this is familiar…Oh!  I know!  It looks like it a penis, only smaller.”   [8]

Assistant Shift Chef guffawed heartily, as if he had collaborated with me on the joke.  Still, I noticed (and savored) the nanosecond of terror and humiliation which flashed across his eyes, just after my line sunk in and before his crew began to whoop it up.

Once again, I digress.

The first day I returned to HBG for my second summer season (after my freshman year of college), I was delighted to see that several of my favorite seasonal employees had also returned…oh yeah, and there was also the Kid.  Although, maybe he’d been there all year?  I can’t remember if Kid had been a year-round employee or was another seasonal worker (all of whom were college students – the idea of Kid in any institution of higher learning never occurred to moiself).

Anyway, Kid had obviously been alerted to my return.  He waited at the rear of the pack welcoming me back, and after the rest of us had exchanged greetings, he removed the mini cassette player from his pocket and pressed play.  This time, I was the one with the genuine smirk on my face.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Entertaining The Donations Dude

Dateline:  Monday; 1:30 pm-ish; Goodwill donations center.  The guy helping me unload the donations from my car engages me in small talk about the current mugginess and upcoming weather forecast.  I hand him a bag full of books; he points to a book at the top of the bag, whose title is something like, Staying Sane In An Irrational World.

“Well now, what’s that about?” he asks.

“Who knows,” moiself  shrugs.  “It’s a book of empty pages.”

 

 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [9]

“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”
( Christopher Hitchens,  God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything )

 

 

*   *   *

May your pets somehow obtain the furniture (you think) they deserve;
May the book of your life not be filled with empty pages;
May you live long enough to find out that which makes you happy;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Ebert, who grew up Catholic, chose not to define his religious beliefs, saying he is not an atheist and not a believer. He clarified his religious views in a blog post called “How I believe in God.” He said, “I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist — which I am. If I were to say I don’t believe God exists, that wouldn’t mean I believe God doesn’t exist. Nor does it mean I don’t know, which implies that I could know.”  (from Roger Ebert entry, ffrf.org  )

[2] Perhaps there were none to share; perhaps all of my FB friends have been beloved (or at least tolerated) by even the most neanderthal of their colleagues.

[3] Thanks, RU, although I’d already considered sharing more of the details.

[4] Which, as more than one dissatisfied patron told me (as if I were responsible for the name or had any influence in *any* Disneyland policy) : “Shee-it, girl, this ain’t no restaurant, this is a burger and fries joint.”  Or a glorified fast food place, with no table service…aka, in Disney-speak, a “quick service eatery.”

[5] I am happy to report that although I’ll never forget his face I cannot recall that co-worker’s name (nor would I used it in this space, even if I did remember it).

[6] At that time, D-Land’s various food attractions staff were sex-segregated with respect to responsibilities: males in the kitchen, running the fryers and grills and stocking the food wells, and females upfront – the “counter girls”, taking the guest’s orders, receiving payment, and “boxing” and giving to guests the food and drinks.

[7] I can’t believe that title (chef?) was given to the dude who was in charge of the run-the burgers-through-the-grill machine line.

[8] A thousand thanks to seventh grade PE teacher Mrs. Ewing, who suggested a version of that response to flashers and other harassers.

[9] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

The Trash I’m Not Being Paid To Pick Up

2 Comments

 

Department Of What Is It?

 

 

The HTC: The Hood To Coast relay race, that’s what it is.

Hood To Coast is a long-distance relay race that starts at Mount Hood and continues nearly 200 miles to the Oregon Coast. Known as “the mother of all relays”, it is the largest running and walking relay in the world….
The race is held annually in late August, traditionally on the Friday and Saturday before the Labor Day weekend. The course runs approximately 200 miles…from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, through the Portland metropolitan area, and over the Oregon Coast Range to the beach town of Seaside on the Oregon Coast. Teams of 12 runners take turns running legs along the course.
( from “Hood to Coast” Wikipedia entry )

The Hood to Coast Relay is so popular, it sells out every year within minutes on the day when it opens for team registrations.   [1]    HTC begins at Mount Hood, with staggered start times on Friday from 3 am to 2 pm (teams have 36 hours to complete the course).    [2]   This year there were 1,000 teams participating, and 12,000 runners.   Teams come from all US states and 40 other countries, including our neighbors to the north:

 

 

Y’all impressed?  You should be.  For all the years we’ve been coming to the Oregon coast, the last weekend in August is one of the more fun times to be there (almost   [3]  fun enough to make me want to take up running again, just to participate in the HTC).  MH and I hang in Manzanita, 22 miles south of the HTC finish point (Seaside).  During the HTC weekend, almost about anywhere on the north Oregon coast you’ll spot the HTC team vans with their colorful names and mottos painted on the sides and doors, and encounter the enthusiastically exhilarated (and exhausted and sleep-deprived) HTC team members looking for food and drink, massages, blister relief, or just wanting to hang out.

 

 

Moiself  knows many people who’ve participated in the HTC.  This year son K joined a team for the first time, and asked me to be a HTC volunteer.  All local   [4]   HTC teams are required to provide three volunteers or one exchange leader,  [5]   or they’ll be disqualified from the race.  As you might imagine, with so many runners, a 200 mile race stretching from a mountain to an ocean needs a lot of people helping with logistics along the way,   [6]  including at the start and at the exchange points, to keep track of participants and vans (each team must provide two vans to transport members; each race member must run three legs of the race), and particularly at the end of the race, where the teams check in to a large, roped off section of the beach at Seaside, and have ceremonies and parties and eat and take official pictures…and did I mention parties?

I signed up for the 9:45a – 2:45p Saturday volunteer shift at Seaside.  There were many of us volunteers at that shift time, and we were (most unscientifically) chosen for a variety of tasks.  Moiself  ended up in Trash and Recycling.  T/R involved constant movement: for the next five hours (with lunch and hydration breaks at the volunteers’ discretion) we T/R crew walked a snaking/looping pattern throughout the various sections of the finish line area, from the perimeters to the zones within the zone, checking the I-lost-count-of-how-many trash and recycling receptacles.  T/R volunteers duties included “pre-cycling” as much as possible (invariably, people dump the wrong items in the receptacles, despite the bins being clearly marked for trash v. recycling and having picture labels showing what items go where; thus, we had to move items from one bag to another), and changing the bags when they were 75% full.

 

*   *   *

Department Of People Are Fun

It was fun, even while digging through the icky T/R receptacles,  [7]  to see the teams arrive.  There was so much sheer joy to be witnessed, on the part of the runners and the friends and family cheering them on. And the team names – I wish moiself  could remember them all. I had a job to do, but tried to pay attention as the teams’ arrivals were announced over the loudspeaker (which you could hear from any part of the finish zone).  Most teams go for a funny/punny name; e.g., one that satirizes their workplace and/or sponsors, or is a play on words with common situations and ailments faced by distance runners in general or HTC racers in particular (e.g., team “My Third Leg is Harder Than Yours”).

 

 

Most teams had custom shirts for their runners, and sometimes hats and other accessories.  Teams decorate their vans, too.  A popular team name motif is the slightly naughty/double entendre.  Years ago, I saw a van with this motto painted on its rear door:

” Go Nads!
(National Association of Distance Sprinters)”

Atop the van, attached to its luggage rack, was a large set of paper mâché…any guesses?

Another van’s display of their team name made me consider whether or not I would want to park (or walk) behind a van labeled, “Twelve Sticky Buns.”

A few intrepid teams run in full costume – moiself  spotted members of one all male team which seemed to have a Barbie theme going on –  or regalia related to their names.  I never found out the name of the team whose every runner, male and female, was clad in red prom dresses, but they were a jolly group to behold.

 

Some team names I remember from years past:

* Run Like a Mother
*199 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
* Get in the Van!
* Where’s the Beach?
* Hauling Ass-prin
* 12 Drummers Drumming
* Cheap Hills
* Forrest Stump   [8]

* Endorphiends
* Toenails Are For Sissies
* It’s Cute You Run Marathons
* Tektronic Megahurtz
* Hoodwinked
* Van You Catch Us?
* The Team Formerly Known As Class Act    [9]

* Grateful (We’re Not) Dead
* 70 Rocks    [10]

* Chafing the Dream
* Blister Sisters
* PNW, WTF?
* Saturday Night Dead
* Ducks for a Husky-Free Northwest

This year’s team names included:

* Pick it up Princess   [11]

* Back Fat
* The Young and the Breathless
* The Young and The Rest Of Us
* Premature Acceleration
* Monty Crython and the Hilly Trail
* Oreo Speedwagon
* Electrolyte Orchestra
* Turd Herders
* I-Be-Pro-FUN
* Worst. Wine. Tour. Ever.
* Obi-Run Kenobi
* Cirque du Sore Legs
* Last Place Legends
* Team Questionable Life Choices
* The Island of Misfit Toys
* Married Up
* Pace Cadets
* Kids, Get Your Shoes On
* Resisting A Rest
* Seven Deadly Shins
* Tequila Mockingbird
* Another Run Bites the Dust
* We’ve Got the Runs
* The Kind Of Dirty Dozen
* Lactic Acid Trip
* Two Dozen Scrambled Legs   [12]

Now: who’d want to be a member of team Back Fat?  When I saw several BF team runners hanging around by one of the finish area T/R receptacles, moiself  had to ask.   I did my T/R checking job, then prefaced my query by pointing to my shirt (as I did several times afterward, when I realized that people would answer *anything* I asked when they saw my shirt). “So,” I said, “in my ‘Race Official capacity, ‘ I must ask you: Why would anyone want to run under the team name, Back Fat?”

 

 

The BF-ers exchanged knowing glances.  “Well, look at us,” one of them said, and he pivoted to show me his back.  Yep, in their green polyester, clingy running shirts (mostly) covering their squatty, chunky physiques….I’ll concede that their team’s name was a first-rate example of truth in advertising.

“We’re just running for fun…we’re not the elites,” the BFer said, as he hoisted a beer with one hand and with the other hand, pointed behind moiself , to the Nike area (Nike had its own roped off zone within the finish zone, with complimentary food and beverages for Nike-sponsored teams, as well as their own set of gleaming white, porta-pottie trailers.  Bouncers checked IDs at the entrance to the Nike zone, ensuring no plebes – except for those wearing Race Official ® shirts – got inside.)  “We know we’re not the team that’s in the best shape…” BF guy snickered.

“But you’re the team having the best time,” I offered.  He laughed heartily, and he and his fellow BFers toasted me with their beers.

Moiself  moved on to the next set of T/R bins, where another group of racing men stood (hanging around the T/R bins seemed to be a thing). There were six of them, all wearing their race shirts and, from the waist down, colorful batik, sarong-type wraps.  They were quite the contrast to the BFers:  they were all tall, slender, in their 40s – 50s, in great shape, with that lanky, distance runner’s physique.  And the way they were groomed: even after having just finished a two-day race, their hair was neatly styled and none of them looked the least bit sweaty.  Distinguished-looking, you might say.  Something about their aura and the way they carried themselves radiated, “well-kept” (read: money).

I asked about the team’s name on their shirts (a word which sounded Hawaiian to moiself); also, noting their sarongs, I asked if the team had some Polynesian connection (although the men were all haoles).  One of the men began to explain: “A few years ago, a friend of mine bought a small island in Fiji…” To which I interjected, “As one does.”

 

 

Well-Groomed Man didn’t miss a beat; he continued to tell me about how their team name was a word his Fijian-island-owning friend had introduced them to.  The word had a few variants among the Fiji Islands and was similar to the Hawaiian aloha in that it had no one translation, and could be used as word of greeting and departure, or as a way of wishing someone well, etc.

My next T/R stop took me to the Nike area – my Race Official ® shirt was my entry ticket.  It was quite the nice setup.  About twenty minutes later, I encountered a T/R volunteer in a (non-Nike) area by the finish lines, and she told me that although there were not long lines of people waiting to use the porta-potties which lined the perimeter of the finish zone, the facilities always seemed to be occupied.  I told her that if she needed a bathroom break, she should go to the Nike area and use their pristine facilities.  “But, isn’t that for Nike people only?” she asked.  “Who cares?” I snorted.  “I didn’t see anyone checking IDs once they let you in their zone.  Besides, if someone questions you, give them a WTF look, show ’em your shirt and your trash bags, then ask them if they’re saying that you’re good enough to pick up their trash but not good enough to use their porta potties?”

*   *   *

Department Of People Are Pigs

Oh, but it wasn’t all fun and games. As a member of the T/R crew, I had more than enough job security.  As my shift wore on I became lip-curlingly disgusted with my fellow human beings, too many of whom left their discards in the strangest places – as in, obviously and deliberately misplaced, not just dropped in carelessness.

 

Yeah, clever, dude!  Because that’s where recycling goes.

 

Besides the Nike teams’ area there was another restricted/ID required zone: The VIP tent. There was a guy seated at one entrance to the tent, whose job was to check people’s…. status, I guess?…before he let them into the tent.  Moiself  never found out what qualifications were needed to enter the VIP tent (I saw several people – non-VIPs, I assume – turned away).  However, Those Of Us Wearing Race Official® shirts were allowed inside the tent, to do our T/R duties. The first time I approached the VIP tent, I saw Entry Checker Guy eye my volunteer shirt and the extra T/R bags I was carrying. I told him I was there for a VID – a Very Important Duty.  “Ah, yes,” he said.  In a tone both flip and friendly, he added, “But, are you a VIP?”  To which I replied, “I am a Very *Impudent* Person.  Is that VIP enough for you?”  Turns out it was.

When I came back on my third run-through in the VIP tent, its T/R receptacles, while not yet full, needed changing. I was disgusted by the behavior of the VIP tent occupants, who’d left their trash *everywhere.*  A couple of VIPs were seated less than two feet from the T/R containers, and when they saw me, they nodded in acknowledgement (as if to say, “Ah, here comes the help”) and then just  – I couldn’t believe it – set their plates of partially eaten food and their half-empty beer cans down, on the sand, nudging the items toward the T/R receptacles but not bothering to get off of their Very Imperious Posteriors and properly dispose of said trash.  Something in me snapped, a wee bit. T/R volunteers had been told (at the beginning of our shift, by the volunteer coordinator who did our T/R duty training) not to berate or even correct people who discarded their trash improperly, but to just “fix it.”  So, I did pick up the VIP refuse and sort them into the proper bins, but decided to leave the tent with full T/R bins, and did not return to check on them later.

 

 

My HTC volunteer experience brought to mind the gentle…warning, for lack of a better word, which I received many years ago from someone who was quite the dedicated volunteer.  She had volunteered across a variety of fields and for a variety of events and services, for decades, and she told me that when you volunteer, for anything,

“…be prepared to be disappointed in your species.”

As the hours went by it began to bother me, more and more:  the amazing amount of trash, and waste.  T/R receptacle liners bulged with utensils, non-recyclable cups, and plates loaded with food – plates of food from which someone had taken a couple of bites, from hot dogs to burgers and noodle dishes/stir frys, and then thrown aways the rest.  Why do people even bother?  Did it taste bad?  And the food – apart from that served in the VIP and Nike areas, was not free – it had to be purchased from various booths.  Were the people who bought it even hungry; did they get a burrito, then realize, Oh, I don’t really want/need this?  You don’t have to eat every time there is food around, (perhaps the food wasters fell prey to that American Mindset®: “Look, food! Must be time to eat.”)

I just didn’t get it; I didn’t want to get it…

There were many booths in the finish zone, some with sponsors/vendors giving out free cans and bottles of various beverages (kombucha and flavored/”energy” waters). We T/R crew would find many of those cans and bottles cracked open but half full, buried in the sand, or leaning against the recycling receptacles (which had notices asking people to please empty cans and bottles before recycling them).  What’s the deal, of not taking five seconds to empty it? Were they just waiting for/assuming someone else to do it?

 

 

When checking in volunteers were given a Race Official shirt, which we were told we must wear over whatever other shirts we had on, during our shift. After check-in we were directed to move away from the check-in line and wait for a volunteer coordinator to assign us to task groups.  As I stood in the waiting-group, I looked noted that most of that group, plus those in the volunteer check-in line, were female.  One young man, who looked to be in his late teens-early twenties, was standing at the periphery of my waiting group. I pulled on my RO shirt, sidled over to him and asked if he was or had been a HTC runner.  He shook his volunteer shirt (he was holding a Race Official shirt but had not yet donned it) and mumbled, “No; I’m just doing this for a friend.”  Another volunteer also greeted him, and by the look on the young man’s face I couldn’t tell his reaction:  was he mortified, or disgusted, to be surrounded by middle-aged women, some of whom were actually attempting to talk with him.

Once I was on my T/R shift, I continued to note (anecdotally; this was not a scientific survey, but I saw what I saw) how the volunteers were overwhelmingly skewed, gender-wise.  Particularly, those who were chosen for T/R duty – I saw only one man doing T/R.  And while moiself recalls being thanked by four (yes, I counted) men during the five hours of my shift, I lost track of the number of female race participants who, when they saw my Race Official shirt (and noticed me picking through the trash), thanked me for doing so.

That’s women for you, I groused to moiself.  We are the world’s garbage collectors.  I was reminded of a quote I read, decades ago, from a woman who was part of a lawsuit against a local (So Cal) municipality which refused to even consider hiring women to work on refuse collection crews:  men don’t object to the fact that women pick up/deal with the world’s physical and metaphorical garbage, as long as we aren’t paid to do so. 

Stop getting all existentially bummed, I castigated moiself.   If K runs the HTC again next year and asks me to volunteer, I probably will.  I can select a different shift and locale – maybe somewhere midrace, at an exchange point?  Oh, but there’ll be trash duty there as well.  Will I just be removing moiself  from seeing the majority of the waste produced by this event…. This is way too much ruminating on yet another example of how we continue to literally trash our environment, which is our home, our VIP zone.   So, after my shift  ended I went home and washed out the reusable containers in which I’d brought my lunch – yeah, that’ll save the planet….

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Employee Of The Month

 

 

It’s that time again, to bestow that prestigious award upon moiself .  Again. The need for which I wrote about here.   [13] 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [14]

 

*   *   *

May you respect the person who picks up your trash;
May you be the person who picks up your trash;
May we all have the means to buy a (trash-free) island in Fiji;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Beginning in the 1990s, Hood to Coast implemented a lottery system to select participating teams.

[2] Some elite teams, often corporate (read: Nike) sponsored, have run the course in half that time.

[3] Ah…but only almost.

[4] As in, from within Oregon, not those flying in from, say, Costa Rica.

[5] Exchange leaders work in the exchange zones, where a race participant passes off to the next participant in rotation to run the next leg.  Each leg of the race varies in distance, from approximately 4 – 7 miles.

[6] …and an estimated 500 port-a-potties are staged along the route.

[7] I insisted on the thickest pair of gloves they had at the volunteer check-in booth.  Some T/R volunteers just wore thin vinyl gloves.

[8] All Forrest Stump team members were adaptive athletes: all team members had some physical challenges, including prosthetic legs and/or use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries….

[9] The story behind this name: One year a team called themselves, “Class Act.” The next year they were, “Class Act Is Back.” During that second year one of their vans was pulled over and reprimanded by a Sheriff’s deputy when the riders were shooting Super Soakers out the window on the highway.  Thus, the third year’s Prince-inspired moniker, to allow for how their “classy” reputation had been tarnished.

[10] All team members are age 70 or over.

[11] They were young (I think the minimum age for runners is 13) and female, and they were running fast – picking up the pace! – when I saw them cross the finish line.

[12] Son K’s team’s name.

[13] Several years ago, MH received a particularly glowing performance review from his workplace. As happy as I was for him when he shared the news, it left me with a certain melancholy I couldn’t quite peg.  Until I did.

One of the many “things” about being a writer (or any occupation working freelance at/from home) is that although you avoid the petty bureaucratic policies, bungling bosses, mean girls’ and boys’ cliques, office politics and other irritations inherent in going to a workplace, you also lack the camaraderie and other social perks that come with being surrounded by your fellow homo sapiens.  No one praises me for fixing the paper jam in the copy machine, or thanks me for staying late and helping the new guy with a special project, or otherwise says, Good on you, sister. Once I realized the source of the left-out feelings, I came up with a small way to lighten them.

[14] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org