Friday, September 23, 2011
Hi folks, I’m Hattie Collier and I’d like to say that I’ve got a bone to pick. Actually, I’m hopping mad and I’ve got to calm down just to write about this.
You see, the other day my twelve year old granddaughter came to my house, and as usual I was almost glad to see her, and I say almost because lately when she comes over, all she does is sit on my couch and constantly twitters or tweets—or whatever they call it. I’ve noticed that conversation between us has become very limited the older she gets. I’m surprised she can put a complete sentence together when she does speak, so on this particular day I decided to try and see if she could still talk.
I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. It’s a question that I’ve asked her many times in the past and the answers have gone the gamut from a princess to a teacher. She was nine the last time I asked and she said that she wanted to be an astronaut. Was I proud!
This time she looked up at me with her thumbs steadily moving over her cell phone and said just as plain as day, “I plan on being a reality star on TV because I want to get paid.” Say what?
I kept my cool and asked smugly, “And what courses will you take in college to prepare you for that career?”
Still tweeting, she didn’t even look up when she answered, “Oh, I’m not going to college. I’m gonna make a sex tape when I’m eighteen, put it on YouTube and get discovered that way.”
I would have laughed out loud if she hadn’t looked serious. All I could think of was, Lord, have mercy, where did we go wrong? I kept telling myself that she was only twelve, so she’d change her mind ten times before she reached eighteen, so don’t despair. But I whispered a silent prayer for some backup and then I asked, “Have you told your folks about your big plans?”
“Nope,” she answered with her thumbs continuing to fly, “I’m just sharing it with you. They’ll find out when I turn eighteen. So please don’t tell them.”
Now I was supposed to be a co-conspirator with my granddaughter about her plans to become a porn star! Lucky me!
I had to drop on my knees that night and pray over that one. I didn’t want to betray her trust, but I decided that if I saw any signs that this was truly her ambition and not some childhood fantasy, I was running like the wind to my daughter and son-in-law and squeal like a pig. You see, that’s one of the advantages of being a grandparent, you can dump the problems that the grandkids might have right into their parents’ laps.
After getting over the shock of having a potential nudie model in the family, I decided that I had to get a clue as to where the child’s head was at. What was it about her generation that made public nudity and sexual activity an acceptable stepping stone to stardom, and on a so called reality show at that!
I headed to the library in search of a book that might explain to me what was going on in this country that outside forces would influence my kindhearted grandchild more than her descent, loving, and God-fearing family.
I’m not sure that I got the answer, but I’m sure did get a clue. Remembering how my granddaughter never missed a beat twittering during our rare five minute conversation, I picked up a book titled Bloggerati, Twitterait: How Blogs and Twitter are Transforming Popular Culture. The book was written by Mary Cross.
What I read boggled my mind. I knew that things in this country were changing. That always happens, but as I continued reading it dawned on me that I was living through a full-fledged revolution; nothing would ever be the same again.
There was too much in the book to review here, but among the many things that I found to be really interesting were the predictions that Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, made in 2009.
These are some of his predictions about what the internet would look like in 5 years (that’s by 2014):
“Today’s teenagers are the model of how the Web will work in five years—they jump from app to app to app seamlessly.” I know that’s true. I’ve been a witness to that!
“It’s because of this fundamental shift toward user-generated information that people will listen more to other people than to traditional sources.” If “traditional sources” include family members he’s right on track with that.
OTHER PREDICTIONS INCLUDE:
“American popular culture is going worldwide and viral on the Internet.” Who can argue with that?
“People will be more knowledgeable, though not necessarily wiser.” Truer words were never spoken. The just plain stupid decision making quota has reached an all time high.
“But there will be a proliferation of bad information, rumor and falsehoods.” As if there’s not enough of that now!
“The power structure will change, breaking the grip of established institutions on culture and giving more power to the ordinary person.” More power to dumber people. Oh Lord!
“Privacy on the Internet is essentially over.” As if I need more people in my business. I’m just thrilled by that!
“More people will work at home.” Good, now my daughter and son-in-law can watch their kids more often. I’ve got things to do!
“Women will dominate social networks.” Thank goodness, all we need is more porno watching men on the internet.
“Smarter kids, harder to educate.” Translated: Smarter kids will be dumber.
“An increasingly isolated individual within the nuclear family.”
So that’s the bottom line. I see this last prediction happening with my four grandchildren every day, and I’m in the battle of a life time to try to stem the tide. But, somebody tell me how can a mere mortal fight a tsunami? Progress is not always improvement.
We can all muse on that.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Hello, this is Connie Palmer writing on the blog this week, and I’ve been giving some thought about how difficult it is for most of us to say what we really mean. How many times have we heard the words “honesty is the best policy”? Too many as far as I’m concerned, especially when I know that lies seem to be more common than truth for too many people. It’s especially rampant among politicians. I’m beginning to think that lying is second nature for them they tell so many of them. It would be nice if people say what they really mean. Believe me, the world would be a much better place.
For instance, when politicians say that these are times of economic uncertainty, what they really mean is that your ass is grass! You ain’t got no money. You ain’t gonna get no money, and the government ain’t gonna print no more money so you can get some. Too bad for you! I’ve got mine and I’m happy.
That lie is almost as bad as when they say “I’m not a Washington insider”. What they really mean and what they leave out is the word yet, because as soon as they get the opportunity to meet whoever can make them an insider it’s status quo time. Power and influence are addictive and I’m not aware of many rebels in Washington. I might be wrong, but I don’t think that there are many politicians who leave office with less money than they had when they won office.
But I’m not going to beat up on politicians. They’re just easy targets because they lie so much about everything. There are so many things that people say, but don’t mean that I can’t name them all, so I picked a few of my other favorites.
When you bump into someone that you haven’t seen for some time and they call you Sweetie, Honey or Dear during the conversation, what they really mean is “I couldn’t remember your name if somebody paid me,” or “either I’ve got to cut this short and make my escape or keep talking until you give me a clue to what the hell your name is.” I know this one is true because I’m guilty.
Another one is when some parents say that their child is precocious. What they really mean is watch out for the brat and I’m keeping the kid’s hair long so the horns don’t show.
This one is for those of you who are grandparents. When your children bring the grandchildren over to your house and they say: “Could you watch the kids for a little while. I’ve got to run to the (fill in the blank).” What they really mean is “You’ll be babysitting for me for the next 4, (6,8,10,18 or maybe 24) hours and if you think that you’re going to see me before then you’ve got another think coming!” I learned this one the hard way, so grandparents beware! Let them call you in advance, tell you exactly what they need, and if you give them the okay also give them a deadline. If the car doesn’t pull up by the deadline, that’s it. Next time tell them to find another babysitter. You’ve got your own life to live.
You know, one thing that I enjoy about growing older is having attained peace of mind. Things that were so important when I was younger have become less so now. I don’t tolerate lies or liars anymore. I demand the truth and I try to be truthful. Oh, there are times when I’ll backslide so that I won’t hurt someone’s feelings. After all how can I tell a mother that her baby is ugly? So I’ll describe it as sweet, or precious when what I really mean is that I hope the kid grows up to be smart, because becoming attractive will remain an unattainable goal.
It would be nice if we could all say what we mean more often. I think that the truth can hurt much less than a lie. I’m just saying what I really mean, so you can muse on that.
Friday, September 9, 2011
Hello, folks, this is Miss Fanny here with another Brain Fart, and since a little time has passed since the release of that movie “The Help”, I thought that I’d throw in my two cents worth like everybody else I’ve been talking to. My daughter-in-law, Hattie, talked me into going to the movie theatre to see it. I hadn’t been to a movie for so long I couldn’t remember the last time. Who wants to see triple sequels and double prequels? And forget 3-D. Why should I pay extra money for some glasses that I can’t wear once I leave the theater? Not to mention that I don’t want those monsters and bugs and other crazy things leaping off the screen at me. It might be fun for some 4 year old preschooler, but I’m a full grown woman!
Anyway, I saw the movie and the first thing I’ve got to say is that the acting was great! I really enjoyed it. As for the story line, I’ve been there done that. Before I moved north I was the help. Lord knows that the work conditions weren’t a picnic, but thank goodness that it wasn’t as bad as the ones in the movie. Even as fiction that was a mess!
When I was the help, I worked six days a week, but I lived in and I had my own bedroom and bathroom. I can’t say if my employer would have let me use her bathroom or not, but I do know that bathrooms were segregated everywhere else in the city, so who knows. The couple I worked for was typical for its day. He was a big executive in a tobacco company and she was a socialite housewife. Like the women in the movie, the one I worked for never did a lick of work. I did it all, and I did it well. I took pride in my work and I kept the house spotless and cooked meals that would melt in your mouth.
The lady of the house more or less ignored me except to give orders, but every once in the while she’d have some sort of spell and ask me some questions about myself. Since I wasn’t trying to be her friend, I usually answered in one syllable words, which translated into leave me the hell alone. She wasn’t slow. She got the picture, so much so that I was more or less invisible in the house. You wouldn’t believe the things I found out about her and her husband. I could write a book.
I took care of their two kids from the time that they were a couple of months to the ages of 7 and 9. They were pretty good kids. I taught them to say please and thank you, yes ma’am and yes sir. They caught on pretty quick and they really weren’t much trouble. Did I love them or their parents? I really can’t say that I did. I liked them okay. They were nice enough for the times and under the circumstances, but it was the south. The family was into segregation and keeping my people down. I was into doing the job that I had been hired to do, and saving enough money to get the hell out of dodge. Loving my employers or their off spring wasn’t in the plan.
I worked for the family for ten years, and until this day I don’t think that anybody in that household remembered my last name. That was okay with me. The pay was low, but they paid me in cash every week and that’s all I cared about, getting my money. So in my case the love affair between the help and her employees didn’t exist, at least on my part. I saved that money until I was able to buy a one way ticket north, then I kissed my Mama and Papa goodbye, hopped on a train and never looked back. I guess the family I worked for missed me when I didn’t come in that morning and then maybe not. I don’t know and I don’t care.
I guess you’ll say that I was the other side of the help, not the touchy, feely, cuddly kind, but the kind that saw working in the household of others as a step toward getting me what I wanted.
There weren’t many opportunities back then, but a lot of daydreams and I’ll tell you something. I was never ashamed of being a maid. It was good, honest work. It allowed me to help my folks when they needed it and in some cases the wages of many maids have paid for houses, cars, furniture and college educations for their children. No! Being a maid was nothing to be ashamed of, unlike being one of those multi-millionaires who cheats people out of their life savings. Given the choice of the two, I’d rather be the help.Now muse on that!
Friday, September 2, 2011
Hi again. It’s Bea Bell here asking you a question. Do you remember the Texaco Service Man? You know, the service station attendant that would come out to put gas in your car, check the oil, and wipe your windshield? For those of you who don’t remember this, once upon a time there was such service. I remember that service man, and I miss him.
What I actually mourn is the death of customer service. In the gasoline business of today self-service translates to no service. The death of the notion that customers should be treated with some respect is rampant. If customers are dissatisfied with the service they receive, who cares? The motto—“the customer is always right”—is true only if you can shout loud enough, complain long enough and write a letter to the right person.
How much does rude customer service bother me? Let me count the ways.
Have you ever gone on line for a product or service, but can’t quite maneuver around the web site? There is usually an email address to contact the company and I admit that most sites are quick to respond. However, by the time that some of the companies do answer you’ve gotten someone else to figure out the problem, or you just don’t care anymore. Now the object of having an on-line computer business is to have it on line—I get it. But if you can’t get around the website because it is poorly designed or you are computer illiterate, you need to talk to a human being. If you work really hard and want to spend hours searching the web site, you may eventually find a telephone number. There are some cases, however, where it will take hiring a private detective to get a phone number.
Whenever I call a business, I make sure I have the entire day to make the call because in all likelihood I’ll end up in telephone hell. You know what I mean. It goes like this:
“Thank you for calling (insert any company name). Please listen carefully because our menu options have changed. (Like it makes any difference; you won’t get to talk to anybody no matter what option you pick).
After fooling around for 15 minutes trying to pick an option because none of them are what I really want, I call back because I figure maybe I didn’t hear my option. Here is where they trick you. They don’t give you an option to talk to a live person. But, I figured it out one day when in my frustration I shouted “OPERATOR!” Now here is where telephone hell really gets hot. The robot voice says that it is transferring your call, and you are put on hold for an eternity only to have the robot eventually disconnect you!
For a long time this type of treatment really ticked me off, but no more. I’ve learned to play by their Rules To Make Customers Suffer. I now have snacks, sandwiches, drinks and the television remote on hand. When I hear the robot say, “Please stay on the line, your call is very important to us” I laugh hysterically. I know they don’t mean it, but I can wait them out—for hours if I have to.
Another situation that pisses me off is walking into a store and making a complete tour of the place before I can find a salesperson. Here’s another blast from the past: once upon a time sales people, actually knew something about the product their customers wanted to buy. Not now! When I finally find what I want—with no help from the salesperson—and head to the cashier counter, I only pray there is not a power outage and the computer goes dead because these days no one knows how to count. I was in a store when the computerized cash register died and the clerk could not count my change! She looked in horror at the dysfunctional register, frantically punching the register buttons with one hand and clutching my money in the other one, but it was her lucky day. Before I could say anything, a little ten-year-old girl standing nearby with her mother quietly stated the correct amount that the cashier should give me.
Change doesn’t always mean progress. Right now, as I curl up on my sofa preparing to make a call to yet another business, I’m thinking about the Texaco man with his pearly white smile, broad shoulders and ever- ready squeegee. I can’t help but sigh. I miss the man. He really knew how to service a girl.
Click below to see exactly what I’m talking about, and then muse on it.