Friday, March 20, 2009

Rude People

I work for a hearing aid/audiology center in Sheboygan, where half of my job is telemarketing. Now, before you go judging my profession, know that I'm not trying to sell anything over the phone nor swindle anyone. What I do for my work is call out to the community members and see if they would like to get their hearing checked. Most of my clientele are elderly and have hearing loss. Statistics show that of all the people who could be helped by hearing devices, only 10 % of them own them. This is striking, since 1. it would be great for my business to even tap into another 10 %, and 2. That's a lot of people missing out on life and annoying the heck out of everyone else. You know the old lady who's apartment is next door to yours with her TV so loud you know exactly what's going on with her TV show, right? That's the kind of person I'm trying to help.

In addition to my outreach calling, I also clean instruments from time to time and do administrative work like filing, entering data, and the like for the company. There's lots of responsibility and I love the patients that I work for. They really make my job worthwhile sometimes.

There are other days, like today, where I'm overwhelmed by rudeness. I understand that people do consider my telemarketing to be invasive, but that's what the no call list is for. I respect this list because I have to and because I understand why people are on it. My problem is people who don't take two seconds to sign up for it (whether it be for your home telephone or your cell phone... sign yours up today!!!) and then you won't be bothered by the likes of me.

Today I got cussed out by someone pretty badly... definately in the top 3 since I started working here almost three years ago. What I don't understand is why people do this? I'm used to getting hung up on and people refusing our services, but why can't you just be a little nice about it? I'm someone's daughter, someone's friend, someone's sister, not just some no-name robot automatic message. Would you do something like that to a family member? Would you be okay knowing that someone you loved was working as hard as they can to try and help people and happen to make a living at it as well? I don't understand how some people can be so incredibly insensitive to other human beings.

I've always lived by the philosophy of "treat others like you would want to be treated." I know I fail miserably sometimes, but it's a general rule that I think really helps everyone everyday, no matter how small. Just a smile or a "thank you" or holding the door for someone... the little things aren't so little afterall.

It's all about kharma!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Post St. Patrick's Day Reflections

In the sobering day following St. Patrick's Day, lots of people are emerging with bloodshot eyes and bottles of water after a night of shenanigans and debauchery. While I was growing up, this was the holiday I looked forward to (after birthdays and Christmas, of course) because we got to hear fun stories about "the motherland" and embrace our Irish heritage. I recall my mother cutting out construction-paper shamrocks and leaving them all over the house the night before with small treats or presents on each one. It was like an easter egg hunt where we had to look all over the house to see where the "leprechauns" hid all our presents, hence one of my favorite holidays.

When I got older and started to read history books about the treatment of the Irish by the British government and then the oppression they faced after immigrating to America, I became very bitter at the exclaimations "everyone's Irish for a day!" I thought, "How dare you! You have no idea the oppression we faced by the British for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, of how we were treated no better than black slaves while working for railroads and mines in post-civil war America. You have no idea how it felt to be called "stupid Mick" or have animals intelligence attributed to your kind." Why do people associate the Irish with getting as drunk as possible and doing stupid things on a holiday for our patron saint?! I was angry, and the holiday just rubbed salt in the open wound.

In recent years, I've allowed the wound to heal by just ignoring all the craziness around me, or joining in the fun (if you can't beat them, join them afterall.) I did my fair share of drinking green beer and singing along to the pub songs, and even participated in a cabaret-style show the last four years all about celtic music and humor, encouraging people to drink up and be merry! At one point, I sat back to reflect on why we do the things we do, and here are some things that have influenced my present conclusions:

I watched a wonderful documentary last night while feigning homework about the Irish influence on American history. They immigrated from Ireland en masse, especially during and after the Great Potato Famine of the 1840's and 1850's. This created huge slums in the major cities of poor, uneducated and supposedly disease-ridden Irish immigrants everywhere. They were a plague to social services and nuisance to locals who had already been established there.

Around the American Civil War, the huge amounts of stereotypically stubborn and loyal Irish were recruited on both sides to fight for their new home. In the documentary, they mentioned a general that fought for the South and won some courageous battles, but clearly it didn't help them win the war. An anonymous soldier was quoted after the surrender at Appomattox that the North won simply because they had more Irish, which made me very proud!

After the Civil war, many Irish began to gain prestige amongst the civil communities: they were the policemen (hence Paddy Wagon), firemen, legislatures, and in every branch of the government. There were boxers like John Lawrence Sullivan who hero-ized men for their courage and persistence. There was Diamond Jim, famous for silver and copper mining that was one of the richest men in his time. There was "Mother" Mary Harris Jones who helped end oppression by creating better working conditions, pay, and rights for miners in the United States, among the many famous Irishmen in our country's history.

When Ireland finally gained it's independance from England in 1922, the millions of Irish in America finally were proud to be who they are, and hence began the huge celebrations for the patron saint's day. Now, they dye the river in Chicago green, in Butte, Montana there's always been a huge parade (the most Irish city in America per capita - the second is Boston) and copious amounts of liquor served everywhere.

**sidenote** ironically, the Irish communities within the United States, in order to portray a better image of the Irishman, discouraged the consumption of alcohol long ago, also discouraged any kind of disruptive behavior like promiscuity and drug use. I find this funny since nowadays the first thing someone thinks of for St. Patrick's day is going to the bar, where you wouldn't find many Irishmen.

So on this St. Patrick's day, I sent cards to my friends and family telling them how much I love them and hoping them a blessed year, did some homework, then went to bed. No alcohol involved for me!

I hope you all had a wonderful St. Patrick's day and a blessed year. May you be half an hour in heaven before the devil knows you're dead!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Healthy Living (or lack thereof)

Everywhere you go there's talk about healthy living these days. We as Americans have been on a kick for years about our health. There's a commercial that portrays this very well - it's for a synthetic butter showing a black-and-white family from 1950-something sitting down to dinner with huge sticks of real butter on everything, where today's family uses this "healthy butter" substitute instead.

My best friend and I went to lunch the other day and were discussing this. We both talk about this topic a lot since I used to be a dancer and have always known quite a bit about keeping healthy, and she had bariatric surgery almost two years ago and was forced into her healthy habits by this procedure, but has adapted quite well. I asked her what she thought healthy living was and how it could differentiate from what society tells us is "healthy".

She said that (and I agree with a lot of what she said) as long as you feel good, that's what would be healthy for you. It's all about portion sizes: for American's, bigger = better. Meal sizes have tripled in the last decades and so have our waistlines to fit the bill (no pun intended). If we could learn how to manage our portion sizes and know what fills us up and what is excessive, we would be much better off.

My beef (again, no pun intended) is with all these "health food" companies shoving soy products and cardboard, tasteless crap down my throat everyday and telling me it's "good for me". I don't mind tofu in a few things, like how it's used at my favorite Japanese restaurant in sushi and soup, but I'm not about to go on a strictly soy diet because a commercial tells me it's "healthy".... or all this "low-fat" "low-carb" stuff, where you read the labels and they're stuffed full of salt and sugar to compensate taste for what they took out of it. All this "diet" stuff tastes awful and, in my opinion, all the synthetic elements cannot be very good for you... no wonder the deceased aren't decomposing!!

My opinion is that healthy living is what you feel good about doing. If you like exercise, great! Do it as often as you want to make yourself feel great. I love bike riding in the summer after work - helps get my mind off of the gripes of the day and relaxes me. Some people don't have time nor motivation to exercise, but feel fine. I say that's alright, do what you like and as long as you're not complaining to me about how crappy you feel, I'm ok with that.

I think that the more "pure" foods you have in your diet, the better. Fresh fruits and vegetables, real dairy products (perhaps lower in fat, like skim milk instead of full fat) and products with minimal processing are the best for you. I say if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it!

I know I'm not the most innocent person here - I enjoy "junk" foods and ate plenty of fast food when I was younger, but now that I'm focusing on what my body is telling me it likes, the less "bad" stuff I intake. I tend to stay away from fast food which is better for my health (and wallet) and eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables daily as I can.

My friend and I also talked about supplements. You see commercials all the time about health supplements that help you to "live healthier". If you were eating properly in the first place, you wouldn't need something to "supplement" your diet, would you?!

I think that the bottom line is: use common sense. If a food choice has things in it that you don't even know what they are or where they come from, would you really want to eat it? Would you want your family eating that? Do what feels good for yourself, and that's your idea of "healthy living" instead of what society tells you what to do... stick it to the man, eat an apple!