Thursday, 4 July 2013

Job Appreciation

I am a cashier.

It's not true that anyone can be a cashier. In my years as a cashier I have seen many people come and go. Contrary to popular lore it is NOT an easy job. Customer service takes a great deal of mental fortitude and emotional stamina.

The job itself SHOULD be relatively easy.

You stand behind a till and you ring in orders. You accept cash, you bag things (maybe), you smile and politely send people on their way. That seems to be it but that's not the whole story.

Customer service puts you in the front line of humanity's worst moments.

As a cashier you have to smile and agree, even when the person before you is being rude or stupid.

As a cashier you have to always, always, ALWAYS, maintain your calm, even when the person before you is being unreasonable.

As a cashier, if you mess up, even a little, you will NEVER be forgiven. Ever. So you have to be perfect, at all times.

As a cashier you will have to deal with people looking down on you. People thinking you're only a cashier because you couldn't do any better. People who will mock you to your face because you couldn't possibly understand being tired because you're just a cashier.

As a cashier you will, almost every day, be made to feel like you are somehow less than the person on the other side of the till. Because you are in a position of service you will be treated like little more than a brainless servant.

The great challenge of customer service isn't the job. The job itself is actually very easy.

The great challenge of customer service is the people.

But the great reward of customer service is the people too.

For every person who is rude or obtuse, there are four who are kind and brilliant.

For every person who is unreasonable and angry, there are five who are calm and laughing.

For every person who is unforgiving and expecting perfection, there are ten who understand that you're human first and a cashier second.

For every person who looks down on you for being in 'customer service', there are twenty who recognize just how taxing customer service can be.

For every person who makes you feel like 'less', there are hundreds who make you feel like a friend.

This isn't a post to complain.

It's just a post to say...

Yes. I am a cashier.

And I love my job.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Words Will Hurt Me

When I was a kid we used to have this song we'd sing;

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,

but words will never hurt me."

A nice sentiment but I have news for you. It's not true.

I think of myself as a fairly confident and grounded person. I like me. Even when I do or say something stupid I recognize this as the exception rather than the rule. Words, however, have the power to take me from confident and happy to suspicious and miserable.

Maybe when someone says something mean to you once, it's easy to shake it off. Twice, you can still shrug it away but the third, fourth, fifth and tenth time it really starts to stick.

One minute you're puttering along and you're perfectly fine and then those words... those silly words that aren't supposed to be able to hurt you come popping up.

"You're stupid."

"no... I'm not..."

But enough people have said or insinuated those words that you're not so sure.

"You're ugly."

"... I... don't think I am..."

But enough people have repeated that you are... can so many people be wrong?

"You're worthless."

"I'm not... am I?"

So many people seem to think so.

How do you shake these things off?

I've gotten to the point now where I'm so raw and exposed from all the cruel, hurtful words people fling at me, and the cruel, hurtful ways in which they behave, that I no longer have the ability to 'shake it off'.

Some people would call me weak. Some people would say: "OH TOUGHEN UP! IT CAN ONLY HURT YOU IF YOU LET IT!"


Saying that doesn't make it better. It continues the cycle of abuse. So basically when you say -that- you're saying I'm weak, because it DOES hurt. Stop saying that. It doesn't help. It makes the hurt deeper and makes the hurting want to hide their hurt so you don't see.

Hidden hurt has more power to leave lasting scars. When we take something into us and hide it, it eats away from the inside. We should be allowed to speak our hurts out loud, so we can get it out of us.

I think the answer to hurtful words isn't; "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

I think the answer to hurtful words is; "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Hurt begets hurt.
Nastiness begets nastiness.
Anger begets anger.

Kindness rules them all.

When people are unnecessarily rude or cruel to us, I think the best response is to be kind to them in response. When the encounter is over you will STILL be hurt... but at least you will know you showed them another way. A better way. And maybe, just maybe, you planted a seed of goodness in them.

I think people who go around deliberately belittling and hurting others are very damaged people. Maybe they have hurt of their own and it got bottled up so tightly that it ate them from the inside until they became the hurt. A walking ball of hurt that goes around trying to hurt more and more. Like the borg of feelings.

But we will not be assimilated into this nasty little cycle.

Or at least... I won't.

Deep breath.
Chin up.
Show them the kindness and courtesy they seem to have forgotten.
You're strong Nicky... you've got this.

Monday, 22 April 2013

This Is Not the Post I Promised

Last time I said my next post would be about exercise - I lied. That's something you need to learn about me, sometimes I lie. Not intentionally, I just don't think before I speak and often times I say what I THINK reality should be instead of what it actually is.

For example: "I told him where to put it!"

"You did?"

"Actually... no, but I wanted to!"

So yes, I intended to make a post about exercise but this post struck me as more interesting and so the discussion of how much I love lifting heavy things will have to wait for another time.

Now, let's talk about restaurants. No, really, let's talk about restaurants and why I can't stand them!

For most people going to a restaurant is a treat. We go to escape the drudgery of cooking for ourselves and the inevitable clean up that must follow cooking at home. For most people it's an opportunity to enjoy good food and good company.

For me going to a restaurant is a stressful, uncomfortable, often times traumatizing ordeal.

Here's why.

A: They never, ever, ever, EVER get my order right. "I can't have diary, gluten, nuts or apples. What on your menu is safe?"

The waiter will ask the cook, then return to give me my options. I will order only to receive food that either has butter on it or another allergen. This is always the case. And I often worry about cross contamination.

Did you know Boston Pizza claims to have 'gluten-free' products? For something to be truly gluten-free (and thus safe for allergy sufferers) it must be prepared on properly sanitized surfaces and cooked in gluten-free ovens. Do you really think they're preparing their 'gluten-free' selections on properly sanitized surfaces? I don't. I have a very strong suspicion there is a great deal of cross-contamination going on in their kitchen. And I strongly suspect this is the case in any restaurant.

This may seem a very small complaint to some but for me this is potentially life threatening. Get a bit of dairy in my meal and my stomach will hurt for awhile. Get a bit of gluten and I'll feel ill. Get a bit of nut in there and I'll die. Period.

B: The noise. OH THE NOISE! How can I eavesdrop if there are ten conversations going on at the same time? I'm sure that I was autistic or something in a past life because the noise in restaurants bothers me a great deal. All the voices at once... I just don't like it. For a variety of reasons but mostly it hurts my head.

C: The Wait Staff. This one may seem VERY odd but there seem to be three kinds of wait staff. The Overly Friendly - honestly I find these ones annoying. I don't want to chat with my wait staff. I haven't come to visit with them, I've come to visit with whomever I'm eating with. I just don't like it when they go on and on and on... argh. I've had my moments as a cashier but as a cashier it's just me and them and nothing else to fill the silence. In a restaurant setting the wait staff has no reason to linger or fill the gap of silence. The Overly Rude - these are the ones who are rushed and don't pay attention to your order and sometimes even get a bit rude and obnoxious. These are the eye rollers, the short, snipped responses and the ones who most often expect the biggest tips. Very Rarely The Good - these ones just do their job. They smile. They are polite. But they don't try to chat you up or waste your time. They just do their job! It's nice.

D: The price. Really? I can feed myself for maybe $20 a week and they expect me to pay over $28.00 for one meal? HAH! Not likely.

Perhaps I haven't been to the right restaurants but as it is I don't think I'll ever trust strangers enough to eat something I haven't prepared myself.

Strangely enough fast food places don't bother me as much. Places like A&W or McDonalds provide handy dandy ingredient lists so you can read exactly what's in their food. They list common allergens and often have warnings for allergy sufferers. This gives me quite a bit more confidence than your average restaurant.

Maybe one day someone will open a restaurant just for allergy sufferers. A quiet, gentle atmosphere where one can enjoy an intimate time away from the drudgery of cooking at home but honestly I don't expect this to happen any time soon!

And there you have it! My rant of the day.

And no cute drawings this time around. Sorry. ):

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Catholics Hate the Bible

A Serious Post.

I almost feel bad for posting two religious topics in a row but lately I have been immersing myself in my faith and in doing so have reignited a passion for the faith that leads to me thinking mainly about faith-based matters. So bear with me.

When I was a Protestant I often heard the argument that Catholics don't know their Bible. Catholics don't know their faith. The average Catholic doesn't know WHY they do the things they do, they just do them out of habit.

DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to attack anyone, it is merely a glance at a curious phenomenon that I've seen in life.

Here's the thing.

When I was a Protestant I didn't know the Bible. Sure, I could quote Bible verses here and there from the Old Testament and I knew my way in and out of the New Testament but I didn't KNOW Scripture. I didn't understand it as a whole but took it in parts. And the majority of people I knew were in the same boat.

Why did we go to Church on Sunday instead of honoring the Sabbath on Saturday? I didn't know. I just went because I was told that's when we go.

Why did we believe in the Trinity? I didn't know and most of the Protestants I knew could NEVER show me in the Bible where that belief comes from. They believe because they're told to believe.

The hard questions were often brushed aside. It just IS. Why do we believe this? We just DO. Where is this in the Bible? We just believe this. I'm sure it's in the Bible SOMEWHERE but I don't know where off hand.

I posit to you that Protestants don't know their Bibles. They don't know their faith. The average Protestant doesn't know WHY they believe what they believe, they believe because they're expected to and they will put aside their own reason to blindly follow someone who can quote the Bible more effectively than they can. True story.

In Protestantism, like in Catholicism, there are simply people who go through the motions. They are culturally Christian. This is true in ANY faith, any religion. It's bound to happen when you have a religion that is accepted almost country-wide. Some people are born into it and stay in it because it's a family heirloom of sorts. Some people pretend to be it to gain favor (as in Politicians or even in workplaces). Some people DO believe in Christ and God but they have no desire to learn more, they want to just believe but lack intellectual integrity and/or believe belief is ALL you need. Blind faith. It's not a Catholic phenomenon.

Now of course I don't actually believe that all Protestants don't know their bibles, and I never make the argument that; The average Protestants doesn't know WHY they blindly do the things they do... but I hope you realize that stating that Catholics don't know their bible, Catholics don't know their faith, Catholics just blindly do what they're supposed to out of habit is an equally unfair statement to make.

We are each responsible for our own intellectual integrity. Stop basing your opinions based on how others act and start basing your opinions on fact.

Fact: Scripture is preached EVERY SINGLE DAY in Catholic Masses throughout the world. Since joining the Catholic Church I have learned several pieces of Scripture that I can now quote by memory and this is because of the Catholic Mass (and I only had to attend every Sunday to learn them! - although I would gladly attend daily Mass if I could).

Fact: Many Catholics don't know why they do what they do but many DO know! And those who know do all the rituals with great joy and peace, knowing full well what they mean and what they signify.

Fact: Catholics are not only encouraged to read the Scripture but there are MANY resources available for free to help them study it. Problem is, they actually have to make the effort to seek these things out and as we know Catholics are people and people can be lazy.

Fact: The majority of Protestants love Scripture.

Fact: Some Protestants have many traditions they follow without being aware they are following a tradition.

Fact: Protestants love Jesus Christ just as much as Catholics.

This post ties in very heavily with my last post so please consider it a part two of the last one!

There you have it. Next up; A look at Exercise!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cocky Little Religious Person

Back in the day, before I found a religion that fit me, I was a confused little Christian. I believed in God and Jesus Christ but beyond that I didn't really know where I fit. I did know ONE thing though, I knew where everybody else was going wrong.

It's funny how you can find people like this. They're everywhere. They don't really know what is RIGHT but they sure as heck can tell you what you're doing wrong.

Okay, I say funny but really it's just annoying.

And I was annoying.

Dreadfully so.

I was the worst of the worst.

I would talk to a Mormon and say to their face: "That's not what your church teaches!" I wouldn't stop there either. I would actively debate them about their faith traditions.

Even if I had never spent any real time researching what their church taught, I read a book once or I spoke to an ex-Mormon once so I. Knew. Everything.

It didn't even occur to me that sometimes people misinterpret what a church teaches.
Sometimes people even outright lie to make things seem worse then they are.
Or they twist and turn what the church teaches until it becomes unrecognizable to actual adherents of the faith.

Thing is, especially in the Protestant movement, there seems to be a real love of fear-mongering.


OH! Don't touch those dirty Catholics! They'll turn you to Satan!

Jehovah's Witnesses will brainwash you if you talk to them!!!


I encountered these sort of histrionics all the time and somehow I internalized some of it.

Man I was stupid.

Then a funny thing happened.

Funny weird not funny ha-ha. Although maybe a wee bit funny ha-ha if you think about it really hard, squint, tilt your head and then force a little laugh. After the first laugh it'll seem funny.

I joined the Catholic Church.

The one Church I hated more then any of the others!

Didn't you know Catholics worship Mary?

Didn't you know they talk to the dead?

Didn't you know they adore the Pope more then God?

You didn't? Well, I did and I would have told you all of it if given a chance.

Thankfully I encountered an opponent who is much tougher, much more stubborn and much more loving than I am.

In the Christian faith we call Him the Holy Spirit.

Other cultures might call Him Jiminy Cricket but whatever.

Now I look around me and I say to the Hindu: Tell me what you believe.
I encounter the Mormon and say: I'd like to learn about your faith traditions. Tell me about the Temple.
I meet the Jehovah Witness and say: Don't waste your time on me I'm stupid.

WHAT? I still find them annoying, okay?

"Did you ever wonder why there's so much suffering in the world?"

"No. I never have and never do. I prefer to focus on more positive things, like who invented ice cream? I'd like to kiss them. Hard."

The moral of the story is: Now, I listen to people when they tell me what their faith believes. If I'm cranky I might challenge them but only if I'm really cranky and itching for a debate and only if it doesn't upset them. Also, if I decide I REALLY want to learn about their faith, I study that faith from the source on my own instead of taking their interpretation to heart. Personal responsibility folks, it's an odd concept but it takes intellectual growth a long way.

People rail on and on about how unreliable word of mouth is but then they rely on word of mouth to learn about religion. Where's the logic?

Missing. That's where.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How Not to be Touched by Strangers Part One

I have a problem.

It's a small problem really, depending on your outlook.

A small, delicate but truly awkward problem.

You probably don't want to hear about it but I want to talk about it.

Here's the trouble.

I am a girl.

Of the female variety.

As a result I look soft. Soft and sometimes pretty. Not too pretty. Not head turningly gorgeous. Just kind of nice.

Why is this a problem?

Well, apparently, people like touching girl things. Perhaps because of the softness. Perhaps because of the prettiness. Whatever it is - I attract touch.

Good! Right? No, wrong. Very wrong. Touch from people I know is a wonderful thing. Touch from people I love is a glorious thing. Touch from certain people whom I REALLY love is delightful. Touch from complete strangers...?



Those are just a few words to describe it.

I hate it.

But I keep attracting it.

I'm a friendly person. That's probably why. It's probably my fault that strangers keep touching me. When I step outside of my house I treat every human being I meet as my best friend EVER. Unless they give me reason to behave differently.

Some people just give me the stink eye and then I get scared and I'm less friendly.

Some people ignore me or treat me like dirt and then I'm less friendly with them.

But most people are pretty patient and they return my misplaced affection. Unfortunately a rare few (or surprisingly common lot) mistake friendliness for flirtation or interest.

Look. If I'm interested romantically I'll probably just tell you. I'm not very good at secrets or subtlety. The only time I'll keep it to myself is if I think I have no chance in heck of gaining your attention. Then I might keep it to myself but generally I'll just outright tell you.

Clear? Good. So stop touching me.

If only it were that easy!

I've decided to start tracking the behaviorisms that attract all this touching and using this list I am going to make a handbook for ladies. A sure fire way to stop from being touched by strangers! So here we go. The first three things that you must stop doing if you want to stop being touched by strangers are...

1. Pink Hair Attracts Perverts - Multi-colored Hair Attracts More Perverts

I like colors. Lots of colors. I like colors in my hair especially. So this one time I started dying my hair pink and then I thought: Self, what's better then one bright color in your hair? LOTS of bright colors in your hair! So I dyed my hair three different neons shades of brilliance. Blue, purple and yellow. Not JUST yellow, neon yellow. I was wonderful and apparently a big old go signal to perverts everywhere.

There I was. Quietly minding my own business when some fellow came up behind me. "I like your hair," he says.

"Thanks," I responded. I was used to it. People commented on my hair all the time. It was both an uncomfortable and amusing process. It was nice that my hair brought people such joy but weird to get so much attention. I honestly hadn't considered that Rainbow Brite hair might attract attention to ME.

Next thing I know Mr. Fellow is petting my hair, "It's soft." he says.


Soft. Shiny. And multi-colored hair attracts touch.

So don't do it.

Just don't.

Keep your hair ONE shade of color at a time. It's safer.

2. Soft Shoulders Attract Tired Perverts

I was, once again, minding my own business. At this point I had given up on multi-colored hair. It just seemed unwise. Especially for someone who hates attention and unwanted stranger touching. So my hair was boring and brown. There I stood, just checking out product on a shelf in a store when BAM... I feel this pressure on my shoulder. At first I thought someone was touching my shoulder to get my attention but when I looked down this guy was standing beside me with his head on my shoulder.

Our eyes met.

He smiled.

I stared.

"Um... hello?" I said with my best: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? tone.

He smiled more widely, lifted his head and walked away.


Stop it. Just stop having soft shoulders.

It's not wise.

3. Being Nice Attracts Butt Grabs

This winter while waiting in line at a store one of my frequent customers (from my night job) came up behind me. We started chatting. I'm friendly with him but I don't flirt with him. He's a nice guy but he's a customer. I'm not generally interested in customers. It just seems like bad news.

We chat away. In our usual manner. Suddenly his arm is around my waist. Holy. Crap. How do I get out of this without hurting his feelings? That was my first thought. No joke.

He's a nice guy. I don't want to hurt his feelings.

But then his hand is sliding down. Past my lower back... lower...

Yeah. My ninja instincts kicked in. BAM! I slid out of his hold and halfway across the store in the blink of an eye.

These days I keep a nice solid object between him and I at all times.

Stop being nice to people.

Talking to them. Caring about them. Smiling at them is an open invitation to butt grabs.

Just don't do it.

To Be Continued

 More to come when I feel up to reliving more misery.