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The Seater Greeter May 25, 2008

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Many years back my husband used the term “seater greeter” to describe what used to be called the maitre ‘d or host at better restaurants.  He doesn’t claim it as original – just a term he heard and found perfect to describe the job.  Expensive places used to have maitre d’s and hosts that lead one to a table – even clothing shops had sales people who saw to ones shopping (Are You Being Served on the BBC was a great example of this phenomenon.)  As we slipped quietly into the realm of fast food, discount stores and lately, rising prices – the role of the Seater Greeter has reemerged and seems to have become very important to corporate business.  Not to me.  The Seater Greeter is an insulting ploy.   I am trying hard to figure out just how stupid businesses think consumers are.  Do they imagine that some slack jawed, bored human at the door saying “Welcome to Buymart” is going to erase our knowledge that we are now paying higher prices for cheaper goods using more expensive gas to go out and do it?  That customer service is going to take the place of good value for money?  That we go to the parking lot in sticker shock but still talk about how nice the guy at the door treated us?  In one local supermarket it is impossible to turn a corner without some eager beaver stopping  you as you shop to ask “if you’re finding everything okay”.  Try asking for something specific and they won’t have a clue.  The other day a confused looking man was handing out grocery fliers as people left the store with a delightful grin spread across his face.

 

I remember when, about a decade ago,  a company for whom I worked decided to reinvent the wheel, add integrity  to its policy and recreate the employees as something else.  They had participated in a est like training program called Smart U.   To this end, they had a contest for the new name and since the business had a slightly nautical theme in its infancy (managers as Captains, First mates etc.) the names we all suggested were really hilarious.  I remember that catch of the day  was one, cabin boy  another and someone even suggested bait .  Accurate too because we all had a sense of becoming fish in a barrel.  They eventually called us “crew members”.  I suggested that had I wished to be a crew member I would have been a sailor or sailed a yacht.  No one laughed.  

 

This whole concept of course is lifted from the Japanese who have used it to great success in their corporate and retail ventures.  Elevator Girls in Japanese department stores take extensive lessons in in bowing and scraping and among corporate samurai the bowing in measured in the angle of the bow- the salary man is indeed part of a greater entity.  Why does anyone imagine this works in a country founded on a revolution and pioneer spirit. 

 

I suppose this stupidspeak  nomenclature is also designed to shortcon the employees themselves into a mythical squadron of dedicated workers who – for their low pay and minimal benefits – imagine that by being “team” members they are helping the company who hires them.  Corporate culture has taken on anthropological status in the last 20 years. Corporations have gotten obscenely rich on this exploitive sleight of hand.  Silly titles do not pay the rent.  Seater greeters are not in the fast track for promotion.  Gone are the days when the bag boy becomes the CEO.  It seems to me that the intelligent thing to do would be to eliminate the grinning and the greeting, train and pay the employees adequately, end the company pep rallies and figure out a way to have the prices of the goods balanced with the economy and the current cost of living.  That means actually living not camping in your car.  It is not prudent to buy more when people have less to spend.  It is not smart to fire ( oops, downsize) employees and then ask the consumer to get a warm fuzzy feeling about a company dedicated to increasing its profit margin by laying off minimum wage workers.  Frankly there is nothing demeaning about terms like clerk, cashier, stockperson, janitor or waitress.  Calling a sow’s ear a silk purse doesn’t make it true.  And there is nothing wrong with either one unless you try to compare them.  I would far rather be a very competent clerk for $20 an hour than a expendable team member for eight bucks an hour with little hope of adbvancement.   Screening for good manners isn’t discriminatory; smiling, saying hello and answering questions are pro forma.

 

By the time prices could go down we will be so accustomed to what they are we won’t even care. The rich will get richer and the rest of us will get new titles for less pay.  Or no pay at all.  And the guy on the street corner playing Three Card Monte will call himself a seater greeter instead of a hustler and no will notice or wonder why.

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A Paler Shade of Blue May 17, 2008

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California added some blue to its statehood today when it finally allowed same sex marriage.  I doubt the state will ever be as blue as Massachusetts (which even has Blue laws but that’s another post) but today marked a turning point in human history for me.  This is the year a black man, a woman and a war hero are trolling for the Presidency and the year that two states in this country allows all  their citizens to get married.  I suspect Antonin Scalia is smiling today.  Not because he embraces same sex marriage but because he is a strict constructionist and a state’s rights advocate.   He  probably would consider the ruling in California today a reinforcement of the 14th Amendment.  I do. 

I looked at some posts responding to an article about this ruling this morning and there are plenty of nasty, rotten people out there taking the name of the Lord in vain.  Any Lord.  As far as I can figure every pregnant woman has a 50% chance of having a baby who is gay (oh God here come the number crunchers – I looked but couldn’t find the odds).  The parents who don’t have issues with these possibilities are probably not part of a focus group – but they do exist.  And because most parents want only the best, happiest, easiest life for their baby they may have concerns – but it won’t be about gender orientation.  I suspect most parents who love their children – straight or gay – don’t really care.  The aches and pains of parents go more to how hard life will be for their child.  Parents want to protect their kids. They know the nasty, rotten ones are out there trying to create monsters where none exist.  The name calling, holy book whacking, narrow minded folks who are so sure they know it all that they dare to label anyone else not like them as “not normal”.  This is the fear.  Not being gay. The posts I read were sickening primarily because the folks who believe this way are clearly imagining gay sex and getting hot or being way too curious about how it works.  You have to wonder when they go to a straight wedding do they immediately undress the happy couple with their eyes and think about the honeymoon.  Of course not.  Gay marriage is no different.  As most straight folks know – marriage is not all about sex.  It’s about establishing a safe haven for your life.  It’s about pets and children and taxes and insurance and everything that everyone should have – if it’s offered.  It’s about common interests or opposites who attract.  It’s about being a grown up who wants to make a commitment and settle down.  How dare we exclude anyone from this.

 

I suggest that if the homophobes who love the sound of their own hatred so much paid attention to their own marriages they would have a full time job on their hands.  No one should have enough time to legislate someone else’s.  Not even Dr. Phil.

 

So hats off to California and to all the June brides and grooms who have waited so long for wedding bells to ring.  Do I support them.  I do. 

Eight Belles’ Death Knell May 5, 2008

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My mother rode horses when she was girl in high school and so did I.  Mine, however,  was a very brief foray into the equestrian world.  Clearly not for me.  From the first day the idea of putting in and then pulling something in an animal’s mouth to make it obey made me very uneasy.  I was 14 and had no idea about very much – but this just didn’t seem right.  Years later we had a Shetland pony, Cashew, when my siblings were kids.  He threw people.  I never said a word (I was an adult by then) but I secretly admired and respected him for his unwillingness to become a broken fool.  My brother now owns a racehorse that lives a quiet life in a safe home with lots of freedom to be just a horse.  He rescued her.  I love him for that.

 

It is hard to reconcile a horse running fine and free with being broken and bridled for the needs of men.  It is even more disturbing when it serves no purpose other than spectator sport and its life partner greed.  I don’t think horses like it.  I don’t imagine they believe – as some would like to us think- that they are doing something majestic when they Run for the Roses or go to Royal Ascot.  I think – given a choice – they would rather run free and allow their foals to do the same.  I resent the conjecture of owners, trainers and racing fans that horses “like”  being driven to run on command and are forced – daily – to train for something that is so obviously not good for their health. I think this in the same way I don’t think Greyhounds “like”  chasing Swifty.  But it is easier to rescue a Greyhound than a horse and the stakes in dog racing are clearly less high end . 

There is something both fascinating and repugnant about horse races.  From the touts at the fence to the Royal Box at Ascot – the sport attracts extremes from the corner to the crown.  Yet it all boils down to the same issue – cruelty to animals who cannot protest or advocate for themselves.  When Eight Belles laid down to die on the turf at Churchill Downs she illustrated – in all its tragic proportions just how cruel racing is.  Her huge, tired body – raced to death on those beautiful, delicate legs – died for money and glory – not for herself but for the people who stole her life.

 

It is quite one thing for humans to ask their bodies to run and jump and perform to the extremes required by sport – they have the ability to stop when they decide to stop.  Animals do not have that choice.   Eight Belles stopped too and because did, there was no win yesterday.  There was only an ugly, unnecessary, public death of a beautiful creature.  We can be grateful perhaps that she was euthanized – had it been another time she would have been shot to put her out of her misery.  So the answer to the question; “they shoot horses, don’t they?” is yes, but it starts before they are born.

Eight Belles’ death should make us all stop and think about The Sport of Kings for what it really is.  Just an upscale blood sport that ennobles no one.   

 

NB – Sorry for the on and off run-on graphs.  This is a WordPress problem and they are trying to fix it. 

A Common Sense Platform May 3, 2008

Posted by voolavex in common sense, Uncategorized.
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I am adopting Common Sense as my party of choice.  I am disgusted with the donkey and the elephant.  The Dems are behaving very badly and the GOP has never appealed to me.  The following is what I think – the short version.

If it seems wrong or not a good idea then don’t do it.  If you have a strong feeling about people being free and  those who want others to be free too – then go for it.  Embrace integrity.  If you have none consider getting some.  Don’t blow people up.  Don’t brainwash children.  Don’t use them for sex. Don’t use racial slurs. Give up lying.  Women and children are not chattel.  Pets are not chattel.  Don’t steal unless it is to feed your children.  Nothing else is important enough to steal. Your children do not require beer, Jack Daniels or snack cakes either.   Other people have opinions and if they don’t impact your world negatively let them be.  All slavery – mental or physical is wrong.  The police make mistakes.  So do the courts.  We still need both.  Not all countries have to be homelands for other people who want them. And you should not invent homelands.  Pakistan was non-existent before 1947.  It didn’t turn out well either.  Israel was Israel before Christianity and Islam even came along.  Let it belong to all faiths who love it but let the Jews do the statecraft.  .   Jerusalem is a Holy city – no one should be kept out.  Not everyone agrees with the Jihad approach.  Leave Jesus out of it – he died for people’s sins once – don’t force him to relive the moment forever.  God may have moved on to other projects.  Don’t think he will bail us out every time.  If you don’t believe in God – why should it bother anyone who does?  Black people get treated poorly in this country.  This is not a myth.  China should not have been awarded the Olympics because they are a repressive regime.  But we should not do business with them and then expect  them to be like us.  If we don’t like them – and no one else seems to,  then  we shouldn’t go there.  When in doubt – ask what the Dalai Lama would do and do it. Try to age gracefully. If not, choose your plastic surgeon as though your future depended on he or she alone.   Babies after 40 may not be the best idea in the world.  Get a pet.  When this planet has been used and discarded like a Styrofoam cup – you will not get a free trip to Mars.  If you live on Earth then everyday is Earth Day. You do not need that huge car.  If airline travel is going to resemble subway riding then it should be a lot cheaper.  Read more books.   Get a real life and reduce your need for tabloid news. Money can buy happiness and better health.  Sad, but true.  If you want political power you will need to toss some bones to the public.  Health care, better distribution of assets, jobs and taxes that make sense.  Donald Trump should not get any loopholes. Avoid Wal-Mart.  George Bush was not the right man for the White House. Even the GOP knows it.  Sex education works better than abstinence.  If abstinence was a solution we would see a drop in sex-related matters.  Everyone who wants to be married should be entitled to do so.  Who they choose is their own business.  The media makes things up for profit.    English does sound better with a British accent.  Rethink Justice Antonin Scalia – he blows hard but some of what he blows makes sense.  Not every mishap is a cause of action. 

Common sense.  No purchase required.  Rated for all ages. Pass it on.

“Without relying on religion, we look to common sense, common experience and the findings of science for understanding…”

Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama