Friday, October 19, 2012

Going postal

I understand that the past few years have not been kind to the postal system. The advent and overwhelming use of email has made handwriting letters a rare occurrence. They've lost a lot of business, and the business they still have has a bad rap. Let's be honest, for the most part we only get junk mail or bills, and no one really likes either. So the postal system is hurting.

If you've visited an actual post office lately, you'll have picked up on a slight to major bad attitude held by most of their employees. They are pissed. And they are not afraid to show it. While some companies treat a major loss of business and the threat of extinction with a certain PR savvy by improving service and treating customers better, the post office has taken a different tack altogether. They have decided to berate, belittle and condescend as their answer to losing their position in this world. It's certainly unique. I'm not sure it will work, but hopefully I am wrong about that.

In fact, I must be wrong. Certainly my own behavior suggests the confusing loyalty of an abused spouse. They treat me like crap and I just keep coming back for more. I will continue to need them to send holiday cards, packages overseas and the like, and I think they know they've got me by the balls... if I had balls, which I obviously don't because I keep using them.

I find it incredible that no matter when I go or what I am sending, I never have the correct forms filled out. Again, most organizations these days are streamlining and making their services and products easier for people to use. The post office takes a certain amount of pleasure in this "baffle and fluster" mission they seem to be on.

Case in point, I sent two identical packages to a similar location overseas, I just made the mistake of sending them on two different days. Needless to say, the first day I showed up with no clue which of the small labels, tags or forms I needed to fill out. The second day, however, I had a leg up on the process. I stood and filled out all the necessary labels and showed up beaming with pride to the window to send my package. Wouldn't you know it, the lady was all too happy to point out that I had forgotten a tag. And when I say happy... she rolled her eyes and seemed on the verge of laughter, so whatever emotion was being conveyed there. I questioned her accuracy since I had been able to send the other package without this new mystery tag. She scoffed and said that I needed it, period/full stop.

Ok, just a little sidebar here: At the end of our sentences in America we have periods. Very often people will verbalize the word to signify the end of a statement.
"You are not going to that bar. Period."
That same punctuation mark in England is called a full stop. Same use, ending sentences, different phrase.
"You isn't going to that gaf. Full stop."
Now, in general, I do believe we win the grammar war, but I am going to have to side with the Brits on this one. My English husband, with good reason, finds the use of the word period in that situation rather vulgar and weird. I agree, however I grew up ending sentences with a period, I will continue to end my sentences with a period. Period. End of statement.

But back to the demeaning and humiliation over at the post office.
I think they're f#$%ing with us, those postal workers. I may have needed that other tag, but I may not have... or maybe it was the other form I didn't need. Those forms and labels are their way of saying that we may drive their business down, but they are still in control. The forms are the little hoops they will always be able to make us jump through. And to top it all off, they make it like I should be grateful because after I go back to fill it out, they say I don't have to wait on the full line again. Gee whiz mister, thanks!

My local branch has a mix bag bunch of Jekyll and Hyde characters who will very often soften their gruff exterior by the time I'm leaving, but it takes some work to get there. And it's work every single time! They NEVER remember me, so I literally have to start from scratch winning them over each time. And silly girl that I am, I can neither give up on trying to make them nice nor take all my business to FedEx (I mean, they're no congeniality winners either!) I want to use the post office. I will use the post office. I just wish they didn't have to be such jerks.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peace be with you...

My mother was pushing my daughter in the stroller recently down one of our lovely nearby streets when she happened upon a mother standing with her three young children. The woman was blocking the sidewalk, so my mother said "excuse me" in a rather commonly used courteous attempt to pass them. The woman, with her adorable brood looking on, turned to my mom and said "What b!tch? I don't have to move for you." My mom calmly waited for her to make space and eventually walked by. She did suggest that the woman not speak that way in front of her kids, but it was more of an afterthought since she had no interest in getting her a$$ kicked while out walking with my daughter.

The grim reality of this exchange is that we are breeding more rude New Yorkers than polite ones. It's simple mathematics really. That woman had three kids under her tutorial, my mom, only one. This town is doomed if that is an accurate portrayal of the statistics of nasty mother f#$kers vs. the rest of us. It's also sad because on a good day, my mom could have easily made that woman feel very small, but she restrained her anger in the best interest of my child. I only wish that other mother could have done the same.

There's a lot out there that we may not like, but we must tolerate. We tolerate for a number of reasons: we are a role model to someone, we have no time to make a decent argument against, our manners won't allow an official assault, or maybe it's a just friend or relative that you simply must put up with. The people listed below are tolerate-able, but can also be deemed annoying. Personally, I tolerate them because I don't want to be an a$$hole, but also because that's how I was raised. Thanks mom... sorry about the angry blog and stuff.

Potted Plants - Also known as old people, but certainly not exclusively. These are human obstacles that there is no moving. I should mention that I have a soft spot for the old and infirm. If you're like me, there is no method of venting your frustration towards an elderly dear that will make you feel good about yourself. Don't bother clearing your throat or cursing under your breathe. They are not going anywhere. The best thing you can do is back up and walk around. Keep calm and carry on.

Kids - I don't have the same soft spot for kids as I do old people. Basically, if you can tie your own laces, you can watch where the f#$% you're going. If you don't, I might just let you know it. You're gonna have to learn some time junior.

Streettalkers - Not to be confused with street walkers, these people talk while they are walking. Sometimes it is as innocuous as a simple hello. Sometimes it's a befuddling "what's up sexy freakin' hot" (*that was an actual quote from an actual streettalker... I was and still am the befuddled recipient). I'm not sure if these talkers want a response, or what the appropriate response even is. But after much consideration I have devised a key to help in these awkward situations.
The eloquent streettalkers will get affirmation. 
The complementary ones will get a thank you. 
The amusing ones will get a nod. 
The witty, friendly ones will get a laugh. 
The bodily function "noisemakers" will be ignored. 
The loud, disruptive ones will get me to cross the street. 

And that brings me to the crazies - It's probably best to just avoid them when possible. Their primary goal is to disrupt your journey. View them as a louder, smellier version of a potted plant. Plot your course around them and continue on your way.

Dawdlers and wanderers - Similar to a potted plant, but slightly more annoying as their minor movements give you false hope. Feel free to assess the situation. If they are below retirement age and of good mental health, feel free to yell at them. But beware: if they turn out to be a crazy in disguise, run!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Maybe I'm not a people person

I like to think I'm a decent person. I do wish for the people of the world to one day come together and live in peace. But part of me is still realistic and realizes that we cannot all come together with such a prevalence, dare I say epidemic, of stupidity out there. Stupid people doing stupid things, and it's happening all around us. Insert appropriate snarky political comment here.

While I see this stupidity everywhere from foreign dictators to the checkout line at the grocery store, I will narrow it down to some of the people I feel really deserve my attention here. I will begrudgingly take a moment here to point out it is not all of the people mentioned, but a bad bunch of each that I hold responsible for my anger... except for the traffic cops. They all suck. Each and every one of them.

Traffic Cops
True to their name, these paid state officials are set loose throughout the city with the sole purpose of causing traffic. And they almost always succeed. I am a frustrated walker, but I am a downright angry driver, especially when I get within spitting (only did it once!) distance of a traffic cop.
In their quest for honking horns and misguiding trucks, these orange vested fools will often take the perfectly functioning traffic lights as mere suggestions. Aren't there people that study this? Hasn't the traffic light system been designed to function so that we don't need people in the middle of the street directing who goes when? Is there a problem with the system that leads the traffic cop to believe it is OK to freestyle and choose the traffic patterns in spite of what the light says?
If you are crossing the street based on the walk signal in front of you (a novel idea, really), you can find yourself in quite the predicament as all the frustrated drivers try to drive over you to get past the intersection and back on their way... all this per some arm flailing that says they should in fact drive over you, even though they technically have a red light.
In short: if you see a traffic cop in the street, proceed with caution. Traffic looms ahead.

Ah, la touristas, or as New Yorkers like to refer to them, la hinderance to our traveling anywhere quickly and easily at any time of day, anywhere in the city. Tourists could probably have their own blog dedicated to their berating, certainly their own post, and yet we also have to cut them a bit more slack. Though they often come from cities which do practice good walking skills, they are on vacation and cannot be expected to be sensible or considerate when in a foreign country. And hopefully they will also take a break from sarcasm, leaving that last sentence to fall upon them kindly.
Non Americans have a terrible sense of personal space... or perhaps, like everything else American, ours is just oversized?
The tourists I'm referring to are the primary reason any sensible New Yorker or savvy tourist knows to avoid Times Square. Sure, we all love big colorful signs that light up, and ooooh! they're so high up! We get the appeal. But until there is a way for people to gaze lovingly at these LCD displays while not blocking up the sidewalks, I think I'll give it a miss.
A note to my tourists out there: If you are taking a photo in a high traffic spot, like for example across the entire sidewalk, I am going to walk through your photo. I shouldn't be considered the rude one in that situation.
Also, slowly wandering down the street while taking up the entire sidewalk is just unnecessary and makes me hate you so much more. Case in point:
This is actually one group of people, SLOWLY walking down the street, not speaking English. Confirmed sh!tty tourists.

I used to be one, so I can only be so critical. I held myself to a certain set of standards though, so it is fair that I hold other smokers to those standards as well. Any more would be hypocritical, any less would be uncivilized.
The smoking ban in buildings has forced smokers out onto the sidewalks. I understand you feel wronged as you were once able to smoke in the comforts of your own office/stairwell and now you have to suffer the extreme heat/cold. But never forget that these are sidewalks, not smoking pens, and we the walkers were here first. I'm not saying that we can't peacefully coexist, just know your place... second, in this case.
Unless you can guarantee you are alone on the street, please be conscious of the fact that you are not. Assume that other people on the street are not smokers who forgot their pack at home and are jonesing for one so it falls on you to actually blow it in their face. In fact, unless someone comes up to you with some heartbreaking tale of how they have no cigarettes, no money, but desperately need a drag and need you to blow one in their face, assume that the rest of us do not need you to blow it in our faces. Thanks anyway though.

I am a proud New Yorker. I know full well that jaywalking is against the law, but I can argue to the death that it is only against the law like pot is against the law. Not because it is a bad thing, not because it doesn't serve it's purpose, but because a few misguided individuals have no clue how to handle it properly, it is ruined for the rest of us. The drivers definitely pose a greater risk to the walker, and in our city they should usually give the walkers the right of way. But honestly, people that attempt to cross when traffic has the right of way are foolish people that do not deserve the protection of the law.
If you are not fit enough to potentially run across the street, you should not be jaywalking as you could have to run at any moment. If you personally object to looking both ways, you should not be jaywalking. If you believe that New York drivers won't really hit you, you should not be jaywalking. But for those of us that can handle the task of safely crossing the street and not getting in any driver's way, we should be allowed to do it. Everyone else can get the tickets.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I don't really get fashion. I like clothes. I've been known to wear them, often. But what started as an appreciation for a standard version of beauty has since turned into a visual p!ssing contest. I enjoy seeing beautiful clothes, but there's a lot that goes on in the fashion industry that confounds me. Like the players in said industry trying to out-weird each other. I just don't get it.

I know this behavior is not limited to the fashion industry. The art world is just full of "art for art sake" people who make a meal of being seen as 'so strange they must be amazing.' I have to wonder how much substance remains inside if you feel you have to wear your interestingness on the outside. Interestingness is one of many words I would have sworn I made up, yet the spell check isn't underlining it, so I guess not.

New York City probably has the highest rate per capita of people that think their sh!t doesn't stink, or rather that the distinct funk of their sh!t is so superior to others that we should just be grateful that they walk the streets with us and haven't needed to construct an alternative walkway for themselves out of sight of us mere mortals. So perhaps I just encounter these people more frequently because of where I live.

It seems like mainstream is the latest curse word and alternative is the new norm. When did it become a bad thing to be recognized and appreciated by many? It seems like the thing to be right now is under-appreciated or misunderstood. Why? Because some of the great people in history were under-appreciated and misunderstood? The faulty logic at play here leaves these modern day "greats" both desperate for attention and disgusted by it at the same time. Don't dress in a way that begs to be noticed and then object to the attention it garners.

This is not directed to everyone that dresses in that attention seeking way. For some of them do truly and openly seek that attention. They thrive off it. Some others (back to those fashion types) just need to dress a certain way to be accepted professionally. I'm just wondering if there is in fact a place where it all balances out. Or do we eventually get to the place where blue jeans and a white t-shirt seems somehow strange and a fashion statement unto itself. Can everything be unique if unique itself becomes a common thing?

What it really boils down to is that I question a lot of the stuff I see on people these days.
I can chalk a certain amount of squeamishness up to my age. I may have considered leather hot pants in my youth, but feel that I have turned the corner on hot pants in general, leather or not.

I am 5' 10" so I have no right to judge someone who feels they need 7" heels. It's impressive enough that they can walk in them. Which naturally brings me to the girls who can't walk in high high heels. Please, just stop wearing them. You look terrible teetering up there. It's not a fashion statement, it's an affront to your intelligence that you think the beauty of the shoe overshadows how awkward you look in them.

A lot of tight dresses out there too. Sexy tight dresses. Jersey dresses that cling, bandage dresses, bondage dresses... do your thing ladies. But um, can you please consider that the tight, clingy look may not exactly suit your body type. Many of you can rock this look. Pregnant ladies, I am talking to you. If there is ever a question of when a tight dress is appropriate, it is when you are pregnant. Rock it, unapologetically. I love to see a tight dress and a big bump. It makes me happy. Pregnancy can suck a lot of your beauty and confidence and this is one way, a small way, to get some confidence back. I probably wore more tight clothing while I was pregnant than during the rest of my life combined. You just own it. Of course, I am fairly sure that some ladies are not incubating a small human, but just in need of some proper smoothing undergarments or may just need to skip the tight clingy dress altogether.

Back to my squeamishness... have you seen the lengths of dresses these days?? They are shirts. At least on my frame they are. But they are worn by many a lady sans pants. And I walk behind them with the intent gaze of a pervert or a confused peer, wondering how it is possible with every step they take that I can actually see straight up to the top end of their leg. How is this acceptable? My husband pointed out recently that as long as you can't see the smile of an ass cheek, it's all good. I know he's right because some of those jean shorts this summer revealed more than a few of those ass smiles and I was downright horrified each time. I know the economy is taking it's toll, but can companies only afford to make dresses with this new drop length in an attempt to maximize their fabric and save money? Have these ladies sold their mirrors in a last ditch effort to save some money and therefore cannot see their own ass cheek before they leave the house?

You can hopefully understand that with a small daughter at home, I find this fashion trajectory utterly frightening. Are we in the midst of a fashion full circle which finds us reverting back to how we started in this world, naked? Surely we've realized the need for loin cloths at least and won't return to fully naked, but again, where does it stop? What is the balance point?

I'll leave you with this thought...

So that's actually two people's judgment I have to call into question. He could have easily pointed out the fact that the sheerness of her dress bordered on inappropriate. I'm not saying you could get arrested for this type of behavior. We all know the phrase fashion police is reserved for bitchy quarter-celebs ripping each other apart, and that they wield no legal power over the dressing habits of others. But let's all take a moment to think before we walk out of the house. Do I want to get noticed? Am I proud of this look? Would my grandparents or grandchildren be proud of this look? Am I trying too hard? Am I not trying hard enough? Can you actually see my ass somehow?