Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011!

Happy New Years (Eve)!



I hope you all have a wonderful new years celebration tonight and an even better 2011. It is always nice to start fresh! In case you are interested, my new years resolution is to use facebook less. I am limiting myself to once a day for 30 minutes. As I have stated in previous posts, I find that facebook does not make my life any better and often makes me feel angry or sad. So, I am going to use my time interacting with more people face to face and less on the computer. That is my goal for 2011- I do not want social media to really make me (and us all) less social.

And for a quick car update- I got my car all fixed yesterday (tire rotation, transmission service) and I got my ignition switch replaced because that seems to be the culprit for my car not starting (it has happened twice in 1 week). It all cost $346, so not too bad, but the ignition switch and inspection service cost me an extra $160 (at least I saved $100 on changing my own filters). I slid into a ditch on Monday because of ice and tore off half my hubcap, but I decided against getting a new one because they were charging too much, so I will fix that on my own (it also gives my car a little flavor). I don't mind paying all that as long as it is FIXED. So here is hoping that my car will not randomly not start in the cold and that I won't have to pay even more money to figure out what is really wrong. That would make this a long winter. So I hope 2011 also brings me good car juju:). And that my Lasik goes well (more on that coming up). And that I don't lose my job or get a huge pay cut from budget cuts...

...so basically I just want a good year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 5 of '10

My top five experiences/events of 2010!

5. Grandmom's 90th Birthday party in Nashville. Even though I was sick with a stomach bug (and missed walking in my grad school graduation), which made the actual traveling most difficult and unappealing, celebrating my grandmom's 90th birthday with my large extended family is something I will never forget. I hope I am like her when I am 90!

4. Getting my master in education. Education is a very big deal for me (obvi, since I work in education), so I am very proud of earning my masters at the age of 23, just 2 years after I graduated from college.

3. Moving out. Finally, at the mere age of 24, I moved out of my parent's home for good! Now I pay my own bills and take care of myself. I am very lucky and appreciate all the opportunities I was given by my family to be where I am today. Being able to live comfortably in this crazy life is something to not take for granted. And I try not to (even when I freak out about having to pay $300 on car repairs instead of saving for a house). Post here.

2. Getting a job. I realize how lucky even I was in my horrible job 3-month job search. I am thankful everday for my job. Even when I don't love it (but I normally do).

1. Going to Italy in July with my whole immediate family. See post here. Not much more else to say! I mean it's Italy. Come on.

So when I look back on 2010 what will I think of? I don't know. Probably the year I started my career. But then again, I never remember years as good or bad but just by their defining moments. This year was a year full of up and downs. But for the first time I feel like I became an adult. So watch out the rest of my years:)!

Christmas 2010

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

I really love Christmas because of the traditions and family. This year both my brothers and sister-in-law came to Richmond and we spent four days together drinking, eating, playing cards (I lost), and traveling to my brother's vineyard in Loudoun, Va. We do not all see each other but about once or twice a year as my oldest brother lives in Texas. This time all of us had not been together since July when we all went to Italy. So it was a good time. I always find it hard to get back to normal after the excitement and build-up of the holidays, but at the same time I am always anxious to get back to normal as well. I have had such a nice time this year because of my loooonnnngggg winter break. With school being closed the Thursday and Friday before my two weeks off, I have had a long break from work. It has been wonderful. I always worry that I won't have enough to do, but somehow I always find something and love the relaxation and break from work:).

The best part of my Christmas (besides spending time with family, of course) was adopting and taking care of two 3-month old kittens for my brother for a week. I have fallen in love and will miss them greatly. Meet Lloyd (black/white cat) and Linda (white tabby). Look how cute they are!





We brought them up to my brothers house in Purcellville, Va (Loudoun County aka Northern Va) on Monday and they will have such a fun life in the vineyard!!! But I will miss them!

 Texas Hold 'Em ("pass")


Our tree Christmas morning!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Becoming a Mechanic

OK, the one thing I really wish I could do is fix things in my car. I went for a routine oil change at the dealer last week because I got a $10 off coupon in the mail. I figured it would be a little cheaper than my normal oil change. Of course as they are looking at the oil, they tell me I need to rotate my tires ($22.50), change my engine filter ($56.00), change my passenger cabin filter ($56.00) and have a routine transmission check with new fluids and filter ($160.00). I was COMPLETELY blindsided by all this. I came in expecting to spend 30 bucks and go on my merry way, and they wanted to leave me $294 bucks lighter. I had an internal freak out, but said no and that I would come back another time.

I left on a mission: to find out what I actually needed to get done and to price shop. My car is at 50,000 miles, so it is time for a tune up and I know there are some things I need to do for upkeep. But $300 worth? Really? I looked in my owners manual for the maintenance schedule and found that it was time for filter changes and transmission checks, but I wanted to save money. I called my best friends boyfriend who is a car wiz, and he said that an engine filter is important to change but that I could buy the filter for $12.00 at a local autozone and do it myself. Done. I also conveniently found out my roomate's boyfriend changes his and hers all the time and he said he would do it. I went to autozone, bought a new air filter, and he changed it in less than 10 minutes. I saved $44. Holler.

Next was the passenger compartment air filter. This seemed more complicated. I googled it and found info on when/how to change it. It seemed important and pretty easy. I also looked in my owners manual which had easy instructions. It involved removing the glove box doors from their hinges and pulling down the filter from underneath the hood. My dad was able to move the glove box off the hinges fairly easily (I wasn't strong enough) and I found that the filter was way dirty. At least they weren't lying to me. I went to autozone and bought a filter for $14.99. I installed it the next morning in less than 1 minute. I saved $40 . Holler.

The transmission fluid and filter (or as Saturn calls it, transaxle, which I learned because my car is front weal drive) change is another story. After calling two autoshops, the price run from $150-$200 to do the service. And they all said it is necessarily every 50,000 miles. I caved in. I am taking my car in next week for that service and to rotate my tires (I got new tires in May, so I am annoyed I need to rotate them already, but I know it's needed about twice a year).

In conclusion, I saved close to $100 doing some work on my car myself. It makes you realize how much car shops make jacking up prices for things that are relatively easy to do. People just have to take the time to learn about what needs to be done, do it if they can (or have someone they know do it), and shop around for prices. I don't mind paying money to have something done well (I will even go to the dealer for big service things because they know the car the best), but I want to make sure it is necessary and that I can't do it.

And after doing all this, my car didn't start last night. Crap. But I checked and air filters have nothing to do with cars not starting. This is just my car being stupid (it's not the battery). So that $100 I saved might have to go towards something else...bummer. BUT at least I learned a lot about my car and maintenance schedule!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

High School Revisited

The one thing about living in the same city where you (mostly) grew up is that at any moment you have to be prepared to run into people you haven't seen in years. Since I was gone at college for four years, there are many people that I haven't seen in a loooonnnggg time. And this does not only apply to people your age, but it can also mean teachers and parents. I have run into many former teachers and friend's parents of mine since moving back home, especially since I have started working for the same school district I attended. Some remember you, some don't, but it's usually always a pleasant conversation and fun to catch up.

Last night was prime example of how easy it is to run into people from your past. Many friends and I went out in the fan (for those of you not from Richmond, the fan is an urban/hip part of the city with row homes and between the museums and VCU- it's where I hope to live at some point) to a couple of different bars that are all in walking distance of one another. At the final bar it was like a high school reunion. I ran into people I hadn't seen since we graduated in 2004. The funny thing was, though, that a few of them could not believe I drank because I never drank in high school. That is true, I never really drank. I never went out to parties with drinking in high school because it just always seemed stupid and not fun to me and none of my close friends drank. That is not to say that I never drank, but I did not showcase it and I hung with a different crowd. But this guy could not get over it! The whole night he would just comment on how he couldn't BELIEVE I was drinking. Finally I told him to get over it because high school was almost 7 years ago and people change and I have been to college and turned 21 since then. So it's ok.

But the whole experience got me thinking. When most people think of high school, do you think of people the way they were or do you think of them how they would be now? I remember how most people were, but I don't assume that they are the exact same way now. I do believe that people essentially stay the same their whole life, but their experiences and issues change and evolve. I still at heart am the same person I always have been, but that does not mean I have not grown up. Yes, I drank in college, unlike in high school, but I still never was wild and crazy. I never loved to do it all the time, and I still don't, but I had (and have) a lot of fun letting loose and being social that way. Accordingly, I am an adult now, so I drink and do "adult" things because of my age and life choices, but I think my heart and soul are still stuck at fifteen. So I hope that when people think of me, they don't just think of the things I did or didn't do (even though I am proud that I wasn't peer pressured and stood my ground). I hope they think instead of how I treated them and my attitude (which hopefully was nice)! I would hate for someone to think their whole life that I am a certain way because of how I was in high school. Let's face it, high school is not the best four years for many people, so the way they were is not how they actually are. Sometimes I think it would be fun to do it over, but then I work in a high school and am reminded why I am glad I am through that part of my life:).

Where am I going with all this? I have no idea. It was just an interesting and eye-opening experience, because I have no grudges with anyone I went to high school with. I assume we have all grown up now, so whatever you did or didn't do- I don't care. I think it is fun to run into people and catch up. Sometimes we block out the negative parts of our lives and only remember the good, so chances are when I run into someone, I am always excited, whether I should be or not.

And now a walk down memory lane...

 My 15th surprise birthday party.
 My 10th grade Algebra 2 class on the last day
 Junior Year prom
Some best friends going out to dinner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

T.S. Squared

^1. Taylor Swift. So this year I joined the ranks of the prominent few who are able to participate in Christmas CD exchanges. Thanks to my bro, I was able to make a CD of my favorite/least favorite/themed/interesting/sad/happy/random songs and send an email with three of my most influential albums of the past 10 years. I felt pretty cool, because musical inclusiveness is the ultimate sign of being “in.”I took my CD song selections very seriously (even if anonymous, I still wanna have the ‘good’ album of the group). It was joked that even Taylor Swift could be included in our CDs or as our most influential singer in the past 10 years. I laughed. Hah! Taylor Swift, my butt! Then I thought about it…I actually really like Taylor Swift. I find myself replaying her songs over and over again because I identify with them so much. I feel bad, though, because she is 4 years younger than me. What does she know about life?! Apparently more than I do. Seriously, “Dear John,” Back to December,” “Innocent,” “Fearless,” and “Fifteen” are top notch. She may not be the best singer, but damn that girl can write a good song and make me like country music.


Curse you Taylor Swift for getting into my head and stealing my thoughts! 

But (in case you are worried), I did NOT include her in my top 3 most influential albums of the past 10 years. If you wanna know what I DID include, ask in comments (muahaha my tricky way to get you people to comment on my posts)!!!

^2. Tacky Sweaters. I love me some tacky sweaters. My favorite college date function was a tacky sweater party. The holidays are a great way to bust these out and curse the 80’s and 90’s for making such horrid sweaters (and the people that wear them and think they’re acceptable). My principal recently joked to a fellow co-worker about tacky sweaters and basically dared her to wear one to work. She did and got a couple of us involved in the tackiness. The only awkward thing about it, though, is that some faculty members actually wear these sweaters in their daily holiday gear. So it’s a bit awkward to walk around in them, because people don’t know whether or not to take us seriously. Some people immediately get it- others do not. Our administrators and department got a kick out of it (watch out- it may be a themed day next year), but walking in the halls, I am not so sure everyone got the joke. At least we’re young, so they do look pretty ridiculous on us. And we jazzed our ensembles up with  ridiculous necklaces and earrings.

Ohhhh, joy. Tacky Sweater AXO Holiday Date Function December 2007. Great stories from this night.



Tacky Sweater Day at work 2010. Holler.




T.S.^2. Who got all my references?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Teenage Dream


While at my parent’s house this weekend, I found some old high school assignments on my parent’s computer. I had not looked at these since high school (so over 7 years ago) and didn’t even know they were still on our computer. I had a good laugh reading old papers and projects (especially my writing), but the funniest part was finding an old journal that I wrote talking about the drama’s of high school life. Here is a sample (censored and cut down with names removed, of course):

10/16/02
        First off, whoever said high school was the best four years of their life has got to be joking. I hope it is the worst four years so I would have gotten it out of the way. My life is sooo boring…
Well one person in particular annoys the crap out of me. _____! all the sudden she thinks she’s bad and has to go out and do all this crap everyone else does…why does she all the sudden have to be like everybody else? Those are the type of people I am sick of… I just wanna meet new people…
        Ya sure there are some people like me like but they get in their little moods too when I just wanna live somewhere else. The only problem is I don’t see them as much as all the Humanities people so it still sucks…

11/19/02
I’m gonna do homework and school is gonna be my life till I get out of college in 6 years and then what? If I don’t fall in love with someone who will save me and turn my life around…nothing will ever happen but work…work…work…work. Ughhhh.

12/31/02
        This is probably one of the last thoughts on my mind this new year…I’ve had a wonderful holiday season!! The break has been great…I’ve seen family…I got new clothes and have been shopping!!!! HahaJ And I have taken a break from school…which I really need before exams!! Anyways here are my last thoughts about my year and the next (and these are my own quotes):
“Be true to myself.”
“LIVE LIFE TO MY FULLEST, NOT SOMEONE ELSES!!”
“Many years from now, what I did or didn’t do won’t matter. What will matter is what I have, and I hope to have friends that will last a lifetime. The only way to have true friends though, is to be true to myself, starting right now”
MY RESOLUTION: To not have anyone’s opinion infringe on my good judgment, to be true to myself, to accept myself and my abilities, to not worry, to take life as it comes at me, to be happy with all I accomplish and with who I am. I AM ME AND NO ONE, NO COLLEGE, NO PERSON, CAN TAKE AWAY MY UNIQUENESS!! Happy New Year! Bring it on 2003!!

1/31/03
        It’s been a while since I’ve written because of exams and all that not fun type of stuff. The year’s been average so far. I’m still not in a real good place with my friends or anything but I’m beginning to look forward to things and have new hobbies that keep me busy. Right now I’m not ashamed to admit that I have no life. For instance this weekend I’ll be baking for all my friends cuz I want to, I have an awesome book to read, volunteering and then everyday homework. This is all fine with me, because the last few weeks have been busy. I don’t need to get drunk, do drugs or smoke to have fun, which I think is not a bad thing but an accomplishment. Being a teen is hard and I think I am coming to accept that.

So dramatic!! The funny thing about all this stuff is that I forgot about it. You always look back and generally think about all the good things that you forget about the stuff that makes you mad. But reading all these brought it all back! SO much girl drama! This last entry is a random document that was probably for a school assignment, but I don’t remember what for. I think it is pretty good.

Ever since I was a young girl my dreams, ambitions, and goals have kept changing. The years turn many of my old ideas into dim memories. Right now I have basic aspirations for the future, but these do not involve a particular career. No matter what job I obtain or career I pursue, I want to be true to myself, for I have learned that doing so is the most important thing in life. If people do not learn to accept themselves for who they are, they won’t be able to accomplish anything truly meaningful. I feel I have become able to do this in recent years, and hope that I will continue to develop this characteristic in the future. Also, no matter what I become, I want to be happy, for happiness, not money, is key to a positive life. In addition to accepting myself, I want to be accepting of others and their beliefs. Everyone is not the same, and the world would be dull if we were all alike. I have noticed that many people do tend to be judgmental of others, and I hope that I do not become like that. I want to appreciate all people for their unique traits. My lifelong goal is to continue to work toward personal fulfillment, and hopefully this will enable me to become something wonderful, exciting and challenging. I know life will not be easy; I only hope it will be a great adventure and that I will not regret anything.

Poetic, huh?

The funny thing is, though, that some of the things I said in this journal (and not all was included here) still ring VERY true. Not the friend drama- that ends in college, but the wanting to find fulfillment outside of school/work and feeling so caught up in the academic aspect of everything. I was like that all through college, and still to this day I put more priorities on work than I would like. But I am getting better. It’s easy to want something else, but it’s harder to actually realize how you should go about doing it. It’s like you work your whole life to get somewhere, and then once you’re there you don’t know what to do. It’s hard to work for something and have it be your whole world, and when it comes and you’ve achieved it, you lose a bit of yourself. School was always a big part of me, so I am still figuring out how to channel that drive and energy into another aspect of my life. (Hobby suggestions anyone?) But I do find that things I wanted in high school are still the things that I want today. Sure, ideals may change forms and you may want them in different ways, but I guess the key aspects to who you really are really never change. You may get older and wiser, but your soul is still the same.

I guess in the end, we’re all just big kids with big dreams waiting for that fairytale life…

…. cue Taylor Swift song.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blueberries

I had a nice long post about my views on education after working in the schools for 4 months, but I thought I would save it for another time and share with you this awesome story. It touches on part of what I wanted to talk about anyways.
 
The Blueberry Story
A business leader learns his lesson.
by Jamie Robert Vollmer
Special Note: The author of this story was gracious enough to give us permission to reprint his story and added this comment. "I have received many kind words for telling the Blueberry story, but the real credit goes to the teacher. I took some license with her comments for publication, but she was eloquent and passionate; she did an amazing job of both crystallizing the message and waking me up. My teenagers would have called me a "slug" had I not been changed by her words."

'If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools, I wouldn't be in business very long!"

I stood before an auditorium filled with outraged teachers who were becoming angrier by the minute. My speech had entirely consumed their precious 90 minutes of in- service training. Their initial icy glares had turned to restless agitation. You could cut the hostility with a knife.

I represented a group of business people dedicated to improving public schools. I was an executive at an ice cream company that became famous in the middle-1980s when People Magazine chose its blueberry flavor as the "Best Ice Cream in America."

I was convinced of two things. First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the Industrial Age and out of step with the needs of our emerging "knowledge society." Second, educators were a major part of the problem: They resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly. They needed to look to business. We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! Total Quality Management! Continuous improvement!

A school is not an ice cream company: It can't send back its inferior blueberries.

In retrospect, the speech was perfectly balanced—equal parts ignorance and arrogance.

As soon as I finished, a woman's hand shot up. She appeared polite, pleasant. She was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.

She began quietly, "We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream."

I smugly replied, "Best ice cream in America, ma'am."

"How nice," she said. "Is it rich and smooth?"

"Sixteen percent butterfat," I crowed.

"Premium ingredients?" she inquired.

"Super-premium! Nothing but triple-A." I was on a roll. I never saw the next line coming.

"Mr. Vollmer," she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, "when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?"

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap. I was dead meat, but I wasn't going to lie.

"I send them back."

"That's right!" she barked, "and we can never send back our blueberries. We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant. We take them with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all. Every one. And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it's not a business. It's school."

In an explosion, all 290 teachers, principals, bus drivers, aides, custodians, and secretaries jumped to their feet and yelled, "Yeah! Blueberries! Blueberries!"

Schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs, and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America.

And so began my long transformation.

Since then, I have visited hundreds of schools. I have learned that a school is not a business. Schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best CEO screaming into the night.

None of this negates the need for change. We must change what, when, and how we teach to give all children maximum opportunity to thrive in a postindustrial society. But educators cannot do this alone; these changes can occur only with the understanding, trust, permission, and active support of the surrounding community. For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs, and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America.

Jamie Robert Vollmer, a former business executive and attorney, is now a keynote presenter and consultant who works to increase community support for public schools. He lives in Fairfield, Iowa, and can be reached by e-mail at jamie@jamievollmer.com.
 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ms. Walsh, the Inspirational


I have a dry erase board outside my office that I update everyday with a quote. I think it’s a good way to bring motivation or thoughts to ponder for the students. I use two websites and pick a quote I think is more relevant to high school kids. It’s been nice to have students and faculty read the quotes and then comment on them. Here are some of my favorites.

About all you can do in life is be who you are. Some people will love you for you.
Most will love you for what you can do for them, and some won't like you at all.
-Rita Mae Brown

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Experience is the teacher of all things.
-Julius Ceasar

Failure is the tuition you pay for success.
-Walter Brunell 

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.
-Howard Thurman

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
-Henry Ellis


And then not for school but just relevance in life:

When I didn’t see you, I thought about you every day. I mean every day, in some way or another.
Same here.
-One Day

I can live without you; it’s just that I’m not sure I want to.

Time passes in moments. Moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life, just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen? To consider whether the path we take in life is our own making, or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed? But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?


Do you feel inspired? :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

COLD!

It's freakin' cold for Virginia in December. Highs in the 30's? This isn't Ohio, thank you. And not just outside. My office is FREEZING! I mean today I wore a turtleneck sweater with a long sleeved shirt underneath and by 10 o’clock I was in my jacket and gloves. My back muscles started aching around 9 and my nose started running. I couldn’t feel my toes. It’s not good. I can’t be productive because I want to move around all the time, so I end up leaving to wander around. I am in dire need of a space heater, but they are “not allowed” because they use too much electricity. Somehow I think my misery has to be unethical. Right? If I was in a skirt and thin shirt I might understand, but this is ridiculous. I am shopping for my illegal electricity sucker appliance this weekend, and I will not give it away! They will have to fire me first.

Also, to update those dying to know about my 4-year-old oatmeal breakfast last Friday, I did feel funny until lunch. I left my breakfast at home, so I was making some oatmeal we had lying around in my office. It smelled off, the sugar had solidified together in clumps, and sort of tasted like cardboard, and but I didn’t worry because oats shouldn’t go bad and it looked normal after it was cooked. Then I researched old oatmeal and got freaked out because apparently after 1 year, it can cause some not-so-fun things to happen. So in case you ever wonder if old oatmeal can go bad, it can!  

Happy Tuesday!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Leap of Fate

Being a single girl, I am usually on the look out for guys. I am not desperate, but I keep my eyes open and put myself out there when it is convenient. I do not shamelessly deny my friends the art of setting me up with someone, because the way I view it, the worst thing that can happen is you have a horrible hour or so with someone and never see them again. At least food and/or drinks is usually involved, which  makes it a better situation than sitting home alone by myself, eating with my cats. Though I will not deny that I don't love my nights home snuggling with my boys.

However, I do often wonder about how much fate has to do with meeting the right person. I do not believe that there is only one person out there for everyone- that just makes no sense to be. I think each person can love many (if not hundreds or thousands) people depending on timing and life situations. I think timing honestly is the key ingredient to a successful relationship (based on personal experience). But in regards to meeting that person, sometimes I wonder about how many times you actually pass by someone who could be someone special to you without knowing it. For instance, in movies the audience always knows two people who are supposed to meet one another, and, of course, they always do, whether it is at a random bar, in an airport, on vacation or just down the street. Last night I was out in Arlington with friends at a crowded bar, and there were tons of single guys and girls. Amongst my dancing and drinking, I kept looking around and wondering if there was anyone there I should meet and wishing I knew who that was. It is so easy to look past people and not know how they could be significant to you. It does not work out as easily as it does in the movies. It's so hard in real life to put yourself out there and give a number to a random stranger you just met, because you never know what it actually will mean or what will happen. But what if that random stranger is your next big thing? And how do you know when you should take a leap of faith and go for it?

Or is it all about fate?

Friday, December 3, 2010

'Tis the Season


Apparently, the holidays bring out the worst in people. I always thought of them as a happy, albeit slightly depressing time of year for those less fortunate. Never did I really think of them as an “angry” time of year. My favorite morning radio show, Elvis Duran in the Morning, the very first day of the holiday season, talked about how the holidays make people mean. They curse at workers in stores, yell at fellow customers (and apparently trample them to get to the best deal), and even STEAL TABLES!

What? Well last night I went to happy hour at a restaurant that I frequent with my friends. We got there a little later than normal (6 o’clock), so the bar was pretty full. We ran into a friend of mine, so we stood by her table near the bar and got some wine. We were scoping out open seats for a while when we saw that the table next to us was getting ready to leave. They saw us and we kept close to them. A nice couple who came after us even asked if we were waiting for that table and graciously found other seating. As the couple was just getting ready to get up, a new woman who had just got there (mind you it was about 6:40, so we had been waiting for a long time) went up to them and asked if she could have their table. The woman said yes. We nicely chimed in and said we had been waiting for a while for that table. The man said to the lady, “Well, you got to the table first,” and him and his wife completely left out the fact that they had seen us standing there waiting for 40 minutes! The woman claimed her seat and we were fuming.

Now, I was brought up (and worked in a restaurant for about 8 years, so I think I have a good point of reference) to think that you shouldn’t bother someone who is still eating to take their seat or table. People should be courteous to those around them and work it out amongst themselves leaving those sitting out of it. Apparently my thinking is totally wrong, because it is now OK to go up to someone and ask for their table before their even gone, butting in front of people obviously waiting. And then even if you do that, still stealing a table when someone politely told you they had been waiting for it. Apparently manners no longer exist.

So we gathered around the small table my friend was seated at and ended up enjoying our night, though for a while we were furious. I wondered if they didn’t mind taking it from us since we were younger, or maybe the women legitimately thought she was right because we never asked for it. Whatever the case, I thought the whole situation was a display of people not being courteous to others. Luckily, we had the wait staff and other bar guests on our side, so that table (aka that woman) heard about how we felt about them (though I’m sure they thought we were the rude ones). Still, it was a fun evening overall. 

Then showcasing how normal this is, right as I turn on my car to leave for work this morning, Elvis Duran is talking about stealing tables! Small world, but at least we’re not alone in our experience (though I don’t think that is a good sign for the manners of Americans). So I hope you will be polite and courteous this holiday season to strangers. And please, don’t be a table stealer!

P.S. I ate 4 year old oatmeal this morning. So if I die, Happy Holidays, and please still come to my funeral.