Collective consciousness

I really need your help here, guys. What do you think of the concept of collective consciousness? I don’t know if there is an official definition of it, but in its most innocent (read: non-new-agey) form, I have been given cause to wonder. I have nothing but anecdotal evidence to present, but it is in sufficient quantity that it cannot be ignored. I find this especially at the restaraunt, and other workers there agree there is something to it.

I will go for months with no mention of Stella Artois, and then suddenly five people request it. I will have one day when people pay all in cash; another day all with credit cards. One day everyone will want to have a margarita- with patron please. On a given day I will have two requests for rice as a side dish when it is clearly not on the menu, or several people will come in asking about a certain ingredient when I haven’t heard that question for several months. Another day it is only black people in the restaraunt. Other days the whites are out and about. Sometimes people will even come in wearing similar things. One starts to notice patterns like these.

Some of these can be explained, certainly. Everyone wants hot tea when the weather cools, people watch their weight just before bathing suit season, and on pay days people are more likely to spend money. But others mystify me. Is advertising really that strong that three gentlemen who must have watched the same sports program with the ad for Bud Lite will come in and ask for it? This can’t possibly be a conscious decision then.

I do know the power of the subconscious very well. My good friend CBM and I were mindlessly watching some commercials late one night when suddenly he declared “I really could go for some cookies right about now.” I thought he was joking. We had just seen a commercial for Pillsbury cookies. However, he blankly stared when I said, basically “duh…” and told him what had happened. He never remembered the commercial. He just knew that he wanted cookies.

Perhaps advertisements or other media sources plant subconscious signals. But can that really explain all of the trends? Can it explain a dearth of business people for a month, and then an overwhelming influx of them? Can it explain how people desire rice, or how people are rude one day but extraordinarily sweet others? Perhaps there is a collective consciousness shared by everyone?

It’s not as pagan as you might think. There is the concept of the unified Body of Christ, and what affects one person affects all. What do you all think? Is there such a thing as collective conscious, or subconsciousness?

People are Weird, Episode 2

So it was a full moon. I’ve come to dread full moons. A year ago I would have sworn up and down that it was all a wives’ tale at best, or downright superstitious. But now, working as a waitress who every day goes to work thinking she has seen it all but every day is proven wrong, I will swear to you that people change when there are full moons, and strange things happen.

So the full moon was out, and it was a quiet night at the restaurant. The most noise came from a party of 20 celebrating a birthday; otherwise, only a few couples were scattered throughout the rest of the tables. At my table was a well-dressed young black couple, maybe age 28 or so. They seemed normal enough as they ordered. When I brought out the salads and turned to leave, however, the man stopped me and said, “…Aren’t you going to cut them for us?”
“Uh…excuse me?”
“You know, cut them up and season them for us, like what’s that other place, that italian place,” offered the woman.
“Olive Garden?” I asked, still mystified.
“Yeah, them,” returned the man. “They cut up your salads for people.”
“Uh…we don’t do that, I mean we’re kind of short staffed, maybe if we had more people…” I covered.
The man was not satisfied. “Well then who is going to cut up our food when it comes out?”
He had gotten a steak. “Well, sir,” I said, “The reason we don’t do that is because your idea of a bite size might be different from another person’s bite size…you know, its like a–personal preference thing.”

Later, the man was outside talking with my manager, as requested, while I was relating the incident to the hostess who had asked why I was so incredulous. A table of four, well-dressed, overweight older white people was passing us at the hostess’ station on their way out, but they didn’t make it far. The last man in the group stopped and turned back to the dining room, to face the table of 20 already happy, slightly tipsy boisterous young black people and started breakdancing. Pausing, he said to the party, “Bet you didn’t see that coming, did ya?” and proceeded to breakdance a bit more. The entire restaurant erupted in screams of laughter and peals of applause. Only when his wife pulled him away did he stop.

The rest of the night was quiet, but it left me with a fear of new moons and rock-solid confirmation that People. Are. Weird.

People are weird, Episode 1

K and I are stuck in a windowless white room as we scan papers all day, so we have plenty of time to talk- and talk we do, about love and life and very odd people. She is the origin of the title of this series. In our conversations, the phrase “people are weird” is used as a closing argument, preceded by “I just don’t know” and it could be completely spliced out in favor of “its a good thing we aren’t like that!” thus establishing our normalcy and serving as the basis for our judgments. It’s a statement that doesn’t really need explanation to ourselves: we are utterly and totally normal and everyone else is just do darn quirky at least, and disturbing at best.

Like the sandwich thief. Here at work, money regularly gets stolen- not alot usually, but people’s lunch money when we’re collecting for a big group order out lunch. But the trickery has gone to a much odder level of late. Someone stole a coworker’s sandwich right out of the fridge and threw it in the trash can, but deep down like as to hide it. The same person (supposedly) took a bite out of another coworker’s strawberries and put it back. Who does that, outside of middle school passive-aggressive antics?

And like the shirtless allergy patient. There’s a guy who comes in every other week to get his allergy shot. Now, they advise patients to wear a t-shirt or an undershirt underneath a button-down shirt to make it easier on the nurses to give the shot in the upper arm. But this young, and may I say hairless and six-pack possessing, man wears no undershirt and strips half naked to get his shot. Allergy serum with a side of sexy, please? Although, it’s a little on the creepy side when he does it EVERY time…

And like the couple at my restaurant who- honest to goodness- ate dessert first. I gave my spiel about the features and my cute line about making sure to save room for our home made sweet potato pie. The man at the table chimed in, “You mean she’ll have to save room for the entree.” I chuckled, not quite sure if I heard that right. But when they ordered “sweet potato pie, but please bring it out first” I did a double take again, but of course complied. Who could refuse such a quaint but sincere request?

Through this series I hope to prove to you that K and I are the ones that are completely normal and in the rest of the world lie the strange ones. Trust me. People are weird. Just not us.

Family Words

“I have a fuzzy in my coffee,” I spoke to a couple of my coworkers.
“A what?”
“A fuzzy…you know, a thingy,” I tried to explain.
“Something floating in your coffee?”
“Yeah, exactly. How would you describe that?”
“I’d just say there’s something floating in my coffee.”

This exchange didn’t surprise me in the least, because I had long been made fun of for the use of my family word “Flicker”, meaning the remote control. My coworker was sympathetic to this complaint, as she had grown up hearing the refridgerator called the “icebox”. Go get a pop out of the icebox, will ya?

Family words are perhaps most distinctive when describing bodily functions or body parts. My family was fairly scientific, and when not scientific at least simple and non-graphic, mercifully so, in my opinion. Growing up with three brothers is hard enough without having to add disgusting words to the mix. Fart, burp, pee, and poop were the old standards and all sensitive body parts were simply grouped under “private parts”. I used to cringe when I went over other kids’ houses who would use words like “tinkle”, as if it made it seem like a special process or something. I’m hugely in favor of keeping it factual.

What about you all? Have any family-specific words?

Too old for eye candy?

I remember when I was in high school and early college, we’d go down to Annapolis for a field trip or whatnot and everywhere there were Midshipmen from the Naval Academy there. Dressed in thier sharp whites, they looked goooood. Could you please spare one? I’d love to take one home :).

After I graduated college when I returned to Annapolis, I realized with a start that these men that I drooled over with my fellow girlfriends (admit it…admiiit it!) were way too young for me now! This made me quite depressed for some time. Until, that is, I discovered that I was now a ripe age for the UPS guy. I have a very heavy package, could you please lift it? *swoon*

(insinuations only partially intended. I’m gonna get yelled at for this post lol. To my fellow bloggers: never let your mother read your blog!)

The Colors of a Recession

The Great Depression, to our 4th-grade eyes, was all grey and grainy, like the photographs in our history textbooks. We learned to fear poverty from the woman in Anne Liebovitz’s photo. This was, in fact, the worst thing that could happen to capitalist America. But they promised us this wouldn’t happen again, so we didn’t worry. But as adults usually do, they made up little white lies so that us children felt secure. So this recession did happen again, and it hit many quite hard.

I’m the first person I personally know who has gotten laid off. I knew it was coming because my company hadn’t been doing well for awhile. However, the actual act of the layoff was still jarring to my sensibilities, and I burst out crying as soon as I left the room. The worst of it was that they wouldn’t let me come back to pack up the next day; I had to be out and turn in my key that very same day. They told me at 4pm. Gee, thanks.

Well it turns out the pink slip was actually white with the blue letterhead of the company, and with it in my hand I shut the door to my fourth floor office that had been my home for over three years. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to many of the people who had been my family. Lots of memories flooded through my head. But when I arrived safe at home, a huge wave of relief rushed over me. I had hated that job, so that accounted for some of it. But mostly it was just that the worst had happened to me and I could stop worrying about the prospect of getting laid off because- I got laid off. Now I could finally get down to business and start building a new life for myself.

Picking up the pieces didn’t come easily, although they came mercifully quickly. The layoff was on a Thursday; on the recommendation of a friend I went to a seafood restaurant and got a job there by Monday. I had enjoyed waitressing as a teen, so it wasn’t my bottom choice of jobs. However, I had to be trained for a month, and all during training I was earning 8 dollars an hour. I think I only earned 700 dollars the first month, working 60 hours a week. This gave me a huge taste of how the ‘other half’ lives…all of a sudden I found out firsthand how the immigrants and recently released convicts felt. It is HARD to earn a living at that wage.

Fortunately I have some connected friends, and a friend of the family recommended I apply to a doctor’s office where she worked. I got a job scanning medical records for the switch to a completely computerized system. I was very happy about this because it meant I was off my feet (which had since become warped and gross from the waitressing) and in a calm, controlled atmosphere. I earned a steady wage there too. I kept the waitressing job, because by then I was out of training and earning quite a bit more money.

For awhile I worked 50-60 hours a week between the two jobs, and I was bringing in the cash with a rake. It was so much that I was able to pay off my car a year early. It was what motivated me. No car payment?? Heck yesssss! I was quite proud of this achievement, but then I was ready to rest. I cut my hours at the restaurant and at the doctor’s office so that I was working 40 hours a week in 4 days. Why? THREE DAY WEEKENDS EVERY WEEKEND HECK YESSSSS!

With my schedule and my finances taken care of and under control, the last piece of the puzzle was getting health insurance again. This should be a blog post on its own, but for now suffice it to say this was one of the greatest struggles for me. I finally decided on and applied for a plan that will cost me oodles of money but should hopefully protect me in case I get into an accident or come down with cancer.

My life is now back together, and actually better than ever only 7 months after the layoff. By going from pink slip and white collar to blue collar and in the green, I actually achieved goals that I wouldn’t have been able to had I stayed on at my former company. This I can only attribute to the American values of hard work and God’s grace. Perhaps not so ironically, I should note that the first three colors I mentioned (pink, white, and blue) are similar to the colors of the American flag. I firmly believe that if this situation that happened to me had happened in another country, it would have taken me twice as long to get myself back on track. This is why I still believe and trust in America, and know that as long as Americans are willing to work hard we’ll come out of this ok. That plus God’s grace makes us the greatest nation on earth!

Si se puede…que?

Sonya Sotomayor, the first Latina supreme court justice, was sworn in today, amidst cries from the Latino community of “Si se puede!” (“Yes we can!”). This cry is a traditional triumphant cry in Spanish, having the cultural undertones similar to “We will overcome!” It’s a phrase laced with racial meaning.

So let me ask you this, amigos. Si se puede que? What can you do that you could not do before? Now that there is a Supreme Judge, can you judge your own culture from a new light? Can you see its flaws and its strengths, and present them to the rest of the world in a mutually beneficial way? Can you now educate the poor immigrant, can you now teach them English so that they can get a better job? Do you now have the moral authority to keep your kids off drugs and out of gangs? Does this event allow you to tell kids not to get pregnant at a young age and not be hypocrites because instead of being a flawed role model yourself you can point to Ms. Sotomayor and say “Don’t do what I did; be like her!” Can you now allow yourself to integrate into American society and feel comfortable that it’s not us against them in power? You should have done these things all along!

I suppose every populace needs its Moses, and maybe Ms. Sotomayor, with all her flaws, is that leader that la raza was waiting for. I’m inclined, as many of you know, to be a pessimist and say it’s all the media. However, I think I’ll be optimistic on this one and say that even if it is just the media hyping this story, or even if it is silly to wait for such a leader (one who has very little contact with the people, at that!) to decide to empower your race to live responsible lives, I really hope that good will come of this. Frankly, I don’t care who your leader is or the fact that you need to be the leader in your own home and community rather than wait for someone else to do it. But I do care that it gets done.

Si, siempre se podia, y si, se puede siempre, con la gracia de Dios.

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