Saturday, November 24, 2007

A single act of kindness

I hate Thanksgiving, not for the turkey and all--which I like. But for family parties, and obligations, and people going around telling each other what they have to be thankful for.

Sometimes it seems like Christmas newsletters. "oh, little Dana graduated from dental school and got her practice this year," and "we just got back from Europe. Again. It's so boring when you see it all the time...."

...well, duh. Don't go.

I'd like to go, but it's not freaking likely.

I'll be lucky to get the good set of tires on my car this year, and a cheap laptop at after Christmas. I fell asleep and missed the sales. I was probably tired.

I've worked every Thanksgiving for the last six years. I hate being told what to do, so I volunteer. It gives me a shot at picking my shift, so I'm not in there all day. I usually close.

Every year it's been hell. My cp, Cowboy, and I, kick ass because we're good at what we do, but it gets you. Working non-stop from the minute you walk in to the minute you leave. Nobody cares you're back there, it's not Thanksgiving--it's more like, "please God, get me the hell outta here--" And then we wrap it up and do it again.

This year, I transferred. I know Cowboy was there all by himself. He texted me and I texted back, but it's not the same. I was feeling crappy, because even though I'm happier and more stable in my new job, you kind of miss the non-stop crazy.

It was dead.

I stood around, and Romeo stood around, and Romeo's girlfriend read the paper. And it wasn't Thanksgiving, because--right, no one cares. Thanksgiving and Christmas have got to be two of the saddest days to work, because it's usually people who have nothing to go home to, or have dysfunctional family, or are so sadly desperately poor that even an hour of work is good work.

The place I work at falls into that category. The area is uber-rich. The people people I work with are super-poor. They're lucky to scrape by and they know it, all packed five and six to a one bedroom apartment, complete with kids.

I've worked for years, in a really horrible place, where I got meaner and nastier every year. People would go around me to get to Cowboy, even though he's bigger and got the whole drug-runner in the jungle look going. I don't expect much, and I usually get it.

It's a bad place. Probably why I feel so much sympathy for Fallon.

..the manager before last tried to give me a raise and I said, "why? What do I have to do for you?" And he just stared, and shook his head and said, "This place has really warped you, hasn't it?"

I've been thinking about that for years.

Maybe it has, because when these poor as church-mice people came in--on their day off, to share Thanksgiving with us--I was astounded. For no reason other than kindness, they broke into what was probably a damned small store of food.

And shared.

I thought I'd gotten over my anger, but it was still there--like ice where other people had a heart. After they left, I stared at turkey and mashed potatoes and six kinds of pies and thought--like the Grinch, "something isn't right."

Maybe...Thanksgiving is more than work. There's a greater meaning that after years of horrible family parties and messed up confrontations over the dinner table that I never got.

Maybe all it takes to start a healing process is--a single act of kindness.


Unhinged said...

Oh, geeze, don't go making me cry now... But yes, I think you're right that those small acts of kindness we do (that help others) helps US the most.

I got totally shitfaced for Thanksgiving because I'm like 1200 miles away from my family and kind of miserable because of that (not always, but enough). And then I was dying doggie sick. When will I learn?

Well, time to let my imagination run away with me.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Well written. And I'm glad someone did that.
I thought of you today as I wandered around the retail world. I thought of you working your ass off in your job.
And I smiled and tried to be nice to every retail worker I saw.
Probably didn't help, but I thought of you.

Gwen Hayes said...

Ugh. I worked at grocery store for 15 years. People would come through the line and comment, "I'm sorry you had to work" or "It totally sucks that you can't be with your family today" etc.


If nobody went to the store on holidays--nobody would have to work. Don't tell me you're sorry--get all your shopping done on Wednesday and stay home.

I guess I have some leftover angst too. I really think that some of our modern conveniences have not made life better. I wonder what the social impace would be if places went back to being closed on Sundays and holidays. And closing at night instead of 24/7.

jodi said...

lol--just feeling sorry for myself and wondering when the hell I got so messed up. But yes, Gwen. Virginia was one of the last places to let go of the Blue Law, I still remember the stores closing on Sunday and major holidays.

I try to be nice to retail workers, too. Thanks, Jen.

Alice Audrey said...

Dang. I left a message yesterday - something stupid about being sent to shop by my mother because it was possible - and it didn't post. That's what I get for drive by commenting.