You Know I Hate a Pity Party, But……..

I’m feeling like such a fraud lately. I have all my little notebooks everywhere, jotting down beginnings and ideas when they come to me. I’ve got my OpenOffice files full of blog post ideas, story ideas, notes for a few projects, and a fresh section for a major research project I’ve been putting off for years. I even went out and got a Writers’ Market magazine to go through, hoping the ‘contests’ section would motivate me to do something, anything.

And I can’t fucking write anything lately.

I woke up early today and laid in bed for what seemed like forever, even though it was maybe just an hour. I had this bizarre dream last night that I got a job writing and editing scripts for David Lynch, and the currently-napping Bowser Kitten and I moved out to LA. I just laid there after I woke up, trying to remember a few parts of the dream that I could use in my writing……. and it all just went *poof*. Every original thought I had in my head just vanished all of a sudden, and I was left laying there staring at the wall yet again.

I pulled myself out of bed, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at the computer determined to get a bit of writing done. I had a bunch of kitten cuddles from the extremely sleepy Bowser Kitten, watched a few old Tom Harlock videos, checked all my social media, SnapChatted my sister at work, looked up Jenna and Julien’s soup recipe…… basically, I did anything but write. It’s been more than three hours, and I have next to nothing done.

The truth is that I am stuck in another one of those “this is totally not how I thought my life would be at this age” ruts that is wreaking havoc on my anxiety. Just as I was really starting to enjoy running most days at home, I had to stop middle of last week because of my anxiety. I would try to put food into my body, but it would just come right back out one way or another. I got so bad that I was throwing up at work (when being at work is usually my happy place when it comes to anxiety) and was forced to sit down during my shift because I was dizzy. My anxiety has only ever been that bad once, my last year of university right around Christmas.

I didn’t have a job over the Christmas break that year, and it was a few years before the ever-loving Bowser Kitten came into my life. Since my family is really big on celebrating the holidays, I was expected to stay with my parents for two whole weeks between my last exam and the beginning of the winter semester. I had been sick all semester after being quarantined at the end of the summer with a suspected case of West Nile, and the entire semester had just drained me both physically and mentally. I was struggling to keep up on my school work and had to make the toughest academic decision I ever considered: I dropped out of the Psychology Thesis track and focused solely on my Criminology degree just so I could graduate. I had no energy, no ability to focus, and had already dropped pretty much every single volunteer and extracurricular activity I was in at that point, and still couldn’t keep up with the thesis work on top of my other classes. Everything I had been working towards for years was coming crashing down around me, right as I was about to be forced into a “vacation” at my parents’ place.

Now, I love my folks, don’t get me wrong. But my whole world was falling apart right around then. I was trying to figure out where to go from there, what to do with my degree, what I would do for money in 6 months when I was done school. I didn’t know if I would apply for grad school, apply for a career outside of this city, apply for just about any job here in the city, or try to finish the Psychology portion of my degree. I had what felt like a billion options to carefully consider, and it was starting to get to be a bit too much to handle. What finally set me off, though, was that damn “vacation” and the weeks leading up to it.

Again, I love my folks, and they only wanted to look out for my best interest at that time. But they somehow figured that in order to do that, they had to bombard me with constant questions about my future, my goals, my past goals, and my then-boyfriend. I was alreaddy at a point where I wasn’t sleeping because there was just oo much to do, but I was too tired physically to get much done. I spent so much time reading, studying, writing, and researching in my room that I didn’t go out unless it was absolutely necessary. I was isolating myself from the world in my basement-bedroom-kingdom, slowly gaining weight and not coming any closer to figuring out my life. The absolute final straw came when my mother and grandma started bugging me about my weight, on top of everything else.

My already through-the-roof anxiety hit an all-time new high then. I stopped being able to eat pretty much anything a few days before I was supposed to go to my parents’ place. Even plain broth would upset my stomach enough that I’d throw up. Pretty much all I could have was pudding and jello. I warned my parents about this (telling them it was a combination of getting over a stomach bug and stress from school since at that time they didn’t believe in anxiety) and offered to bring my own pudding. I know that your body needs so many calories a day to function, so I was trying to eat as close to that as I could as not to mess up my system any more than it already was. My mother seemed understanding, offering to grab what little I could eat and a big box of saltines for when I wanted to get something solid in me. When I made the trek out to see them, I was greated at the door with sugar-free diet jello and pudding.

“This is the perfect way to jump-start your new diet”, my mother reasoned.

I royally fucked up the next few months of my life after that, unable to fully function, and it had some serious consequences on my life now. My then-boyfriend and I rushed our relationship way too fast, with me moving in with him. That directly led to the 94-days-of-hives incident. I let one asshole professor talk me out of applying for grad school, even though I had the backing of half a dozen others because he didn’t think I was smart enough. I let people talk me out of taking a job in another province, out of a job they saw as “below me” here in the city, and out of focusing on my writing while working part-time. I had no focus, no drive, and just didn’t feel strong enough to do anything.

And honestly, I can feel that all coming back to me once again.

Last week I couldn’t keep anything in me. I have that constant jittery feeling inside me like my heart is full of butterflies and I’m one more forkful away from hurling everywhere. My brain is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought before just dumping everything as soon as I want to focus on it and just going completely blank. I stay up too late and still wake up early in the morning, even though all I want to do all day is hide under a blanket and cry until the world just goes away. I don’t wish I were dead, but I wish I could just go *poof* and stop existing.

The truth is, things around here with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend are far from amazingly awesome. He drinks, more than he should. That’s actually how we met since he was one of my regular customers at work. He’s toned it down quite a bit since back then, but he still lets himself go way too far too often. One minute he’s asking me to keep on him about moderating his drinking (full abstinence from drinking has never worked for him, so we focus on moderation and control). The next, he’s flipping out and yelling at me for being so “uppity” with him about his drinking. We have the same fights over and over about his drinking, his finances, how much money he’s wasting on stupid stuff like cabs and booze, and his constant lying and hiding things (like more drinking) from me. Then he’ll try to flip the tables on me, complain about my debt (which I’ve been working on paying off like crazy), how much he spends on groceries (which I rarely ask him to do, he just does it), and me applying for jobs around here that he sees as “beneath” me or that he thinks I’m too old to get.

The worst has to be this constant fight we have about my savings. We keep completely separate finances. The only thing we share is rent, which comes out of my account. We each rent a room in this house, with his being a bit cheaper than mine. Every week he gives me $100, which is his portion of our rent. I take that money and put it away to save, and then pay his portion of the rent out my paycheques. No matter if I put his money in my account, pay the rent with it, and then transfer money to my savings, or if I do it this way, I’m going to be putting money away to save. Doing it this way is just a lot easier for me to handle most of the time, and has given me a bit of money saved up to afford a new place and some furnishings so that we won’t have to live in this house with random roommates forever.

For some reason, though, AAB seems to think that he is entitled to this money I have saved. He sees it as his savings too and keeps trying to make demands of me for it. Instead of getting out of this house, he wants to get a car. The issue I take with that is his aforementioned problems with sobriety. I have offered to split on a car with him, but he can’t manage to save money because of how much he spends on cabs and booze. Instead, he thinks that I should just give him money from my savings because I got it from him. Now, in my mind, once he gives me that money that is (and always has been) a rent payment, it’s mine. As long as the rent gets paid, it doesn’t matter if I physically hand his money to our landlord, pay the bills out of money in my account, or hide the money in a jar buried in the backyard. It’s my money. I save most of it, use some of it towards bills and groceries, and use it when it’s really needed to make ends meet (like when my hours get cut drastically for a few weeks). Saving that money, to me, means that I’m ensuring our bills are always getting paid and I don’t have to rely on him for additional money. But to him, me saving that money means that I’m stealing money from him. If I wasn’t going to pass that money directly to the landlord, then I shouldn’t be taking it from him at all. If I’m not passing that money right into our landlord’s hands, then I should just be paying his rent for him out of my account I guess and let him live here for free.

And he’s been bringing this up more and more lately. He picks fights over everything, doesn’t seem to want to leave this house no matter how many strange and creepy roommates we have, and just wants us to do things exactly how he wants them done right now (no matter what other plans we have made together for our future). Anything from a broken glass to me switching shifts at work can set him off. On top of this, my life is falling apart around me yet again. I love my job at the store, love my coworkers, and have been working on my certifications to become a shift leader. I’ve gotten my forklift certification and am getting my First Aid and CPR pretty soon. But if my hours don’t increase drastically very soon, then I can’t afford to keep this job. In fact, if I want to get ahead in life financially and want to keep this job, I’ll have to get a second job just to make enough money to save a tiny bit on my own. My job search is going nowhere, and the number of “Thanks for your application, but we’re experiencing unprecedented numbers of applicants, so no thanks” emails and phone calls I’ve gotten in the last few months is mindblowing. The roommate life if getting old fast, especially with the creepy roommate we have right now. I just want to be able to get our own place, get a fuzzy brother or sister (or both) for very-lonely Bowser Kitten, and live life like a real grown-up. But nothing I do is working.

Last week I made a few discoveries about AAB’s drinking and finances that he had been hiding from me. We fought a lot and spent the whole week sleeping in separate bedrooms. I realized that I have to plan for a future with him and one without him at the same time because I have no clue how long this will last with us. I couldn’t eat at all for most of last week unless I was at work, and this week is only a bit better. I was able to eat most of an omelet today, but have felt like throwing up for the last two hours since I ate it. It’s a struggle to keep the food down. My heart is fluttering like a hundred butterflies are trapped in my chest. I can’t focus on any one task at a time and am jumping between writing this, cleaning, reading, jumping around the room to try and distract myself from myself, and watching YouTube videos.  I am tired and wired and just trying not to burst out in tears every few minutes. The only thing keeping me going is the Bowser Kitten sitting in my lap right now.  He has no real cat instincts, so he needs me around to take care of him and point out bugs for him to chase. He’s the only reason I keep going every day right now. I feel like everything else is just falling down around me, waiting to crush me completely.

I need to get myself ready for work, calm myself down enough to make the walk out there in this snow storm. It’s time for more I’m Sorry Dad, fix my now-cried-off eyeliner, smother myself in moisturizer before I head out into the storm, and find my uniform. Work gets me away from everything here and gives me time to clear my head a little. Working surrounded by alcohol and alcoholics really does a number on my conscious lately (what, with AAB’s problems), but being with my work family centers me. And my shift tonight is partly with my WorkBFF, so I’ll have someone there in my corner.

So, welcome to my total and complete breakdown Sunshine! I’m going to lose it completely any day now!

 

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You’re just so damn edgy, I could cry……

Somehow every year I wind up working Super Bowl Sunday at the store. Not surprisingly, people like to wait until the last minute to pick up their booze for their Super Bowl parties, so the place is bumpin’ most of the day. I absolutely love the store on days like that. When it’s busy, I can push all the madness and personal stuff out of my head and just not be a giant ball of anxiety for a few hours. All week, due to finances and some major issues between myself and the (Sometimes) Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, my anxiety has been so bad that I couldn’t keep any food in me. It was a pretty rough week, and I was really looking forward to the madness of Super Bowl Sunday at the store and then eating nachos with AAB while we tried to stream part of the game (or I watched the drive chart on my NFL app since our USATV app crashed).

Now, I am not a huge sports fan. I have a favourite hockey team and a favourite football team. But because of work, I didn’t get to sit down and watch a certain team known to its fans as Da Bears play a single game this season. I follow my teams, but I can’t name all the players. I guess you’d say I’m a casual sports fan.

At work, I have a few coworkers who are hardcore into a few sports, mainly hockey and football. Two of my sweet little Kittens at work only watch championship games, like the Super Bowl, because there are big parties and food. A few others only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. And one or two don’t watch sports at all. We’re all cool with each other, and no one makes fun of anyone else for their love of sports, or for the total lack thereof. We all do that thing where we realize that each one of us is an individual person, with their own free thoughts and mind, and we are all not going to like the same things, so we respect each other’s likes and dislikes. You know, that whole “being a respectful adult” thing.

Now if only my other friends could manage that too.

Not Caring About Football

Every year, at least two weeks before the Super Bowl, my Facebook gets flooded with anti-football memes.  I don’t care about the memes themselves. If someone doesn’t want to watch football, they don’t have to. It’s this strange sense of intellectual entitlement that seems to come with these memes every year that really gets to me.

Now, to be clear, I love a good meme or pun. I absolutely adore every single post about the lack of bids at the Superb Owl this year. The “hey, why is there a concert during the Justin Timberlake concert” posts gave me a chuckle the first hundred times I saw them. And I have mad love for every single person who admitted through meme that the only reason they watch the Super Bowl is for the food and/or commercials. These are all done in good fun. The tone of these posts is more “look how fun I’m having, with this once a year event happening as the backdrop for the festivities”, focusing on the fact that they’re possibly watching the game, or the commercials, or just inhaling nachos at a rate previously unheard of in a human.

The posts that really sour my kraut are the ones that put everyone down.

I have close to a dozen friends who all seem to think that, because they don’t watch any sort of sporting events, they are somehow superior to the rest of us common folk who do. It’s not just a quick, “Well, I won’t be watching the Super Bowl today, does anyone else want to join me in doing [whatever the hell they have planned]” message on Facebook or an event invite to some alternative event during the big game. No, these friends of mine seem to have some sort of burning hatred for all organized sports and have this idea that they are somehow superior to anyone who is dumb enough to enjoy watching or playing anything. They seem to think that by not watching sports they are somehow smarter than the average person, and they love to make sure everyone knows that.

A person I once considered my best friend has this attitude. For the most part, we got along great. In fact, we were inseparable at times. We would get ready for parties together, have long movie and pizza nights, hang out between classes and all weekend, and even threw joint birthday parties together for years. We did pretty much everything together unless sports were involved.

She skipped every Super Bowl party, every hockey night (which is big here in Canada), and would only watch something sports related if one of our friends was actually playing and she didn’t have to stay too long. It never bothered me that she wouldn’t come to these events since I had others friends who were more than willing to watch games with me. What got to me was the attitude she gave everyone if they ever dared to ask her to come.  It was one of those, “how dare you ask me, an Intellectual who can see through all this bullshit, to participate in your little game celebration” attitudes that just dripped with contempt for anyone who dared to enjoy themselves with such trivial things.

And you know what? Even this stupid attitude wouldn’t bother me much from her, or from others like her, if it wasn’t so in-your-face, I’m-right-you’re-wrong, look-how-much-better-than-you-I-am all the time.  I wind up with more than a dozen of these “I’m too smart to watch the Super Bowl” posts in a row on Facebook for days at a time leading up to the damn game! These friends comment on other people’s posts about Super Bowl parties, mocking them for caring about something so trivial. Last year I even had one friend flat out tell me that I cannot possibly care about anything even remotely social justice related because I was going to go watch the Super Bowl at my parents’ house in order to check in on my brother who had just broken his knee in a horrible car accident!

The absolute worst of these Intellectual utterances comes from that once-close friend of mine. She somehow wound up as a writer for our university’s newspaper. Not content with reporting actual news or reviewing local bands, she decided that the entire student body needed to know that they had all been brainwashed into a very evil pastime: watching sports.  She argued that anyone could be taught the skills needed to be a professional athlete, such as coordination and height. All sports leagues were inherently patriarchial in refusing women the chance to play, completely ignoring all of the female athletes who have either played in male-dominated leagues or have gone on to start their own female leagues. She even went so far as to say that sports are a lesser form of entertainment compared to music, art, and writing, because these grown adults “play” a game. If you can associate the word “play” with a form of entertainment, then it must be a lesser form than true entertainment such as the theatre.

Because we all know that playwrights who write plays, and the actors who play roles in such plays, would never dare have the word “play” associated with them.

Ok, so her stupid pointless opinion piece is a rather extreme example, but her and other friends have this exact same mindset when it comes to any sports event! I once posted on one of my social media accounts that I had two extra tickets to see my friend’s son play in a charity hockey match. Two separate people messaged me saying that they had better things to do than watch “idiots chase a puck”, and would be spending the night at home reading. It was a charity game full of 8-10-year-old kids!

I enjoy watching football. When I used to have to occasional Sunday off, I would throw on my Bears jersey, grab some beers, and head over to my parents’ place to watch Da Bears with mum while we ate polish sausage and kielbasa. I also read a lot, and have a massive pile of books to be read next to my desk (and another under the desk, and two more on the bookcase, and more books scattered throughout the house). I love older video games and could spend hours playing old-school Mario games on Nintendo emulators. I love documentaries, and action movies, and horror movies, and musicals. For the last few years, I’ve spent my birthday watching local musical theatre productions with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend. We play Pokemon GO on campus, while we talk about serial killers and criminological theories on crime. And I constantly have a variety of music playing, even in the shower.  And you know what? None of these things makes me any better, any smarter, any dumber, or any worse off than anyone else.

The point is, liking or not liking something doesn’t necessarily make you a better person than someone else. Enjoying a sport doesn’t make you dumb, just like reading Jane Austen doesn’t make you smart. There are people out there who can do both! What really matters is what you do with your life, how you treat those around you, and what you can bring to the table when it comes to living your very best life. If all you have going for you is, “I don’t watch sports because an an Intellectual I would rather sit alone at home and read Jane Austen”, then maybe it’s time you took a good hard look at your life.

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Tell My Grown-Ass Roommates

As you all know, I live with roommates. Since I moved out to go to university, I’ve lived with more than 30 different roommates in a handful of places. With the exception of one girl who moved out of her mom’s house and then lived here for almost 3 whole months before moving back home, none of those roommates have been on their own for the first time when they lived with me. For the most part, these were grown-ass adults who had lived on their own for years before we crossed paths. The majority of my roommates were my age or slightly younger, but I’ve lived with a few older folk in my day. Hell, one roommate was the same age as my parents.

Now, in all of those years, I’ve had to say some pretty ridiculous things to these roommates. Now, keep in mind that these are grown-ass adults. I cannot stress enough that these are grown-ass adults I’m dealing with here. If these were young kids living away from home for the first time, and their parents did everything for them before they moved out, then I’d somewhat understand having to say some of these things. But these are grown-ass adults. These are people who have had careers and apartments, and through some strange quirk in the universe wound up at the university here and lived under the same roof as me after all that. These are people who should know better.

So, without further adieu, I give to you my first installment of Things I Shouldn’t Have to Tell My Grown-Ass Roommates

  1. Clean out the mesh hair trap in the shower. Otherwise, all the gunk that’s trapped in there just clogs it up and makes the water pool at your feet.
  2. Don’t blow your nose in the shower. Snot clogs the mesh hair trap
  3. Don’t jerk off in the shower. There is now jizz clogging the mesh hair trap, and I sure as hell am not cleaning that.
  4. Don’t turn on the AC if it’s not hot out, and then wear a sweater in the house.
  5. 65F is not hot.
  6. Seriously, buy a small fan. It’s not hot out.
  7. An industrial fan is NOT a small fan!
  8. Seriously, the cat is covered in fur. I’m not about to let him overheat. If he can stand the heat, we can too.
  9. Why the hell would you turn on the AC and a space heater?
  10. It’s a bedroom. Not even a huge bedroom. It’s just a small room full of your stuff. How many damn space heaters do you need?
  11. The house isn’t soundproof, and neither are the walls between our rooms.
  12. It’s like 69F in here. You don’t need three fans and the AC on!
  13. How do I know about the fans? Because the damn house isnèt soundproof and they are loud as hell!
  14. Also, I can hear you boning in there.
  15. Either that girl is delusional and really thinks your name is God, or she’s faking. Take your pick.
  16. It’s not my fault the garbage truck woke you up. It’s 3pm, and you stayed up all night smoking weed and watching movies. Deal with it.
  17. Pubes are hair! Clean them out of the damn mesh hair trap!
  18. That little knob you use to turn the oven on…. it works the other way too. Turn the oven off when you’re done.
  19. Same goes for the stove.
  20. And the lights.
  21. And the sink.
  22. Basically, anything you can turn on, you can turn off again when you’re done.
  23. If you drop food on the floor, pick it up.
  24. If you spill sauce on the floor, pick it up.
  25. Same goes for drinks.
  26. Seriously, this is some basic stuff here. Clean up your damn mess.
  27. Crumbs = bugs. Do you want to live with bugs? No? Then clean up your damn mess!
  28. I’m pretty sure when you thaw chicken breast, you don’t have to leave it out on the counter for 4 days.
  29. Ok, your cat has now pulled the chicken breast off the counter and is trying to pull it out of the plastic wrap on the kitchen floor. Pretty sure that chicken is done for.
  30. Are you seriously eating the 4-day old chicken breast the cat was licking an hour ago?
  31. If you’re going to use the oven or the stove, then freaking use it! Don’t put food in there and fo read a book, or take a shower, or go down for a nap. That’s how things burn and fires start!
  32. If your food is black, crispy, and sticking to the pan, you burned it.
  33. If the kitchen is filling with smoke, your food is burning.
  34. If the cat is sitting in front of the oven and yowling, you took your food out but left the oven on. Congratulations, my cat is now smarter than you.
  35. Bacon grease splatters. Clean it up when you’re done.
  36. Same goes for hot oil
  37. How about you just clean up any food you splatter on the stove?
  38. And since we mentioned bacon, you can’t just dump bacon grease down the drain. When it cools, it solidifies and will clog the drain. Then it attracts bugs, and it stinks.
  39. Do you have any idea how hard it is to scrape your solidified exploded chili and cheese out of the insides of the microwave? Just wipe it out after you use it.
  40. No, I don’t mean “remind me to scrub the microwave the next time you see me using it”. I mean wipe up your own damn mess when you make it!
  41. Why is my wet laundry sitting on the basement floor, covered in centipedes?
  42. What the hell made you think you could put double loads in both the apartment’s free washing machines, and then throw them together in the tiny dryer for 20 minutes, and expect them to be dry?
  43. Better yet, why the hell did you take the soaking wet clothes out of the dryer, bring them home, and leave in your hamper?
  44. That smell? It’s the mildew on your clothes. That’s what happens when you leave wet clothes in the hamper for 6 weeks.
  45. How long are you going to leave your wet clothes in the washer?
  46. Why the hell are you yelling at me for putting your wet clothes in the dryer? They’ve been sitting in the washer for eleven days!
  47. Again with the mesh hair trap! If it’s too big to fit through the tiny mesh there, then it’s going to clog it and you need to empty it. Your toenails are definitely too big to fit through there. Get rid of them.
  48. Ok, when the landlord says that I’m the only one allowed to touch the thermostat, that means that YOU don’t touch it! Period!
  49. Access to the internet is a privilege. It’s in my name, so I make the rules. Just because you pay a fee, which amounts to a very small portion of the total monthly bill, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, especially if it’s going to get me into trouble.
  50. Ok seriously, stop illegally downloading MMA fights and porn. I totally know it’s you doing it.
  51. Well, I’m not the one downloading this crap. That means it’s either you or the damn cat, and I’m pretty sure the cat isn’t into Big and Busty Housewives of Macomb County IIV.
  52. Why is your pee on the floor?
  53. Seriously, there’s pee on the floor. I sit down to pee, so we both know it’s not mine. Clean up your damn pee!
  54. While you’re at it, you could work on the skid marks you left in the toilet. I really don’t need to be looking at your poop remnants.
  55. I rent a room here, just like you. The landlord is the guy you pay rent to, who made you sign the lease. We are two different people.
  56. Stop trying to give me your rent. It says right in the lease how to pay the landlord, and it in no way involves giving me money.
  57. Ok if I don’t collect the rent from you, then I definitely can’t give you a rent receipt. Talk to the landlord about that.
  58. Yes, the landlord lives in a whole different province, and the internet is in my name. The landlord and I are still two separate people though,
  59. Ok, I don’t care how much you try to intimidate me. No matter how convinced you are that you can kick my ass, that still does not change the fact that I am NOT the landlord, and cannot write a rent receipt for you.
  60. Stop stealing my food from the fridge.
  61. That doesn’t mean “replace all of my food with your food”.
  62. Ok, you’ve now completely filled the fridge with meat. I guess that means you won’t be stealing my vegetarian protein meat substitutes.
  63. Why are you yelling at me because you don’t like the taste of “mushroom soy veggie meat”? That’s mine, so that shouldn’t bother you.
  64. Seriously, stop complaining because you don’t like my food. If you weren’t stealing my food, then you wouldn’t know you don’t like it.
  65. Ok, when you complain that my food tastes like crap, you’re basically screaming “Hey, I’m stealing your food and eating it when you’re not around!” Stop denying it.
  66. If you throw raw meat on the counter, you’ve got to scrub that counter down and sanitize it.
  67. “Sanitize it” doesn’t mean wipe it down with a rag or a damp sponge. Use some cleaner or bleach or something!
  68. No, you can’t sanitize the chicken after the cat licked it. Maybe you shouldn’t leave it out for 4 freaking days.
  69. No, even bleach won’t work on your chicken.
  70. So yeah, the kitchen isn’t the only common area. If you use a space, clean it up.
  71. Why are there take-out coffee cups all over the living room?
  72. Ok, there is mold in the freaking coffee cups! How did long did you leave them in there?
  73. Ok, I know we had a floor in here the other day. Now there’s just pizza boxes, McDonald’s bags, and empty beer cans. What the hell happened?
  74. Your room is too hot because you closed off all the vents in there, maybe?
  75. Vents aren’t closed? Well then maybe there’s something blocking them.
  76. Ok dude, seriously? I can’t see your damn floor. There are layers of clothes and garbage. Ever thank that might block your vent?
  77. That case of iced tea that’s been sitting on the vent for months is probably what’s blocking the damn vents.
  78. It’s winter now. Not only is that iced tea all going bad from sitting on a hot vent, it’s now officially a fire hazard!
  79. If you put a pan of bacon grease in the bottom of the sink and then fill the sink with water, the water is going to be full of bacon grease.
  80. Anything you try to wash in that water is just going to get coated in bacon grease.
  81. Why are my coffee mugs so slippery? You used the bacon grease water again, didn’t you?
  82. What do you mean “when is the landlord delivering more dish soap”? Cleaning supplies are not included in the rent. We buy our own stuff here.
  83. No, most landlords do not deliver dish soap. Or cleaning products. Or vacuum bags. Or ziplock bags. What the hell kind of landlords did you have before?
  84. The room comes furnished if you want it to. You knew that when you viewed the room, and it says so in the lease. So what do you mean “what’s all that furniture doing in my room”?
  85. It comes with the furniture in the room. Or we can move it out of the room for you. If we move the furniture out, then the room isn’t furnished anymore. It’s not a hard concept.
  86. Why the hell would the landlord let you pick out all new furniture, and then buy it for you? That’s not what “comes furnished” means!
  87. Sure, send the landlord a copy of the Ikea catalog. I’m sure that will totally change her mind and she’ll buy you all new furniture. And then, we’ll take all the old furniture and use it to build a rocketship to go colonize Mars.
  88. Why the hell would you think you could take the landlord’s furniture with you when you move out?
  89. No, the furniture isn’t yours now that you’ve used it. People used it before you too. They didn’t try to take it with them when they moved out!
  90. That beeping sound coming from your smoke detector? It’s the low battery warning. Same thing it was this morning when you asked me what that beeping sound coming from your smoke detector was.
  91. No, the house isn’t on fire. Usually, when the smoke detector beeps and then says “low battery”, that’s a sign that the battery is low.
  92. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that changing the battery might stop that “low battery” beep.
  93. Why is the laundry tub full of dishes?
  94. Ok, how long are those dishes going to sit in the laundry tub?
  95. Is that my favourite tea mug floating in the laundry tub? The one you swore you have never seen in your life and had no idea where it had gone to?
  96. No, I’m pretty sure I didn’t go downstairs and put my mug in the laundry tub. I use the kitchen sink for dishes, like everyone else in the damn house.
  97. No, you can’t use laundry detergent to wash your dishes, even if you wash them in the laundry tub.
  98. No, you can’t use Ivory soap and shampoo if you wash your dishes in the bathtub either.
  99. Seriously, dish soap really isn’t that hard a concept!
  100. Ok, why the hell is there 3 days worth of food clogging up the damn mesh trap in the bathtub drain?

And So It Begins……

Just got home from work, poured myself a glass of wine, checked my Snaps from my sister, and am settling in to try and order some new pants for work. I would seriously like to know who the hell is in charge of setting pants styles and deciding that stores will carry only those styles each year. We have to wear plain black pants at work. Any plain black pants or jeans will do as long as they’re presentable and have no visible rips or tears. No yoga pants, or leggings, or ripped up jeans, or pants with embroidery or patterns. Just plain black pants. Think I can find some? Nope!

I have looked at every store I usually shop at. Everything they have is either tights or full of holes. The only blank jeans I found all day that aren’t full of holes had giant embroidered flowers all over the thighs and butt.  Unless I’m willing to shell out $60 for a pair of pants that will be worn out in the inner thigh in a matter of months anyway, I’m not getting any pants today. The closest I’ve found so far are ankle length linen pants with flowers on the back pockets.

Of course, I’m doing this online. Today is Black Friday, so there is no way I’m am stepping foot within 100 yards of the mall today. I know that Black Friday is a huge deal in America, but it hasn’t been that big of a deal here in Canada until recently. I live in a border town, so the last few years we’ve started having Black Friday deals popping up here and there. We even have a little display at work with a handful of Black Friday deals that last the weekend. This year is taking it too far though, in my opinion.

Usually, American Thanksgiving signals the start of the Christmas season around here. The mall stays open later, people rush out to go Christmas shopping, there’s decorations and Christmas music everywhere. This year, instead of just keeping the mall open later than normal, stores in our mall were given the option to open at 6am in order to attract the cross-border shoppers who were coming home from a long night of deals at that time. People lined up at stores at 7am, and it wasn’t even the day after Christmas!

I admit I have done the 7am lineup once with my siblings. We made a day of shopping on Boxing Day, getting those post-Christmas clearance deals. I did it once, and once only. I’ve been offered a few times to go again and turned them down every time. There’s just something that bothers me about adding to the madness that causes people to have to get out of bed on a nice, relaxing day to head into work hours early to serve anxious shoppers who come through their store like a tornado.

Black Friday isn’t the only sign the Christmas season is starting, though. Today we had our first seasonal worker in training on cash! He seems like a really sweet guy, and he caught on really quickly. We’ll hopefully have the other four workers in very soon to get their training in because this is our busy season. For some reason, people go nuts this time of year even just shopping at my store.

I get it, this is a busy time of year for people. I mean, just for me this time of year means more hours, a tonne of baking, more shopping in a matter of days than I usually do the rest of the year, wrapping gifts, chasing the ever playful Bowser Kitten after he gingerly plucks another ornament down off the tree and runs off with it in his mouth to nap with, and the mounting stress that comes with dealing with everyone else who is doing much of the same thing. Add to this the constant barrage of sweets, invitations to dinner parties, yet another Secret Santa, Christmas Parties, dealing with relatives who insist there is a War On Christmas, knowing that you’re going to have to spend at least one Christmas dinner stuck between your very liberal uncle and your ‘”Make America Great Again” aunt, and it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. The thing is, we’re all going through this stuff right now.

I know that you’re stressed, and you’re tired of dealing with people. You just want to walk into a store, grab everything you need in one fell swoop, cash out, and never set foot in a mall again. You don’t want to deal with all the other shoppers who are ready to pull out the pepper spray and fight to the death over the very last whatever the hell the popular toy is this year. Walking through the mall, you keep replaying old video clips of the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids riots that happened in stores, waiting for someone to run up behind you and wack you with a metal folding chair so they can take the last cheese log at the Hickory Farms kiosk. You’re on your toes, ready just in case some random dude tries to piledrive you into the shiny tiled mall floor over a novelty Santa apron. The last thing you want to deal with is an over-attentive store clerk asking you what you need.

The thing is, that clerk is dealing with this crap too. Go check out YouTube, look for Black Friday shopping videos. Watch the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids clips. I saw clerks in those videos carrying baseball bats for their own safety. These employees get trampled, get grabbed at, get screamed at, get threatened, all over a few dollars worth of merchandise. And this is on top of the normal dumbassery they deal with! They still have the secret shoppers to worry about, the stacks of clothes that are laying in a heap on the floor minutes after being carefully folded. They have to deal with poop in the change rooms, and parents letting their kids run rampant in the stores while they shop. When you have some free time while in front of your computer and aren’t obsessively reading through my old posts (or listening to the I’m Sorry Dad podcast, which I highly recommend), go check out Not Always Right. People post stories all year about the crap they have to deal with working in retail. Now imagine dealing with the things you read on there, plus all the crap that comes with the holiday season.

And to deal with the increase in shoppers over the holidays, a whole lot of stores hire seasonal workers. We have a new batch being trained right now, and a few stores in my plaza started training their last week. I know a few places in the mall here were starting their workers next week. That means that these people will have maybe six whole weeks of experience by the time they’re done. They may be really slow on cash. They probably don’t know where things are in the store. They don’t know how to look things up, or where the next closest store is, or when the next sales start. They’re basically hired to run cash so the full-year employees can get everything else done.

I know at my store, there’s a 6am shift just for the holidays. The work BFF and I will get in at 6am to wash the floors, pull the warehouse, stock the front end, and start putting stock away. Then we’re unloading the delivery, scanning the warehouse, and doing more stock once the store is open. There is a tonne of freaking stock to put out, and we have everyone possible in to help out. We pull every available body to keep stock on the shelves and need those extra people on the cash registers. For the most part, they can handle themselves. But they’re temporary workers who have no clue what goes on the there the rest of the year. They can’t tell you where a specific wine is, or what pairs best with veal, or whether we’re getting any Beaujolais Nouveau in before the holidays. They are just there to run cash.

So while you’re out shopping this holiday season, have a little patience. Chances are, the person at the cash is new at this. Yes, you’re tired and sore and hungry and frustrated with having to deal with 3/4 of the city being crammed into the mall all at once. But they’ve had to deal with all of the same things, with the added stress of being yelled at and given attitude by shoppers who can’t believe they have to wait an extra 90 seconds to be rung through because their cashier is slow. These poor workers are getting the mental shit kicked out of them, and then having to go out into that same madness to do their own shopping.

So be kind this holiday season. Remember that the people serving you in the stores are just that: people. They deserve the same kindness and respect that you would expect from them.

Sir, Please Don’t Shove Bottles in your Pants

It’s been a long, strange few days. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend is worn out from his 10-hour days at work and just wants to curl up on the couch and eat pizza tonight. So instead of his usual experimentation in the kitchen, he’s making a frozen pizza and some garlic bread. Of course, he can’t just throw the pizza in the oven. He’s in there right now throwing on extra mushrooms and cheese, and grating cheese and garlic for the pre-made garlic bread. Even when he’s too tired to be creative in the kitchen, he is so damn creative in the kitchen!

I think part of the reason we’re not cooking tonight is because of the damn fruit flies in this house right now. I tried for weeks to get rid of them. I’ve scrubbed the kitchen down, gotten rid of any food sitting out, I even set up little traps for them with wine and dish soap. But they just keep coming from somewhere. Well, AAB may have found where they’re coming from. It seems that the roommate in the basement is doing more than just stealing forks from us. Every two weeks or so, we run out of cutlery and plates, before suddenly everything is clean and put away while we’re both gone. We’ve known that it’s him hoarding it all in his room. Well, it turns out it’s worse than I thought.

AAB went downstairs to do his laundry. There, in the laundry tub in the laundry room, is a massive pile of plates, cutlery, pots, and pans. They’re not washed, and some of them are not even rinsed. If he’s letting this sit out in the open, what the hell kind of shape is his room in?

I’m thinking that our biggest goal for 2018 should be to figure out our housing situation. I’ve been putting off making any decisions because I’ve applied for jobs in other cities. I don’t want to buy a house or sign a lease, only to get a job four hours away. This is getting to be a little ridiculous, though. I think it’s time to either shit or get off the proverbial pot. I mean, living with people who have such an overarching sense of entitlement is really starting to get to me. I mean, can you imagine moving in with other people, taking all of their kitchenware, hoarding them in your room covered in filth, and not even thanking them for letting you use them? Or how about not even asking if you can use them in the first place!

Ironically, that sense of entitlement is something a few of us were talking about at the end of my shift tonight at work. We were sharing stories about truly honest people who forget to mention the case of water on the bottom of their cart, only to return later to pay for it. I know, I didn’t think such people existed, but I work with one of them! People like her seem to be very few and far between, especially where I work. Standing outside the store tonight, we were going over the shoplifters we’ve caught on camera so far this week, and how many we possibly missed.

You see, a lot of the shoplifters we catch seem to follow a few different scripts. There is the “run in, grab and conceal the bottle, run out” kind. They’re kind of like the Smash’N’Grabs I witnessed when I was with friends in a convenience store late one in Detroit. That night, after the store had stopped selling beer and had just turned the lights off in the beer cooler, a group of kids came running in. Two of them grabbed as much beer as they could carry and headed for the door, while the other two smashed pop bottles on the floor as a distraction. This isn’t a new schtick, and it’s something they actually train pretty much any and all retail workers to look out for. Sure, their exit methods vary at times. Some run out claiming they forgot their wallet in the car. Others pretend they didn’t find what they were looking for and just head for the door. Some are in and out so quickly, you don’t even notice them at first.

Another popular type is the “bring a big bag and hide stuff in it” people. I mean, how do they think they’re getting away with this? Sure, they may be able to walk out the door, but that’s only because we’re not allowed to tackle suspected shoplifters anymore. We still have them on camera, and we document the crap out of them. When we have security in the store and they catch these people, they’re going down for every single theft we have them on camera doing. Some of these people are amazing though. I’ve seen people load bags up with hundreds of dollars worth of bottles and just walk out the door with a big grin on their face like they just got away with murder.

My personal favourite is what I like to call “The Pants People”. These people walk into a store and just start shoving stuff down their pants. It’s amazing just how much one person can fit into a pair of pants, really. These are the worst people to catch because if we get the product back it all has to be sanitized if we can still sell it. I’ve actually seen people walk in with elastic bands around the bottoms of their sweatpants just so they can fit more stuff in there without it falling out the bottom. Of course, this makes them easy targets to follow, considering elastic bands around your ankles is not exactly a huge trend this season.

What gets me with each and every one of these people we catch is the sense of entitlement they have. Most of the ones that we do catch with either security or police present just seem to think that it’s their right to walk in and take whatever the hell they want, without paying for it. We’re not talking about people stealing a loaf of bread to feed their starving family here. I have seen people who have the money to pay, sometimes with them in their wallets, and just not want to. More than once, I’ve seen someone get caught somewhere and then pull out the money for the items. They seem to think that if they just pay for it then and there after being caught, they’ll just be let go. The thing is, it doesn’t work like that.

Believe me when I say that I understand how expensive life can be. I have had to do without many times before. I’ve had to survive off of what I could get at food banks. I don’t have cable, or a car, or pricey electronics (aside from the computer I saved up for). I’m not out taking trips, or going on shopping sprees like some of my friends can do. I have to budget, and grocery shop at the dollar store at times. I haven’t eaten name brand macaroni and cheese in years because that’s a splurge for me. I know what it’s like to live paycheck to 4-days-before-the-next-paycheck. It sucks. But I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to get ahead even just a little bit. I know I’m not entitled to anything, the world doesn’t owe me a damn thing, and it’s no one’s job but my own to pay for my life choices.

Then I see these little Draco Malfoy brats coming into the store, shoving a bottle or two in their coat pockets, and pulling the “don’t you know who my father is” crap when they get caught. They seem to think that because their daddy is someone important, they can get away with anything.

Or we get the “well I’ve had a hard life, this is life’s way of giving back to me” shit-nobs who seem to think that because life didn’t go the way they planned, life somehow owes them. I have actually heard someone (not at my store, at a nearby drugstore while I was cashing out and security grabbed them) say that because they went to school for a certain career, and then couldn’t find work in that career six months later, the universe owed them for letting them waste all that time in school. Hell, if that were a good enough reason to steal, I’d be knocking over banks left, right, and centre!

It really just boggles my mind how people can rationalize something like stealing, making it seem like they have a right to do it. I get it, some people are in a place in life where stealing really does seem like the best option. Maybe they’re starving and are stealing food or something to sell for food. They could be in the throes of addiction, and can’t find any other way to pay for their habit. For them, stealing seems like the only option. These are the people society failed, the ones who need more social programs, the ones who need help. Still, that doesn’t give them the right to walk into my store and just load up their bag with whatever they damn well please. We need to fight for better social programs to help people like this, in order to stop people like this from resorting to theft.

The ones that bother me the most are the ones who have options. The ones who have the money to pay, but don’t think they should have to. The ones who do it for a thrill, or for a cheap night out. They’re the ones who pull the “don’t you know who my [relative] is” crap or pull out their wallet after they’re caught. These seem to be the majority of the ones I’m able to catch on camera, or in the act while on the floor at work. And these are the ones that piss me off the most.

I don’t know about you Sunshine, but I was raised not to take what isn’t mine. It doesn’t matter if it’s another kid’s toy, a product in a store, or credit for another person’s work. All of that is stealing, and it’s wrong. Why do these people seem to think it’s alright for them to do it?

Day Off, Christmas Homes Tour, and Being the Family Outcast

Today was my first of two days off from my retail job, peddling the devil’s brew. Instead of staying in bed as long as possible, having all the kitten cuddles the always sleepy Bowser Kitten had to offer and then making a big pot of Christmas Coffee, I got up at 7am to shower and get ready for my ride. It was the annual Christmas Homes Tour out in the county today and every year we hit that tour for mum’s birthday. So myself, mum, my sister, and my cousin piled into my sister’s car and went out in the pouring rain to walk through strangers’ homes, gawk at their decorations, and then buy a bunch of wine.

Every year it’s the same thing: we see a bunch of different random people’s homes; stop into the same church to see the dozens of nativity scenes on display and buy a bunch of baked goods; hit the winery for a free sample and to shop; then to the garden store and novelty shop for a little Christmas shopping. We sit around together, catching up and munching on fresh baked goods made by little old church ladies and drinking fruit punch made from bulk store crystals, and then sip free wine and nibble on tiny cucumber slices and date squares and talk some more. For the most part, it’s quite an enjoyable day.

This year, this day fell right as I came off a 30-day stretch, as I mentioned yesterday. I was exhausted this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. To top it off, the super cuddly Bowser Kitten mad made a beautifully soft next in the blankets around my knees. I had to squirm and slide out of bed in order to not disturb his nest. Hell, it’s 12 hours later and the bed still hasn’t been fully made!  I smoothed out the blankets around the nest but left it perfectly intact. Bowser Kitten is curled up in it at this very moment, in fact!

After literally dragging myself out of bed as to not disturb an already pissed off Bowser Kitten, I shower, poured some coffee down my throat, slapped on some eyebrows, and got my slip on boots ready to go. By the time our festive team assembled at my parents’ place (to cuddle their cats before we left), the skies had opened up and unleashed a torrent of rain that made it almost impossible to drive through at times. We had to make an emergency stop at a dollar store near our starting point of the tour to get umbrellas (and a few snacks for the car).

Riding around the county, dipping into our little snack bags of cookies, laughing about stupid things we’ve done lately, it was a really enjoyable day. I was really having fun, catching up with everyone, hearing all the gossip from that cousin’s side of the family that I’ve missed out on. We all bonded over our love of Christmas decorating, and the fact that I am the only one in the car who only puts up one Christmas tree every year (but I technically own two, thanks to a former roommate who left one behind).

Maybe it was the lack of sleep lately. Maybe it was the fact that I had to wake up pretty early on my first day off in 30 days. Maybe it was the fact that I had to piss of barely cheerful Bowser Kitten by leaving him home alone on my day off. Whatever it was, that creeping feeling that I don’t belong came faster this year.

Everyone else in the family seems to get along, and like a lot of the same things. They all follow the “there is a timeline your life is supposed to follow so you have things done at a certain point in your life” mentality. That was the first thing that opened the floodgates for the awkwardness today. My cousin was talking about her and her boyfriend, who have been dating almost 3 years now. She was saying that once you hit 30, dating is completely different and should move a lot faster because you have your life totally together. In her words, you have your life together once you’re in your 30s. You own a home or have a really nice apartment, don’t have any student loans left to pay off, are established in your career, and have time for hobbies and “grown-up things”. She’s in a book club, where they read Oprah-approved books and then sit around talking about how much they loved them. She gets up early on Saturday mornings to go to brunch with the girls. She counts calories, and every time she eats something “bad” she has to talk about how her diet is ruined for the day. And everyone over the age of 30 is supposed to do these things.

Now, everyone in that car today knows what my life is like. I’m 35 years old. I’m drowning in credit card and student loan debt I’m slowly chipping away at. I work retail, on my feet in steel-toe shoes all day, and rent a room in a house with a bunch of strangers. I am the exact opposite of everything she just said I’m supposed to be. But she still kept talking to me like my life is exactly like hers. Not just that, but everyone seemed to go along with it like I was supposed to fake another lifestyle for a day just to fit in.

I’m almost used to this by now. I always seem to get this weird combination of “good for you, not letting your age stop you” and “you still have to live up to our expectations of a person your age” from people when I make decisions in my life. And everyone has different expectations for me, but I’m supposed to live up to all of them. I am somehow supposed to live at home until I’m married, plus get a kick-ass apartment full of cool stuff from catalogues, plus cultivate my own style, plus date around and sow my wild oats while also being in a steady and monogamous relationship long enough to lead to an engagement and marriage so I can start having kids by my late-20s or early-30s. I am somehow expected to do all of this at once, in order to live up to a dream that various family members have for themselves, which then gets passed on to me.

This random “failing everyone’s expectations entirely, all at the same time” phenomenon is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interactions with my family. In almost every way, I am very much different from my family. I know, I sound like some angsty teen who wears too much black eyeliner and ironically listens to Marilyn Manson because he’s “hardcore” and “speaks to me”. This is something that I’ve come to embrace over the years, and most of the time it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve always been a little off compared to my cousins, and a little backwards at times. I’m a writer, a confused little lost girl who bounced from job to education to job, with ever-changing goals. I’m financially insecure, in a precarious place in my professional career, and just rediscovering my passion for writing and reading at the age of 35. Usually, I am perfectly fine with the fact that my choices in life have lead me to where I am, and I know that my current and future choices will lead me other places. But being in that car, listening to everyone talk, it just gets to me.

You see, there are a lot of fundamental things about me that are very different from the rest of my family. I come from a big group of Trump-loving folk, who don’t want refugees around stealing their jobs and spreading Sharia law with their ISIS influence. They think that anyone who gets welfare is just cheating the system to get free money for expensive food and trips (except for me, the time I was on it right out of school; I was the exception), and firmly believe that all refugees are being paid thousands of dollars a month by the government while pensioners are being given cheese vouchers and a swift kick in the ass. They want more gun, less diversity, more religion (as long as it’s their religion), and fewer immigrant workers. They believe that trickle-down economics will save the world, and that border walls can’t be built fast enough to save North America from the dreaded Mexicans.

Basically, they believe in the opposite of everything I do. There are tules at family dinners stating that no political conversations are supposed to take place. This basically means that everyone else is allowed to talk politics, except for me. The second I speak up, the conversation is labelled a “fight” and mum gets upset. I’m used to it. I just shut my mouth, keep my head down, and try to tune everything out most of the time. But when you’re stuck in a car with people talking politics, and you know you can’t join in because it will upset people is the weirdest feeling in the world. No matter how nice and polite I am, just the very act of saying something that isn’t in total agreement with them is enough to piss everyone off.

Ok, remember when you were a teen, and you thought the whole world was against you? You would lock yourself in your room, blasting your angsty-driven music of choice (mine was German industrial music and heavy metal; my sister was more of a Hanson-rebel), thinking that there was no one in the world who would understand you. You would slam doors, punch your pillow, scream at family members that they just didn’t understand you and they never would. Do you remember that feeling of being so totally different, so totally alone, that if felt like it would crush you?

Now imagine being 35. You know that you’re not alone in the world because you have people around you that you can relate you. You know that you’re not the bizarre, weird freak you thought you were when you were 15 when some overly-bleach blond douchebag would throw orange slices at your head on the bus after school. You’re a grown-ass adult who has a life and a mind of their own and is able to converse with people of differing views in a civilized manner. But being with your family is suddenly being that 15-year-old again. You’re a freak, a weirdo, a disappointment who has all these weird and strange ideas that they’ll surely grow out of once they finally grow up.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this post today. Sorry folk, my brain has closed down for the day. All I know is I just spent my first day off in a month being questioned about when the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I are going to get engaged and married (that’s not something we’re really looking into right now), why am I not pressuring AAB into proposing as my Christmas present, why would I even think about applying to jobs a few hours away (when there’s nothing outside of my own company that I’m both qualified for and interested in), why would I be looking at little 2 bedroom wartime houses in my area (when that’s all AAB and I want at the moment), and when am I going to “grow up and vote Republican” (because apparently other people’s Christmas decorations are entirely a Republican issue that I couldn’t possibly handle). It’s been a mentally draining day, I’m pouring my second glass of wine right now while I blast my “Angry Tunes” playlist on Spotify, and AAB is playing in the kitchen with some fish and asparagus at 8:43pm when I haven’t eaten a real meal all day. I am just done with everything for today. Being grilled like a 15-year old who came home 4 hours after curfew about the tiniest little thing today by a few family members just gets to me.

Tomorrow is my Christmas decorating day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to lay out the extra stress that comes with the Christmas season for me (since we all go through extra stress this time of year, no matter our beliefs, with holiday festiveness being shoved down our throats) and how I’m planning on cutting a few corners and doing more for me thing year.

Yes, You Really Do Need To Show ID

Well, today is a bust. I woke up feeling like death, dragged myself out of bed, and went to work. I am sore all over, my head is pounding, my neck is stiff and sore, and to top it all off I have cramps that could cripple a giraffe. We were also short staffed at work today, so I couldn’t even leave early. I have felt like falling down all day. Cases of coolers that I can usually throw around two at a time felt like they were filled with cement today. I could barely lift things, let alone be of much help doing our Monday afternoon load.

Luckily for me, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend took the day off work today. He usually does four or five 10-11 hour days a week, one day of 8-10 hours, and a 5 hour day on the weekend. So, sometimes when Monday rolls around he’s just too damn tired to get up.  Instead, he stays home, watches a little tv, and just relaxes. But today he saw how sick I feel, and he’s been working at home all day. I came home to a freshly scrubbed kitchen. He even cleaned out the toaster and the microwave. The bed is all made and looking extra comfy for when I collapse after I finish typing this. And the ever playful Bowser Kitten looks like he’s played plenty of fetch today and will sleep well during my nap. He basically did everything I do in a day (except for the writing part) and is still going to make dinner, let me nap, and take care of me all afternoon and evening.

Having him around really cheers me up on days like today. On top of feeling horrible, I also had to deal with customers. For the most part, this usually goes ok. They put their item on the counter, I scan it, they pay, we say goodbye, and they leave. But sometimes, asking people for ID throws a wrench in our little routine. For the most part, people have no issue showing me their ID. There are always those few people out there who make a big deal out of it. Too big a deal, if you ask me. They seem to think they know my job better than I di, and frequently lecture me on why they don’t need ID. Or they huff and they puff and whine and pout and generally waste everyone’s time. Actually, there’s a whole lot of different things people do when it comes to ID that either really pisses most cashiers off, or gives us a damn good story to tell our families at Thanksgiving when they say, “Wow, your job is so easy. Must be nice to not have to deal with any real drama or work, eh?”.

And yes, I had someone say that to me last year at my parents’ New Years Day party.

1. I know the rules better than you do.

We get trained over and over about the rules when it comes to IDing people in our store. We’re told repeatedly about the consequences we could face if we don’t ID people properly. We know that corporate pays mystery shoppers just to come in and see if they get ID’d, and if we don’t ID them we could get in serious trouble. So for those of you who are wondering, all the different reasons we can have for legally asking you for your ID are as follows:

  1. You brought the product up to the counter, or are paying for the product, and look like you could be under 25.
  2. We saw you touching the product in the store while you’re shopping with someone else, they are buying something, but you are with them.
  3. We see you give money or any other form of payment, like a debit card or credit card, to someone who is buying booze.
  4. We hear you ask someone to buy you something.
  5. We hear you tell someone which product to buy.
  6. You came in as part of a large group, where multiple people are all picking up the product, talking about products, and it is all part of one large purchase.

If you bring a bottle up to the counter, put it down in front of the cashier, and your friend is paying for it, you both need to show ID. We actually had a guy last weekend put a bottle down on the counter in front of one of my little Kitten Crew cashiers, and his friend pulled out his wallet to pay. When she asked them both for ID, the one who carried the bottle up right in front of her said, ” I literally never touched it.”

She. Watched. You. Put. It. On. Her. Counter. Dude.

Luckily, this was the sassiest member of my little Kitten Crew. She can take abuse from customers, stare them down, and talk to them in a totally deadpan manner. She stared this dude right in the eye, grabbed the bottle away from him, and said: “I literally saw you put it down on the counter, so now I literally need to see your ID or you can literally just leave now.”

We get a tonne of young people who take a fit and claim they know the rules better than we do. We’ve had young kids claim they are the children of police officers and lawyers, so obviously, they know the law better than we do. They get right in our faces, try and taunt us, tell us their father will hear about this. They go the full Draco Malfoy.

If we ask you for ID, it’s because we had one of those 6 reasons above to do so. We’re not backing down. Once we ask you for ID, legally you have to show it to get your purchase. Once the words “I need to see your ID” leave my mouth, you’re showing me your ID or you’re leaving empty-handed.

2. No, you don’t need it.

Seriously, people tell us this all the time. We ask for ID and they say, “you don’t need that”.

Look, if we didn’t need it, we wouldn’t ask for it. You’re not the one who decides if I need to see your ID or not. If we have a reason to see your ID, we’re the ones who decide to ask for it. It has nothing to do with whether you think you need to show it.

3. Why would you threaten us?

One night, I had three guys all shopping together in our store. They were talking pretty loudly, so all of the cashiers knew they were shopping together. Like, we heard them talking about how much each of them was paying the other one to buy the rum for the three of them for the night. One of them grabbed the bottle, brought it half-way to my register, and then handed it to his friend who put it on my counter. I asked all three of them for ID.

Only one of them had it.

The one gentleman asked me a bunch of questions, very calmly and honestly, about why he needed ID, and what he should do the next time he comes in shopping and forgets to bring his ID with him. The other guy was nowhere near as nice. At first, he just kept insisting he didn’t need his ID. Then he basically took a sidebar with the friend who did have an ID. They whispered to each other just off to the side of my line, and then came right back up to my till. Then buddy had the nerve to look me in the eye and say, “I don’t know these two guys. I’m not with them. I don’t need ID.”

Seriously. He walked in with his two friends. He shopped with his two friends. He very loudly talked about giving his friend $15 towards a bottle of rum. Then he carried the bottle of run halfway up to my register before giving it to his friend to bring up. And suddenly he’s never met these guys in his life?

To make what turned into a very long, drawn-out, expletive-riddled story much shorter, I denied their purchase because they didn’t all have ID. I did what we’ve all been trained to do. Of course, this didn’t sit well with them.

These boys yelled and screamed at me, tried to convince me to sell to them anyway, and were just a general nuisance for a few minutes. I told them to leave, and that they weren’t being served by any of us there that night until they all had their ID with them. This didn’t sit well with them. They slowly walked back towards the door, still yelling at me. Once they got to the door, the only one in the group who actually had ID stood there staring at me. He stood there just pointing at me, and suddenly yelled out that he was going to “track [me] down and fuck [me] up”.

Want to know how you make sure you are watched by management and security in a store for the rest of your natural life? Threaten an employee.

I don’t think these guys realize, but they are being watched ridiculously closely any time they walk into any of our stores. Security knows their faces. We all do by now. All any of them have to do is step out of line in the slightest way just once, and they’re banned for life. You can’t just go around saying you’re going to track people down and mess them up and expect there to be no consequences.

4. We don’t take pictures of ID

I had a coworker who had the greatest reply to this once. It was so great that years later, we use this reply regularly. And I do mean regularly. Even on a slow weekend, the front end gets this situation a handful of times.

Someone will come into the store. In this situation, it’s usually a member of a small group of people. This group will walk around for at least half an hour, with a shopping cart, with all members of the group putting things into the cart. When they’re asked for ID at the counter, at least one person in the group will pull out their phone. They didn’t actually bring their ID with them, but they did take a picture of it on their phones. I mean, it’s not like pictures can be manipulated by modern-day technology or anything, right? A picture of a passport or license should be good enough.

No. No, it’s not.

As my coworker once said, “If all you have is a picture of your ID, then all you’re leaving with is a picture of the booze. Sorry.”

5. We don’t care if you let your kid drink at home

Seriously, we all drank underage at some point. Ok, except for my mother. She waited until college before going crazy on the cherry whiskey and orange juice. But my friends (and siblings, and their friends) drank underage. But back in my day, because I am ridiculously old and can say that, we knew well enough to give our money to our of-age purchaser before they went into the store and told them what to get us without walking in with them and yelling, “Oooh, this is what I want! Buy me this!”

My parents knew we drank underage. Like most of my friends’ parents, they said they would rather we do it at home or at the home of a friend (with trusted parents somewhere nearby) than stealing booze and hitting up a bush party somewhere. When I really really wanted a bottle of Crown Royal for a party, and I had the money leftover from babysitting, my dad went out and got it for me. I didn’t have to go to the store with him and tell him what I wanted. My friends and I knew that if we were mature enough to drink, then we were mature enough to know what we wanted and give someone the money to get it.

Ok, so our parents knew better back then than to bring some whiney, hormonal teenager into the liquor store with them to pick something out. Dad basically said, “Am I grabbing something for you? Or do you have a 19-year-old friend who’s going to buy you booze behind our backs anyway?” Dad didn’t let me get the cheap gut-rot stuff. He sat me down and taught me about responsible drinking. Then, mum told me the story about the college party she went to where she and her friend had too much cherry whiskey and orange juice. The grass never did grow back properly on her neighbour’s lawn where she threw up. If watching your mother roll around on the floor doing her impression of 19-year-old her rolling around in the back of her friend’s boyfriend’s van doesn’t scare you into drinking responsibly, nothing will.

The point is that my friends and I didn’t walk into the store advertising that our parents were buying us booze, and our parents didn’t let on that they were buying for us either. If we did get the privilege of going into the store with them, it was a “blow this and you’re drinking Kool-Aid at parties until you’re legal age” kind of deal. I wish I could say that kids these days keep screwing this up, but it’s the parents I take issue with.

I have lost track of the number of parents who have loudly yelled across the store, “Honey, do you want whiskey or vodka for your prom party tonight?” while talking to their very under-age child. Again, if we think you’re buying it for someone who doesn’t have ID proving they’re of legal age to buy it themselves, we can’t sell it to you. It’s called a “second party purchase”, and a cashier could actually do jail time for that.

So when you’re yelling across the store, or we hear you say something like, “Just grab what you want and bring it up to the counter”, legally we need to ID your kid. And really, we don’t care if you let them drink at home. Seriously, we don’t. If I had a kid that age, I would let them drink too. I want to teach my kids about responsible drinking, the consequences of drinking too much, and the legal restrictions put on the sale of alcohol. And part of that means not obviously buying for your kid right in front of me.

Look, if you come in and buy a bottle of whiskey, I’m going to assume it’s for you. If you buy 12 bottles of whiskey, I’m going to assume you’re buying gifts or stocking up on something. Any of those could be for your kid, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about that. But the second you let your kid pick out that whiskey in my store, we have a damn problem, Brenda!

6. The drinking age here is 19

The next province over, the legal drinking age is 18. You still have to be 19 to buy alcohol here.

I’m in a border city. In Michigan, the legal drinking age is 21. Many many American young adults trade in their stars and stripes and freedom from ‘Merica to come to the Great White North and drink legally in bars. When those 19 and 20-year-olds go back across the border, they still have to be 21 to buy alcohol there.

If you’re a student here from another country, or on vacation here, or visiting a friend, or on an international quest for love, or doing whatever the hell you’re doing that brought you to my store, and you’re from a country that has a lower drinking age, you still have to be 19 to drink here. End of story.

7. No, I won’t seriously ID your 5-year-old

When someone comes in with little kids, I like to joke around with the kids. I ask them for ID.

You mean you don’t have anything? Drivingt lisence? Fishing lisence? Boating lisence? A lisence to kill? What about a health card? A sick card? A feeling a little pukey but still want to go to school card?

What can I say, it’s my schtick. If your 5-year-old grabs a can from your basket and tried to put it on the counter, I know you’re not buying it for them. While they’re not allowed to touch anything in the store, I know they’re just trying to be helpful.

When people bring their 17-year-old kid into the store, let them pick out something, and then let them bring it up to the counter, do you have any idea how many of these parents yell something along the lines of “What, would you ID my 5-year-old if I brought them in with me?”

8. We’re IDing you because we have to, not because we want you

The Kitten Crew probably gets this more than I do, but even I get this sometimes. And I’m really damn old, remember?

If I ask for your ID, it’s because I need to legally verify that you can buy what you’re trying to purchase. Not because I want to sleep with you. Seriously.

That’s just what I can think of off the top of my head right now. And that head is freaking pounding. I think it’s time for me to lay down with the always snuggly Bowser Kitten while AAB finishes dinner for us.

So is there anything else you have to deal with when IDing customers that I missed here? Leave a comment, or drop me a line at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com.