Posted in society

Tickets! Tickets, please!

Every morning I wake up, probably later than I should, rush to get ready, grab my bag, keys and cell phone, jump in the car and zip down the road to the bus stop. It’s not uncommon for me to pull into the lot all of 30 seconds before the bus is going to leave and the bus drive even called me out on it the other day. You see, Eric, my bus driver, understands that we have a 15 minute window built in when we get to the train station, so he is kind to those who are not early risers and waits for you to get on the bus when he sees you pull in before he leaves the lot. Not only does Eric wait for us stragglers, but he also does not ask the regulars to see their bus pass every day. And that’s where today just went downhill.

Today’s morning kept going as normal. I even got to the bus more than 30 seconds before it was due to leave. I got on and sat down next to a high school classmate and shortly thereafter we were on our way to the train. I got on the train, sat down and waited for the conductor to come and check my ticket. And three stops later the conductor came by. I dug into my purse to pull out my wallet, and couldn’t find it. So I pulled out some things like my scarf and make-up bag and kept digging around but was unable to find it. Fortunately I have been taking the same bus to the train daily since two weeks after I started my job in October of 2008. For about the past 15 months, we have had the same conductor on the train, and I sit in the same car almost every day, so he knows me and therefore gave me a free pass on getting into work today. So once I realized that I didn’t have my wallet at all, I also realized I had no idea where my wallet was; the last time I used my wallet was for the bus on the way home from work on Tuesday.

Once I was able to confirm that my wallet was safe at home, I wasn’t all too worried. I knew I could get a pass for the day to get into my office and I’d just have to explain to my train conductor and bus drivers on the way home that I left my wallet in CT this morning and I could show my pass to them again tomorrow. Little did I know that the guy who would later sit in the seat next to me on the ride home would also have left his train ticket at home…

But really, it didn’t turn out as such a bad day in the end. What could have turned into a disastrous day didn’t due to a few random acts of kindness. You see, the lady I was sitting next to (well sort of next to, she had the window seat, I had the aisle seat and the middle seat was empty) is a lady that I have seen almost daily on the train ever since I started working. She’s adorable, and when I returned to my normal train after I had a two week training which meant I went into work an hour early everyday for two weeks, she told me she was so happy to see me since she had feared I had lost my job and felt bad that such a sweet young girl was laid off (but low and behold, I was not laid off). As soon as she heard and saw my reaction to not having a wallet with me, she told me that if she had any cash on her, she would have given it to me since she didn’t want to see me go off into Manhattan ID and moneyless for the day. Only moments later, after not hearing the lady to the left of me, the guy sitting across the aisle from me offered me some money as well. He too is a frequent train goer and I see him about 3 times a week in the morning. I graciously turned down his offer as both of my high school classmates that were on the train with me also offered to help, and I would much rather be in debt to a friend than a semi-stranger.

My fellow train-goers weren’t even the only ones that offered to help. I work with my cousin-in-law who offered me lunch money (after he told the security guard not to give me a day pass to the office). And, just as a large portion of my generation, I updated my Facebook status and tweeted my “FML” moment, which also drew in support from friends and one of my aunt’s. So to all you who offered to help, thank you! And to all you who have the chance to help someone by doing something simple, do it! Random acts of kindness can go a long way. And thanks to those who helped me today, I was reminded that a small act can really brighten someone’s day.

Posted in society

Fallen Star

On Tuesday night two unleashed German shepherds attacked a man and his puppy, a Golden Retriever named Star. After the attack, the presumed owner of the German shepherds, took his dogs with him and fled the scene before the police or ambulance could arrive. (For the whole story, you can see the article in the Ridgefield Press, here). This incident makes two things come sprinting to the forefront of my mind. One, what kind of person just flees the scene after an attack like that? And two, why doesn’t Ridgefield have a leash law?

The very first thing that upset me about the whole story was that the man with the German shepherds got in his car, whistled for his dogs to get in the car and he drove off. A friend of mine who showed up just after the attack happened said she thought the owner was just putting the dogs in the car, not driving off. She jumped to the same conclusion I would have come to, one that I think most sensible people would come to. Who would assume this man was going to run off with the dogs? Even the wife of the man attacked was quoted in the Ridgefield Press saying, “My husband thought, ‘Oh, great he is putting the dogs in the car and is coming to help me,’ but he drove away.” It takes a special type of person to run away from something like this. What if the man’s German shepherds attacked a man with a baby, not a puppy? What if it were kids that were attacked instead? Would this man still have run away? Whatever this man was thinking at the time no longer matters. We live in a small town, and now this man has made the front page of the local paper and there is no doubt in my mind that almost everyone not on spring break with their families has heard what happened. Whoever this guy is, he needs to step up and take responsibility of what happened like a man.

At the same time, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the German shepherds were on a leash. Which leads me to my next question, why doesn’t Ridgefield have a leash law? This is important in a community like ours and I was shocked to find out we don’t have one. It especially surprises me that there isn’t at least a leash law in places like the rail trail and the walking trail at the Rec Center. While these are great places for people to take their dogs for walks, they are also places where people like me love to jog/run/walk and especially on the rail trail, there tend to be smaller children as well. Without a leash law, there will always be a higher risk of attacks such as this one. Besides just the risk of attacks, I think a leash law helps calm the nerve of the public. I personally have been scared of large dogs since I was a little kid thanks to a dog (who was not on a leash) chasing me around a tree for what seemed like ages at the time. This may make me somewhat biased on this topic, but I do know that I’m not looking forward to hitting up the rail trail this weekend knowing there could be an unleased dog out there with me. And it’s safe to say, I’ll be taking a turn as soon as I see any German shepherds on my foot travels through town.

Posted in society

Never too Old for Santa

One thing I have strongly believed for a long time is that you are never too old to believe in Santa. If given the choice, why would you choose to not believe? I mean, no I don’t believe that Santa flies around the world bringing gifts to every boy and girl by dropping in through everyone’s chimney. I do believe in what Santa represents though. I like to think that there is always goodness in the world, and I especially like to think that it is present at the holidays. I have seen what the real world can do to people at the holidays. People become stressed out, some loose their family members around the holidays, others have to deal with the economic stress when they can’t really afford presents for their loved ones. Holidays aren’t always negative though. They are a time for joy and cheer. Friends and families come together. People truly step up to the plate and help out. I’ve always known that it is a good thing to do good for others, regardless of the time of year. But I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some of this charity at the holidays.

To me, Santa represents all the hope and love and caring and joy and all the good at the holidays. Santa stands on the corner ringing a bell collecting money for the poor. Santa puts a smile on almost everyone’s face. Santa is the one person people will wait on line for hours to pay to see. Santa allows kids to believe in magic. Santa gives people hope. Santa motivates kids to be good. Santa embodies what is good in our world.

I don’t even remember when I stopped believing in Santa as a little kid. I have a younger sister, so when I came to the realization Santa wasn’t coming down the chimney every Christmas Eve, I kept it to myself as I didn’t want to take anything away from her. Eventually we were both old enough that we knew mom and dad were the ones leaving our gifts under the tree but I didn’t want to stop believing. Until 2007, I always needed to pretend at least that I believed for the sake of cousins but before the last one stopped believing, I was a believer again. When I was younger, there was a Christmas where my dad was out of work and we weren’t supposed to get much that year. Even knowing that, my sister and I had lots of presents that year because someone else stepped in and provided them for us. This year, my father is again unemployed and we all know that money is tight. That said, we were able to have a splendid holiday because of our family and friends. Some of my mom’s friends (some known and some anonymous) truly stepped it up and provided my family with things we otherwise would not have had. It’s people like them that embody Santa and it’s people like them who allow me to still believe. Virginia has always believed in Santa. And I’ll always have Virginia’s back.

Posted in society

my way or the highway

One of my pet peeves lately in society is all the hypocritical “rules” that people create — they are societal norms in the making, or at least something that some people want to make a societal norm. Actually, I really guess I’m not sure what exactly they are. I don’t know what the societal norm actually is in most of these cases, and truth be told, I’m convinced society doesn’t know what the norm is.\

Today’s questionable societal norm is: talking whilst on public transportation.

While I understand that you are not supposed yell and be really obnoxious when you are talking to someone while riding public transportation, since when are you not allowed to carry on a conversation with someone you are sitting with? I’m not talking about having a conversation across a few seats or across a crowded subway; I just want to know who decided that I am not allowed to talk to the people that I am sitting on the train with?

Now yesterday on the train there was an Asian lady on her cell phone. She was speaking rather loudly in a foreign language and another woman in the train car got up and yelled at her multiple times for talking so loudly. In addition, a man stood up about 4 rows away and was extremely agitated about the lady on the phone. While I agree that it is impolite to talk loudly on your cell phone while in public, I also think it is wrong to yell at a complete stranger for just talking on her cell phone — there is a much politer way that that could have been handled. But back to my original point, if you are on a train and sitting with others, is it wrong to carry on a conversation?

I always thought that it was absolutely fine to talk to the people you are with on the train, or any other form of public transportation but lately I have noticed that many people are against this. Not only are they against it, but many of them are hypocrites who carry on their own conversations at times but then give other people the stink eye for doing the same exact thing. Take for example two of my fellow bus riders nearly every morning. Every morning that I have been on the bus along with the two of them, they are always chatting away. They are not being loud, and even though it is 6:30AM and most of us are half asleep, no one complains or says anything to them. Then take the random morning when one of them is missing and insert my high school classmate on the bus. The two of us have a simple chat about nothing special, and here comes the evil glance from the man who talks almost daily on the bus. So apparently it is OK for him to chat on the bus, but if he wants it to be quiet, then apparently no-one else is supposed to talk on the bus either.

Then today I was sitting on the train with two friends and while one of them chose to sleep for the majority of the ride home, the other two of us chatted pretty much the whole ride home. We weren’t being loud, it wasn’t a conversation about anything inappropriate, but still the people reading their papers across the isle from us still continued to glare over their papers looking at us in a disapproving fashion. Now I don’t know if these people have ever carried on a conversation while riding public transportation, but I would like to know since when it became wrong for me to talk to the person sitting directly across me that I got on the train with?

So what’s your take? What are the societal norms for talking on public transportation?

Posted in society

the best birthday gift

My birthday has just past and the best birthday gift I received was not a present (though I do like all those that I received). The best gift I was given was a suggestion from a friend. For my birthday, I went out to dinner at Carmine’s, a family-style, Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with my friends Kristen and Mary. After randomly discussing people going out to dinner and intentionally buying more than they could eat in order to have food left over to take home, we quickly realized that we had too much food for the three of us. Even though all we had ordered was a bottle of wine, a salad and a plate of penne alla vodka, the wine was the only thing the three of us were able to finish. The salad and pasta could have easily fed 4-5 people instead of just the 3 of us that were there.

We knew that we would not be able to take the leftovers with us since we didn’t live nearby and we were heading from dinner to Joshua Tree in Murray Hill and no-one wants to head to the bar with a doggie-bag in hand. Mary came up with a wonderful idea during dinner — at the end of the meal, we should ask for a doggie-bag and give our leftovers to a homeless person on the street. At once I knew that I loved this idea and I wanted to do it. So once we could eat no more, we asked the waiter to please wrap up the remaining salad and pasta for us to take with us. After dinner, we left Carmine’s and headed for the subway to Grand Central Terminal. Since I take the train into GCT everyday, I knew that we’d be able to find someone in need of dinner right outside, and that’s what we did. When we were walking down 42nd street right in-front of the station, we passed a girl and guy, not much older than ourselves, looking rather glum and disheveled sitting on the sidewalk with their dog and a sign saying they would work for anything. You could tell they had been on the streets for a bit of time, but that they were sit somewhat new to being out there — or at least, that was my take on them. Once we passed them, I turned around and asked them if they would like our leftovers from dinner. They both looked up with relief across their faces. The girl’s face lit up and she responded very simply, “yes, please”.

Her very simple and polite response nearly made me cry. I am fortunate enough to not only have a roof over my head and food on my plate, but I also know that I will never need to think about they day I could end up on the street. I am blessed to know that there are enough people in my life that would take care of me if a reason ever arose in which I found myself homeless and/or hungry. As soon as she said yes, I placed the bag on the ground in front of them and their belongings and turned to continue walking. I was not looking for a thank you. Nor did I want to make it into a production and draw any unnecessary attention to these people who were just trying to survive.

Not only did this make me feel good because I know I did a good deed, but I have been trying to discern lately what I’m called to do and earlier this week I decided that I am called to serve others. The last three things listed on my bucket list are to make a difference in someone’s life, inspire someone and to be a good person. I have these all marked off as a “continual work in progress”as even if I do make a difference or inspire someone, I hope I can continue to do it and make an impact on someone else’s life. And doing a good deed doesn’t make you a good person, being a good person involves a sum of good deeds and actions done by someone over the entirety of their life…

Once I turned to keep walking, I noticed that almost everyone within 20-feet of me on the sidewalk had stopped to look at me. I wish I could say I don’t know why they looked shocked, but I know why. We don’t often enough see others doing kind actions to others. People in Manhattan don’t tend to take their leftovers with them to hand them out to a stranger. I want to change this. It’s not that hard. From now on, whenever I’m out in the city for dinner, I am going to ask to take any leftovers that I may have and give them to someone who most likely won’t have dinner otherwise. Maybe if you and I all start doing it, by the time I have kids they can learn to do this as well. And hopefully by the time that happens, they won’t have to turn around and have a sidewalk full of people staring at them with judgmental looks. Hopefully our generation can reinstitute chivalry and manners into society. Maybe if we can do that, we truly can make the world a better place…

Posted in society

CafeGive

Wow. its been a month. I’ve been thinking about the fact that I need to update this, but I haven’t been hit with an inspiration to write anything lately. That is until today. And today I shall tell you about CafeGive. I’ve got a friend who works for them and it’s a great company, so I figure I should spread the good news to all of you.

About two months ago, my friend started working for them and I’m pretty impressed with everything that I now know about the company. CafeGive is a company that partners with non-profits to get them more support and helps them build a grassroots foundation. How do they do this you ask? By allowing these non-profits to put a fundraising widget on their social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, iGoogle and more. The best part is, you don’t even need to be a non-profit to join CafeGive. Regular merchants are welcome to create widgets as well and part of the cost to buy their product will be donated to a cause of the merchant’s choice. You may be asking why a merchant would want to do this, but why not? They are being socially responsible while conducting their business. Not only does it help their brand name but their consumers are able to feel better about the purchases that they are making.

Whether or not my quick little blurb here about CafeGive has convinced you that they are a great company, I recommend checking them out some more on their website, their blog, Facebook & Twitter (and don’t forget to follow @CafeGive while you are there) to learn more. Who knows, maybe you’ll do something that you will be able to partner up with them later in life…

Posted in society

Being Famous Isn’t Everything

I have been catching up on some of the blogs that I follow and one post that my friend Jason made on his blog made me think about this post that I am going to write. He wrote about the cost of fame. Jason said listed the possible benefits of fame as:

  1. a legacy/being remembered
  2. the ability to influence what others think (whether right or wrong!)
  3. financial stability

He also listed the possible disadvantages of fame as:

  1. being under the public spotlight
  2. determining who your friends are
  3. higher probability of stalkers/assassinations

Jason was weighing these against each other and decided that his anonymity was more important to him than the possible cons of fame. This got me thinking…you don’t need to be famous to have the pros that he listed. Not only do you not need to be famous to have those things, but I would hope that everyone wants all of those things whether they be famous or not. I know I want all of these things.

I don’t necessarily know that I want to leave a legacy persay, but I do want to be remembered when I die. There’s a saying that goes something like ‘when I’m gone, I want people to smile when they remember me’. I don’t need everyone in the world to remember me and I certainly don’t want some spectacle to erupt such as when Michael Jackson died. I want my friend and family to remember the good times and I hope I can make a big enough impact on some of them that they tell others about me.

This brings me to my next point. I hope that I can influence people and I hope I can be a positive influence on them (check out my bucket list, I want to inspire someone and make a difference in someone’s life). I mean, who doesn’t want to positively influence others. I want to be a good role model. I work with a youth group and my goal is to always be a positive influence for them. I want them to make the right choices in life and I want to help them get through the turmoil that is high school. When I’m a mother, I want my kids to follow in my footsteps. I want them to do good and to take my advice. Not only do I want to be able to influence their actions, but I am not opposed to influencing their thoughts. I want to be able to make others see that there is a reason to be kind to others. I want to be able to make others see that there is all the reason in the world to try and be a good person.

The third thing Jason listed was financial stability. Now on this one, who doesn’t want it? I don’t want to be wealthy, just financial secure. I want to own my own car and home. I don’t want to be in debt. I want to be able to provide for my family and send my kids to college. I’m not going to ask for a handout. I want to work hard to gain my financial stability. I like knowing the true value of a dollar and don’t want someone to be able to pull out my stability from under me.

Jason also said their were cons to being famous. I think that these things can also apply to others. Maybe we are not all subject to living in the public spotlight as much as famous people, but we all have some sort of public that is watching us. When you come from a small town like me, people know too much about everyone else. Gossip runs rampant through our society and we are all victims of it. And most of us, myself included, can’t complain and wish to be exempt from it, as we all partake in gossiping.

Everyone has to deal with figuring out who their friends are. I have been having this issue all my life, as so many others have as well. It’s not even just having to figure out who your friends are, but figuring out who your friends should be. Maybe some of our friends are really just a bad influence on us. If that’s the case, do you really want to stay friends with them? Maybe someone wants to be friends with you because you know someone or have something that will benefit from them. Perhaps this makes it even more dangerous for those of us who aren’t in the public spotlight all the time because we are not always aware that people may just be out there to use us, not be our true friends.

The third was that famous people have a higher probability of having stalkers and assassinations. I disagree. I don’t know what the statistics are, but there are definitely tons of people who aren’t famous and have stalkers. And maybe non-famous people aren’t being assassinated, but I’m pretty sure there are tons for murders than assassinations every year. The only difference is, the famous people are the ones in the spotlight, just because we don’t hear about all of them doesn’t mean that “normal” people don’t have to deal with it too.

So my point is simple, you don’t need to be famous to reap the rewards, nor do you need to be famous to deal with the cons of being famous. Everyone should want to have a positive influence on others, everyone should want to be remembered and everyone should want to be financially secure. If people didn’t aim for these things, then what would the point of society really be?

Posted in society

something borrowed

I have spent this evening (and night) catching up on the blogs that I follow. For the past four years or so, I have been following Frank Warren’s Post Secret. Reading other people’s secrets really does make you realize that you are not alone.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how everyone has an online identity. When Facebook announced that people could get their own unique web addresses for their FB profiles, I knew immediately what mine was going to be. I have the same name for pretty much everything I do in the way of social networking. Yes, this is beneficial because I can use a unique name on many sites and it makes it much easier to keep everything together. But in thinking about this, I started to wonder if this is going to affect society in the future. After I die, will this blog still be here? Will my great-grandchildren be able to read this and see what life was like now?

I’m getting tired and need sleep before work tomorrow, so I will come back to this topic soon and blog about it some more, but before I say much more, I want to mull over my thoughts that have been going through my mind since I saw a video that Frank posted on this week’s Sunday Secrets and I hope that you all watch it and think about where society is heading. I still don’t know if I really feel this is a good thing or not. And I’m not sure society will know that answer until long after we are all dead.

Posted in society

society as it drives me crazy

so this week i have decided that there are a few things that i really don’t get about people in society…

one, why don’t people understand how to use umbrellas without driving everyone else crazy? are golf umbrellas that could easily fit 3 people under them really necessary when it is barely drizzling? i understand that people want to use golf umbrellas instead of the little compact ones when it is pouring and you have a computer bag and everything else that you lug to work, but if you use one, then please know how to use it. watch where you are swinging your umbrellas when you use them. and watch where they are swinging when you are using your gold umbrella as a make shift cane because you really don’t have any other place for it, but please never carry it under your arm so it hits everyone when you take a step in any which direction. and if you have a golf umbrella and are 6′ 2″, then you can raise your umbrella the whole 3 inches so that you don’t hit my umbrella when i’m walking down the sidewalk.

why does everyone find it necessary to use elevators in the city? to get onto and off of the train track at my station, you need climb the stairs to get into the waiting area and then go down another set to get to the track. it’s really not that many stairs and it really bothers me to see people not use the stairs. i understand if you have a stroller, or if you are elderly, or if you have a bunch of bulky stuff or anything, but really, if you are not using the stairs for the mere fact that you are lazy and slightly overweight, please give me a break. really, if you used the stairs every once in a while, you could loose some of that weight and then the stairs wouldn’t be as difficult for you. it also bothers me that i work on the 8th floor and have to take an elevator every time i go to and from my office.  yes, 8 floors is enough to use an elevator. especially when you have to go to the lobby and into a different elevator well to get to the rest of our offices on the 26th floor, but it would be nice to be able to use stairs once in a while. and yes, there are stairs, it’d be illegal not to have some, but they are not easily accessible nor are they able to be used unless there is actually a fire. and if i really think about it, i don’t even know that there are stairs in most public buildings in the city, the only place i could even tell you there are stairs is grand central and any two story bars.

do you really not know that the blue bins with circular holes cut out on top are for recycling glass, plastic and cans, not for garbage? they say that it is for recycling on the bins. i mean, people get that those huge metal crate things in grand central that say “newspapers only” are for newspapers only. i hate watching people throw their random garbage out in recycling bins. do you not get that we all need to be more green? and when there are recycling bins available, can you not take an additional two steps to throw your soda bottle in there instead of in the garbage?

Posted in society

stop hogging the media

The swine flu.

I don’t want to hear about the swine flu anymore. It’s everywhere, even church. I got an e-mail today from the pastor of my Church informing all the eucharistic ministers that we are not going to be distributing wine during communion or having the sign of peace during mass until the swine flu epidemic passes. While many people agree that this is a good idea and are happy to hear that the Church is taking whatever actions necessary to ensure that people stay healthy, I feel this is taking it one step too far. It’s not mandatory to receive the blood during mass, so why does it matter? If you don’t want to risk it, then don’t take the blood. Or you can be like me and realize that we always have a threat of getting sick.
It’s allergy season too. So on the train I become very entertained when people sitting around me get scared and try to scoot away from anyone with one sniffle or a little cough. Apparently some people now think that absolutely everyone who is not 100% healthy has the swine flu.
And what angers me the most is the naive people. Like Russia banning imports on pork from Mexico, most other Latin America countries and what I believe has grown to 13 states. You cannot get the swine flu from eating pork. In fact, the CDC is now referring to it as the H1N1 flu in attempts to keep it as separate from the pork industry as they can.
But it’s not just that people are over reacting that bothers me. I would like to know more about what is going on in the world right now. How many people know about the situation in Sri Lanka? What about the latest in the piracy in the Gulf of Aden? Or how our troops overseas are doing? Why do we always need to hear about one thing and only one thing in the news?