Mad at the World

I’m kind of mad at the world right now and I’m beginning to question its sanity. Have we lost all sense of what it means to be kind, decent, and respectable human beings and given into throwing the type of tantrums and fits that even my 4-year-old niece knows better than to do in public??

We’ve all spent the past 3 months worried about a virus, to the point that life has been disrupted in a way that may never return to the “real normal”. We debate and even hate on one another for opting to wear a mask or not wear a mask in public, as if this single act alone is going to save our lives. We act out in the grocery store when we run into neighbors and acquaintances we once would have taken a moment to speak to, all because they fall on the opposite side of our stand on social distancing etiquette. And if you think this is not true, come with me when I go to work my merchandising gig sometime. Just last week, I witnessed nearly a dozen incidents in which one person was being mean to another – all over a piece a cloth!

Given all this, there is no wonder then that folks are burning courthouses and vandalizing Target stores too. Life as we know it is already in a state of chaos so why not just add to the madness!

What happened to George Floyd and all the other people of color who we aren’t hearing about on the news is unacceptable. It is wrong. It is outrageous. It is serious. It needs to stop. But folks, it’s not going to. Why? Because we hate each other over the stupidest of things!

I fully understand that not all people are acting badly, not all cops are corrupt, and not everyone is berating their neighbor over a face mask. But even if we aren’t being outwardly hateful, all of us carry our own set of prejudices. And what is prejudice exactly? I had to look this up myself because I was a bit confused. My family (misguidedly) taught me that prejudice could be good in some instances – such as when it keeps you from making a bad choice. For example, when you don’t go to McDonald’s because you “hate” how they are killing people every day with their food.  This is not prejudice though – this is called being discerning. One is acceptable, the other is not.

Prejudice is having a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Prejudice is when we think the black man who has picked up our trash for the last 25 years is somehow less of a person because of the color of his skin. Prejudice is telling your gay relative that she’s going to hell because she “made a choice that no one else agrees with”. But prejudice is also thinking it’s “us vs. them” in every single situation, from how we react to senseless tragedies to how to fight a virus.

Every argument, every feud, and every war was started by the “us vs. them” mindset. Isn’t it time we changed that? All lives matter and despite what we have been taught to believe, people have way more in common with one another than they have differences – starting with the fact that we all live on the same planet, bleed the same color blood, die of the same diseases, and have the same choices when it comes to treating others as we wish to be treated ourselves.

Yes, I’m mad at the world right now. I’m mad at my own family, my neighbors, and my community for being mean to one another when we should all be trying to lift one another up. Life is hard enough as it is. We don’t need to fuel the hatred and indecency just because we can. So here’s what I’m going to do about it…

I love you all. I respect your choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask, because only you know how you have been affected in this pandemic. I respect your political choice, whether you are Democrat, Republican, or in-between. I share your outrage at the senseless death and destruction that has become the sad hallmark of our country and I stand with you in peaceful protest, hoping one day soon this will change. While I will always be discerning in my own choices, I vow to no longer let the “us vs. them” mentality creep into my life and above all, I will not pass down any prejudices I may have learned in my lifetime to anyone that I love.

On Almost Being Scammed

After a solid week of rain, we finally saw a little sunshine on Saturday and Sunday. It felt great…no, amazing…to be outside, hands in the dirt, breathing in fresh air and letting go of the frustrations of a week of trying to field a lot of curveballs.

We continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19. Our county now has 22 cases and our stores are not able to keep up with the growing demand for supplies as people try to stock up to stay home. My sister works at a grocery store and while she is probably the toughest person I know, even she is having difficulty dealing with the rudeness of people demanding things that just aren’t available right now.

I’m still working my Target gig one day a week but I have a feeling that may end soon. Another merchandising gig that I accepted back in February is on indefinite hold. That company is still paying it’s employees partial salary (I am not technically an employee so this does not apply to me). And while I have now signed a contract for the freelance editing job I mentioned a few weeks back, that is not likely to begin until mid to late April. But we are okay, and that’s all that matters.

Despite all of this, our biggest issue this week was not directly related to the virus. On Tuesday, my mom was almost duped by a scammer posing as an agent of the Social Security Administration. He almost convinced her that someone had stolen her identity and was in the process of having her move her money from the bank to a safer location (ie. a prepaid debit card that he undoubtedly planned to have her give him the number of).

My mom is not usually one to fall for this sort of thing but somehow on that day, he caught her in a vulnerable state. She had not slept well for a few nights and had taken something to help her rest. When she answered the phone, she was not yet fully awake or aware and before she knew it, she was headed to the bank. I thank God, the Universe, and the folks at Walgreen’s for what I can only call divine intervention. The scammer had told my mom not to call me or tell anyone what was going on, so that’s what she did. She managed to go to the bank and withdraw most of her money without drawing attention (though the bank teller later told me that she felt as if something was off but she did not know what to say or do). Still on the phone with the scammer, my mom stopped at Walgreen’s to buy a prepaid debit card. The cashier thought she looked distraught and this time, someone asked all the right questions. The store manager talked to the scammer and ultimately called the police. The situation could have been a lot worse that it was.

Our elderly friends, neighbors, and family members are disproportionately at risk for so many things that it’s not even funny. Right now, they are worried about getting a virus that could kill them and worried about having enough supplies to last so they don’t have to go out. They worry about getting sick from the non-virus-related conditions they were already facing before this occurred. They worry about being even more alone than they already are if their friends and family can’t come to visit. They worry that things will not get better in what’s left of their lifetime. And on top of that, there are people out there trying to rip them off. All. The. Time. The kinds of scams that my mom faced this week are way too common – so common in fact that they have entire websites of information dedicated to them.

Since this incident, I’ve put protocols in place to alert me if she withdraws more than a certain amount from her bank account, to alert both of us if there’s ever a real threat of identity theft, and I’ve frozen her credit report so that accounts can’t be opened in her name. We did this for our own credit reports about a year ago and should have done it for her then.

We also had a family meeting and expressed our concerns about all that is going on in the world around us. The result of that meeting – my mom would rather see me every other day than not. It’s something she looks forward to and something that keeps her from feeling alone. We all realize that she (or we) could be exposed to the virus (since I still go into stores for work) so we’re just going to be more vigilant than ever in making sure we wash our hands, disinfect our shoes, and wipe off any groceries we bring in. COVID-19 is a terrible situation but it’s not the only thing that our loved ones can fall victim to.