It’s Not You, It’s My Job

I worked at a small deli in my hometown over the summerNot only was this my first customer service job, it was my first job in general. I learned a lot over those three months. I learned how to slice turkey, how to make a perfectly gooey grilled cheese, how to use a price gun, and how to carry five dinners at once. But what shocked me the most was when I learned that some people are completely and inappropriately creepy towards their waitstaff.

I may not have years of experience in customer service but I’ve been to my fair share of restaurants and I didn’t expect people to suddenly lose their boundaries when they wandered in to eat. Certainly, I’ve never seen anyone I know act in such a manner.

A man grabbed my coworker by the arm when she told him she couldn’t pour him a beer because she was underaged. A boy scarcely older than me came back into the deli over an hour after we closed to ask me to go take a drive with him. A middle aged man commented on how well I was sweeping the floor and remarked that I should come sweep the floor at his own house.

I will never understand why it seems to be so difficult to grasp that when your waiter smiles and is polite, they’re not flirting with you, they’re just doing they’re job. The fact that they are kind and attentive does not give the customer license to make advances.  It’s really a simple case of just because you can, doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because you can grab your waiter (assuming they won’t make a scene so that don’t lose their job) really doesn’t mean you should.

 

 

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The First Time Women Wore Shorts

I was sitting down to begin writing my paper about the birkini ban when I was suddenly reminded of an image I saw on the internet a while ago.

o-WOMEN-SHORTS-CAR-CRASH-facebook
(Huffington Post) 

This image was captioned something along the lines of The First Time Women Wore Shorts. It was said to be a photo of the first two women to go walking with bared legs. Around them, men ogle and some poor man seems to have crashed his car into a light pole. I thought it was absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, it has since been proven to be staged.

Still, the contrast between this photo and the birkini ban struck me. First some background on the birkini.

The “burkini” is the term given to a bathing suit typically worn by muslim women that covers the head and the body. It’s a set of tighter pants and a shirt worn beneath a loose dress and with scarf wrapped around one’s head. The idea was to give women who might otherwise not be able to experience the beach like others a bit of freedom.

The burkini itself wasn’t banned, but it came to fall under a ban instituted by several towns in France. Following the string of recent terror attacks in European countries, French officials were desperate to take measures to protect their terrified people.  A ban was instituted for clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks” (Quinn). The ban gave police officers the right to fine people wearing burqas and other forms of “religious clothing” as well as demand they remove them.

There was a time when a woman walking down the street in shorts would have been shocking and scandalous. It’s terribly ironic to think that now a woman could face just as much outrage and disgust for wearing more clothing.

 

Quinn, Ben. “French Police Make Woman Remove Clothing on Nice Beach Following Burkini Ban.”The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 Aug. 2016,

www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/french-police-make-woman-remove-burkini-on-nice-beach.

The Appeal of Reading Messy Characters

In writing, there needs to be conflict of some sort to drive your story. There needs to be purpose behind your character’s actions and a reason for the reader not to put down whatever it is you’ve written and go watch TV.  This conflict can be internal, external, or in most cases- both. There’s a reason for that. There’s a reason that conflict in stories doesn’t just happen to a character, it happens within or because of a character.

People genuinely like reading about messed up characters.

Yes I know, we read them because they’re *relatable*. Relatable like Jennifer Lawrence or like watching a kid take a nap in class.

But I believe that sometimes we read messy characters just because they’re messier than we are.

It can be relieving to realize that while you might not have your life together, you’re nowhere near as selfish/unmotivated/evil and bloodthirsty as the character in your book. That no matter how terrible your day was, this character’s day was worse.

There’s a word for that. Specifically, the german word shadenfreude (pronounced sha-den-freud-uh). It means finding enjoyment in another person’s troubles.

So that sounds pretty terrible.

But maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s the really jumbled characters, the Lydia Bennet’s and the Professor Dumbledore’s that remind us that nobody’s life is really as pretty as it seems, least of all your own.