Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fear of the Free

Taking things for free makes me nervous.  It gives me the heebie-jeebies.  (Don't waste your time Google-ing the correct spelling for that, by the way...I already did, and it is correct.)  Little booths set up giving free demonstrations, or the tiny food stands handing out free samples at Costco give me a sort of indescribable anxiety.  Perhaps it's because my parents own a small business, so I'm well aware of the costs involved in handing out things for free and not seeing any return-on-investment.  Could be simply because I feel like Andy and Dwight do in that one episode of the Office where they go back and forth doing favors for one another because they hate owing someone and being indebted to them.

Either way, I don't like it.

I know they aren't giving me an adorable, Polly Pocket-sized serving of tortilla soup because they don't want me to wander the aisles hungry. I know that the 5 Hour Energy exhibit right outside my office isn't handing out samples of their new Pink Lemonade flavored energy shot (don't get's gross) just because they know a boost of B-12 is just what I need around 2 p.m. every day.  And I'm without a doubt certain that the tent offering free 10 minute massages isn't out there simply to help release a little bit of the tension I carry in my neck.  They all want something.  So I pass them by because I won't give it to them.

Some would argue if I don't go snatch a toothpick with a sample of the new, spicy sausage-on-a-stick, or if I don't go get my shoes shined with the miracle shoe-shiner, that I'm wasting their time.  That they'd rather me preoccupy them and give them a purpose for standing tirelessly for hours upon hours, as opposed to passing them by just because I won't shell out $50 for a power washer hose nozzle that removes dirt and debris from decades ago.

I don't see it that way.

The fact is...I am the person they want.  I am that girl who will get talked into some ridiculous purchase just because I feel bad that I made them stand there and ramble for 10 minutes about a miraculous, handcrafted door stopper that not only keeps your door open, but also emits a bug-repellent and scented fragrances to keep your back porch smelling fresh.  It's like word vomit.  I walk by, keeping my stare down avoiding eye contact most of the time.  But occasionally I look up, and catch someone's eye, and then the madness begins.  They wave me over, and like a moth to the flame, I oblige.

Then they start their spiel.

Their first question is the hooker, and more often than not, it's something that doesn't apply to me.  But rather than standing my ground and listening to the little voice saying, "Meg, be real.  You don't need a seat belt cover that magnetically boosts your metabolism and increases blood flow," I enthusiastically start shaking my head, encouraging them to continue.

"Persuade me."  I plead.  And so they do.  They  get all excited about whatever crockery they're promoting, and like Mother Teresa, I give them anything they want.  I'll stand on one leg so they can demonstrate the benefits of their foolproof, balancing sunglasses...I'll sample the disgusting new energy drink made 100% from wheatgerm and cow's blood (OK, that one's never happened).  But in the end, I will buy what they're selling.  Because I feel bad for them.  I'll buy the magazine subscription to send the kid to Africa for three weeks, or the remote-control car that flips and flies with the push of a button (that one really has happened).  I usually will cancel or take advantage of the return policy, surely built in because they know people like me out there will get suckered into the ploy, only to come to their senses once they're 10 steps away from the booth.  But it's the fact of the matter.  I'm weak, and my nerves get the best of me, and before you know it, my hands are full of unlimited amounts of miraculous hand soap made from seaweed found off sunken ships in the Pacific.

So do me a favor today, folks.  If you walk by one of these stands/booths/facilities/tents today, walk on by.  Because I assure you, I am giving them something to do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Falling Whistles

I guess you could call me naive.  If my mama hadn't raised me telling me "not to talk to strangers" and instilling fear of the unknown in me for my own protection, I probably would be dead by now at the hands of someone or something I thought had pure intentions.

I hear stories about loss, tragedy, torture, cruelty...whether in other countries or in my own backyard. (that's a metaphor...don't go thinking I torture people in my yard now.)  I believe them, sure, but I always find myself thinking...."It can't really be that bad can it?"  I support TOMS, and have since I first caught wind of the company's mission.  "One for One."  Buy a pair of shoes, and another pair is given to an unfortunate child in a developing country.  Of course, as we know, this company has swept the nation and TOMS are now a hot commodity.  The message is now buried between customized Botas and a new line of TOMS eyewear.  But the message still remains, and the movement is still making a huge yet simple difference in millions of lives.  People may buy the shoes just to make a fashion statement, or just because they go with pretty much everything, but those who truly believe in the cause are the ones who really benefit from a pair of simple, cloth shoes.

A lesser known charity buried in a fashion commodity is Falling Whistles.

Those of you privileged enough to know me may  (haha) may have seen me wear a long, rustic silver chain with a 4 inch whistle with the engraving "fw" on the front.  Yes, it really works.  But the purpose behind it is something much more significant.

Recently I have found myself wearing the whistle more, as it jazzes up any outfit, and initiates conversation, which is the whole purpose behind Falling Whistles...conversation.  To get people talking about the horrific story behind this beautiful, simplistic little whistle.  As more people have been asking, I decided to dig a little deeper into the Falling Whistles website so I had my facts straight the next time someone asked what it symbolized.  I was asked not two days ago what the whistle was, and I chuckled as I explained, somewhat embarrassed, what it stood for.  My embarrassment was only because I wasn't fully aware of what exactly I was wearing around my neck, and what exactly that whistle nestled right over my heart meant to children in a country far, far away from me.

I would explain more, but I don't think my words would do the story justice.  I wept at my computer this morning as I read a man's first-hand encounter with these children, enslaved for reasons they can't begin to comprehend, and treated with less respect than a mangy animal.  My blog requires very little read it or you don't.  You like it, or you don't.  (In which case, I again reiterate your freedom to leave at any point.)  But I am pleading with you all to take 5 minutes and read this story.  I have even pasted the link below for you, so it requires even less effort.  I promise you, even if you don't find yourself buying a whistle after you're done, you will see the world a little differently today.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pointing Fingers

I think about what to post in my blog a LOT.  I try to pick something that is timely and appropriate; something that relates to worldly issues currently going on.  Alas, I always fail and instead write about, for lack of a better word, nonsense. And considering my last few blogs have been summations of personal annoyances that I feel other people will be able to relate to, I'm going to try something a bit different.  Go for a more "classical" approach to the web-log world.  (Please be forewarned that at the end of this, you will probably realize that this post is nonsense as well.  So really I'm not changing a dang thing.)

The presidential election kills me.  I watched the debates the other night against my better judgment, because I knew before they even began that I would be left at the end more confused and irritated than before.  Is it just me or has the presidential election turned into something resembling an amateur match of pointing fingers?  How are you supposed to find clarity and a real connection with one particular candidate, when literally the rebuttal is always just about calling the other a liar?

Obama will describe his plans for lowering the national debt (of course, not before mentioning that the debt was never really his fault in the first place) and then Romney will come back by saying that Obama has been cheating the country since his term began, and that it will continue unless he is elected president, where he can really make a dent in this huge hole our economy has dug.  He uses concrete examples of why the current president and his cabinet haven't turned this economy 180 degrees and put us "back on track." Then of course, big O will come back by saying that Romney is lying straight faced about the numbers, and that in all actuality, every word he is saying about what he "plans" to do, is literally impossible.  It's like a ping-pong match of "No, you're lying!" "No, you're lying!"  Like, what the hell?!

I read an article trying to sort through the muddle of apparent lies and deceit to try to figure out what small chunk of the debate could actually be taken to the bank (yes, pun is always intended) and I got a breakdown of what each candidate said, and how much of it was truth.  The article left me even more disappointed, as it confirmed what I already believed: that the debates, and the whole manner of the election process in fact, is just a back-and-forth game of making the other look bad.

If we could just call a spade a spade and make this thing official, we may as well throw in a part of the election where each candidate struts around in a Speedo so we can judge based on physique, too.

Now I know there are those of you thinking "Do the research, Meg.  Look up the facts and really dig into what's true and then decide who gets your vote."  Um, no thank you.  For several reasons no thank you.  Not only do I think it's bologna that only those who have the dedication or right mind to "do the research" are the ones that will be making an educated decision come election day, but I don't think that months should be spent campaigning when in the end, I have to figure out what each candidate is really for.  And even if I did "the research," how am I supposed to believe a damn word either of them say??  I'm just ready for  November 6 to come and go and for us to just put an end to this madness.

On a happier note, I have been planning to write a post with links to some of my favorite Youtube videos...ones that really stir my insides and make me shout obscenities because they're so awesome, cursing is the only thing I can think of doing that will express my disbelief and gratitude at these people for sharing their music.  However...that takes a lot of executive decision making (as I have a lot of favorite-goosebump-inducing videos that I'd like to share).  So today, you get one.  Let me assure you, though, this one is stupidly amazing.  I'd like to know your thoughts.