Archive for the ‘Random Life’ Category

Good Will’s Miss Deborah

In Freedom!, Random Life on March 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

Whenever I do believe I might go crazy, falling right into the crazy-making trap our politicians love to stir up, I go to our Good Will store just up the road.

Chances are, Miss Deborah is going to be there, greeting you with a smile full of teeth that dazzle away the most toothless leaders of our world, and a voice that sails across the room as if it was meant for your ears only, exactly as some of us felt sitting in the third row in first grade, hanging onto every word of our teacher.

Her voice is crisp and gravelly all at once, and to watch her in action for just a few minutes, you would come to believe she wasn’t at work in what is supposed to be one of the world’s drabbest places, but at a family reunion, where every fresh entrant through the door is bringing platefuls of homemade deviled eggs, and other goodies.

She remembers everyone.  So if she’s seen you once, the next time you walk through the door, she’ll  say,  “Oh, hello!  It’s so good to see you again….how can I help you today….”

People above age 70 reading this post might be looking at me like an alien from another planet.  Yes, this is how the world used to be quite a bit more, in the “old days.”

In the old days, there was no such thing as “customer service.”  There were no canned scrips that the managers were monitoring their employees for repeating…As soon as that happened, customer service died, because people rightfully balk at being controlled.  So the employees have a dual fight in themselves to see how much they can get away with rebelling at the boss, while also genuinely wanting to serve people, but, according to their own way, not the script.

But Miss Deborah brings it all home.  Not just me, but many of her customers marvel at her spirit.  “Where do you get your good attitude?” they ask.   “It is just God shining His light,” she simply answers.   If anyone has had trouble with faith, be it God, Allah, Buddha, or Mother Earth, Miss Deborah smooths the troubled waters.

My daughter sometimes marvels at things I do, and says to me,  “Mom, they should put you on the news! ” …how little does she know, the people who least represent the best of our spirit and the best of our possibilities make it to the news.

So in homage to her, I am putting Miss Deborah in the news today, right here in this blog post.   This is the citizen’s news, and Miss Deborah deserves the top center blazing headline.   We should stop paying attention to so many kooks, and start noticing the Miss Deborahs of the world, who give out so much love to all of us, unnoticed.

Individually Rapped

In Freedom!, Random Life on March 4, 2011 at 1:42 am

“This revolution has transformed Libyans, has made us feel that there is a thing called freedom that must be won, and that one should not enjoy it alone, at the expense of others’ happiness, toil or lives…

…Our revolution is a revolution of the people, people who can no longer stand the stench of tyranny, who cannot be healed by handouts.” — Mohammad al-Asfar, “Libya’s Patient Revolutionaries,” NYTimes

“real gangstas make billions making slaves of civilians
making slaves of ya children making slaves do the killin
really the game’s brilliant create the pain and the illness
then sell you the medicine that they claim will heal it
Real Gangstas don’t need guns to leave ya brains on the ceiling
they teach ya self hatred and leave ya chained by ya feelings”

~ jasiri x, “Real Gangstas”

Are we individually wrapped in our feelings like a plastic spoon? Or can individually rapped dreams soar into a collective swoon?

“The hollow cry of broke” is at least half true, not because we lack money, but because our society is broke when it divides me and you.

Tomorrow (March 4, 2011),  the nurses of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. are holding a one-day strike for better staffing ratios, and to attempt to resolve a now year-long dispute over shift differentials and firings of senior nurses during the “snowmaggedon” storm last year .


“Executives at the hospital have said that they are under enormous pressure to trim costs. Admissions at the hospital are down, as they are elsewhere.”

Maybe people are too scared to go to the doctor for illness…they realize it is a gamble on either their home or their health if they don’t have insurance…even with insurance, the cost of premiums and high deductibles is an effective tax…countries with universal health care only appear to pay  higher tax rates than we do because we accept healthcare as a cost of living.

Sometimes we pay the health insurance executives twice, as in the case of another 8% rise in our condo fees after a 10% rise last year…due to a staggering projected increase in the cost of our condo maintenance workers’ health insurance over the next 2 years, to  7/10 as much as payroll itself.  Wow–the cost of health insurance for the workers almost equals the cost of water for the entire condominium community.  We pay fully for their insurance, as well as our own private health plans, if we have them.

Not just our community, but condo associations and towns all across the U.S., would be relieved of an immense burden if we had a medicare for all type system funded by our taxes.

So, _The Washington Post_  article cited above also undermines the nurses with a strategy similar to the events in Wisconsin and Ohio…they are well paid, what are they complaining about?  The problem is, the median income for this area, which Fairfax County, VA, is a big part of, is $150,000…which has pushed home prices to such astronomical levels that a majority of people are paying upwards of 60% of their incomes to their homes….and is why nurses are driving in from 2 hours away, as noted in the article.

I cannot find the article I read from 2010, but this one from 2007 states a problem that continues:

“For example, a medical services manager who earned $87,300 a year could afford only 14 percent of the homes in the Washington area last year, compared with 49 percent four years earlier, the study said.”


But the issue is as much about unity, dignity, and the power to control their work environment–the hospital– as about specific wages…it is heartening to see that the pastor of the church recognized that his congregants had been served by these nurses…and as a community member, I plan to join their picket line too…I could only be there in spirit in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Wisconsin…but tomorrow is the day to lend my voice in the flesh to unity, in defiance of the dominant narrative of division that plays throughout our media, that may as well be “state-run,” since it is wholly “corporate-run.”

And if we were really successful tomorrow,  it would dovetail into a much larger community movement for a more affordable health care system paid through our taxes…not only eliminating health insurance companies, but also restructuring the non-profit/for-profit hospital system, creating more community hospitals, and also focusing more on people, with high-nurture, low-tech delivery of care.  Ah, to return to the days when nurses really did give you a warm bath, a soothing back rub, fresh, sweet-smelling sheets, and held your hand…couldn’t you be cured of almost anything if you had the right nurse doing so? And even if it didn’t cure,  you wouldn’t mind enduring the insult of illness so much?

We were just in the hospital twice in the last 3 months, and this op-ed by Dr. Verghese rang so true, as our nurse, also, had  her back to us while she filled out a computer screen and asked my daughter to rate her pain–not even making eye contact, let alone holding her hand! (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/opinion/27verghese.html?scp=1&sq=treat%20the%20patient,%20not%20the%20ct%20scan&st=cse)

As Mr. al-Asfar sang above, this thing called freedom not only should not, but cannot, be enjoyed alone…it shrivels if we have all the freedom in the world to raise our voices, to collect in the streets and at the doors of employers, but rather than uniting and exercising that freedom, we remain dispersed…and, worse, divide ourselves in a petty blaming that keeps our wrath from the rightful targets.

Tomorrow is a day to bring all the high-spirited idealism nourished by the revolutions of the last weeks to our own streets.   If they can overcome all fears and obstacles, so can we. We will one day rejoice in proportion to our efforts.  Now is the time for those efforts!