Saturday, January 2, 2016

Steak. Shrimp. And Food Stamp Abuse.

Two things I know for sure about myself:

1.) I am insanely curious. About people. What makes people tick. What is needed in this life to make for the ultimate life experience. I love going to bars, not so much for the drinking (these days), but for the conversation. People and their stories intrigue me, inspire me, and sometimes horrify me (looking at you liberals!).

2). I don't tolerate bullshit.
     I've tolerated much bullshit in my personal life. Because I once believed you never abandoned family or  commitments. I also had that gene that most women have that believe we can somehow change a person for the better if only we love them enough. (This is totally false as I've learned).

So personal bullshit, I once tolerated, not so much anymore. And I'm not sure if I have less personal bullshit in my life because I don't tolerate it or because I've just been lucky enough to be surrounded by some great people.

However, in my professional life, I tolerate NO bullshit. I do not kiss ass. This has led to me working many different jobs. Which gives me a vast amount of knowledge about many careers.

Worked for a fortune 500 company. Was one of the top producing sales reps. I was told that what made our company different from our competitors was that WE would not lie to our customers. Our company stood for honesty, values.  Then I found out that this was NOT true at all. I couldn't lie to my customers. I had really believed it in the beginning, and so it was easy for me to "upsell" my customers. I believed we were an honest company. I believed we were better. I showed up at 6am for meetings with construction customers. I called one company manager who used our competitor every Friday to ask him to give us a shot at his business. I left very funny (well, I thought they were funny) messages. Every Friday he ignored me and I left a voicemail. Then after 3 months, I missed a Friday. He called me. And after two meetings, he dropped our competitor and went with us.
And then I found out we were ripping off our customers. My sales dropped. I was furious. I was also young. Naive. I left emotional calls to the head of the company. They were worried I would make such a commotion that they offered to buy my silence and I accepted. Looking back, it was not much money, but for a young single mother, it was enough to help me get caught up paying my bills.

I was a paramedic. Loved that job. Despite a really shitty boss. I ended up leaving that job after getting stuck with a dirty needle and my boss never sent in the paperwork - which ended up causing me to wonder if i'd contracted AIDS or Hepatitis for over a month. (I'd have known within 24 hours had he sent in the paperwork as required by law).

I was an undercover store detective. Seriously the most fun job I've ever had. No money in it though. But seriously fun.

Anyway. I've worked many more jobs. I'll probably continue to work many more. For me, the more I experience, the more I understand, the more I understand life.

Right now I'm working as a cashier at a grocery store. I love it. I love the brief encounters I have with people. Most of them are happy (they are buying food, after all!). I learn so much from just a few moments. I can spot the people who will be buying organic. I can spot the people who will argue with me about coupon expiration dates. I can spot the people who will be buying Red Bull and paying for it with crumbled dollar bills and change.

What I can't spot, however, are the SNAP (food stamps) customers.

I can tell you, SNAP is highly abused. And the abuse is not perpetrated by any one race or nationality. (Interesting note, when I was an undercover store detective, the majority of stealing was done by Russians.)

Some of my SNAP customers have jobs. However, they spend over 300.00 each time they shop and they are buying steak, Doritos, shrimp, Oreo's, and lobster.

Then, there was my customers; a very well dressed middle aged woman with a sleek modern haircut (think Lisa Rinna), nails perfectly manicured. She was with her mother - and older woman also smartly dressed. The older woman didn't speak English. They bought high end spaghetti sauce, olive oil that cost as much as 2 tickets to movie, and expensive, organic Italian herbs. Their bill was over two hundred dollars, and I had them pegged for classy Italians.
Well, these classy Italians paid with a SNAP card. I had to try hard to hide my disgust.
I have so many customers that are elderly. They live on a fixed income and make do with a banana, a few slices of lunch meat, and reduced bakery rolls. Often, they have to put an item back because they don't have enough money (usually they only spend about ten dollars).

I see so many families struggling. Watching what they are buying. While the people with government handouts? Top of the line seafood, steaks. Junk food. Gatorade. No store brand "generic" ice cream for them - it's Ben and Jerry's or bust!

And then...there is the couple that I refer to as WPOS. White Pieces of Shit.
She has a Coach purse. An unhealthy obsession with tanning beds. Diamond rings. She's eaten way too many cannolis but squeezes her body into flashy clothes. And her boyfriend. He's a skinny guy. Wears a sports shirts. Too much cologne. Always seems embarrassed to be seen with her. Or perhaps he's embarrassed that they use SNAP each time they buy their Red Bull, steak, and hoagie rolls. One Sunday he was wearing an Eagles jersey and I said I hoped the Eagles won, and he said, "Me too, were on our way to the bar to watch the game."
And then his tubby, overly leathery, girlfriend whipped out her diamond encrusted hand and swiped her SNAP card to pay for their groceries.

Ah, this cashier job at the grocery store. I don't get paid much. But the lessons I'm learning are invaluable. Most of my customers rock. They are awesome and kind and funny. They are eager to share their favorite recipes. Their favorite new ice cream.

The people I work with. Interesting. So many personalities. From the 77 year old man who lost his wife to cancer and is now pushing carts around the parking lot because he has to pay for obscene medical bills to the quiet teenager who works his ass off in order to save money for college. To the manager who makes out with her boyfriend in front of customers. While she's working!

The management...well, that is yet another story. For the first time in my life, I can see where the advantage of a Union might make sense. Though I still believe that if employees stuck together there wouldn't be a need for a union. However, in my richly varied career experiences, I've learned that people are easily intimated and influenced when their livelihoods are threatened. It's easier to remain quiet and under the radar and complain quietly than it is to stand up to people taking advantage of you.

The grocery store is like a blue collar soap opera. I love it.

What I do not love, however, is the abuse of the food stamps. What I do not love is watching as elderly people quietly (never complaining) struggle to make ends meet with a few bananas and reduced baked goods while the people getting help from the government buy shrimp, lobster, and steak.

We need is a complete overhaul of the welfare system. End it. All.
Start over again so that those who truly need it (and I see a-lot of customers that could benefit from Welfare but refuse the help) actually receive it.  With the advances of social media, Go Fund Me organizations, etc, there is no reason that we can't help each other. Take it out of the government hands and put it in the hands of the people, of the local community, local churches, local volunteer organizations.

Unless, of course, you enjoy being abused and used, working your ass off, clipping coupons to save money so that you can supply steak and shrimp for those who use their money getting manicures, tans, and Coach purses and your money for buying their food.

Friday, January 1, 2016

High Profits - The Movie

I don't smoke pot.
But I support those adults who make the choice to smoke pot.
I've smoked pot in my younger days but it makes me super paranoid (after I've laughed my butt off for two hours). It's just something I don't ever see myself doing again unless there truly was a medical reason.
Back in "the day" when I did try it, pot was so much different than it is now. You could trust people. Pot was not very strong. It truly was a weed!
I tell my young family members NOT to try it - you seriously never know what you're going to get off the street anymore.
If/When you try it - do so where it's legal. And try it around people you trust.

Today I watched High Profits on Netflix.
It's the true story that follows a young couple from Breckenridge Colorado from the day pot became legal in Colorado (Jan 1, 2014).

It's truly a fascinating look at how complicated "legal" pot is. How two young adults spend almost all their time working on their business. They don't live in mommy and daddy's basement. They are truly trying to live the American Dream.

It's really no different from alcohol getting its start in America. In fact, I'd say it's much less harmless than alcohol.

Did you know that it was totally acceptable for people to drink during lunch back in the days when alcohol was first legal? In fact, bars used to offer free ham sandwiches for lunch so customers would get thirsty and drink more.

What's amazing about High Profits is that the local city council were all up in arms about this (very cute) pot shop being on Main Street (after they'd already been there for 4 years!). Yet they certainly don't have a problem with bars.

Anyway - this movie is everything that is RIGHT about America. Young people. With dreams. Struggling to make it on their own. Nose to the grindstone. Every time they get knocked down, they get back up.

There is no clear path in the legalization of weed. Caitlin and Brian are truly pioneers. Leading the way for others.

Their mistakes should be a lesson for others in the field. Their tenacity should be inspiration for all.

Oh, and Katherine Grimm? Yeah, she's a real, pardon my language; Super Bitch who deserves to be on Karmas bad side for at least a decade.

One note: To all the Bernie Sanders supporters. High Profits is actually a testament to what happens when there is over reach within the government. Bernie Sanders supports socialism. Socialism is not everyone is treated equal. Socialism is the government decides what is best - which is exactly what happened in this story. It should be viewed as a cautionary tale about why Bernie Sanders should NOT be elected.

This is the facebook for Brian and Caitlin's business: