Racism and McDonalds

I really try not to be racist. I do. I do believe that, given the same opportunities and equal ground, there would be no statistically significant difference in overall performance based on race. It's just that equal ground and same opportunities are not happening, which is why we do have the statistically significant differences. There's nothing deficient or amplified in someone's brain or character only because of skin colour or eye shape.

But working at McDonalds can really strain that belief.
McDonalds has a negative selection bias both for employees and for customers.
While the workers are not all stupid -- there's a lot of slowness that can actually be attributed to things like the computer system being a major pain in the ass* -- the one who's polite and educated and could just as easily get a job with better pay/benefits somewhere else is of course a rare breed.
The customers aren't universally stupid either, but the quality and price of food do mean that a lot of the demographic is people who need to stretch their dollar and/or care about quantity over nutrition or taste.

I wouldn't say that the lazy/rude slacker-to-normal person ratio is any worse for the black staff than it is for the white staff. And I couldn't say that the "people coming through in shitty old car with 4 children in back seat" numbers are higher for any race.

The trouble is, though, that when I have 4 black women on my shift and three of them are overweight and one of them is so happy because her boyfriend is proposing to her when he gets out of prison and two of them will blather about their sex lives in disgusting detail and two of them do less work than anyone else and one of them actually does go around saying "Lawdy Jaysus" -- I don't have a population of normal black people to balance that.

When the white staff is lazy or gossipy or rude or making crude jokes or blathering about how their daughter broke parole and so the cops were at their house at 2 am waking her and her sleaze-ball husband up or whatever -- I know plenty of white people. My brain can process that "white people who think it's funny to make jokes about eskimo masturbation while throwing ice" are a minority, because I only know one person who acts like that out of however many white people I know. It processes that easily.

Same deal for the coming through with a lot of kids, or whatever. There are probably a lot more white girls coming through in low-cut tops and short shorts than there are black girls, a lot more white trash families with too many kids, a lot more white-owned shitty cars held together with duct tape and the braces for overpriced stereosystems -- but in proportion to how many I see on a regular basis, the numbers are blurred.

I know there are black people in town who own businesses, serve on the school board, drive respectable cars and wear a suit to work every day. Or who attend the local university and look like any other university student, just darker-skinned. But university students cling to campus, and elsewise the population is slim enough that I don't see them on a regular basis.

Basically, if you want to see white trash and black stereotypes in a controlled environment, work at McDonalds. But be warned of what starts creeping into your thoughts when you don't see these people in the wild.

*If you say you want a burger only onions... and add a tomato.... actually a meal... and can you supersize that? -- it has to be punched into the computer four times. If the person is taking someone else's money in drivethrough, or has one of the screens on which the buttons don't respond very well, you get mistakes.


If you can't say something helpful, shut the hell up.

Trouble I've had lately: People condescendingly explaining the answer to a question I did not ask.

Problem with a computer program behaving not the way it's supposed to, and I ask if anyone else is having a problem with it. A few people helpfully suggest that it's another program's interference -- this is a common problem, and we go over a few trouble-shooting questions, which I'd like to think makes it clear that I know what I'm doing. But this one guy just comes talking over the conversation, explaining the exact steps to do it. My response of "yes, thank you, I realise, my problem is it dying after a minute when [all indicators are in green-yellow range]" just led to him repeating it slower and more loudly. I eventually snapped, saying that Yes, clearly, I'm just a moron with no idea how to do it, despite having done it multiple times before, thank you, you've been a great help -- and someone else jumps in to offer more helpful advice of exactly how to do it from step one.

The trouble was that another program was interfering with my commands and causing it to time out, which I would have gotten sooner had those two morons not insisted on hearing themselves talk. They kept going even after I announced the problem was solved.

Similarly, if someone comes into my work and requests something, and I ask them to repeat it, possibly my trouble is that I didn't hear it -- and you telling me what menu it's under, talking over them repeating themselves-- is not actually helpful.

It's cool that you want to help, but damn, by opening your mouth you're being the opposite of helpful.


Thoughts on the election, not on politics.

Because I work in the liberal media, there are only two conservative columnists at my paper*. They each wrote an article for the days after the election. One of them, whom I actually respect a great deal, wrote about how the GOP let itself down with its fearmongering tactics and avoidance of issues, and saying such things as "the economy is basically sound." The other, who is a douche, whom I have thought of as a douche for years, who was actually fired for his douchiness in the past, wrote about how the country is going to be irreparably ruined and if those damn progressives hadn't gotten women the vote, we wouldn't be in the boat we're in (I am not making this up) and that unless we're all drooling morons -- which he strongly suspects we are -- we'll pack the House and Senate full of conservatives in 2010 when we've realised how screwed we are with liberals in charge.

Rich irony in running them both on the same page.

My father, while not quite the type to believe that Obama was some sort of Muslim Manchurian candidate... okay, yes, yes he did believe that until very strong evidence came out to the contrary, specifically NewsMax jumping on his "racist church" as implication that some sort of white subordination program would kick in if Obama won...
Where was I?
Okay. He's at least not the type to believe that Obama was actually the secret bastard lovechild of Malcolm X (A friend linked this to me as an example of the human tendency toward conspiracy). So he has that going for him, I suppose. So, while he doesn't frothingly agree with every conspiracy, he does think that McCain lost because those Democrats up in New Hampshire get together and decide on the least electable candidate and caucus for him in the open primaries.
Right, it's not because of the fearmongering, the no-name divisive VP pick (I know people who voted for Obama who would have gone for McCain/Lieberman), the "bomb iran" song...
We were actually blown away by people in the NH primaries, by the way. We'd ask them who they were going to vote for- "Oh, I'm hoping to vote for Clinton." "Well, what if she doesn't win the primary?" "Hmm, well, then, maybe I'd vote for McCain." Clinton or McCain, Clinton or McCain. It seems any registered Democrats caucusing for Republicans were going for ones they'd actually vote for.
Seriously, didn't Limbaugh tell Texas Republicans to register Democrat and caucus for Clinton?
Hi Pot, I'd like you to meet my friend Kettle. I think you'll find you have some things in common.

I will cherish the memory of my grandfather stating matter-of-factly that the US had no business going to Iraq in the first place, though- just for the way my father instantly shut up. Thanksgiving got a lot quieter right then. Ah, peace.

*This is unfair. One of them is actually our Opinion Editor, meaning he writes the most and has a fair amount of weight on the Editorial. We would also have someone writing rather conservatively about financial markets, if he hadn't quit before we could talk with him about his ass-holishness.



It's not only Wrath of the Lich King that's been stealing my time.

First and foremost: If you're in charge of writing paperwork-- any sort of documents I have to sign to make sure X Y or Z does or does not happen-- I hate you. Yes, you, personally.
I'm in the process of moving, which means I have to deal with my lease paperwork. My lease is handled by a company, not one single person, and I fall not entirely into two categories of what is an acceptable reason to get out the lease without penalty. So, I'm getting out okay, but my filed contract has a post-it on it explaining the circumstances. A post-it.
Also related to my moving is losing my insurance, and having to find health insurance to cover me until I'm set back up.
Man, you want to see something scary? Go look up what it costs to insure yourself. When it's coming out of your paycheck bit by bit, it's easy to not think about, but Christ.
Since I'm about to lose my insurance, dental included, I got to take a happy trip to do something which probably should have happened years ago: I got my wisdom teeth out. Apparently my dental insurance actually has a set amount it will cover per year, so, we ended up billing dental for the two teeth that had broken through, and medical for the two that hadn't. Paperwork.

Admittedly, Wrath has been stealing my time, and I tanked a few instances pretty stoned up on painkillers.
This next part is babbling about WoW, so if you don't play, feel free to skip. ;)
My thoughts so far: There are some quests that feel very, very epic. Culling of Stratholme needs to be *more* epic, and they need to explain why we're helping his dumb ass in the first place. I'm finally feeling some motivation to level my character in the other faction-- Past, what, 40, all the quests are the same- STV, Gadgetzan, Plaguelands-- then you hit Outland, and what quests are separate are a) minor or b) equivalenced- such as a quest for each side to blow up a certain contraption. Different NPCs, same quest. On the other hand, you have some pretty epic quests in Northrend that are only to one side, or the equivalence has to be different. I really want to know what Wrathgate looks like from the other side.
From an RP sense, it's interesting as well, since we're learning a lot about history and doing some very major things along the way, and there's plenty of chances to wonder about your character's reaction to something outside the ordinary-- would your character torture this NPC for information, or not? And do you do the quests anyway, just handwaving and saying your character refused? Or do you actually skip them?

I've got some thoughts about politics, and some things that happened over the holidays with my family, but they're for later.



Having my opinions tweaked

Once upon a time, I went to a very conservative Christian school. This school was actually very good in education, but, as you might guess, it had some problems. I knew, it was a fact in my mind, that gay people were all oversexed, would hit on everyone of their desired gender, and loooved converting innocent straight people.
At this same time, I was hanging out with this group of girls, all older than I was. I don't remember now how we all knew eachother, but it was a loosely linked set of maybe 15 girls. One day, one of girls was relating a story about how a security guard someplace had been hitting on her, or maybe just talking to her and trying to say she should go talk to some of the guys at wherever she'd been at the time. And, she said, she finally told him she was gay, and he was actually very accepting about it, although curious, asking her questions about it.
Me, on the other hand, I was flabbergasted. She was gay? I found out later that I was the only one surprised, she'd been out a while. But, but, I knew her! I had a hard time thinking of her as oversexed, and she'd never hit on me-- wait, yes she had. She got me flowers on my birthday. But when I saw it as an innocent, non-flirtatious gift, that's where it ended. She was just a normal girl, wow.
I remember sitting in classes the few days, just thinking about this, completely blown away that, oh man, something I'd been taught had just been proven very wrong.

Similarly, years later, I had a good friend online, and her weight came up in a conversation with me and a few others, probably talking about dieting or health or somesuch related topic. She's... see, I hesitate to describe it, because it's still so negative in my mind. Long story short, some experimental antibiotics caused her weight to balloon from a healthy size to morbidly obese. At one point she was telling me that she'd lost about 300 pounds so far-- and hoped to lose another 100 or 150.
But I know I'd be really angry about someone describing her as "fat," even though I have no qualms about describing my rotund cousin as such. In my head, I try to defend this, saying that a) my cousin is a bitch and b) the "gland problem" that caused her weight was cleared up by 5th grade or so. I point out to myself that she doesn't seem to realise her size, being a cheerleader in high school (boys behind me at pep rallies describing it as too horrifying not to watch), worrying that her pregnancy would show. My own thought on finding out she was pregnant was to be aghast that someone had sex with her, and yet when I drive over and visit my friend and she tells me about her vacation with her boyfriend and all the condoms they went through, I laugh with her, not at her.
Maybe, to me, fat describes an attitude. Maybe I'm just a big hypocrite.

Lately I had been wondering what a friend of mine does for a living. I know her husband has some manner of high-end office job that sometimes entails travelling about the country, but while she might have a time conflict with a gaming night or because she's taking him to the airport, dropping the kid off at school, I couldn't remember her ever having a time conflict due to work. I don't generally consider myself nosy, but this was beginning to bother me -- how was it that I'm her friend but have no idea what she does? Surely she must do something, right?
I finally found out within the past week, and I've been having a smaller-scale version of the "Oh man. Wow." reaction I had to finding out that gay people weren't evil.
She's a mom. She's a writer, too, and recently published(Amazon got my copy to me a few days ago, and I loved it), but firstly she's a mother, a stay-at-home mom. (As an aside, her kid's 11 or so and is one of four kids I've met whom I don't want to shove in a barrel in a dark basement until it matures.)
She's very different from my perception of most stay-at-home-mothers, primarily because other stay at home mothers I've known seem to have few to no other skills and I suspect they stay at home because they never considered anything different. Rather, she's intelligent, an excellent writer and an excellent cook, with hobbies outside the home.
I still think most stay-at-home-moms, especially the ones who go online with screennames like Billysmom and momof4 (Don't you have a name outside of your children? Is your motherhood all that defines you?), made a career choice about as much as a high school drop out "chooses" to flip burgers the rest of his/her life.
But, I can't look down on her. I'm certainly not saying, "Wow, I used to like and respect you, but I found out you don't have a real job." I'm saying "Wow, I'm really surprised to find out this person I like and respect is a stay at home mom, and goes against all these stereotypes I have."
Or... "Huh. Wow."


If you say insightful things too often, people start coming to you to talk.

In real life, I tell a lot of stories about zany adventures. My friends have commented that I live an interesting life. No, no, I say. I'm just the scribe. It's the other people who have the stories.

I have two stories today. One is from WoW, one isn't.

Story number one. I'm doing some minor housekeeping and accounting in WoW, when a girl I know asks if I could critique her characters, because they suck, she says. (I play on an RP server.) Most people, their character is an extension of their own mind in some way-- what they want to be, what they would be, what they have been (details like being a Night Elf or former Stockades inmate not withstanding). I gently advise her of this fact before pointing out that her characters are emo, mean, or incapable.
I find out later that she's asking because one of our regular RP buddies finally snapped at her. This has been boiling for months, so I'm unsurprised, but I understand how she was. We talked about friends; she asked me if we were friends-- I said not very much, but I'm not hostile to her. We talked about the psychiatric profession. I'm hoping that maybe being the third person to voice to her that she *should* talk to a counselor will tip the scales. We talked a little bit about my own chat with the psychiatrist, so I hope that will make it a little easier on her, knowing that someone she knows has done it and not had the world collapse on her.
She said, "You're a good listener, C, even if we're not really friends."
I said, "Yeah, every once in a while, I say stuff that's insightful, but if you do it too often, people stop listening to you altogether. Or they want your advice all the time."
I told her that she was handling this more maturely than the last person I had to have a similar talk with, who is still not speaking to me. (That girl is a story for another time.)

I excused myself from her, to write a note to another friend, who has been having some trouble with boys lately.

A real estate agent shows you a house. It is a beautiful house, with everything you didn't even know you wanted, well within your price range. The real estate agent tells you that she feels obligated to tell you that it did have a very minor ghost problem, but they've had priests come out and it's fine now. Do you buy the house?
You order an affordable but kindof mid-quality cut of steak. Your steak is late coming, your waitress tells you that there was a mix-up, it's going to be a bit longer on your steak because they had to cook it over- but they're upgrading it on the house to the really good cut of steak. Are you happy with the outcome?
You are on the search for the Holy Grail. You have dug through centuries of myth, theft, under-the-table sales and conspiracy theories, and you have found it! The person who has it now is well aware of what it is, you can feel the power of god radiating from it-- and he's going to *give you* the Holy Grail because it has a gem missing out of one side and he hates it. Do you gladly take it, realising this guy is a buffoon?

If you're a 20-something young man who answered yes to all of that, I have a great girl for you to meet.

She wrote a blog post about her troubles, and I sent her a note in response. I told her she is smart, mature, attractive. I told her if she needs a hug, I'm here; I told her that while I can't say I've been in her exact situation, but I can relate in tiny tiny ways. I told her I have a recording of a guy saying that "smart, attractive, a nerd, and actually likes you" is the holy grail of women.
My heart goes out to her-- she's intelligent, eloquent, mature, incredibly kind (and diplomatic when people are assholes to her), and she really is attractive. (I didn't say specifically in my note to her, not wanting to sound like a perv, but she's got great legs. She's probably the only girl I've seen who can wear those short shorts without looking skanky or horribly disproportionate. )

Too good to be true? Yeah, she hears that a lot. Usually shortly before she gets to the part of the date where, because she's painfully honest in addition to all her other good qualities, she has a talk with them that ends with her turning her head and putting her fingers on her Adam's apple.

I don't know. I almost think she shouldn't tell people till later in the relationship, but then what? They can not take the chance to get to know her, or she doesn't tell them and they get mad at her for dragging it out.

It's a good thing she can be diplomatic to assholes, because she's sure dealing with a lot.


Gift from my brother

I've never been a fan of my birthday, or other people's birthdays. Christmas either, but that's more recent, because of all the Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas kvetching.

I don't like having that much attention focused on me, and if you tell the restaurant crew that it's my birthday and they come and sing obnoxious songs at me, so help me, I'm going to leave you at the table with the bill.

Also, I've got enough stuff already. I keep moving to apartments and then not unpacking half my shit because I don't need it. There's a box under my bed right now that's been moved every time i move for about four years now without being unpacked all the way. It's mostly art supplies.

But, more, I hate getting gifts that I feel like I've asked for by telling someone it's my birthday. I hate people asking me what I want for my birthday. If you should be getting me a gift, you'd probably already have a decent guess. I'd rather get a gift that's not quite something I wanted, but the person put thought into it, than get a gift that they just asked me what I wanted and they got exactly that without thinking.

So, usually I just tell people to donate to a charity for me. A charity that I'd like-- I usually suggest one, so people don't go off donating to the GOP or various anti-gay-marriage "family" groups in my name. Last year it was America's Second Harvest/Feeding America.

People get pissy when I tell them this. I guess they're insulted, but I can't figure out exactly why. Maybe it's supposed to prove my friendship if I display the pointless crap they give me.

This is all leading up to the fact that I got an email from my brother the other day, wishing me a happy early birthday and telling me about my gift.

Turns out he just got to the FGM section of his human sexuality textbook in class. He says he apologises for any previous idiocy on his part, and has put a check in the mail to donate $50 to an organisation against it.

See? What's bad about that?