I once heard a comedian who did a bit about gift cards that really hit home. In his monologue, he mocked the concept of taking $100 that could be spent ANYWHERE and then exchanging it for $100 that could only be spent at one store.
I also dislike gift cards. I find them to be impersonal gifts, bordering on selfishness of the giver. Think about it. Many givers fallback option is the gift card. It makes it LOOK like they put some thought into a gift, but in reality, it is an illusion. “I think you like sports, so here is $100 to spend at Dick’s.” When you give a gift card, you are subcontracting the work to the recipient.
Another issue with gift cards is probably more personal to me, but others may also relate. I suffer from chronic frugality and the thought of buying something for the sake of buying something is counter to my lifestyle. Yesterday I roamed the aisles of @REI for about an hour lamenting a $50 gift card. There was nothing that I needed but I had $50 burning a hole in my pocket. I was browsing the store for so long that I think the staff was getting concerned. I was overwhelmed by options and suffering from analysis paralysis. It was torture for me. In the end I bought a headlamp for mountain biking. I also added a small item to max out the value of the gift card without going over!
The last problem I have with gift cards is that they are a gift that usually ends up with the recipient overspending and digging into his own pocket to complete a transaction. This does not sound like much of a gift to me. It would be like buying someone a cell phone and then letting them know they are responsible for the service.
If you want to see for yourself how much gift cards suck, slip a crisp $20 bill into a birthday card at a kid’s party and look at their face when opening.
PS – When I got home, I realized my headlamp wasn’t going to fit my helmet and I’ll be returning it and shopping all over again.
It was a schoolmate’s birthday pool party.
I was sitting on a lawn chair enjoying the sunshine.
The kids were splashing in the pool as the parents mingled and made small talk.
Something about my personality is drawn toward children, so I gravitated to the pool where the children were playing. I also wanted to oversee my son to make sure he didn’t splash too aggressively or bother the other children too much.
I would spend a few minutes looking at my new iPhone and randomly glance up at the kids whenever it got too loud or too quiet.
Most of the kids were about 6 years old and able to swim. A few of the younger ones had swimmies on to help them float. Everyone looked capable.
But still, I glanced up randomly.
And then I saw him.
A boy who appeared to be about 4 years old was stuck under an inflatable raft. Instead of simply bobbing out to the side, he kept trying to hug the float from underneath. He was submerged and drowning.
There was no violent splashing or cries for help. Looking back, it was barely noticeable.
In an instant I leaped from my chair and jumped into the pool. I flipped over the float and grabbed the boy under the arm and brought him to the surface. He coughed and coughed but never cried.
The parents who were mingling now gathered around the pool and the drowning boy’s parents stepped forward to gather him. I heard each one say, “I thought he was with you”.
The grateful homeowner thanked me profusely and offered me a towel.
I felt like a schmuck as I sat back in my chair, soaking wet for the rest of the party.
Some thought I over-reacted. And that’s fine by me because the boy is alive.
When I read about the tragedy of Bode Miller and his family’s loss of their child due to drowning, I remembered my story with vivid detail. There are some who will blame, question, and accuse. I can tell you first hand that drowning can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere there is water. It is a silent killer.
Fast forward 10 years. As I have become more involved in the world of aquatics due to my son’s career in competitive swimming, I completed lifeguard certification at the age of 45. It is a fitting ending to a story that began almost 10 years ago.
I am convinced that under this administration, people have felt more emboldened to allow their bigoted and otherwise backward views on life bubble to the surface without shame or fear of consequences. When the leader of the free world refers to a sitting member of Congress as what most people deem to be a racial slur, it is no surprise to hear his supporters refer to another accomplished woman of color as an ape.
Sadly, it has taken an outrageous act of stupidity and racism to rid the networks of Roseanne Barr despite years of history of showing bizarre behavior. From her regurgitation of conspiracy theories seen on the front page of InfoWars to her photo shoot of a Nazi character taking burned Jewish gingerbread men out of an oven, she should have been gone years ago.
When racist and ignorant people are emboldened by the lack of push back, we arrive at a dystopian prequel to our future. Subtle racism becomes not so subtle and white supremacists feel comfortable espousing their hate in public and parade with torches in hand.
What can decent people do?
For me, it is a simple answer but one I have struggled with in the past.
My dentist is a mid 60s white male and everything about him screams Trump voter. He is full of conservative opinions that he shares freely with me as if he believes they are also the values that I hold. I assure you I do not. His off color comments on everything from religion, public schools, immigration, and socio-economic fallacies flow freely. In the past I have felt uncomfortable confronting the man with sharp objects jabbing around my mouth. But now I know that the only way to stop the bullshit behavior is to start calling it out. I may start subtly by asking questions such as “why do you feel that way” and anticipate ending with “I don’t share your views on that”… Ultimately I will probably leave the practice.
In any event, people with openly hostile viewpoints that imply superiority need to feel some discomfort in sharing their opinions in public. They need a reality check in the face of unashamed stupidity. I have little hope of reforming my dentist, but doing anything I can to make sure he knows his intolerance is noticed make me hope he goes back in the bigot closet where he belongs.
I once had a boss whom I considered a mentor, but I don’t recall why.
He rarely gave me any advice on growing my skill set or how to navigate office politics.
And then he fired me.
Genie is a girl I used to work with.
She went through a divorce and lost a lot of weight due to anxiety and pain.
As she recovered she got heavy again.
And she is happy.
Sometimes you just feel depleted.
Depletion is not depression.
Depression may feel like being at the bottom of a glass looking outward and upward.
Depletion is the fluid in the glass.
It can feel like a state of nothingness, weakness, stillness, but not sadness.
Floating on itself.
When I hear people rationalize spending money on services based upon the concept of “what’s your time worth”, I get a little defensive.
In a previous life I was also someone who would value ALL of my time based upon my HOURLY WAGES at my job. It is easy to make this argument, but it doesn’t really hold water.
Let’s say that I make $50 per hour as an IT Contractor in a job and I spend $50 per week to have my lawn serviced. I might say to myself, that I don’t want to spend an hour this weekend mowing my lawn and would rather have that time to go to the gym. I have just traded 1 hour of gym time for $50. I do recognize that I also get a manicured lawn included. I have told myself that time at the gym is worth one hour of working my IT job. While going to the gym is highly enjoyable and beneficial to my health, it is hard to argue that an hour of gym time is worth paying $50.
The fallacy of the “what’s your time worth?” argument is based on the presumption that all time value is equal, and I do not believe that it is. In the case of the IT worker, the time is worth $50 on Monday through Friday between 9AM and 5PM. Without a side hustle or other way to make money, the time outside of those hours might be worth $0 per hour.
So to say that I am worth $50 per hour for 24 hours per day in making my choices may lead me to make a poor decision.
Think about this the next time you are using the time/money/value reasoning.
Also recognize that mowing the lawn is also a pretty good workout in and of itself!