Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Trip to the Grocery Store, And a test of my patience

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

I had just come from the gym where I had an encounter with a couple of old farts who were staunch Trump supporters. After hearing them spout off about Obama being a Muslim, born “in a foreign country” and Nancy Pelosi working for Iran, I had no desire to deal with morons and other people who get on my nerves. To top off my day my sinuses were acting up, with my teeth aching, eyes bulging and my head feeling like it would explode any moment. I had one more stop to make — the grocery store.

I felt that grocery shopping was a safe activity where I need not become involved with anyone who would further grate my nerves. I needed a respite. What could go wrong in the aisles of Wegmans? A lot!

I’ve always considered myself to be a tolerant person, although as I grow older I find that I can get pissed off at certain people much easier. I try to be somewhat politically correct, although I don’t believe that some people deserve to be included in that category. Some people are just plain stupid, rude or just assholes and it’s their own fault. It’s not an accident of birth, but it may be genetic.
Well anyway, I grabbed a cart and began my shopping. I didn’t get very far down the first aisle when I came upon two women with their shopping carts chatting as they blocked the entire aisle. They become irritated as shoppers on either side of them try to get by. Finally, with a look of disgust, one of the women suggests they move so “those rude people can get by”. They move to the side and give all of us waiting a dirty look. I can feel my blood pressure begin to rise.

In the next aisle, I stop to help an elderly lady retrieve an item off the shelf because it is too high. She pleasantly thanks me and I can feel my faith in humanity begin to be restored. At the end of the aisle, however, is a young mother with her 3 children around 8 or 9 years old, pulling stuff off the shelves and screaming for their mother to buy the items for them. Mommy isn’t the least bit perturbed and never once attempts to even try to correct their behavior! I notice that other shoppers steer clear of Atilla the Hun and her children.

I’m amazed at the number of young women who stroll the aisles with their cell phones held between their shoulders and chins. At first, I thought they were maybe asking about some of the products they were buying, but I was wrong. I know I shouldn’t have eavesdropped, but I just had to know what was so damn important that they couldn’t concentrate on what they were doing. They were gossiping about friends and relatives! How urgent!
Don’t get me wrong. Not all of the shoppers were women. I encountered quite a few men shopping, many of whom were also on their cell phones. They weren’t gossiping though. They were on the phone with their spouses or significant others either comparing prices or following strict instructions on what to buy. I guess that’s safer than taking a guess on what to buy.

The most exciting incident I observed took place in the produce aisle where the bananas were being restocked by one of the store’s employees. The stock boy was being verbally attacked by an irate elderly gentleman speaking in a heavy Italian accent. The old gentleman, pounding his cane on the floor, was berating the stockboy for not treating the bananas properly. Apparently the old man, in his youth, had worked with produce back in Italy and knew what he was talking about. I felt sorry for the stock boy but knew enough to mind my own business.

As I approached the checkout line I could feel my sinus pressure getting worse, but at least I knew I would feel better once I got away from the annoyances of my fellow shoppers. After I checked out I decided to buy a couple of lottery tickets from the machines lining the walls of the exit ways. I maneuvered my shopping cart so it wouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone and approached the machine which had the tickets I always bought. Then I noticed the vending machine was blocked by a middle-aged woman in an electric shopping cart.

This didn’t bother me until I noticed that it was a woman I just saw at the gym earlier. I remember her because she is always complaining about how tiring and boring it is to exercise. She also bitches about how hard she tries to lose weight even though she tries very hard. There she was sitting in the electric cart blocking myself and others from using the machine, as she put her money in the slot with one hand and munched on a donut in the other. I waited along with a few others as she got about $50 worth of lottery tickets all the while eating her donuts. While waiting I saw elderly people and handicapped people struggling along with their groceries who would have benefitted from using an electric cart.

Finally, I was out of the store going through the parking lot towards my car. It wasn’t over yet! Parked next to my car I see the old white Datsun pickup truck belonging to the village idiot of my community. This truck is plastered with stickers praising Trump. “Trump 2020”, “CNN Fake News”, “Obama’s a Muslim” and of course “Lock her up” cover the entire truck, including some of the windows. As the bearded, camo wearing nearly toothless driver and I meet face to face I just shake my head and smile. F***ing Moron! Then I drove off to the tranquility of my home.

know some people will criticize me as being insensitive for complaining about some of the people I encountered, especially the darling in the electric shopping cart. But come on. We all know that there are plenty of people who use these carts intended for the handicapped because they are just lazy. I’m willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve been around enough to see that there are a lot of people out there who take advantage of the system, the elderly, the handicapped and society in general. I threw away my rose-colored glasses long ago.

Maybe I lose my patience more easily and more often as I grow older or maybe I’m beginning to realize this isn’t a perfect world. There are a lot of beautiful, kind-hearted, caring people in this world who come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. And there are also a lot of assholes!

Originally published in The Partnered Pen on Medium.com

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Flu Season is Here Again But, Can you afford the treatment?

Image by flockine from Pixabay

Last November I faithfully took the flu shot as I do every year. It didn’t work. I was felled by the flu in March and spent a week in the hospital, in isolation. I really thought that this would be the end. Fortunately, it wasn’t. It took me a little over a month to fully recover and a few months more to pay off the hospital bills, even though I had Medicare and a Medicare advantage plan. Those frigging deductibles can kill you as easily as your disease. This country has the worst healthcare unless you have the big bucks, which I don’t.
This year, with the memories of last year’s serious bout with the flu, needless to say, I am a bit apprehensive. I got the flu shot again, even though last year’s version was a complete failure. I stay as far away as possible from anyone sneezing or coughing, especially little kids. I’m scared stiff of catching a cold that could develop into something worse. I have chronic sinusitis which acts up every year at this time and on an almost daily basis and I hope that too won’t lead to the flu.
Along with the television ads urging everyone to get the flu vaccine are the ads from our thoughtful and benevolent pharmaceutical companies pushing their flu medications. These ads push drugs that are to be taken within a couple of days of the first signs of the flu and promise that your symptoms will be improved in three days. If you check the company’s website you will see their comparison to a placebo. The drug reduces symptoms in 3 days, while the placebo takes 4.3 days. What a frigging deal, 1 1/3 days!
I don’t know about you, but if I call my doctor and request medication he wants to see me first and it’s not usually within the next few hours. Then if I have a fever and chills and am coughing pieces of my lungs out into a wadded up tissue or napkin, I really don’t want to climb into a freezing cold car and drive through the snow and traffic to sit in a doctor’s waiting room for 3 hours. Then I will have to crawl to the pharmacy and wait in line for another few hours until my prescription is ready. Then I can make my way home to die.
Now for the best part of this whole process. The ads for this wonderdrug offer a deal in which you could, if you qualify, receive a coupon for $60 off. If the coupon is for that much, how the hell much does the damn medication cost? According to GoodRx the cost of this drug is anywhere between $156 and $183. Holy shit who has that much money laying around? Even with my Medicare advantage plan, I would have to pay $50!
So what are the choices we face this flu season? As soon as you sneeze call the doctor for an appointment. Keep stashing away your spare change in case you get the flu and need the medication. Move closer to an emergency room or an urgent care center. Move to any other country in the world, since whichever it would be, it would have a better and cheaper system than ours. Quickly become a millionaire. Or the best choice of all is staying inside and avoiding all contact with other human beings. Stay healthy my friends! 

Originally published in Rogue's Gallery on Medium.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Oh No! The holidays again!

Here it is the middle of December already. I thought I just closed the pool for the season and there’s already snow on the ground! I’ve got the tree up and decorated, as well as the living room and dining room. The stockings are hung from the mantel and the manger is in place watching over everything. Kevin has the lights on the outside of the house and the reindeer and angels are prominently displayed with their brilliant white lights. The shopping is finished already and the gifts are waiting to be wrapped. There’s Christmas music emanating from Alexa and my favorite little ornamental village church filling the whole house with holiday spirit. So why do I have mixed feelings?

…I was terrified of Santa Claus and refused to go near him…

As a child I loved Christmas with all of the decorations, Christmas carols and of course waiting for Santa’s visit. I have fond memories of our Christmas tree with all its colorful decorations, many of which were handmade. We had two big evergreen trees growing in our yard that I couldn’t wait to decorate until they became way too tall to put lights extending to the top. Even though I was terrified of Santa Claus and refused to go near him when I visited a department store where he was greeting children, I wanted him to bring me presents. I especially loved Christmas Eve when all of my relatives came to visit and my father made his famous” Tom and Jerry” drinks. Instead of alcohol my brothers and my cousins had ginger ale in the mugs until we reached the drinking age.

We weren’t rich, but I didn’t know that.

I can remember waking early and scrambling downstairs Christmas morning to find that Santa had been there and left everybody beautifully wrapped gifts. Even though we didn’t have a fireplace I never questioned how Santa got into the house. I can still smell my mother’s pies and turkey cooking in the oven as I played with my new toys and got ready to attend mass. While we were waiting for Christmas dinner I would go visit my friends in the neighborhood and they would visit me. We were all very happy that Santa had been so nice to us. We weren’t rich, but I didn’t know that. To me, all was right with the world.

I knew Christmas was only for one day and soon it would be all over.

Then I grew up and things changed. I moved away from home and developed mixed feelings towards Christmas and the holidays. I was coming to terms with the fact I was gay and felt out of place when I went home for the holidays and was forced to endure questioning as to why I wasn’t married or when I would meet a nice girl. When I finally came out to my family I still felt as an outsider and tended to blend into the wall when I went home. After a while I gave up on making the holiday trip through the treacherous snow belt of upstate New York and buried myself in my work, only taking Christmas day off. Even though I was invited to spend Christmas with neighbors and friends I preferred to stay home and spend Christmas with my dog. I had a small tree and decorated the outside of the house mainly to prove to people I wasn’t a lonely hermit. I knew Christmas was only for one day and soon it would be all over.

This isn’t Christmas, it’s commerce!

What happened to me? I still enjoyed the Christmas decorations in the malls and the beautiful lights and displays of my then home, Boston. I loved to listen to the Christmas carols playing on the radio and blaring throughout the malls bustling with shoppers. It was odd though that I only liked the traditional religiously-themed carols because I am not a religious person. I still feel the same way towards the carols I hear today. It angered me when our beautiful traditional carols were used to hawk all kinds of merchandise as Christmas gifts! Even though I liked going to the malls I hated shopping. I felt and still do feel as though people now feel obligated to buy presents, for not only their family but just about everyone they know. To this day I abhor the television commercials where a husband and wife give each other a new Mercedes and think nothing of it. How many people can afford to do that? How many people can’t even afford an old used car? I would complain to myself “this isn’t Christmas, it’s commerce”! Christmas would be better without having to buy presents. After all, why should we have to prove our love to those we care for by giving them presents they really don’t need?

Christmas is about a Jewish couple and their infant child, living in the Middle East, seeking aid and shelter in their time of need!

The one aspect of the holiday season that I have always loved is that people (most people that is) are exceptionally kind to each other and go out of their way to greet others with joyfulness and concern. This year I feel especially confused and upset with what my country is doing to the poor people seeking asylum on our southern border and by our government demonizing immigrants and people of color. As far as I remember Christmas is about a Jewish couple and their infant child, living in the Middle East, seeking aid and shelter in their time of need! It saddens me also to realize that even though everyone is gushing with love and kindness during this season, things will be back to normal with the hateful, nasty and disrespectful language and behavior that pervades our society today. The poor, the homeless and the less fortunate among us will once again be forgotten until the holiday season next year.

“it’s only one day”

I am no longer alone and I now celebrate the Christmas holidays with my husband who really never celebrated before, as he is not a Christian and was born and raised in a predominantly Muslim country. His enthusiasm and desire to help others has sort of reinvigorated my interest in Christmas. He gets as excited about helping the less fortunate in our community as he does about decorating our house to the max. Although he’s also not religious I think he has developed the “feelings” about the holiday that I once had as a child. We look forward to celebrating with family, friends, and neighbors, as I did as a child, but we also cannot forget that for many people there isn’t much to celebrate. I’m no longer alone, but I can’t forget that there are many, many people who are alone, and lonely. The holidays only reinforce their sense of loneliness. Maybe they deal with it the way I used to and think, “it’s only one day”. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The GOP Says Quid Pro Quo Isn’t Impeachable

It wasn’t that bad.

Image by Pascvii from Pixabay

For the third time in my lifetime, a President of the United States is being impeached. The first I remember was Nixon, for abuse of power, and obstruction of justice in covering up a crime. The second was Clinton, basically for getting a blowjob and lying about it. Now it’s Donald Trump’s turn, for obstruction of justice and abuse of power, and by the time this is over possibly one hell of a lot more.
With seemingly a mountain of irrefutable evidence against Trump, the Republicans have been unable to produce a reasonable defense of Trump, instead, they have attacked procedural issues. They have prevented some witnesses from testifying and threatened the whistleblower while attacking those witnesses who have testified. Trump followers and lowlifes at Fox News have even attacked an immigrant war hero Purple Heart holder, who gave testimony against Trump, by calling him a traitor and a spy.
As the Republicans have been unable to find any solid ground upon which they can defend Trump they are now saying Trump’s actions, soliciting help from Ukraine to find dirt on his political opponents is not an impeachable offense and are not that bad. They accuse the Democrats of trying to nullify the votes of the American people who elected this poor excuse of a human being.
First of all, Trump lost the popular vote “bigly”. Clinton won the popular vote. Trump was elected by the electoral college, not by a majority of Americans! As far as their view of this unconstitutional act being “not that bad” this is heading down a deep, dangerous and slippery slope. If Trump is not held accountable for these egregious actions and escapes being impeached we, as a democratic society, are doomed.
If this action is not “that bad” then we have a whole new set of standards and values. It won’t be that bad to publically mock handicapped people. It won’t be that bad to vilify people who are immigrants or people of a different races or different religions. It won’t be that bad to physically attack members of the LGBTQ community, solely because they are different. It won’t be that bad to incite violence against any member of our society who we perceive as being different. It’s now not that bad to cage little children because their skin is brown and their parents wanted a better life for them. What’s next?
Trump has been accused of sexually assaulting at least 25 women, including raping an underage teenager, but nothing has been done. Apparently, to the GOP and Trump supporters, this is “not that bad”. Will this type of behavior become commonplace? It seems so, at least for old white men. Trump is strongly supported by the religious right for his stance on abortion, even as they overlook his three wives and many admitted affairs with hookers. Does anyone want to venture a guess as to how many abortions he’s paid for? But I guess that wouldn’t be that bad. It would be bad for you and me, but not that bad for Trump. This does not bode well for women and the progress they have made in securing women’s rights.
The next time any of us receive a subpoena to appear in court we can simply ignore it. Right? The members of Trump’s administration do it, so it can’t be that bad. With Twitter and cable news our children can learn the new American values, as defined by Donald Trump. You can lie about anything and not be held accountable. You can bully anyone who happens to be different from you. You can laugh at and make fun of those who are less fortunate than you. You can blame others for your mistakes and take credit for what others have done. You don’t have to keep your promises and you don’t owe loyalty to your friends, even though they must remain loyal to you.
I do not have much confidence in the Republicans in Congress to do the right thing and keep their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. They value loyalty to Trump, power, money, and white privilege over preserving our Democracy. They have no balls and are scared shitless that Trump will tweet something mean about them if they dare show an ounce of integrity. I also have lost confidence in my fellow countrymen to vote this psychopath out of office in 2020, thinking he’s “not that bad”. That WILL be bad.

Originally published in Medium

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