Monday, April 23, 2007


Woman To Woman

If you have never stood, holding a razor blade to your wrist begging yourself to slice, if you have never considered pulling the wheel too hard around the bend in the hopes your car would slide, if you have never honestly wondered if your children would be better off without you in their lives--then you have never felt the incredible absence of feeling that is Depression.

If you have never been so empty that tears will no longer come, if you have never been so alone that it doesn't matter if you rise from your bed, if you have never known you are even below the very rock at the bottom--then you have never entered the abyss that is Depression.

If you have never awoken more exhausted than when you lay down, if your bones have never have hurt without your being injured, if your very skin has never writhed away in pain from loving human touch--then you have never endured the tearing sensitivity that is Depression.

If you have never turned from the ant-like, superficial lives of those around you with cynicism, if you have never known the gnawing circle of disgust in your center, if you have never endured apprehension of impending doom...and pained more that it doesn't come--then you have never seen through the twisted eyes that are Depression.

If you have never looked into another person's eyes and started at the recognition of seeing their grief, if you have never held another body wracked with sobs and known no comments are adequate, if you have never wept for her tears that would not flow--then you have never been humbled to know you have survived Depression.

Depression Facts and Stats

Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

Everyone, will at some time in their life be affected by depression -- their own or someone else's.

Pre-schoolers are the fastest-growing market for antidepressants. At least four percent of preschoolers -- over a million -- are clinically depressed.

The rate of increase of depression among children is an astounding 23% p.a.

54% of people believe depression is a personal weakness.

41% of depressed women are too embarrassed to seek help.

80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment.

15% of depressed people will commit suicide.

Depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease by 2020 -- and studies show depression is a contributory factor to fatal coronary disease.

Get Help

Thursday, April 19, 2007

How Many Roads?

For journalists it has long been considered a professional taboo to report suicides on the front page out of courtesy to the families. Additionally, heavily reported suicides lead to attention-based copycat events. Journalists who report on suicides and publications that print the stories are viewed as transparent and unprofessional and their circulation and readership numbers can drop severely when they report detailed stories and blurbs that are not buried effectively in the meat of the paper.

For those who desire to go out with a bang, turning to police assisted suicide has become normal. Do something so heinous and immediate that the only response is to require someone to kill you before you kill more. That way, you will get the front page for sure.

Others are opting to commit themselves, but in such a way that there is no chance it will go unreported. Set a record in number of people killed. Send tapes of your litanous tirade to the media blaming those who you feel led you to your insanity. What is unfortunate, is that while these events are reported and heavily so, the result is that just like a traditional suicide on the forefront of the paper, other attention seeking, depressed, and angry people follow suit, trying to one-up each other in death with the worst possible crimes against humanity as a vehicle to end their own lives.

Worse still, the politically correct media attemps to shift the blame from the criminal act to the society. They purport that we somehow failed because he was signed out of a mental hospital while still certifiably dangerous. Teachers and roomates who suspected something was wrong should have said something, done something. We don't have good enough alert systems, and the doors to our colleges and schools even open the wrong direction so we can't barricade ourselves safely inside. It is all our fault. The perpetrator is simply another victim in this-let's light a candle for him, and hold a vigil for his soul. We justify his heady, self-righteous belief that society is to blame for his actions, that the blood is on our hands. We are told it could be anyone, anywhere. The truth is yes, the next one could be that stranger standing next to you, but he's not just anyone. Changing the orientation of the doors and assumming its not an if but a when the next event will happen does not really prevent it, and this guy is certainly not the average joe who suddenly snapped. Our excusing and martyring the victims memory is absolutely not healing the next guy, rather its fueling him on and inspiring those who idealize his radical actions.

As it stands, there have been 7 school and college shootings in the last 6 months, all of which the perpetrator was killed by himself, the police, or a bystander. All have been heavily reported in the media. At least three other public shootings have occured since the commencement of 2007 not including school related events. Public shootings and violence have become significantly more prevalent each year and I can't help but suspect the media's handling of the news has been partially to blame. For example, all five deadly school shootings in 1998 happened within a 3 month time frame. These are not isolated events, these people are being inspired and feeding off the work of one another via heavy media reporting and speculation.

Maybe we are at fault, just not in the way we thought. For those who feel perpetually misunderstood, it must be glorious to imagine themselves the subject of Nancy Grace ad nauseum. The fact remains, we must find a different way of disseminating information to the public without glorifying violent suicides, and in so doing, encouraging them. Meanwhile, little to nothing is said about the real victims, and the devastated lives of their families left in the wake.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Painting the Roses Red

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yet I continue to return to Walmart, day after day, supposing that at some point it will get better. It never will, and I'm certifiably insane.

Our Walmart is being converted from a regular Walmart to a "Super" Walmart. This has been an ongoing project for more than a year. It's gone from being a tiny store where they carry Walmart brand everything and nothing else, to a gargantuan store that carries multiple choices in varying Walmart brands. You can choose between the Mainstays product or the Home Trends version but either way its generic cheap crap in a shrink wrapped package; a box would cut into their profit margin. The only thing I can think of to say in their defense is that returns are relatively pain free there, if you can live through several days in line to get to the return counter.

During the remodel, the entire store shuffles on a daily basis. You will find automotive supplies right next to the yarn one day, and intermixed with the pet food the next. To make what would be a very user-friendly experience even better, throw in a hundred or so customers who are similarly irritated by the nail polish and the nail polish remover being in two completely different areas of the store. When you first walk in the door, the greeter who used to be a friendly, elderly gentleman named Howard has been replaced by mullet chick wearing a Dawg the Bounty Hunter T-shirt who grunts "Welcome to Walmart, hold on to your purse." I'm not sure if the remodel has included stationing purse snatchers throughout the store, or whether she's a disgruntled employee trying to warn customers that Walmart's primary goal is to rip people off. I think they should get Howard back, and when you walk in the door he could say, "Welcome to Walmart" and hand you an updated map and a Valium.

Part of the appeal to our community of having a Super Walmart is the mass of entry level, minimum wage jobs that would materialize. A friend of mine applied for a job there after high school. He didn't pass their computer pre-screening system and was never called for an interview. Instead he went on to earn 3 graduate degrees and is a well known professional in his field. He wasn't good enough to work for Walmart, but he now makes enough mint that grocery store priced paper towels don't even phase him, so he doesn't have to endure the shoddy service at Wally's. Some people do actually pass the computer screenings, take Cody for example, who passed the online personality test and landed a job working in the paint department. On Saturday, I waited in line in the paint department for 45 minutes waiting for someone to mix a custom color. No one was stationed in paint, because Cody failed to show up to work. My color was finally mixed by the associate from Automotive. Cody finally came stumbling in, (presumably once his hangover lifted) and assumed his post. His coworker made a snide remark, but the nearby manager didn't bat an eye or comment about his punctuality. After all, its difficult to find employees who can pass the tard screening and be hired. While we waited for our paint, we wandered around the store and ended up buying a lava lamp. We got it home, and it doesn't work.

Today I had to go back to return the lava lamp and to buy more paint, this time a premixed "White" latex Semi-Gloss mildew resistant paint. Our friend Cody was at work, but I knew right where to go for what I needed so I went ahead and helped myself. On the shelf in front of me was White Latex Eggshell, White Latex High Gloss, White Latex Satin, Bright White Latex Semi Gloss, Cashmere White Latex Semi-Gloss...but no regular White Latex Semi Gloss. Finally I found it, in the back corner on a high shelf, in a quart size container. The price per gallon is $19.97. (Funny, the last gallon I bought was's amazing how those prices keep rolling back.) The price per quart is 10.98. I'm sure Cody didn't realize that to buy it that way it would cost more than twice as much, he still had a good three hours before his pre-work joint wears off. The conversation went like this:

Excuse me, I need this paint in the gallon size, and there is none on the shelf.

Uhhh...I guess that means we must be out of it.

Ok...could you check and see if there would be more in the back? It's a pretty normal thing that you guys stock all the time.

We probably do have some in the back. But I can't get it for you.

Uh huh. Can someone else get it for me?

No. Its blocked off with junk from the remodel. We will put it out in a few days.

Well then, I want to buy the quart packaged paint at the gallon price.

I don't think you can do that.

In that case, I would like to talk to someone who would know if I can do that.

Um, you mean like a manager or something?

Or something...

Cody is amazingly able to work a telephone and calls requesting a manager. 45 minutes later Cody says he will be "right back" and disappears. Assistant Manager Jerry finally shows up.

Hi, I need this paint in a gallon size.

Jerry checks the shelf, and declares that they must be out of it.

OK.... Jerry having attended a 3 hour management training course realizes out that he can mix color into the Bright White base to obtain a regular white. "The formula is in this book right here." Great, lets do that then. Jerry mixes my paint for me. Just as I'm about to leave, Cody returns, appearing visibly relaxed.

Jerry: Hey Cody, has anyone shown you this book? It has formulas for any color including white.

Cody: Yeah, but I don't care about that, I like to use the computerized system.

Jerry: The computerized system is nice, except in circumstances when you need to see an actual formula in front of you.

Cody: Whatever, man.

Jerry: You are such a great employee Cody. I wish all the guys on my crew were are with it as you are. It's so hard to find good people. You wouldn't believe how many weirdos the computer screens out!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Your Proctologist Called...

I think he found your head.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Today I had the less than delightful experience of being a bystander of stupidity. At some point, people have to realize that walking around like that could be the reason their neck hurts.

A colleague of mine is infuriated by an email I sent him and my direct supervisor to address an issue under his control two weeks ago. I sent it to him because he is the only person who can resolve it, and to my supervisor (who is not in a supervisorial role to him) who would then know why my work performance has been inhibited. Basically the crew he supervises keeps taking over my workspace, and legal deadlines are making it imperative that I have a place to work in his building. I've seen him since then in passing and he's been perfectly friendly. The necessary changes have been made and I've finally received access to the resources and rooms I need from his department.

Today however, he seized an opportunity to corner me and attempted to rip me a new one, apparently its been stewing for awhile and rather than dealing with it like a civilized being he attempted to victimize me by bullying me into conceding his point. I conceded that he probably took my email the wrong way, in an attempt to be congruent and move forward in a professional, assertive manner. I emphasized that regardless of how he took the tone of my email, he can't deny that the problems existed and his responsibility to ensure me adequate work space. Since his goal was apparently to bully and harrass me into submission, congruence didn't appeal to him, and he set out his list of demands, which included two specific requests: one which clearly breaks federal law, and the other which sets me up for extreme personal liability.

Please note that when I say requests, they were framed as orders, and I particularly relished the fact that I'm not his direct subordinate, and I (politely) refused on both counts. I continued to be assertive, calm, and as congruent as one can be while telling another person I will not put myself and my employer in legal jeopardy for his personal convenience. What I wanted to say was that in an ideal world he would regain control of his department before it implodes. (I restrained myself on that one, but I am stocking up on popcorn to munch on while I watch the implosion.)

Then I had the pleasure of watching him implement his grand scheme of how it would all come together, his way. As long as my legal bases are covered, I'm not picky about location and I had a client waiting so I agreed to use the area he recommended. He personally escorted us there. The room was completely empty, deserted, and freezing cold. He flipped on the lightswitch and nothing happened. I stared at him expectantly, and watched his face get redder. Finally the florescent lights kicked in, and he grunted, then went off in search of a table to use for workspace. He came back in with 24 inches by 18 inches table. I looked at the table and looked at him. His face got redder, and he grunted something about possibly needing a larger table. I said, "thank you, that would be nice," in a tone as sweet as sugar. Another grunt. He came back with a table. I did not offer to help set it up, I stood and watched. Of course, he had to make another trip in and out for chairs as well.

It is probably perverse that I enjoyed this so much. I have a hunch that the table & chairs will be removed by Monday when I go back. Is it wrong that I plan to revel in popping my head into his office to let him know I need them back? The best laid plans of mice have a way of providing karmic pleasure for us bystanders.