Archive for courtesy

Your Choice: Be a Zombie…or be Aware.

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2011 by erikball123

I always thought my family was incredibly nosey. I recall incidents when my mother or father would pick up the receiver of another house phone to interrupt my call with my school friend to tell me it was time for dinner. Or, the countless teachers I had that caught me talking in class or doing something silly behind their backs, supporting the theory that teachers have eyes in the backs of their heads. Even my grandmother, on nights I had my girlfriend over to watch a movie, would walk into the room with impecable timing to offer us cookies…or something. (That girlfriend, by the way, is now my wife…and we now laugh at those moments.) Nosey, nosey people. Right?

I’m finding as I get older, that the people I once thought were gettin’ “up in my grill” (to use the street vernacular) were actually just acutely aware. It has come to my attention (pun intended) that society as we know it has becaome less and less aware of themselves. I could put a spin on this post by going on and on about the various medias that probe our minds, or the various technological influences that control our every move. (Of course, I could simply type this post on my iPad, iPhone or one of my three computers. I could even text it in if I wanted to…but that would take too long, and I have crops to harvest on Farmville and tweets to twit on Twitter. So…yeah.)

Instead, I think I’ll let you all assume that the bulk of this post has to do with the fact that times, they are a’changin’…and let’s agree that there are MANY reasons/influences that could be blamed. I’m satisfied with this. I’m not trying to nail down a culprit here. I guess you could say my goal was to merely bring awareness to the fact that we aren’t as aware as we once were. Allow me to elaborate. Here are some every day examples of how society demonstrates that they aren’t aware:

  • TURN SIGNALS – It’s a common argument (when discussing driving etiquette) but I truly have noticed (say in the last three years) that more and more drivers simply don’t use their turn signals. Back roads, main roads, highways, drive ways…it’s absolutely astounding to me. I tried to break into the psychological reasoning behind it. The result is a very selfish one. If you think about it, the only reason a turn signal exists is to ensure the safety of others, primarily. To NOT use it…means that the driver cares MORE about whatever they are doing inside the car (or not doing, for that matter!) is MORE important that the safety and ultimately the concern of others. That’s very bad. Watch the next few times you are driving…you’ll see what I mean. People aren’t using their signals! I looked it up…when turning left or right onto any roadway, parkway or driveway, a driver must have their turn signal on at least 100 feet before the turn. Failure to do so can result in a ticket. Come on police….let’s nab ’em!!!!
  • WALKING – Okay, I live in Vegas. One of the busiest cities in the world (especially when it comes to tourism.) But, with that said, I don’t think it is too much to ask to be courteous when you are walking around in public. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I’ve been walking down the aisle of the grocery store and someone (in this example, a crazed Steelers fan with red glasses and Crocs) is walking right toward me….and nearly takes me out like a freakin’ hockey player, only to (seconds before) look up, shoot me a dirty look and walk away. Most of the time these people are on their cell phones, or texting. But sometimes it’s a general focus issue. Take the little kid with the dirty face I met in the parking lot today. I was walking into a store and was nearly thrown to the pavement when he swiped my left leg. He turned and looked at me like I was insane…but what was worse was the mother who just walked by and said NOTHING to him. Just kept walking. I could easily chalk these experiences as being merely rude…but the FOCUS is gone. If these people were aware that they are positing themselves in public areas, where others are co-existing, then we can all go about our days safely. I blame zombie movies. We’ve all adopted that particular mind set, I guess.
  • CLOSING DOORS – When you walk through a door…do not presume that there is no one behind you. Actually look…then if there is, I don’t care how rushed you are…hold it for them. Adults and students alike…you are guilty as charged.
  • PLEASANTRIES – This is a personal pet peeve of mine. We’re all busy. I’m constantly buzzing from one place to another. But, if I’m in a hall walking from point A to point B, and I pass a fellow teacher or a student….or God forbid, a stranger…and I say “good morning,” or “hello,”….is the sky going to rain down fire and brimstone if you answer back with a pleasantry? I’m in awe at this. This social formality is probably the easiest to fix. Just remember, you are not alone in this world…there are others…and sometimes they are nice people who are just trying to be nice. Try to turn on your “common courtesy radar” and drop a “good morning” every now and then. For the love of all that is holy, it won’t kill you!
  • TIME – To all the people of the world: I promise you, I will never presume that my schedule is more jam-packed than yours, if you promise to keep in mind, that in this busy busy life, we all have places to go and people to see. Please be aware of what is going on in the big picture for everyone…not just you. Try not to monopolize time. Try not to presume others have access time to spare. And most of all, don’t drop by unannounced. Unless you’re a beloved friend with a cute daughter who brightens our day with a little smile from next door…It really puts people in awkward situations when they are forced to choose: either accommodate this interruption and figure out a way to work it into what you have already planned on doing, or tell them to leave. For non-confrontation people like me…this is very trying at times.
  • INSTANT INFORMATION – I would say that students today get exactly what they want…when they want it. Every day, without fail, students walk into my classroom and say, “what are we doing today?” Patience is a fruit of the spirit, and I guarantee these children….they WILL indeed find out in mere minutes. But, no. They NEED to know right now. (Why? Because when they NEED to know something, they are so accustomed to getting that info instantly.) When watching a Charlie Chaplin movie with my Clowning & Puppetry class, a student goes “what’s going to happen to him”…right in the middle of the movie. Just shouts it out. I replied “wait and see.” “But, is he going to jail?” They asked. “Just wait and see.” “Yeah…but, is he going to jail?” I don’t exaggerate. If the student was patient, and watched with 100% focus / awareness….they would receive all the info they need to watch the movie.
In church today, pastor talked about the fact that we are all so very fortunate. How we take for granted the unbelievable resources that are not only available to us daily, but completely at our disposal, daily. To think some people don’t have clean water to drink, or a bed to sleep on. I’m typing on a $2000 laptop and I’m complaining about turn signals. What the Sam Hill gives me the right!? Right?!
I suppose my point is, we all are so accustomed to the lives we lead. We are unaccustomed to those lives in foreign lands where people must cope with conditions that are very different from our own. I suppose it unrealistic to expect anyone (least of all, me) to radically change our daily existences to make up for the sufferings / challenges of other countries. But I do think that change is possible, if approached bit-by-bit.
Awareness is something we can all do. (Heck, if this ADD-riddled freak can turn on the radar a little more, you can.) I think the result is a friendlier, more sensitive, encouraging and safer place. We shouldn’t have to live life on the defensive. Instead let’s choose a less-driven path…and focus on being a smidge more aware in this beautiful world. I’m positive we can make a difference.
Until then…I’m going to walk over to the teacher’s lounge for a soda. Perhaps I’ll meet a zombie. If so, I’ll make sure I use my turn signal as I swerve out of their way.

A Caveman’s View on Women

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2008 by erikball123

I need to write a blog about women. My blog stats are fine, and I’m not necessarily looking for more “reads” via search engines. This isn’t some vain attempt to throw together some shiny words so that the female demographic that happens to stumble upon my blog thinks “awww, what a nice guy.” I’m not even trying to impress my wife with this….well, maybe a little.

Guys…we need to act better toward the opposite sex. My wife and I are approaching our 10-year anniversary. (Which doesn’t really support my point any…but it’s significant to me.) But, my question is, what anniversary are you looking forward to? Are you rounding the 2 year mark? Are you eagerly anticipating a potential proposal? Or are you exchanging petty gifts in Advisory class to celebrate two-weeks of steady bliss? Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter. As I get older and as I spend more and more time around students (and in public) I find that the male demographic has little regard for the immediate and long-term ramifications of what they say and do toward women.

Take me for instance. I’m happily married. I love my wife very much. To some, ten years is a long time. I’m looking forward to the next ten years and beyond. I also know that if I forget to open the car door for my wife in the parking lot of VONS, she won’t walk out on me, or leave me watching old “Full House” episodes on the couch downstairs. So, if I walk to the car, and slip into the driver’s seat without extending that courtesy, I can easily shake it off and move out without fear of the immediate backlash, or the long-term ramifications. Right?

There’s something to be said about consistency. How many of you heard (especially after a spat) “don’t say you love me, show me that you love me?” Well, I’m lucky. I married a caring, forgiving, understanding woman, because, quite simply, I’m a mess. I’m an actor so I’m arrogant…some would say that because I was born in July and therefore labeled a “Cancer”, that must mean I’m sensitive. I don’t think either of those things are excuses. Perhaps I’m just lazy.

I wish a band of trumpeters accompanied my wife, followed by servants spreading roses at her feet. But I stand before you right now to say that despite my inability to effectively demonstrate my affection through the simple gesture of opening a car door for her….I would give my life for her and will always love her. So, what’s the problem then? Why don’t I just OPEN THE STINKIN’ DOOR?

My argument is that women are being negatively influenced by the mainstream media today. They are constantly pelted with images of wafer-thin models with blond hair and big…uh, egos…throwing money and advances around like confetti and hanging out at lavish parties with the “right kind of people”…because, after all, it’s who you know, right?

Just like the high school sophomore who is late to class because she’s throwing up in the bathroom so that she can emulate that picture she saw of that one chick from “The Hills” so that Teddy Nobody in Physics will notice her…….just like every Jewelry commercial featuring a completely satisfied, busty wife and her adoring husband and the shiny bracelet for only $1899….just like the Las Vegas car dealership with the tank-top clad, doe-eyed, walking pep rally announcing that this is your “last chance” to get in on this deal, before leaning over and winking at the camera……ALL OF THESE give women a bad name. It frustrates me…but I can’t help but feel that the whole issue is “glazed over”…and too broad to even approach anymore. Do women even care that a big picture generalization of a “what women ought to be” image is being used as marketing aphrodisiacs? Guys apparently don’t. But you women…I can’ help but think that due to this sea of complacency and the growing number of eating disorders and “ladies join free” gym memberships…you women don’t seems to care either.

You know…if you squint really good….you can see that for men it’s kinda the same way. (Maybe not to that extreme. It’s apples and oranges really, but it’s there.) I’m reminded of that stupid roll-over minutes cell phone commercial where the breakfast table where dad and the kids sit at the table munching away while mommy is at the sink doing dishes. (Because that’s where women still belong. Nobody says it…but that’s what they’re implying, right?) The clumsy dad, spills the milk on the “minutes” and then casually sweeps them into the trash. Mommy nearly takes their heads off for being so stupid. Dad and the boys, like neanderthals, stumble over words to explain…and later get the last laugh at the expense of mom. A 20-second commercial spot (A bad commercial spot, at that) which totally defames the role of mother and wife. It also make dad look stupid.

How many commercials are there out there advertising laundry detergent, or dinner entrees, or vacuum cleaners….that ONLY feature the devout wife with a sparkly grin? A million. In an age where so many people are trying to do away with stereotypes we sure do welcome the everyday advertisement without question.

This all boils down to the fact that we’ve forgotten our roles. I’m watching moms and dads that are my age, grow up raising children in a way that caters to (an accepted, mind you) common disrespect. It’s a fast paced world where if we don’t get that voice mail or text message right away, the world will end. Where is there time for ethics, respect and common courtesies? The convenience of a self-servicing society has all but replaced the small inconvenience of opening a door to a member of the opposite sex.

I tell my students in class to make sure to look the cafeteria worker in the eye and say “thank you” to them directly. I also encourage them to (once a week) say to them, “I really appreciate what you do here.” Contrived? Maybe. Are they doing it only because I asked them to? Perhaps. But does it matter? I argue that, the person behind the counter could have heard it a million times….or maybe they’re contemplated suicide that day, and that one moment will shed light in their world that day, whether good, bad or indifferent. You never know. All you can do is offer.

I also have pulled the jersey-wearing JV football corner back into the hall before for caling a female classmate a “broad.” They’re apologetic…and most of the time I think they’re genuinely sincere. I can’t help but think that small incidents like that is something that is being “bred” in all young men in a bigger picture. A “flex your muscles, and mark your territory” kind of mentality, if you will. I don’t like it. It makes all men look like emotionless brutes.

Men….listen up. I have a challenge for you. (Especially teens and young men.) As you grown up, you will be going through a lot of changes. Who doesn’t want to make friends, right? Go ahead and do your very best to make as many friends as possible. Like the neanderthal, we still need to find that herd to rumble with, right? (Not much has changed.) We ALL want to be accepted. That’s what it comes down to, right? And whether or not you even like the fact that I’m typing in broad generalizations here…you have to admit that at the end of the day, we all just want to be accepted, right?

So, go ahead and “be accepted”….go to many lengths to do so even….but don’t do it at the expense of others. And certainly don’t find reward in overpowering a woman’s frailty for the sake of a high five or an approving look from a fellow male collaborator or co-worker. Why? Because it’s not what we should do.

In a world where we have to make end’s meat….and save face…and bring home the bacon….we have to remember that we can’t do it alone. We’re not almighty. We’re not dominate. We never were. We used to think so. (Like a lion overpowering a gazelle.) Anytime someone grunts or make a disapproving comment about a women, ultimately lowering their respect to boost their machismo, it launches us back in time, and suddenly you are dragging a club with your fellow caveman.

My wife is a gift to me. Someone I don’t deserve and should honor and respect. There’s a song that I like that goes:

“If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she’s my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes”

Without going into why I choose cheesy Barry Manilow tunes to support my points, I will just say that no matter what situation you are in….married, dating, engaged….or maybe you’re still looking for that special someone, whatever, we all need to remember that we’re all coexisting together. We don’t know when life’s fast ball will catch that inside corner, and the game’s over. We need to use this time to give, love, and respect one another.

Valentine’s Day is nice…but flowers wither away. Anniversaries are wonderful reminders….but we shouldn’t have to wait all year to be reminded. I promise you that my selfishness and arrogance and…caveman-like tendencies will certainly motor-boat me down the Nile of testosterone again. But until then, I will continue to do everything to remain respectful to women…and especially my wife.

I think “being a man” means to exemplify what a true human being should be. A Christ-centered, God-fearing, neighbor-loving man. Extend courtesies instead of innuendos, fill your mind with adventurous new ways to express how much you love your significant other…and for crying out loud, take a moment to call your mother and tell her you love her every now and then. It’s what we should do.

I’ll never know why as a people, we stand for ads and multimedia offerings and suggestions that men are all stupid jocks, and women are all mindless bimbos. Maybe someday someone will take a stand. Until then, you have the choice…make it a good one. For now…for today…open that car door.

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