Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back to Minorities

I've had a bit of a departure from my core topic lately, but I feel it's time to come back and write another entry about one of my personal minority groups.

I'm a dreamer.

Now, I've heard plenty of definitions for "dreamer," and I think all of them are more or less accurate.  But the way I define it is someone who is idealistic, and who looks past the boundaries of the physical and material worlds and into the mind and heart and soul as a matter of course.  I do this.  To the point where sometimes I forget to look at the physical world at all, instead just thinking in terms of the "inside world."  I dream almost as much as I live awake, odd though that may seem.

I'll be honest, what I'm about to say is probably gonna weird some of you out.  Maybe a lot.  But it's still very important to understanding my perspective on this.

I have people, living people, inside my mind.  They are not human, certainly, and some of them are extraordinarily outlandish in appearance.  Most are fairly humanoid and easily-understood, though.  I've been told I'm a very good writer, especially by fans of my original fiction.  The reason for my skill is that I only describe what I see.  If I need to figure out how a certain character would act in a certain situation, I usually just go inside and ask them in person.  Or I'll let events play out however they will, and record my perspective on it all as it happens.  As a result my writing tends to be at least immersive, if not "realistic."

Most of these self-aware entities are separate from me, and live in their own discrete worlds -- mostly separate from each other as well.  But occasionally, one will stand out from the crowd as being able to connect to me in a more personal fashion, and these are usually the ones that end up being the series mascots, as it were, and most "alive" to me.  I draw them, I write about them, I show them off, because other people cannot see what I see -- as it is only happening in my head.  I haven't been able to track down just exactly where, but at some point in the past I remarked to someone "Of course it is happening inside your head... but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

I firmly believe in that statement.  People are constantly worrying that what they perceive is "not real," or somehow invalidated by the fact that it is non-physical.  I don't think most people are dreamers by this definition, but such individuals definitely exist.  They hold their ideals high, and they have whole internal worlds to back those ideals up.  None of us, dreamers or otherwise, will fully live up to all our ideals, because we all make mistakes and screw up, sometimes a lot.  But the dreamers hold the highest ideals of all, usually.  The dreamers know how important it is to make things the best they can be, or at least to try.

I am proud to be a dreamer, even when it comes with the very strange parts that my life now includes.  I am proud to see beyond the limits of physicality.  I am proud to be an idealist.  I am proud to dream.

Bad Customers

I work retail.  Ace Hardware, to be specific.  And I hate it.  There are a lot of reasons for that, and many of them are very specific to my own situation, though many are likewise very common to retail work anywhere and anywhen.  However, the angle I want to show you folks is one that only sometimes (as in the case of Not Always Right) gets much real attention.  Bad customers.

Now I know from long experience that the worst of the bad customers will always, always fail to realize that they are a bad customer.  This is common sense.  But what you don't realize is that there are no good customers.  Anywhere.  There are bad customers you don't like, and there are bad customers that you do, but there are no good customers.

No matter what store a person walks into, if it is a retail outlet in any form, there is a magical force field of some kind that with no warning whatsoever turns even the kindest and most courteous of human beings into the slavering horrid beast that is the customer.  I haven't yet worked out just why this is.  The force field or pixie dust or whatever it is doesn't work on employees -- they still see all the ugly and all the crazy and all the rude that customers have to offer.  I've been on both sides of this plenty of times.  One of the things that makes me dread going to work is that I know I'll be faced with an apparently-endless stream of irritating, rude, and frankly insane people to help (or at least put up with) until I'm allowed to leave.  There are all kinds of idiosyncrasies that people have that bother me -- not reading the instructions on our electronic pinpads, paying sufficiently and then searching around for exact change, leading the employees on a massive wild goose chase all over the store... and yet, for all the suffering I go through at the hands of people like that, I have caught myself doing each and every item on that list at some point or another to other unsuspecting employees in other unsuspecting stores.

In short, when I go shopping, I turn into THAT GUY.  And then, upon walking out the door with my merchandise, I turn back into the nice, caring, more-employee-like person that I am.  And so does everyone else.  Well, almost everyone.  Some people are just rude in general, and I'm sorry to say that they don't turn nice whenever they leave a store.  But still, the majority of our customers actually aren't bad people.  They're just bad people to us.  And on those occasions where I'm out shopping and see someone working that I know as a customer, I dread it a little, because I know I'm being a bad person to them, even though I'm not a bad person.

There's some idiosyncrasy that I have that drives them nuts.  I don't know what it is, because in many cases they're actually being paid to overlook those annoyances, as I am.  But it's there.  I'm a bad customer, just like everyone else.  And if you've ever been in a store, so are you.