Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sam's Club and Pyrrhonism

I'll start by saying that I don't know anything, a suspicion of mine that has grown with time, and which sometimes prompts seemingly detached behavior, since (as I have mentioned before) I tend to counter a negative atmosphere with nonchalance.  What I'm saying is, when people get up in arms about things, I revert to a state of chill, if I can.  My mom has criticised me relentlessly as I've grown up, calling me cold at times.  My philosophy and subsequent bluff behavior belie my soft underbelly.  In fact, I think the ideas and methods I've grown close to in order to navigate this savage and precious life arose out of my sensitivity.  I'm hurt too easily, so I grasp onto a philosophy of detachment so I can... I don't know - watch the news without going crazy.

Sometimes I'm not so good at my own coping techniques:  In Florida, when I was at UF, a teenage girl was taken as she walked through a gas station parking lot.  I think it took a couple of days to find her, in a dumpster, having been raped.  I happened to have seen the story on the news at the gym when it happened, and I remember the footage they showed from the gas station, of the man grabbing her arm and dragging her off.  I got pretty engaged in the story and kept tabs on the updates.  It really affected me.  At that time, I thought I was having asthma.  I went to the UF infirmary because I couldn't breathe.  The doctor asked me if I felt better sitting up or laying down.  I was better laying down.  I've had asthma my whole life and I should've known... asthma is better sitting up.  The woman spared no words.  She asked me what I was upset about.  I hadn't made the connection until that moment, but I was having trouble dealing with my thoughts and feelings about what happened to the girl... all of our experiences teach us something about ourselves and give us an opportunity to get smarter and stronger.  I think this taught me something.

I learned today that my leanings have a name and a history.  It's called Pyrrhonism.  It's an ancient Greek skeptical philosophy that basically says there is no one "right" way or answer, that we should all just go with the flow, and that an attitude of non involvement should be adhered to in order to maintain calm. 

If you know me, you know I like to debate and talk smack like all day about anything, which seems in direct contrast to what I just said... but it's not!  The two are quite harmonious, as I place my like of talk into the "go with the flow" category of the philosophy.  In Pyrrhonism, one doesn't want to ultimately judge one state as being preferable to another, but this kind of thought could lead a person to a lasting "couch potato" status.  To counteract inaction, one should "go with the flow," which basically means to go along with the customs of your surroundings.  People talk, so I talk.  When in Rome...

When all is said and done for the sake of living, I will at the end of the day assert that none of it really matters because no one can ever be systematically "right."  I will passionately espouse my opinions as irrefutable, and then 5 minutes later admit that I'm completely full of... you know.

I meant to talk about the shenanigans going on at Sam's Club, where my mom has worked for over 10 years.  The following is just me musing about a story that echoes the current economical situation in many places in the world.  Things don't seem fair, but that's OK.  Life isn't fair.  I don't have any answers, and most other people don't either.  The Japanese teachers I partner with ask me about politics in the US, and the economy, and so forth, and I always preface my opinions with my belief that things are so complicated, and anyone who speaks with certainty better have a degree on the subject or some serious life experience.  The general custom of Americans to speak determinedly about things they know next to nothing of, as though they are armchair experts with an attitude, qualified because they watch the news, contributes to the political climate of bitterness.  Hatin' on the haters.  That's right.

My mom told me a story last night.  It was about Sam's Club.  They cut all of the part time workers from 35 hrs to 20 hours.  When they hit 20 hrs, they were sent home and told not to return until the next week.  Some left angry, many left in tears.  At the same time, they are now paying the full time employees, like my mom, more money per hour to come in for extra time to compensate for the lost labor. 

Stories have been circulating from these workers.  They can't make it on 20 hours.  One guy used to live on the beach and have Harleys and stuff, but his stocks dived.  He and his wife, who has her own career, are living check to check, and they can't cover their expenses if he can only work 20 hours.  He's trying to find additional work, but things is tough right now.

I don't know why the store made this move.  I don't understand what benefit could come from it.  I know the store has already made one hundred thousand more dollars than it made last year, but maybe that doesn't mean much after rising costs.  I also know that the managers there make bonuses that exceed their yearly salaries.  I mention that because of my experience in Japan;

It seems like things are so fundamentally different here... I can't imagine a Japanese manager accepting a 6 figure bonus while watching his fellow citizen crumble over losing 15 hours a week.  I recently posted an article that had been circulating amongst my JET comrades about pensioners going back to work at Fukushima to save the young people from the toxins of the power plant.  I know ESID (every situation is different), but from far away, the US honestly looks like an every-man-for-himself community.

I say this as I simultaneously write an article for my friend about hundreds of books that were recently gifted to children living in a shelter, made possible by her charity, a church, and the director of the shelter.  See, there are no blanket truths outside of science, and even those change with some regularity.

Oh, well.  All I know is that what is happening at Sam's doesn't seem right or necessary, from where I am sitting.  Sorry my post is so wandering!!

From Japan,

Update 6/29:  Someone wanted to try to help and asked me to post this information about unemployment.  I really don't know the details, but I think it goes something like this:

If your boss cuts your hours by 10 per week, you can collect limited unemployment benefits.

A lot of people don't know that you can get help from unemployment in a couple of situations, not just if you lose your job.

Hope that helps!


Nataila said...

You should be a journalist traveling the world and telling it how you see it! I miss these conversations we used to have almost on a daily basis and I am so happy you are writing! I hope you are sending some of your work to magazines to start publishing your words so you can move on to more!

Tiffany said...

Maybe, Natalia... but maybe only you would read it!! ;-)