Tag Archives: anger

A Fairy Tale About Umberto

Here is a fairy tale about a man, let’s say an Italian man from Tuscany because Italians are known for cooking. Let’s say this man, we’ll call him Umberto because that’s a good, meaty Italian name, had learned to cook at his mama’s side (or at least eaten the savory tidbits) and had pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He had once been a busboy. Busboys are little better than slaves; they get paid but no one really respects them and so, like the grime of morsels left on the plates, Umberto held a piece of shame and anger in his heart. 

Umberto worked hard in his native country, moving on to better jobs and bigger cities. He may even have learned how to cook professionally. Eventually, because he was a young man and therefore had the good looks of youth, and an Italian man and therefore his accent was attractive in foreign countries, he managed to woo a woman. It’s possible that he did love her in the first heat of romance. But that woman had more than looks to tie that nuptial knot. She had money and she believed in Umberto and his dream.

She married him and so he embarked on a new path, a culmination of years of work and being in the restaurant business. He became a restaurateur, not just a cook or a chef and opened his first restaurant. Umberto was now king, reigning over the ingredients of Italian cooking, making an atmosphere fit for kings and queens. Well, if not kings and queens, at least celebrities and many were known to come to the West Coast where the clime suits their complexion and temperament better.

Umberto’s success was great and he opened several more restaurants, all Italian but each with a slightly different flavor. But Umberto forgot his roots and his mother would have rolled in her grave had she heard what he became. It wasn’t that being a bigwig restaurant owner was a bad thing but it was the way he treated people. In public Umberto wined and dined and smiled charmingly at his guests. He helped buy his popularity. In private his darker side came out.

Umberto thought himself very attractive and expected women to swoon and all lowly workers to bow low and be cowed by his mighty business savvy (fueled by his wife’s purse strings). But Umberto forgot that lowly workers observed his overly friendly and touchy way with the restaurant hostess. It wasn’t long before everyone knew that he was having an affair with the woman. But lowly workers who want to keep their jobs keep their noses out of their bosses’ affairs.

Umberto set unrealistic demands on his staff. First was the unwritten rule that all be awed in his aura. In one restaurant there was a small lounge where food was also served, as well as drinks. The two young ladies that worked there were expected to take the orders for the full lounge, make and serve all the drinks, as well as take the food orders and make the salads and serve those. If someone from the restaurant wanted a special drink, then the two waitresses were expected to make those too. Needless to say they were very busy.

Umberto also had a plan. It required exact proportions and measurements for meals. The waitresses were told to put two slices of tomato on each salad. No more. No less. One waitress, as young as the other, felt that a person needed to achieve respect, not pay for it nor have it because of more money. She worked hard and diligently but did not feel cowed by the mighty Umberto. Well one day, she was called by the maitre d and told she was let go because she put too many (or too few) slices of tomato on a salad and some rich thing complained. Umberto set his minion to do the dirty work.

The waitress felt this was very unfair as she was only following instructions and had been polite to the customers, so she went down to talk to the mighty Umberto. All the while that she was in his office talking to him, he would barely look at her or answer her concerns. Finally she blurted in frustration, I think you don’t like me and you can just f**k off.

She left and many waiters who also worked at the restaurant were thrilled that she told him off because they felt the same way but didn’t want to lose their jobs. She also worked at another Umberto restaurant where she was hostess and which claimed to have self-autonomy from Umberto’s rules. However the next day she received a call telling her not to come in. So she went to the restaurant and recorded all the hours she had worked, including all the overtime that they had not paid her. They asked why she was doing this and she replied, Because of Umberto. She took them to labor relations and was paid a year in backpay for overtime.

Another worker, also fired unfairly, had a friend who was a lawyer and took Umberto to small claims court. The young waitress went as a witness but the other worker won because Umberto sent his minion. She felt great joy at this and though for many years entertained thoughts of keying Umberto’s red sports car (you know the type that says you’re over the hill but trying to be sexy to the babes) decided he was too much a bug to warrant her attention.

Well years passed and the young waitress, like many previous Umberto workers, went on to better jobs. Umberto got richer but his temper was like a pot left on to boil. It continued, his pomposity rose higher than a souffle and he divorced his first wife. He married his second, opened more restaurants and a cooking school. He also took some of his roots back to his home country and opened a hotel there.

But one thing never changed, his bad as fish left out for two weeks temper, nor his attitude to staff who he saw as servants in his various castles. Much went unnoticed by the rich or adoring public but once in a while Umberto would blow his top, as he did in his new ski resort restaurant. And once in a while a worker would sue and win to the tune of nearly $100,000 but what’s that to a king? The moral of this fairy tale. The good often go unheard or noticed if they’re menial laborers and the bad are often rich. However, the rich would get way more if they were nice. Oh and watch out for characters with cool Italian names like Umberto.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under consumer affairs, Culture, food, life, people

Driving Me Crazy: Driver Etiquette

I really think that there are way too many people on the road these days who shouldn’t be there, who don’t know how to drive or who have forgotten or who have become just plain dangerous. What’s the solution? Have them do a driver’s test every year? Well, that would raise the cost of our licenses and everyone would study up (which would help) but it doesn’t mean they would drive better the rest of the time. So, I’m not sure what the solution is. Spy drivers? Increase fines for when you’re caught? But fines, like death, are something that people think will never happen to them.

Our cities are too congested, our roadways inadequate for the commuting, our public transit inefficient or too expensive for many commuters, our homes too expensive and so people buy further and further out. This all leads to people going long distances, speeding, feeling pressured, working too much and getting angry. Governments need to take a far ranging approach but also every person has to take responsibility for their own actions.

Here are some of the purely insane or stupid things I’ve seen drivers do. If you’re reading this, I hope you won’t/don’t do these or will consider not continuing to do them.

  • Changing lanes into a turning lane and then signal. Duh, it’s obvious once you’re in the turning lane that you’re going to turn. Let’s look at the word “signal.” What does it mean? If you signal someone or something you are attracting attention and letting someone know you’re going to do something. A turning signal lets people know you’re going to turn or change lanes. You use it before you move into another lane, not after. And as the bumper stickers say, it is not an option. It’s the law. If you signal that you’re changing lanes it lets the drivers around you know that you may be changing speed and merging. The signal should blink at least three times (not a half-blip) before you do any lane change or turn, giving everyone enough time to react properly. It’s done for safety and to avoid accidents. 
  • Speeding up to not let people in. I watched a guy in rush-hour traffic yesterday as all of us crept along. He would leave a big space in front of his car, but when a car signalled properly that it was going to change lanes and then merged into the empty spot, the guy sped up and honked his horn at the car, then of course veered into the HOV lane without signalling (and a single driver). Remember this, folks. No one is ever first on the road. It’s a long asphalt snake with no beginning and no ending (more or less) and there is always someone ahead of you and behind you. Try some courtesy and it might be returned. It’s give and take; if someone signals and gives enough time, let them in, and if you are the one signalling don’t cut off a car coming up quickly. Oh, and if someone does let you in, do signal them with a wave of thanks. It’s the polite thing to do.
  • Sideswiping and crowding. I’ve been nearly pushed into the retaining wall on the highway when I was already on the exit ramp and a truck came over from the next lane into me. I honked and he just kept coming, pushing me onto the shoulder. I’ve had some insane woman nearly crush me because I was coming from a merging lane, signalling, and she wouldn’t let me in, willing to risk damage. Another guy one night, when the highway was empty, came into my lane and pushed me toward the retaining wall. Why? I don’t get this at all. Where do you think people should go? We can’t disapparate.
  • Insane road rage. But perhaps the above is just another sign of road rage. Like the time I was in the curb lane with cars parked beside me. A car stopped in front of me, a taxi I think, to let someone out. The car behind me blared his horn. Then after the car in front of me turned off, that car followed me with his lights on high. I’m still not sure how I was supposed to do anything else.
  • Street racing: we can blame car companies partly for the increase in this. Ads always declare the cars fast and sexy. And yeah, young guys have to prove they’re cool by racing but it’s absolutely unsafe and enough people have already been killed in Vancouver because of it. Drag racing was the old style problem and again could be an issue for safety of other drivers and pedesterians. But the amount of souped up and super fast cars makes this even more of an issue. Speeds of 150 km in the city are not acceptable and you certainly can’t react fast enough at that speed.

Sideswiping, speeding, tailgating, rudeness, all are extremely dangerous and do lead to accidents and death. It is the worst type of bullying, and criminal. I still think of those poor guys, on the way to the airport, who were first pushed off the road and then the guy came back, insane with anger, and ran over one young man, killing him.  Why? Did they do something first? Who knows but this sort of escalation is completely crazy. Driving isn’t a game or a competition. Not on our city streets. It’s thousands of people, each one unique and important in their way, and they all have a myriad things going on. They’re busy, sick, preoccupied, worried, happy, rushed, relaxing, whatever. It’s about people getting safely from one destination to the next. You, the driver cannot possibly know why someone does something. People sometimes make stupid mistakes. But if we try to be kinder, calmer, not presume the worst and be more aware, perhaps we can save just a few more lives, or a lot more, on the roads.

And I have to watch it when these drivers drive me crazy. Therein lies the path to road rage. Right now I shoot them with my finger gun and leave at that, grateful that we do have gun laws. Maybe counselling should be added to every driver’s licence exam. Counselling before you get the license and every couple of years.

Leave a comment

Filed under cars, crime, Culture, driving, life, people

Deplorable Drivers of the Lower Mainland

I have decided to start doing this weekly because the driving habits of many people are just terrible. Let’s mention inconsiderate and selfish too. I remember a few years back when driving in Saskatchewan, I couldn’t believe how polite drivers were. If you were coming up on a car on a single lane highway, it would just automatically pull over to let you by.

In BC and Alberta, that car would drive like no one was on the road, or even slow down to irritate you. If it was a two lane road, that car would not move from the left-hand “fast” lane and if you then tried to pass in the right-hand lane, it would speed up.

Road rage. One man has just been charge in the murder of a young man last year, when the guy first forced the people off the road and then came back to run them over. In one sense I can understand road rage because people are just not paying attention or think that the world does in fact revolve around them. Listen up, people. You’re unique because no one else quite has your DNA but everyone is unique and everyone has a right to a decent life.

You don’t own the world or even your patch of road. You may not even own your car but if you do, you’re responsible for driving in a polite and safe manner. Remember, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That means, don’t wait for someone to be nice to you first, just carry out your life and do things as you would like to find them. Let someone in in traffic, if you would like to be let in at some time. Don’t sideswipe someone, unless you want it done to you. Don’t shoot someone, unless you want to be shot. It seems a pretty simple principle to live by but obviously it’s not.

Today, I’m listing two losers of the week. The first, Mr. Sporty Red Truck with a cherry red finish (BC licence # BA 9595) decided that he owned the road on Monday, January 12th on Commercial Dr. at Gravely. I was waiting at the corner to cross, but in Vancouver, you can’t just wait, even though by law, pedestrians have the right of way. I step off the curb and start to walk out slow. It was dark, yes, about 10:30 pm, but I moved out slowly (and I always watch because I have a good reason for not trusting drivers). I was into the middle of the oncoming lane when Mr. Sporty Red Truck decided that he wouldn’t stop for me and swerved around me, missing me by two inches. I yelled, “Hey, asshole” at him and was so mad that I’m writing this. Plain and simple, pedestrians have the right of way at ever corner, whether there is a crosswalk or not.

If you don’t know this, you should turn in your licence. There are rules of the road, which are law, and there are rules of the road, which come into common courtesies. The latter would be letting someone in who is signalling and not blocking them out.

The second loser of the week was  Thursday, January 15th, at 10:50 am, one Mrs. Silver Van (BC licence# 809 LBX) at the merge lane of the #1 Highway joining onto the Brunette Highway going west/south. It’s a merge lane. It says merge. The lane disappears.  Merge means just that. Like the large semi before me, I came up the ramp and signalled to get into the lane. The semi merged. I let the car in the left lane go by and, continually signalling, began to merge into the lane as is the way. One car from the left, one car from the right, one car from the left, etc. BTW, signalling is not an option; it’s the law.

Mrs. Silver Van not only closed the gap on me but start pushing me back into that disappearing lane, laying on her horn. The thing was that lane also ramps off to a right-turn lane, but there was no way she was going to let me in, into the thick of traffic. I really would have loved to see her shove over the semi. So Mrs. Silver Van, giant asshole that you have exhibited yourself to be, may you get a flat tire in the pouring cold rain, and find your jack doesn’t work and that no one will stop to help you because you could exhibit a common courtesy.

I have stronger words for these two people running through my head but I’m trying to censor myself. I really wished I had rotten tomatoes for that van, and the truck, though for the truck a sharp piece of metal would have worked, and I wouldn’t even have reached out. I always try to stop for people at crosswalks and corners. Once in a while I don’t seem them until it’s too late, but if they’re on the road, I do always stop.

So, drivers, you don’t own the road, you won’t die if you stop for someone, or let someone in. And if next time you’re trying to merge or change lanes and no one will let you in, well that’s why. People aren’t always in a race against you. Sometimes they just want to turn a corner or get to their destination. Play nice in the sandbox or your mother will ground you.

Leave a comment

Filed under cars, crime, Culture, driving, people, travel

Forgiveness & Betrayal

Well, it’s come up because of my recent post on eating disorders. Could I forgive my father for what he did to me?

Let me say that my father abused me and my older sister, who had to deal with a lot more for far too many years. Such abuse leaves emotional scars that can sometimes never be corrected. It sets you back on the path of life, if nothing else, taking one much longer to achieve what emotionally happy people can. If there’s one thing I’ve learned very strongly over the years: what you give your children will be what they give back in years to come. If they are abused in any way, chances are they won’t succeed in some area, that they’ll be petty, mean, abusive, unstable, wounded, or worse. Some will become criminals. We’re lucky in my family that none of us strayed too far down that path.

Forgiveness is something I can grant many people who have done me wrong. I’ve been betrayed a couple of times in the last few years. Betrayal is one of the worst things a person can do to me. It hits at a fundamental level of trust. These betrayals caused such distress for me that I no longer do many things in the arenas where those people are. I lost the love to do so. I’m probably ready to return to some events, but others, it will never be the same.

Still, such betrayals are forgiveable. On one level I know that one person did what she thought was right, no matter that she was influenced by someone else. The other person, well, she had always been self-serving and I should have been wary. In each case I thought I was friends with these people but friendship means different things to different people. I can forgive them that they had a different viewpoint and that they probably didn’t think they were betraying me. It doesn’t mean they’re friends anymore or that I like them (I may or may not in the individual cases.) but I can forgive their actions as not having meshed with mine.

I cannot and not sure I ever will be able to, forgive my father. He abused and betrayed a fundamental role as father. He never showed remorse and never tried to communicate. When I went into art college, he told my older brother he would pay my way through college. I said, “I can’t be bought and if this means he wants to see me, then he needs to stop drinking and see an counsellor. Then I’ll accept and see him.” I never heard anything else on that front and I paid my way through college.

Someone who knowingly and repeatedly does harm to another is, to me, beyond forgiveness. Sure they may have been shaped by their childhoods but they know what’s right and wrong. Should I forgive the sociopaths that kidnap, torture and murder someone? Forgive them because they know not what they do? Unfortunately they know very well what they do. They hide it because it is wrong and they get off on it. How should I forgive that?

Some day, like I said, perhaps someone will explain forgiveness in a way that I can grant it. But to me, to forgive is to accept. I can’t accept the self-serving heinous actions of people who murder and rape. My father is dead and that’s a blessing. I’ve done a fair amount of work to get myself to a stable and contented space. Sure I still have anger to deal with and I’m working on it. But some people aren’t so lucky in their lives.

Like I said above, nurture your children well. Love them. For the foundations you give them today will help them succeed tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, family, health care, memories

Addendum to Racist Rage

The same day as I posted my piece on Mr. Belligerent, I had the following experience.

It was a super hot day. I was coming home from work, still mostly bleary eyed from my surgery. As i walked past Britannia School I noticed that they were parking many cars in the field. This other fellow was walking in front of me. I could see he was carrying a bottle of cider (hard) and beer and had just come from the liquor store. I though, ahh, just my kind of guy. He has grapefruit cider (though really I prefer the English style first over the fruity ones).

He turned and asked me if I knew what was going on and I said, maybe it’s their grad but it’s early in the day and no one looks dressed right. So he asked the guys directing the traffic. It turns out it was the 100th anniversary of Britannia School. I said, I bet they have everyone gathering from all the graduates of every year.

Something else was said between us but he said, I don’t have a mean though about anyone. I used to be like that but I feel much better now. I’m paraphrasing but this guy just had this great smile and a real peaceful way about him. I commented that it was just too nice a day to let anything get to you. We said a few more words before our paths diverged and wished each other a great day.

It really balanced out the man full of anger from the morning and kinda renewed my faith. I forget that sometimes it’s just these little mundane snatches of conversation that we have with total strangers that can make us feel good. So here is to sunshine and flowers and growth and healing. It was a perfectly wonderfully sunny weekend, even if it did rain today.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Racist Rage

I had to take the bus downtown today since I had laser eye surgery yesterday and had a checkup appointment. Rarely do I take the bus but I had no choice as my eyes aren’t clear enough yet to drive. Morning traffic, students, shoppers, people going to work. It’s a sunny day, the first warm one we’ve had in a while. The bus from my eastside place passes through Chinatown; not as big as San Francisco’s but  the second largest in North America. Many people hop on and off the bus to shop in Chinatown.

Vancouver is fairly multi-ethnic and there has always been a substantial Asian population (Chinese, Indian, Japanese, etc.). The bus was full of people. My eyes were a bit blurry so details were fuzzy but there was at least one black woman, quite a few Chinese, a bunch of whites and this guy who could have been First Nations, maybe Mexican.

He’d had some issue with his bag. Maybe it had spilled, maybe he dropped something. I could quite tell. He had been standing but at some point he gathered up his jacket and other bits and found a seat by moving against those trying to get off the bus, where he swore at the “chink” and “yellow bastard” saying don’t push me. I looked at him (in my giant super dark sunglasses) and several people heard this. After he sat down on a seat that faces the aisle, in front of a seat that faces the front, he proceeded to fiddle with stuff and had his shoe in his hand.

Then he started to swear again, in the same vein at the people sitting beside him. I missed some of it but the guy sitting near to where I was standing said, “You can’t talk to people like that,” very emphatically. Then the guy turned on him to a chorus of fuck offs back and forth where Mr. Belligerent then threatened to “take care” of this other guy at the next stop. At this point I kept an eye on him in case he pulled a knife.

In the meantime, this guy is working at tying a dreamcatcher together, one of the ones that looks fairly prefabricated, but large, about 8-10 inches across, dark brown suede with white feathers and an eagle on it. It was ironic that this guy is working on what is in essence a First Nations spiritual tool while he cursed and threatened. I also told him that he should try being polite to people. The bus driver yelled out that if he swore again he’d be kicked off.

I then found a seat behind the guy who had told off Mr. Belligerent. Mr. B was putting his shoe back on, then again said to the other guy, “Come on, off the bus here and we’ll settle this.” The other guy said, “I don’t want to fight you.” As Mr. B got up to get off the bus, he whacked the cap off the guy’s head in front of me and scuttled away. I gave the guy back his hat.

I used to think racism was only something that white people did to others but here was an example again of how it can hit any person. Mostly this guy seemed mad at the world, belligerent and maybe in need of medication. And spouting things like “yellow bastard” just made it sound like he was regurgitating something he’s heard and taken as the local vernacular in swears. If we all started saying “frak” as they do on Battlestar Galactica it would replace “fuck” but still carry the same weight and be the next banned word from polite society.

Still, the overt racism this guy exhibited was sad and shocking and, I’m happy to say, didn’t sit well with most of the people on the bus. He obviously had other issues, such as anger, but lashing out didn’t serve a lot. I always presumed that a group of people who have had racism perpetuated upon them might be less likely to perpetrate the model. And that’s probably true in most cases but there are always exceptions. Hopefully that guy can find some peace before he does himself and others damage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, environment, health care, life, security