My child, I know this has been hard for you
You've had to come so far too soon
But don't do anything so severe
That you tear apart what you hold so dear
Think of what your actions say
You're too young to find your own way
We'll always have your back whatever you do
Just be sure of the actions you do
What kind of message do you want to say?
What kind of statement does this make?
Are you turning your back on those you love?
Are you creating an opportunity to show your love?
I pray, my dear child, you make the right call
But don't cause this house of cards to fall
Don't send the wrong kind of message
We want you to be happy, but not selfish
Think about it before you go through
And be sure this is what you want to do
Always know that we all love you
Our precious child with eyes of blue
I know you miss how things were before
But those days of togetherness are no more
You need to make the best of every day
And learn to enjoy this new way
Listen to the cars move through
It's like the city is breathing
Night falls and the lights stream by
The city is its own being
People are going to and fro
Heading for their destinations
Just to chill or fall in love
The mystery only deepens
The bar is getting electric
People are getting together
Maybe they're single, or not
The night could last forever
The sun rises, a new day dawns
People awaken to the grind
As they go the city prepares
Another night to blow their mind
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The quietness is different
The background noise does nothing
The emptiness is magnified
Being alone in a space so big
Usually familiar faces return
They were just out for awhile
But this isn't their home
I really miss seeing them smile
Alone with my thoughts
Time slows its hectic paces
Hearing their voices isn't the same
I miss seeing their faces
One day they will return
Even if just for awhile
They'll grow and sprout their wings
I hope they'll remember my smile
Alone again I am
I used to enjoy this
That was so long ago
Now there's people I miss
All things must pass
This is just a test
And I have no doubts
That we will do our best
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We find ourselves tossed away
Our ideal love has gone astray
They didn't care when we were told
How can anybody be so cold?
We find ourselves here in pain
The challenge of life is a strain
It seems everything is going wrong
But through it all, we must stay strong
We find ourselves needing a friend
Somebody who can help things mend
Even if for an instant, help us remember
That there are things we should treasure
We find ourselves here at last
And look! We're having a blast
And even though it's been awhile
I think we've once again found our smile
We find ourselves looking ahead
And leaving behind all the dread
Who knows where life will take us
But we know life can't break us
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January 14, 1998, was the date officially listed as my hire date at Winn-Dixie. I was 18 years old, and it was my entry into the work force. My goals were simple: work long enough to get enough money saved up for college, go for an accounting degree. While I did eventually go to college for three semesters part-time, I loved what I was doing enough – and was moving up fast enough – that I decided to stick with the grocery store. In the long run, that first job set me up for where I’m at in my life today, and laid out the possibilities that could still await me.
Location #175 in Camilla, GA, was probably the smallest store I ever worked at in the thirteen years I wound up spending in retail. It was also the longest amount of time I worked in one spot; seven years total, from that first day in 1998 until 2004, and then for one more year starting in 2006 before I moved away. I knew that store inside-out even before I started. To this day if I go shopping somewhere I know where I can find everything just based on learning the layout of #175.
Throughout those seven years, I met a lot of great people, many of whom I’m still friends with fifteen years later. The last few times I’ve gone back “home” I’ve always told everybody to meet me at W-D. I felt especially happy when I walked through those aisles once again with my wife and our first child. I looked at her and said, “This is what Daddy used to do for a living.”
Now, I’m proud of all the other places I’ve worked in, but there’s just something so special about the first job. To this day if I dream about work, even my current factory job, somehow that store works its way into the dream. I think its because there were so many good memories about that place, even though there were times I got frustrated like young people are prone to do. (Worst moment: a lady arguing with me about the price of a Christmas tree, and me being a bit of a smartass. I’ll leave it at that.)
January 14, 2013, was the date that I logged into my Facebook and saw one of my old bosses post that Winn-Dixie #175 was being closed down. For me, being a thousand miles away, I felt helpless. I went through a store closing myself when they closed down #192 in Cairo, GA, but this hurt worse than that. I thought #175 would be open forever, or at least replaced – as I said for YEARS – with a larger store. You may be reading this thinking, “But, grocery stores close all the time, especially with a new Wal-Mart moving in.” This was different. I was quite looking forward to (hopefully) going to visit this year and once again dropping into the place where I first started my working life, this time with our oldest now old enough to kind of appreciate the magnitude of what she was seeing, and with our second daughter, and say, “This is what Daddy used to do for a living.”
Again, you may say, “But its just a grocery store.” Not to me. It was the place where I first went into management, and I could finally relate to the enormity of the job my dad did as a shift supervisor and plant manager. It was where I met my first girlfriend, whose words about finding love either, “a thousand miles away or right under your nose,” proved accurate about six years later when I had moved a thousand miles away and eventually met my wife – again, in a grocery store – and we eventually had two daughters and want to try for one more child before we get too much older. It was the place where I realized that I could do anything I put my mind to when, in a single week, I got promoted to assistant store manager and had to train my office replacement, a new office closer, and oh yeah, roll out a new accounting procedure every store in the chain struggled with. Day one, we were perfect! At the end of the week, we were off a mind-boggling low seventeen CENTS! I worked in retail for thirteen years, and I never saw another week come close to that! It was the place where, to this day, I sometimes say to myself, “This person reminds me of that person I worked with in Camilla so much, its like they were separated at birth!” I gave so much of myself to that store in those seven years that it wasn’t just a job, it wasn’t just a grocery store… it was and still is in my soul. Call me corny, but its how I feel. And when I talk about job achievements, I bring up that time in Camilla more than I do anything else I’ve done in my life.
And if I may just get this bit of rambling off my chest, part of me is sitting here a thousand miles away confused as to why Wal-Mart was worth the effort of saving knowing full well that it would result in Winn-Dixie closing. And yes I was one of those who thought Wal-Mart was worth saving down there, ONLY because I didn’t want to see Camilla lose any businesses and jobs. Maybe I was naive in thinking then, “I know the end result will be Winn-Dixie being threatened with closing, but the city won’t allow it to happen, much like they didn’t let this happen to Wal-Mart.” Is it because the mayor of Camilla isn’t the same mayor now as it was then and he allowed this to happen?
Last night I had a dream. Yes, it involved Winn-Dixie #175 in Camilla, GA, again. But I was standing in the office once again, with my white shirt, clip-on tie and black dress pants on once again. And I stood at the office door and watched as the shelves emptied without being re-stocked, the customers dwindled away, and the lights went out one final time. I woke up with a tear in my eye. Tonight I learned that today was the final day of business for Winn-Dixie #175. It just doesn’t feel real to me to say that.
For all of those who I worked with, it was an honor and a privilege to work alongside you. For all of those in Camilla who shopped there, it was my pleasure to serve you. :)
(Just a forewarning… this post is gonna get political in nature.)
I, for one, have had it with the 2012 election. A lot of the stuff spewed forth has been comical at best, but there is one thing in particular that has been sticking in my crawl: this statistic that the number of people receiving SNAP benefits has gone up in the last four years. Well DUH! But not for the reasons stated. Let me begin with my own meandering experience:
For starters, the standards were loosened slightly towards the end of 2008 I think. I am almost sure it was then because I clearly remember my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I receiving food assistance when we first started dating, and then losing them whenever she and I started getting more hours at work, then re-applying just before we got married and receiving assistance again when I found out the standards were being changed. Tell me, who was in charge of the country then, at the end of 2008? I do know we weren’t receiving SNAP benefits when we discovered my wife was pregnant with our first child in September 2009.
Fast-forward to today. It seems like we have this on-again, off-again relationship with receiving SNAP benefits. Why yes, we got them back when our family size increased, but this amount was small to say the least, and once again went to $0 per month when our pay rates increased. And then my wife became one of the many people in this country unemployed… just as we found out we had child #2 on the way. Wanna hear something really amazing? Unemployment compensation is factored into total household income. All persons living under the roof are counted. So guess how much in SNAP benefits we got? Why yes it was zilch! We did not receive SNAP until our second child was born.
But now I am getting to the meat of this: we’re just like the rest of the country, using every program there is to help keep our heads above water, and trying to put back something for the next generation (who, as I write, are sound asleep and looking ever peaceful, not knowing how much we stress out every day wondering if some emergency will arise that knocks our tight budget silly). But oh yeah, at least in my state good luck putting something back for the next generation. If its not a designated college fund, it counts towards your assets, and here the limit is $5,500. Say adios to your SNAP benefits come tax refund time then if you have more than one child!
What angers me, however, is this idea seemingly put forth by the Republicans that families like ours are actively trying to keep receiving SNAP benefits! Hearing some of them speak, that’s how I feel they are stating this. Trust me, I’d love nothing better than to clear the limits by a country mile, but I’m just not going to do that around here since now I apparently need pieces of paper from accredited higher learning institutions stating I know business management. Yeah, I could move my family, but why? I grew up 800 miles from my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and I do NOT want to put my kids through that unless absolutely necessary. There was a grandmother I never knew from the time I was three years old until she passed away the day after my first child was born.
Also, as I write, this new point that is being brought up is that there is no way the unemployment numbers are going down, that the books were cooked to make it look like that. Um… my wife just recently found a job for the first time in nearly seventeen months and has interviews for two more lined up. I don’t need statistics; I need to see what is right in front of me!
But here’s the thing: not all that long ago the Republicans actually had some sanity about them. They started losing it around the year 2004, completely lost it in 2008 when it seemed they started requiring their Presidential candidates to sell their souls to Rupert Murdoch, and went absolutely batshit fucking insane when this Tea Party movement hijacked their party. (To be fair, Occupy tried to hijack the Democratic party.) Now, it seems like they would like to start World War III at the closest possible date.
My mother likes to say this is worse than living under Jimmy Carter. I think this is better than when we had Dumbya as Puppet-in-Chief. And yes, once upon a time I thought Mittens was a good man. Again, see my comment about Republican presidential candidates are now required to sell their soul to Rupert.
Bottom line, think about it this way: don’t vote based on what party you’re registered to. Don’t vote based on what some TV channel tells you. You’re online… there are so many different sources telling you what’s going on that the spin is void.
Initially, this post was just going to be about SNAP and feeling like I was personally being put down, but see the title of this blog? This was, as I just changed the title to, rambling at its finest. I’m just tired of stuff that went wrong under a Republican chimpanzee being blamed on a President who wasn’t in charge, and seeing people drinking the Kool-Aid.