Friday, November 23, 2007

Of atheist thanks, interfaith tackiness, and leaving in style

"And I keep my Solstice lights on, on my front porch all year long."--Gretchen Wilson (with slight alteration :-)

"Oh, I'll give the shirt right off of my back, when I get the nerve to say...TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT!"--Johnny Paycheck

Well, there's a reason for both those lyric snippets, because I'd like to continue a couple sets of thoughts we entertained on Thanksgiving. But first, I'd like to ask...what the *hell* is the deal with all these anti-atheist Thanksgiving articles that came out? Not just pro-Christian God, but anti-atheist? This is new to me, and odd, and scary. And I'm not even an atheist, only married to one. Tristan Emmanuel alleges that Thanksgiving "makes secularists go mad". Mike Duran said that Thanksgiving "poses a problem for atheists" because "they have no one to thank for their very existence." This prompted a spirited exchange between him and Austin Cline of Ken Connor makes atheism look way more complicated than it really is. On top of this, Andrew Santella of Slate documents awful new "War on Thanksgiving" rhetoric. Because the "War on Christmas" isn't shrill, divisive, and annoying enough...

My apatheist brother and his apatheist wife have no problem with Thanksgiving. They enjoy food and family. Hell, my brother made turducken again. He loves the raves it gets. My atheist wife had no problem. She gave me little kisses whenever we passed and thanked me for cooking with sausage although I hate doing it. Our atheist guests thanked me for cooking and us for having them over, and everyone thanked one of our friends for cooking the turkey. We all had plenty to be thankful for. Nobody at either gathering was "staring into an abyss," as Ken Connor contended that atheists eventually will, although what my brother served as part of the traditional post-dinner drink dare-heated vegetable juice with a splash of pomegranate 7-Up and melted butter on top--did have my youngest cousin staring into a toilet bowl for a while. (He didn’t care, either--he was $200 richer and ready to refill with dessert!)

We all talked holiday decorating at my dinner, from many perspectives. Some do it, some don’t, some go all out, some are restrained. I personally enjoy it when I don’t have my mother yelling at me about the placement of her ornaments on her itchy fake tree. I’m a bit dismayed with myself that a white pre-lit number with multicolored lights appealed to me. (I didn’t get it; I am once again decorating a potted cypress. One day my Wollemi pine will be big enough.) Then again, my tastes were formed in trailer parks and the rural outskirts of Daytona Beach, Florida when I was small. I like a bit of calculated tackiness, and being Pagan doesn’t stop me from being tacky. Once, when I rented a house in the exurbs of Orlando, I took advantage of having an actual yard by standing plaster replicas of Athena and Aphrodite statues onto purple plastic milk crates. Boy, did the neighbors enjoy that! I *love* my lights, too, although I try to be conservative about their actual usage for all the good reasons you know about already. Since the Winter Solstice is all about the light returning after the darkest day, I figure I’m entitled to them.

My BossLady is Jewish, and doesn’t have the excuse of growing up redneck, because she’s always lived in NYC. She loves tacky d├ęcor too, however. We have been finding things for each other for the past three years we’ve been working together. Her husband is Christian, and she insists that the rise in blue and white Christmas decorations is because of mixed marriages like her own. They decorate a Christmas tree in blue and white. We found actual dreidel and Star of David ornaments last year; apparently her theory holds some water. Stores around NYC are offering many exciting choices for Jews lately, too. At, a Jew can easily out-tacky any Christian on their block! Pagans don't have this yet; not even Wiccans have this yet. However, I'm sure it's coming. Maybe I can even get a jump on it and start making and selling light-up tinsel pentacles!

Another thing we discussed was the terrible work situations a couple of guests were dealing with. This led to a discussion of quitting, and how best to accomplish it. My best friend Yemaya, as well as my cousin Eowyn, begged me to tell the story of how I left a Wendy's about 11 years ago. So I had to tell it. It got such a good reception, I figure I'll tell it here, too.

Now, I worked at about half the fast-fooderies in Orlando for a while there, just bouncing around. I am not cut out for fast food. Nobody with any creativity or impatience for bullshit is. One thing I really hated was managers who got all puffed up with their little bit of authority, and not many of the managers I dealt with were as puffed up as Sharon. Sharon was going through a divorce, and she took everything out on us. Especially me, because she thought I thought I was "just so damn smart."

One Sunday was especially slow. I was making fries that day. (That's one of the worst--tons of grease getting into your hair and pores, plus it's hot.) I don't know how or if the rules have changed, or if they differ by region, or whatever, but I don't think I'm out of line explaining this--we were supposed to keep enough for two large orders ready at all times. And then we were supposed to throw away old fries after 20 minutes and make fresh. I had fries made for *nobody.* "Don't make any more fries," said Sharon. "Okay," I replied. A few minutes later, she repeats, "Don't make any more fries." "I won't," I assured her with a smile. "I don't see anyone, either."

Half an hour later, we finally had a car pull up. I'd been cleaning, and I realized I needed to make fresh fries. I tossed out the old and put on some new. The family that was in the car walked in. Sharon saw what I was doing and got livid! "I TOLD YOU NOT TO MAKE ANY MORE FRIES!" she yelled.
"But...they're old, and we've got customers, see?"
"I'm only doing what I was told!" I was so ready to cry, but I wouldn't give her that satisfaction. I needed the fries I had made, and I disregarded her while I filled the order. Minutes later, after other customers had trickled in, the mother of the family handed her a note. She'd written that she appreciated my making them fresh fries and didn't appreciate Sharon yelling at me over it. She went on to say that she was going to let the district manager know how she felt. Sharon waved the note in my face and yelled at me again.
"Looks like you did it to yourself. She's fine with me." I sounded much calmer than I felt.
"Fine." I walked away towards the time clock. She grabbed my arm. Now I yelled: "Let GO!" She held on tighter. "I don't want to hurt you, but I will if you don't let go!" I exclaimed, other hand ready to strike. She let go. Of course the entire staff was watching as I clocked out for the last time and took my duffel bag with my change of clothes.
She bellowed after me that I would never be allowed back. I threw my visor towards her, and it landed in the crackers for chili, and I let my hair down. She hollered that she needed my uniform before I got my last paycheck. This inspired me.
I took off my ugly-ass company-issued shirt, waved it over my head like a helicopter, and threw it at her, screaming, "Take it, it's yours!" Now I had all the customers' attention. TTG I was wearing a big satin bra underneath. A few Hispanic boys whistled and clapped at me, and I blew the room a lounge kiss before walking out the door.
Then I ducked into the Taco Bell next door and put on my own shirt *quickstyle*!

It ended up okay--I was working at another not-so-fine establishment down the street a mere two days later. Then I acquired new skills, and went into a temp agency, and left fast food behind for good. If that's not something to be grateful for, nothing is.

Another thing to be grateful for is that my cousin Eowyn wants to do some New York-style shopping and is accompanying L'Ailee, who believed in "shopping victoriously" long before the eBay ads or eBay itself, for Black Friday. That means L'Ailee didn't insist that I go! (It really brings out the least attractive aspects of my wife's personality. I made her and Eowyn, who is even more competitive than she is, swear over dessert that they would not fight each other over shoes. L'Ailee actually left with her pink glitter mouthguard this morning--thought she might need it.) And next week, I get to stalk see if I can meet Tony Stewart during Championship Week!

Links to go with your leftovers:

Starhawk, Wiccan writer, on the value of forgiveness.

Ten mind-numbingly stupid quotes by Bill O'Reilly Only ten?

This is depressing as hell. Michelle Bruce, a Georgia city councilwoman, is being sued for fraud by the candidates she beat fair and square. Why? Because she's transgender. I sure do hope those other candidates never used Botox or hair dye, 'cause you know, that can be "fraud" too by that standard...

The HRC is *not* one of my favorite groups--they only acknowledge bisexuals when they want our money and they were all too eager to throw transpeople, effeminate men, and butch women under the bus when ENDA came up for the Congressional votes. But like a stinging, buzzing bee can make honey, the HRC can occasionally do something genuinely helpful, and this shoppers' guide for people who want to support companies that support them is one of those things.

Pat Robertson and Rudy Giuliani have more in common than you might think.

November 21 was the first "No Music Day" in Great Britain. Should the USA have one, too? Hard for me to picture, but somewhat persuasive.

Wikipedia may have a "liberal bias," but unlike Conservapedia, at least it's not the choice of gay-bashing closet queens!

A 19th-century cookbook by Malinda Russell was found recently. Malinda Russell was one of the few free black women in America at that time. Sad but amazing story.

Pricked: Extreme Embroidery is at the Museum of Art and Design and will change the way you see embroidery forever.

Finally, are you missing new episodes of the Late Show with David Letterman? The Late Show writers are maintaining a blog where they tell their side and tell some jokes.


alan said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful day yesterday! (Though I might have paid that much not be be staring at the porcelain throne!)

Thank you for sharing so much with all of us; you mean the world to me!

Thank you as well for the links and the story. When I leave GM in the next few years one thing I look forward to, as I know I will be working elsewhere, is being able to tell a martinet like your Sharon that famous Johnny Paycheck line, because at least I'll have those pension dollars until I find something else!


CrackerLilo said...

It's kind of sad that you have to think about your post-job, but I know it's getting more and more common. One day I'm sure you'll have an interesting experience, too. I see why you'd stick it out at GM as long as they'll have you!

The tradition works thusly: We bring out the ghastly drink, we put down some money (five dollars, usually, though richer guests sometimes contribute more), and we lay it on the table in a pool until someone decides it justifies the experience. Since it's done between dinner and dessert, most people will inevitably throw up, or at least feel terribly queasy. We make an extra-special effort. :-)

Some people felt confident about the Christmas Tree and Christmas Ham sodas at my house, until I mixed them. One guest was going to drink it for $150, until she smelled it; the winner kept it down for almost $400. We amaze ourselves at how we'll sometimes make more of an effort on this than we do on the rest of the menu--and we work hard on the rest of the menu!

You mean the world to me too, Alan. *hug* You must be able to see it immediately when I update!

Anonymous said...

I hate to be disagreeable, but I'm not sure how you figure the HRC "threw transgender people under the bus." They sent me constant letters begging me to write to my senators and ask them to re-introduce transgendered people into ENDA.

CrackerLilo said...

Aloha, Watcher! Unlike the fundies you write about, I don't find it disagreeable to have a question asked. It's definitely a fair one.

But here's how I figure. Didn't those e-mails stop around September?

I know, small steps. But transpeople have waited, too, and now they'll still be waiting. When my straight brother started getting harassed at his work because he loves to cook (for his *wife*, no less) and hates sports, I understood just how important "gender identity" inclusion was for all sorts of people.

BostonPobble said...

Oh so much to comment on here, so much to say...

Mostly, I'm glad you had a good day. And that's what's important.

puhpaul said...

Hi, sorry I haven't been around for awhile.

I don't know where some people get their ideas. Wasn't Thanksgiving originally a celebration for the harvest? Did it really have anything to do with Christianity? I don't know, it all seems a little weird to me.


Daisy said...

Nice post! :)

I think the Dawkins crowd has everyone spooked, and they are on the defensive. Besides that, THE GOLDEN COMPASS just got made into a movie. Atheists seem to be getting some self-respect, and that leaves them open to fundie-attack.

When the USA actually elects an atheist president, then we'll know they are getting treated equally... but until then.... (I mean, an atheist who admits it! I know several likely have been.)

My own argument for God is simple: I enjoy religious belief, and feel better when I engage in it. I owe Kierkegaard for that one, but really, it's the best reason I can give. I enjoy believing in God, receiving sacraments, just as I enjoy the tarot. I like spiritual irrationality, properly used and contained. Of course, it's that last thing that's hard to measure, isn't it? ;)

I figure progressive Christians are important, so here I am. But I like atheists fine, and I've been married to two of them. (However, it's quite telling that my current/third marriage, the 20-years-long partnership, is to someone who believes as I do.)

Dr. Deb said...

What a fun post.

And so cool to know that the DL writers are blogging. I'm gonna check it out now. Thanks for sharing.

Jaded said...

I'm glad you had a good day on Thursday. My little family dinner was just perfect and stress free.

I don't understand the need to attack atheists in an effort to promote Christianity. And anyone can be thankful, whether the gratitude is directed at God, the universe, mother nature, the person hosting the lovely meal, or any number of other things. Makes no sense to me.

I'm with Daisy on this one. I believe because I like believing. It feels right to me, and it makes sense to me. But religion is a deeply personal issue. We each have to choose the thing which makes most sense to us, and if that's to not believe, then so be it. I respect everyone's right to make their own choices. I don't condemn them for it, I just expect that they'll respect my believes as I respect theirs. And Christmas has become so commercial these days that I see nothing wrong with decorating whether you're a Christian or not. A tree with lights doesn't make the day holy, only those who believe it's a holy day can give it that power. A tree with lights can be beautiful and festive, no matter what you believe.

I must admit, people really disappoint me sometimes. There's no reason to try to prove you're right by proving someone else is wrong. We all choose what's right fo us. I think that's how it should be, anyway.

Barbara said...

That was one of the best "take this job and shove it" stories I've ever heard! Got a picture of a little chica strutting out in her satin bra. LOL

Don't know what's up with the anti-athiest crap either. One thing I remember from a sales convention I once attended in Chicago was someone saying that one sure way to turn customers off of your product is to put down competitor's product. These so-called Christians would make terrible salespeople.

karloff said...

I love your Goddess decorating idea, although I'm one of those people who struggle with having no one to thank for my existence.:)