Tuesday, 1 July 2014

How Much Should I Care?

Do you pay attention to the news?

I do.

I read it on my ABC for iPhone app in the morning, and during the day, and at night.

I also hear the news on the radio while I drive to and from work, and see new things on my Facebook feed on my lunch break.

Without realising, I have saturated myself in news. I don't own a television, but that is probably the only medium I don't receive news from on a daily basis.

After a day like today, I am starting to wonder if I wouldn't be better off not knowing what's going on in the world...

One of the first things I read today was an article headline pulled from The Guardian via Junkee.
Apparently, the federal government has been rewording articles on its official websites that refer to climate change so that they no longer mention climate change and its effects, like increased bush fire risks and heat waves. Ever read 1984? Scared yet? Yeh, they really did that.

I read this before I got to work, and by the time I'd heard about it again on the radio, I was mad. How dare they be so evil! I get super mad when things are reworded to sound better or mislead. I work in retail - we are experts at writing fluff and then interpreting our fluff back to customers so that they understand that 15% off is only on selected items, not the one they are holding. It makes me mad doing that, so hearing that the government is doing it to avoid owning up to science, well I was fuming.

I fumed across the carpark and in to work - and it was a mess. This is not so bad, it means that we were super busy yesterday and didn't have a chance to put all the clothes back, but already being mad at a Big Issue news item made it easy to slump in to a slight depression about the amount of work I had in front of me.

I normally like Tuesdays. Tuesdays are my Get Stuff Done days. Not many customers, no reports to get done by 10am, recovery from weekend almost done (usually) and I have time to attack things that otherwise pile up.

Today, I did not like Tuesday.

Right now, Queensland children are on school holidays. It's also Winter. And now, it's finally getting a bit nippy, so Brisbanites are having to wear these things called jumpers, and we sell lots of those. To make my Tuesday worse, I only had one other person working with me. This is great on a normal Tuesday, but today, everyone wanted to buy things from my store, so I had to be serving customers as fast as I could instead of doing all the Other Things I wanted to do.

I didn't get time to put the store back together nicely before customers pulled it apart again.
I didn't get time to unpack the rest of the delivery from yesterday and put it away neatly.
I didn't get time to look at my stockroom mess and fix it.

And then, because it was really busy, one of my staff walked in wanting to talk to me about his shift tomorrow and how he couldn't do it because he didn't know that he had uni tomorrow until today.

What's more, he had walked in dressed for work, but wasn't actually rostered to work. So he hung around waiting to talk to me while customers wondered why he wasn't helping them...

This kid is a role model for how not to organise your life and get your shit together.

Because Mr Can't Get His Shit Together has a history of stuffing up his roster and changing his shifts at the last minute, it created another headache for me. I had to write down what had happened so I could tell HR and add it to his file.

Did I mention that we were really busy? And that Tuesday is meant to be my Get Stuff Done day?

None of the above was the fault of any of my customers, but I did have to try extra hard to be nice to the annoying ones by this afternoon.

If this was a new age yoga blog, or one written by my lovely best friend, the next part of this story would be that I shook all the stress out by walking outside in to the sunlight, smiled and appreciated the little things, the positives, like making budget for the day.

But this is my blog. And I have another ending.

When I see the news in the morning, I almost always come across something that makes me mad. What's more, the things that piss me off in the news are usually Big Things. Topics that actually matter in the scheme of things. Yes, it does actually matter that the government is editing away facts. Yes, it does matter which way the Senate votes on topics I care about. So when things happen at work that annoy me, after I've read the news, I get a double reason to be mad - peeved that I have to deal with the issue in the first place, and then annoyed that I'm using all my anger on a Little Thing - something that actually means very little in the scheme of things, but has to be treated with all the seriousness of a Big Thing because there is money involved.

Customers making up lies to get refunds is my personal favourite.

Double rage.

I can't go on like this.

I need to choose what to care about and when. I won't stop caring about Big Things, and I'm certainly not allowed to tell customers I don't care about their Little Things, but I need to lighten up the load of caring or I'm going to be a grumpy bum for the rest of my life!

Not reading the news in the morning will not make me a bad person. I may be less informed, but then again, reading the news at night will catch me up. I won't be in a bad mood before work because of the news anyway.

Having to deal with Little Things is frustrating, especially when customers lie and make it an Ugly Little Thing. If we were not in the roles of Customer and Sales Assistant, I would have plainly outed this particular liar as a fraud in front of everyone. But I couldn't. Because if I had, Head Office would be asking me why I made a lady stick her head in a row of jackets to prove she was allergic to duck down and I would not have a job.

Me, wanting to stick my customer's head in a pile of down.

Me being upset about things that happen in the world does not have any impact whatsoever on the happening of those events. The only time me being upset about anything impacts anyone is when I choose to act upon those feelings, and then normally the outcome isn't that great because I'm not feeling very rational, because I'm upset.

At the guts of this issue is the feeling of helplessness. I hate that Big bad things are happening and I am powerless to stop them. I hate that Little people who lie get away with their money back. The only way I can stem the caring to the point where I am not exhausted is to focus my caring on very particular things.

I am starting my Masters in Sustainability and Climate Change next week. I am acting on my caring.
I am joining recycling groups and meeting like-minded people. I am acting on my caring.

I can not sustain an emotional response to every bit of bad news I see. So I'm going to see less of it.

As for Little Things, well, I can't make them go away, and I can't ignore them at work, but I can eat more chocolate and laugh at them later.

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