Community Leeches & CHARITY

June 2017 – As a kid, I used to love going to second-hand stores with my Dad.  These stores were unique in many ways.  Initially, you were hit in the face with that musty, “old” smell.  The aisles were very narrow, requiring you to turn sideways to access.  For me, I loved the deals, though.  Many people won’t go near a used-goods store.  The smell, the cleanliness, the stereotypes!  “What if someone see’s me in here!?”  Such a weird thought – to be anxious that someone might see you buying items that were previously owned.  I don’t give a rat’s arse!  If you were in the rain, you’d gladly accept a used raincoat, or damaged umbrella.  It’s smarter to shop second-hand, in fact.  Many are over-paying BIG time for “brand new” stuff.  Discount retailers, like Value Village, clued into this long ago.  With the unstable economic conditions of NOW, these GIANT “charities” saw the HUGE potential in this shift and wanted to suck-up the profits, while sucking UP to the generous ones.  What money-hungry leeches.

When times are tough, your life gets shuffled a bit.  You may lose your home, or have to clear out space for an elder relative to smooch on in.  You may have lost a loved one, and you have to get rid of the stuff they couldn’t bring with them.  What do you do?  Like most, you wanna’ do what’s right, and drop it off at a charity of some sort -like a donation centre.  You pull up, and drop off your used items, with the assumption that they will be either given, or discounted significantly to someone in need.  We are told that they are a charity, so we assume 30-50%‘ish goes back into the friggin’ community in some way.  After reading much about companies like Value Village, and their Corporate Parent – “Savers Inc.”, I think I might hang on to some of my goods (or just give directly to people in need).  

For many years, I have donated to second-hand stores.  I don’t know if they’re all a CHARITY, perse, but I know they’re still helping people.  But how much are they helping people out when – after donating thousands of pounds worth of items in my lifetime – I have to tell the teller, “Keep it!” when she tells me a USED BOOK (with ripped pages and BOOGERS!) is $6 dollars!  I know they have the chart thingy, showing that “books with cover price over $15……       ……$3.99”.  Holy Camoly – your charitable recipients must be livin’ the good life!  EVERY and ANY book that has ever been DECENT is MORE than $15.00, first of all.  Oddly, I have seen note pads at Value fricken’ Village that have the original “$1 DOLLARAMA” sticker, and y’all be sellin’ that SAME book for $1.50!  I’m no economist – but that’s SOME profit, son!  For a used book, which has torn pages, full of scribbles and boogers.  Are you kidding me???  When I was a kid/When second-hand stores were honest – that pad of potential ideas would be about $0.10.  Things haven’t changed THAT much, have they??  No, they haven’t.  Sadly, peoples’ motives have.

Further, I’ve noticed Value Village, like any Corporation, I suppose, is all over this trend-bandwagon which many lives sadly struggle to keep up with.   These businessmen aren’t stupid.  Even “Personal Development” books are more expensive than other same-size books.  They know many people are upset with their lives, so they go to the (over-priced) “HELP” section.  A blank t-shirt might ring you in at about $4-$6; you put a LOGO or fricken’ Spiderman pattern on it – “$14.99”.  Many “Valueables” are locked up in glass boxes, to be later auctioned off to the highest bleeder.  

“SAVERS INC.”/Value Village realized that people are clearing STUFF out; that ‘stuff’ is valuable!  People are making business super easy for these guys, too:  NO overhead!  No pick-ups (most donations are dropped off at the stores!)!  Yet they’re over-charging on most of their items.  There should be a set standard across the board, of what a used t-shirt or pair of jeans should cost – regardless of the NAME TAG that’s affixed to the item.  “Ohhhh, but it’s Gucci!  Someone gave us GUUUUCCI!!  We can sell it for LOTSSS!”  Many of us can’t fathom giving away a brand new’ish sofa, or dresser, or clothes!  Some people have so much money, and they don’t mind buying brand new stuff every week.  However, most “regulars” at second-hand stores can’t afford “used” jeans that cost $19.99 and have food stains and dna on them.  “Ohh, yes.  But this tag..says ‘GAP’!  OoooLala!”  It’s as if ANY and EVERY thing of VALUE is being priced accordingly, and even junk is being priced heavily.  It breaks my heart when I hear a mother tell her kid, holding a broken, dirty-ass-lookin’ Transformer toy that she can’t afford it.  

True, there is much value within the BIG red store calledValue Village.”  But the big question is, who is benefiting from this value creation?  The generous people who GIVE the items to be sold are providing a genuinely good deed, indeed.  However, the heavies are takin’ it to the next level.  I believe there are many in this world, like me, whom sincerely want to help our fellow brothers and sisters.  But begging for help (donations), then setting your own prices on donations is not only unethical – it’s downright LOW!  People, like myself, used to feel gratitude and joy after dropping off unwanted items.  Now, many feel like they’re taking advantage of us  (Reminds me of the stories we hear about homeless beggars, whom apparently live in mansions!)

One day I wish to open my own CHARITY – maybe call it “BULLWITS“.  No, maybe something else.  lol  My stores will be similar to your giant Value Village stores, but much more ethically-run (like Goodwill, or Salvation Army).  My stores will offer:  Free Coffee,  Food Drive/Food Bank, Holiday Baskets for the Needy, Free Internet/Employment Services, Job Opportunities for Disadvantaged individuals, Subsidized Daycare,  Healthcare Referral Service and FREE clothes for low-income.  I would have very reasonable prices, and a very clean store.  I have seen so many “New-again” stores with washrooms that I wouldn’t let a homeless dog use.  You know DAMN WELL that the employees have separate washrooms, and that’s sad!  I have videos of different V.V. stores where BROKEN toilets aren’t even bolted down!  You could literally have the bowl crack and tip onto you, while doing your business; feces everywhere, in your hair, all because you wanted to save a few bucks!?  Oh, and the washroom doors typically have red stickers that read:  “SHOPLIFTING IS A CRIME!  SHOPLIFTERS WILL BE PROSECUTED!  VIDEO SURVEILLANCE!”  Bud, you should be glad that I’m removing some of this garbage from your store; You should pay ME!  Maybe a chunk of your charity should be used to fix toilets and hire CLEANING STAFF (like – pick up the damn MARBLES, already!!) – not worrying about hurtin’ individuals stealing pennies from the rich.  (FYI:  SAVERS, INC.‘s annual revenue exceeds $2 BILLION DOLLARS!!)  Just think how many mouths that could feed!!!!  (Hmmm…I can count on two hands just how many)

MY GOD, DO THE RIGHT THING.

B.

Like MOST, I used to Think being GAY was Wrong…

Growing up, I always believed that it was unacceptable to be gay in our society.  Reinforced by family, school, society, and peers, I know that the majority (over 90%) of people also thought it was wrong.  I believed this because it was what I was taught.  Neat, how we absorb and operate by the information given to us  by trusted ones, huh?  That’s life, and that’s how many of us HAVE our precious little, sensitive opinions.  One thing I have learned, however, is that you will gain your OWN opinions through this fantastic journey called Life.  This is HUGE, as your opinions, or beliefs, will ultimately dictate the path of your life.  God, that is frightening, isn’t it??  But what’s more important:  What YOU believe, or what OTHERS believe?  (Most answer that question wrong)

Until about age 20, I could count on one hand the amount of times I’d seen two same-sex people holding hands.  As a kid, I thought that if a male had an earring in their RIGHT ear, he was gay.  If a guy wore a pink shirt, he was gay.  If a girl had short hair or an interest in sports, she was gay.  There were lots of dislikable statements to describe people whom chose this life (which I won’t repeat).  I remember we had a couple of gay-suspects in high school.  People used to whisper a lot.  Nobody would dare come out and ask, “Are you gay?”, because it was almost taboo to TALK about (let alone accuse!).  Most of my peers used now-derogatory terms that started with “F”, “G-B”, “Q”, “D”, “P-L”, or “H”.  I know they were used in a light manner, and were never intended to hurt anyone.  Also, I recall people saying often, “What a F**!”, when they obviously didn’t mean “homosexual”!  Others would say, “That’s just gay!” if the bus driver didn’t wait for them, or if the rain won’t let up!  It’s just slang, I suppose.  It has nothing to do with bashing ones sexual preference.  (Mind you, there are many still, who would gladly bash you face-to-face, ‘cuz of  your sexual preference).  Those people will always exist.

I think I was around the age of 30 when I became gay-curious.  Let me rephrase:  I think I was around the age of 30 when I became gay-accepting.  I recall one time, being outside at a bar getting some air.  A good-looking dude came and started chatting.  I was friendly, as I sometimes am, and he was more friendly.  It became evident to me what was on this guy’s agenda:  ME.  But I didn’t panic!  I just treated him like any other human being.  I just treated him like any other human being (I meant to put this twice).  I don’t know WHAT ON BLOODY EARTH gave him the impression that I had even a HINT of a gay-curious hair on my head…..but he was movin’ in.  He had his gaydar set on me, and y’know what?  It wasn’t even that weird!  He complimented me on my appearance, before realizing I was straight.  Many macho men would say, “Oh, I’d beat the snot outta’ him if he hit on me!”  Many men, or women, would feel very uncomfortable by a same-sex compliment.  Many are not cool receiving compliments, period – regardless of who’s dishin’ them out.  Our ego’s just can’t handle it.  Like, who in their right mind would get angry by an honest, sincere compliment??  A high school teacher once told us:  “If a gay guy hits on you, take it as a huge compliment!”  It took me a few years to comprehend what he meant.  

I can proudly say that I have many gay friends, family, and followers.  I firmly believe that you can’t dislike someone who hasn’t done anything to you.  You can’t just hate someone ‘cuz they like the same-sex.  That doesn’t make any sense (and honestly makes you look quite stupid!)  That’s like someone hating you because you are fat, or unemployed, or a pothead, or Wiccan.  You might not agree with their lifestyle, but it’s not affecting YOUR lifestyle, y’know??  “Yeah, but Bullwits, I have to SEE gay people everywhere now, holding hands, even kissing!  It’s traumatizing and I don’t want my kids seeing that!  They might CHOOSE that life, and I want grandkids!”

Unfortunately, we are split in society over this matter.  Thankfully, the margins are in favor of the righteous.  I know that love is love, and our hearts know when we are loved and appreciated.  I believe when most come around, and see all of the imperfections in the world around us, they will see that their biases are irrelevant.  I don’t even think the issue IS “same-sex”.  The issue here is lack of self-awareness and self-confidence.  Many will go through life as haters because they never explored WHO they were deep down, and what they WANTED out of their stagnant lives.  Hopefully, all prejudiced people will begin to think, feel, and act for themselves.  #OneLove

White Scum VS. Asian Nazi

On Tuesday, May 16 of this year, I was walking in Toronto. (Don’t worry – it gets better!)

I was heading west, crossing near Spadina Ave. & Baldwin St..  It seemed like a pretty typical day – beautiful, in fact.  I’m not too familiar with that area, but have never had any weird experiences there before.  The light turns green and I proceed to walk across the (probably) 70-foot crosswalk.  A quarter of the way across, I notice an Asian man walking in my direction.  He was probably 25-30 years old, 6′, about 160lbs.  He looked like a typical guy – nice clothes, shoes, hair.  Had a backpack.  Nothing out-of-the-ordinary about this cat at all.  Suddenly, as if possessed, he points upwards with one hand, and yells:  “F*** YOU!!  F***ing scum of the earth!  Kill all the N******!  Kill everyone!  F*** You, N*****!”

About 20 feet from each other now, he looks RIGHT at me.  Immediately my internal sensors start firing:  “WARNING:  BE ON ALERT!!!”  I was getting flashbacks from when I used to work in Mental Health.  I’d seen this sort of behavior many times before, when clients were about to randomly attack you.  I knew that if s*it hit the fan, there was no soft talkin’ my way outta’ this one!  This man was clearly passive-aggressive, and I wasn’t getting paid to figure out why.  Nonetheless, I always try to be on guard and aware of my surroundings when in public (not with my head glued to my stupid smart phone!).

We are about to pass each other, and he is looking more angry.  Awesome.  His outbursts swiftly turn DIRECTLY towards ME.  From about 20′, he shouted at me:  “You F***ing White Boy, you piece of S*** SCUM!  F*** YOU!  Die, White trash – DIE!!”  I thought to myself, “Oh please, no.  Not today.  I just want to walk to my car.”  My heart was racing, as you might expect, but I was ready.  I may not be related to Chuck Norris, but I’ve lived enough to know that I can hold my own.  Honestly, I think I could have just picked this guy up, thrown him to the ground on his head, held him for a minute…maybe throw a knee in there.  My hope is that he would get up slowly, in pain, and continue on his sick journey.  Seriously, he hurt my feelings – but it kinda’ felt good.  Like something I needed, maybe?  I’ve never been called “White scum” before – maybe “cracker” – but that’s just lame.  “White scum” is pretty emotion-packed.  I don’t take pride in that title – it’s just something I don’t experience (or wish to) every day.  This madman lightened the tenseness with some humour, though.

Now near my side, about 5′ away, he then adds:  “…and PULL UP your f***ing PANTS, white boy!”  I literally laughed, because they WERE (unintentionally) riding a lil’ low that day.  #plumberbutt  Part of me wanted to react, even if just to ask:  “What’s your problem, buddy?” But I know any chatting with this nut would lead to something physical.  I don’t want any of that, especially in a busy intersection during rush hour.  Also, this guy could have a disease or std, and bite me.  Across the street, I watched him walking north on Spadina, cursing and hollering again as he trucked along.

Aside from being one of those What-in-the-flyin’-HELL-just-HAPPENED moments, I didn’t know what to think!  I looked around to see if anyone else noticed any of this, nope.  People in cars, pedestrians, everyone had their head down.  People are too busy to notice a guy freakin’ out – racial slurs, fists-a-wavin’ – in public.  So sad.

In a city as big as Toronto, I think most feel safe and secure.  As they say, there surely is safety in numbers, right??  But when you have such a large number….of numbers, you’re certain to have a few whack-jobs mixed in, for lack of a better word (I could actually think of many nicer, less-fitting words).  Did this man have issues with white men?  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. But I think it was more than that.  This guy seemed to be mad at the WORLD! He could have some underlying issues, which is why I tend to keep quiet; respectful, y’know?  But should he be out in public if he’s a threat??  Who knows.  You may never know the motives of another, but you should always be aware of people around you.  I have never experienced an Asian person lashing out at me – or ANYONE – like that.  It just goes to show that many are full of HATE, regardless of ethnicity.  I have said it before, and I will again say it: Racism comes from ignorance and fear.  You might think you hate the color of someone’s skin, or the way they dress, or behave.  Deep down, I think racists hate themselves, and are frustrated with things that are unfamiliar.  Sure, white man has done SOME bad over the centuries, but like the idiom goes – don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

Small FRIES, small Guys – BIG SURPRISE!

EGLINTON SQUARE – Today is Saturday.  It was such a lovely morning, so my wife and I went out shopping.  We went to Eglinton Square in Scarborough.  I try to avoid any malls, especially around lunch time.  Not only ‘cuz of the general craziness you might expect, but the pressure to eat that awful convenience food.  But there we were, stuck in fast-food tornado, with so many (unhealthy) options all around us.  But  I had to eat something – sugar levels were droppin’.

My wife likes to support the smaller, Mom-and-Pop type places.  I usually stick with the familiar:  JUNK!  The common choices – McDonald’s, Timmies, Pizza – were really busy today.  I didn’t want to wait in line for 20 minutes to order, so my wife pointed out this little Mediterranean-looking place tucked neatly into a corner.  It was called “Cactus Sandwiches & BBQ Chicken”.  I typically don’t like veering off into uncharted waters when it comes to food.  I have a sensitive gall bladder, and I get bad heartburn easily and often.  Also, I like foods that I’ve  eaten before, which is why I stick to the familiar.  This venue looked like your typical food court, European-gyro-kabobby kinda’ place.  They all look similar, and not overly appealing to me.  Sorry.  However, the mature couple that ran this place kept looking, expecting us to order.  Hesitant at first, I eventually did.

At approximately 1:40 pm, I ordered the Philadelphia Beef Sandwich, with a side of salad, and fries.  While waiting for the food (about 3 minutes), the gentleman behind the grill came over and gave us a complimentary glass of peach juice that couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  I said to my wife, “What a nice gesture!”  You don’t really see that kind of service anymore, it seems.  So he neatly packaged up our food, and we proceeded to the food court area.  

I was impressed with the salad.  Very light, flavorful, and good quality!  I’ve worked for many years in produce – so I know the good stuff!  French fries are all the same: salty, greasy, and inconsistent.  But at Cactus, they were seriously some of the best french fries I have ever eaten!  I usually can’t eat any fries without Ketchup, but these potato sticks were just fine naked!  Crisp, hot, and no sharp ones that hurt to swallow.  The Sandwhich, though?  Wow.  It honestly didn’t look like anything special, but that first bite…  …unforgettable!  The beef was seasoned like I’d never experienced before!  It was pulling apart beautifully, and had the perfect amount of sauce oozing out the sides.  This “Cactuswich”, as I call it, was out of this world – delicious!  It had green and red peppers and onions.  I kind of regret NOT getting the cheese (gall bladder probs!), as it would have only made the experience better.  But no complaints whatsoever!  Oh, the bun.  The BUN!  The bun was perfectly toasted on the outside, yet fresh and doughy on the inside.  The portion sizes weren’t massive, but since it was such good quality food, I felt satisfied halfway through.

Lastly, I have to mention what many would feel is most important – the PRICE!  Based on the quality of meal and service I had today, I would expect to pay about $12-$16 for my meal.  But my meal at Cactus was only $7 (without a drink…just my free peach drink!).  I don’t know HOW, or WHY it’s only $7 – but that’s the price and I have the receipt to prove it!  I still feel a bit guilty.  

While it’s not uncommon to get a good sandwich here or there, I find it’s VERY unlikely you’ll ever get a great sandwich, plus incredible side dishes, complimentary juice, great SERVICE, and all at an unbelievable price!  This food booth didn’t initially jump out at me.  I usually don’t even eat this type of food, but I’m glad that I tried something different.  They say you’ll never know, unless you try, right?  I’m glad I tried this one.  WOW.  Whenever I go to ANY food court again, I will first look for that giant green Cactus image.  Thank you, Madam, Sir.  

Blaise Bullwits

 

SEXISM & The Personal Development Industry

Everybody wants to grow, regardless of gender, correct?  One thing I noticed long ago (and only recently found the balls to say it) was the dominance of women over men in the Personal Growth & Development industry.  From both the teaching and receiving ends, there seems to be a female-dominant interest in “reaching your full potential.”  But why is this?  Are women more caring, hard-working, and determined to GROW in all areas of their lives, than men?  Perhaps men just get comfortable with the way things are?  Who knows, for sure.

I am a man.  I think gender is meaningless in the pursuit of happiness and a meaningful life.  But when I see Tony Robbins speaking to a city-sized audience that is 95% female, it makes me wonder:  Why are men seemingly LESS concerned with GROWING??  I believe men, maybe, find it hurts their egos.  Men like to be in control, having all the steps carefully planned out.  Most of us were raised to think that we gotta’ get a good job, and HOLD that damn job ’til you’re 65!  I think many men are brought up to believe that it is wrong to think of others before yourself, and it’s definitely wrong to work at a career where you get more paper cuts than broken bones or bruises!  You may be called a “wussy”, or something that sounds similar.

Many men aren’t comfortable asking for help; some don’t even like GIVING help as we know how some guys might respond!  “Buddy, you think I need your help changing this tire??  I’m a man!  Step aside!!”  Men aren’t’ allowed to show emotion, or weakness, or heaven forbid – CRY!  Like our forefathers, we’re expected to be able to fix any problem that is mechanical or technical in nature.  But fix sadness or unworthiness??  No way!  You don’t ever even TELL a single soul you HAD those feelings.  You’re a MAN, damnit!  Get out there and bang stuff; swing tools; spit; swear; whistle at women; cause PROBLEMS!!!  Isn’t that what men are for???  

I really don’t believe that.  While I find it sad that few men are willing to admit defeat in their lives, I find it worse that they pretend they are happy.  I’ve had one male in my life come cry on my shoulder (literally).  A complete break-down that left me feeling awkward and confused.  In his honour, I silently said in my head, “Don’t worry, I’ll never tell ANY of the boys about this!”  He was drunk, too.  So maybe it didn’t count as a true confession.  Like, without the booze, would he have opened up??

But just like the stigmas against same-sex unions, medical cannabis users, or low-income households, the stigmas against men do exist.  Our family, and society at large are to blame for creating these false expectations.  I’m grateful for the men that do admit that they need help – whether it be personal growth, addictions, or anger issues.  I believe many more men would express their emotions and feelings if they realized they were not alone.  We are Men!  We’re human beings, wired very similarly to women (not exactly, though….a future post! Lol).  Our emotions are there to help and protect us, not make us feel shame.  How on bloody earth could a man feel shame about asking for HELP or CRYING??

I never saw my dad cry, but I have now learned he did much weeping in his lifetime.  He probably felt he couldn’t cry, as it would frighten us or make us feel unsafe.  He likely felt that Father figures weren’t allowed to cry (what are you – a baby!?).  I love Personal Development, and I’m glad I picked up that first book in 2012!  I was at a point in life where I felt stagnant and done.  I admitted that I needed help, and it felt like a huge release!  So in ending, I want to remind everyone that, aside from reproduction, gender doesn’t mean much in life.  We all have to do our part to eliminate the stigmas in our world, and it starts with empathy.  Men, or women are all in need of help.  The real weakness or reason for shame, should be man’s ignorance, lack of self-worth, and resistance to change.  To help or not to help has little to do with ones sex, but everything to do with ones attitude.  

Selfie Sticks, Waves, & WEALTH

You know what I’m tired of seeing?  I’m tired of seeing the guys (typically) on Youtube commercials (the ones you usually ‘skip’ after 3 seconds) rubbin’ their dreamy lifestyles in your face.  Sure, we’d ALL love to live like that!  But is it really as attainable as they proclaim???

Anyone who is striving to motivate another to better their lives is doing the right thing.  Kudos to them for caring!  But I feel many of these ads are not only deceiving – they’re really annoying!  When trying to better your crappy life, the last thing you want is some buff hunk boasting about how easy THEIR life is.  With a selfie stick in hand, struttin’ past waves and palm trees, they talk about the FREEDOM to do as they choose, and work their OWN hours.  These entrepreneurs claim to have all come from nothing, and created empires!

So I clicked on the Ad.  There, you got me!  But it seems…just like every other “Get rich” scheme out there.  “Affiliate Marketing“, usually, or Pay-per-click b.s.  I’m sure, with persistence and dedication, you can make anything work!  But it just seems like some of these successful actors are trying to trick vulnerable people into believing they can live on an island and have a luxurious life – like they themselves do.  

I’m big on first impressions.  When I see some of these commercials, I immediately think, “What a joke!”  Many of these super-positive people don’t come across as “average.”  If I’m going to be compelled to act, it has to be something that I believe in – something I know will create lasting change!  Most (ok, I) cannot imagine the END result:  living on an island, with tunza’ money, a boat, and a servant to bring drinks.  It sounds incredible – but most know it’s unlikely.  “Oh, you’re just being negative, Mr. Bullwits!  You have to BELIEVE in yourself!”  Ok, Ok.  My bad.  Sure, belief is key!  But REALITY (realistic expectations) is crucial.  Most of us know when something is actually attainable, as opposed to wishful hoping.  The people pushin’ these commercials KNOW that people WANT to change, but it’s very, very difficult – almost impossible!  They seem to leave that part out.

In ending, I will say that once I achieve utter richness in life, I will never say that it came with ease.  Sure, you could have some things  going for you that make the journey easier.  But to get to your true desires, requires a LOT of things:  sacrifice, commitment, time, energy, networking, prayer and MONEY!  I once chatted with a homeless man who had described his dream business: a lemonade stand.  So cute.  So simple.  Yet he said he would never have the money or motivation to actually do it.  I explained to him, “You have over $10 in coins in your hat there, bud!”  He smiled.  In this case, sure, this man could take his money, buy a cheap table, juice pitcher, a can o’ juice, some cheap cups – BAM!  A homeless dude just fulfilled his dreams!  His vision went from an impossibility, to a possibility because I laid out a SIMPLE plan for him.  Perhaps your dreams are more complex than this guy’s, but the premise is still the same.  If YOU have the desire, dig deep for the answer!  You don’t ever want to compare yourself to someone you don’t believe in, or someone being less-than-100% honest with you.  If these people in the ads really want me to become wealthy, I certainly don’t feel it.  Do what YOU know will make you happy, and the rest will come naturally.

BULLWITS