Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pay What YOU Owe. . .

Seasons Greetings, Everyone!

Are you familiar with the cartoon strip entitled The Boondocks, written and produced by Aaron McGruder, and now can be seen on The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim?  If not, you've been missing out on some great entertainment.  There are so many episodes that are my favorites, but one episode comes to mind, being that the holidays are here, and that's the one where, the younger brother, Riley (with the braids), goes to the mall to have a showdown with Santa Claus. 

Riley was on a mission.  He was angry with Santa because he felt cheated, of sorts, that every year he would ask for certain gifts and Santa never delivered.  So while visiting the mall, with pent up anger he had been harboring for quite a few years, he decided to confront Santa, once and for all, and set aside their differences.  He wanted to make sure Santa was aware of his great displeasure and disappointment in the lies in which he was selling him. 

While the children stood in line anxiously awaiting their turn to sit on Santa's lap, Riley's anger got the best of him and he went totally ballistic.  He attacked Santa and threw rocks at him with his sling shot and continually yelled, while Santa was trying to get away, "you gonna pay what you owe, Santa!"  He chased him down the halls of the mall, but Santa, luckily, got away.  Needless to say, that whole scene traumatized the other children who wanted to meet and greet Santa, and not to mention the parents who had their cameras ready to take pictures of their precious little children enjoying the holiday moment.  As awful as the scene was in which Riley performed, literally, I was in tears of laughter because that episode was so damn funny, but the lesson in it, was even more poignant.

Like Riley, there are many people who feel they are owed something in this life.  They walk around feeling as though they have a God given right to all this life has to offer.  Regardless if these individuals deserve it or not, the very fact that they are living, breathing and embarking upon this earth entitles them to whatever their hearts desire simply because they are here damn it, and that's that!

Now, depending on how you were raised, will depend upon how you view what I'm about to say.  I don't know where people get the nerve to think they are so special that others are supposed to bow down and give them something.  I once heard a child say to his mother, "I didn't ask to come here, so it's your responsibility to take care of me for the rest of my life.  I didn't tell you to have me."  Imagine the gall, the balls and the spunk of this child to have said such a thing to his mother.  Yes, my baby brother, unfortunately, was one of those people who felt he was owed, by our mother, to take care of him because that was her job to do. (Hysterical laughter) 

As our mother pointed out, as calmly as she could because the angry look upon her face said something entirely different, that under the law, there are only three things she was to do as being a parent.  One, provide food, 2) provide clothing, and 3) provide shelter, until we were 18 years of age and could get out on our own.  That's it!  All the other things our mother gave to us she did out of love because we are her children, but no where in the law does it say a parent must buy toys for Christmas, must give child(ren) an allowance, must take you on exotic vacations, must buy you designer clothes, nor pay for your college education.  No, in fact, the law doesn't tell a parent any of those things, but I bet many of your children feel you are supposed to do all of that and more because they are entitled and belong to you.  Hmmph!

If a man asks a woman out to dinner, is he obligated to pay for the meal?  If he does so willingly, is the man entitled to sex at the end of the date?  Depending upon your views, will be how you answer those questions?  Personally, whoever asks the other out to dinner, is the one who should pay for it.  As far as what happens after the date, it should be a mutual deal, but it shouldn't be expected nor should the other feel entitled to something from you.  If you are acting out in good faith, then that's the way the situation should be handled, and no one should be made to feel obligated nor entitled.  So why are there so many of us who feel this way?

I feel I deserve to be happy, have peace and live comfortably, but should I seek those things from other human beings?  Am I entitled to those things from you?  Do I have the right to ask you to give me those things simply because I exist?  Nobody owes you happiness, you owe happiness to yourself.  If by being with others who feel the way I do and that brings about my happiness, that's a great thing, but to expect it from you, or to have the entitlement behind it, what right, as a person, do I have to ask of such things?  The fact is I don't, but it doesn't stop people from demanding it.

Do you remember when people were taught manners and you were told that when someone gives you a gift, you are to thank them for it?  Does anyone remember that, or is it just me who sat at my mother's knee and learned of such things?  I suppose when manners were taught in elementary school, perhaps I was the only one that attended class that day?  I'm beginning to wonder with so many entitled people I've had the unfortunate pleasure in meeting.  People have twisted the past with the present.  Back in the day, when our economy was flourishing, companies were able to give big Christmas bonuses and throw in large parties because money stretched a lot further, and we were working more stably.  And for many years, employees enjoyed what their employers gave and became spoiled, and somewhat greedy.  Due to that, employees began to think they were entitled to these things and depend upon it.  "Damn it, I worked hard for this company for years and they owe me a bonus!  I'm entitled to it.  In fact, I marked that money down in my checkbook 'cause I know I'm getting a bonus since I'm an employee who gives to them year round, so pay me what you owe!"  Hmmm, that sounds eerily familiar.

Much like my mother who had to remind my baby brother of what her job and/or responsibility is as a parent, I must reel some of you in on a little dose of reality when it comes to your job.  The only thing your job owes you is a paycheck!  The only thing you owe your job is the work you contracted to perform in exchange for the paycheck!  That's it!  No where in the law does it say you are entitled to a Christmas bonus, party or both.  Sorry to upset you, but that's the plain facts.  Your job doesn't owe you anything, but the paycheck for the hours you worked.  Nothing more and nothing less.  If you were given a bonus, regardless of the amount, that was something extra they decided to do in the spirit of giving, whether you agreed with the amount given or not.  But for any of you to count on that extra money, especially in times such as these, you have no right to bank on someone else's dime.  In fact, you should count the blessing that you're still able to go to work.  Do you know there are millions of Americans who would gladly switch places with you in a heartbeat right now?  Hell, just to be able to get up and fight the morning rush hour traffic to go to a job so they could pay their own way?  At this point, many Americans would love to just have the paycheck and to hell with the damn bonus.  A bonus is a one-time deal, but a paycheck every week or bi-weekly would do wonders.  But some of you spoiled entitled people complain.

As I walk around my neighborhood seeing the foreclosure signs, seeing some of my neighbors who haven't worked in a couple years, homeless people still in the street, and children going hungry, schools closing down, post offices going out of business, people in need of healthcare, but have no way to pay for it, public transportation cut, making it even that much harder for those still working, to get to their jobs, and then there are those of us who may be struggling, but still working, walking around feeling entitled to what they have because they are so used to always getting.  Why aren't you thankful?  My God, you're blessed!  

Every time I cry the blues, which is lots, about the money I don't have and desperately need, I think about the words my grandmother once said to me.  "Baby, did you pay your bills?"  I answered, "Yes," and she'd respond, "then you're doing better than most.  There are people who can't pay their bills, but yours are paid at least for the next month.  You can't worry about that, just be glad you got through this month, and deal with next month later."  After she'd say that, I'd stop my complaining, and we'd talk about something else.  My grandmother was right, although I was still pissed cause I wished I had more, but her point was made, and I came away with the lesson.

Everyone wants more, and we are programmed to do better, aspire to be the best, get, get, get, have, have, have, but at whose cost?   And in the midst of doing all that, we sometimes lose our way and become complacent and get that sense of "entitlement" because we live in a country of the plenty, but what we're finding is, America isn't what she used to be, and we're living in troubled times, worse than the Great Depression, and I'm not sure if we're going to ever make it out of this, and if we do, it's going to take many years before she bounces back on track.  But while we wait, you must stop going around with this attitude that you are entitled to have!  Or that others owe you something because you want to feel better.  We all want more money and to live well, but at the end of the day, take a look around you and open your damn eyes and stop sticking your head in the sand.  The America we used to know is no longer.  So you are going to have to learn to go without, and be thankful for what you do have.

Instead of looking at what you don't have as being negative, you must start looking at the positive in what you do!  I gave plenty of examples above of all the things you see around your neighborhood, what you read in the newspapers and see on the news.  Life, for you, might not be as bad as you think it is.  And when I look at my life, my grandmother's words always come back to me.  I try to hold on to my faith and trust and believe that my country is going to make it because if I lose that hope, there's no point in thinking about tomorrow. 

When someone gives you a gift, no matter what the size, you should thank them for it.  Never feel entitled to receive because that person or people don't have to give your ass anything.  You are not special.  You are a human being, just like the rest of us, trying to make a way and survive, but never think you are owed anything because you are not!  You owe it to yourself to make your life all it can be, that's not up to your parents, teachers, friends, family or coworkers.  Life is what YOU make it, and not anyone else.  Stop being ungrateful and be thankful you're still alive and thank your Almighty, whomever you pray to, that you are still here.

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year!  I want to see you all in the coming year!  Be safe, and Be thankful for what YOU do Have!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet