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Sunday, January 24, 2016

"That raving slut who keeps the till..."

Well, that went badly. My resignation as a volunteer cashier and thrift herder at the Thrift Store led to a series of e-mails that ended in the manager dismissing my social and environmental concerns by saying the store's 
"one and only mission is to make money to give to social service organizations."
 
I don't believe he even believes that, based on our past conversations. 


What I heard was, 
"You are making me bloody uncomfortable, and I'm not going to talk to you anymore." 

I have heard this before.

The two managers (both men) treated me as if they see me as Yeat's 
"raving slut who keeps the till... at the foul rag and bone shop."

[Snake charmer, right>
 from Sideshow World]
  On the other hand, 
I could say my resignation went very well because I didn't slink away, as I have plenty of times in the past in order to avoid just such uncomfortable conversations or accusations of hysteria.

I spoke up, and I maintained my cool.

If what I said wasn't well received, that's not something I can control.

I don't like conflict, but I didn't want to disappear from the store without saying something on behalf of the ideals in the store's mission statement [to create community, to keep material out of the waste stream], which has been overlooked by some. 

Overlooked because it's hard to do.
ART SPARKER's comment on yesterday's post, which I read this morning, sums it up. She wrote,
"It takes some kind of organizational equivalent of self-awareness for the powers that be to appreciate volunteers sometimes, it's easier to go along with the enshrinement of capital as a measure of of, well, value."
Yes, thank you!

I don't like conflict . . . and neither did Thomas Jefferson. 
I felt better when I learned that recently. Not like he's a model of ideal behavior, but I could relate to this guy, Mr. Founder of His Country, slinking around trying to avoid conflict (and to avoid public speaking too). 

I think his efforts to avoid conflict factored into some his less-than-noble actions.
He trumpeted the common man's right to and innate capacity for  self-determination, but when it came down to it, it was a lot easier to rule with a heavy hand (or, in the case of his slaves, to leave it to his heavy-handed overseer).

It is incredibly hard to determine what's right and good for yourself and to respect other people's determinations (or lack thereof) for themselves.

Conflict shares its Latin root "fligere" ('to strike') with flail, flagellate, and flog.

I certainly felt like I was flailing around, flogging a dead horse trying to discuss respecting volunteers and exploring ways to recycle dangerous materials with the Thrift Store manager
I've run into this "pass the moral buck" attitude at the store before:
it's OK to treat people in front of you poorly because we're raising money for organizations that treat people well.

And the dangerous materials issue has come up because costs of recycling electronics have gone way up--and the store has to recycle the many unsaleable electronics that get dumped on them

The management's solution?
Stop accepting electronics.


Brilliant. Now more people will now throw their clock-radios and coffee pots and––worst of all––cell phones in the trash.
I suggested that instead of blocking electronics, we use some of our profits, which the store donates to community organizations to pay for recycling. This would be in keeping with the mission statement.
I was told this was unimportant.

So, I'm done. 
You never know what seeds you might have planted. Maybe the manager is so pissed off, he will reject everything I said. Or, maybe down the road some funny little plant will have sprouted.
I've done what I could, and I'm glad of that.
I can walk, not slink, away with a clear conscience. 

As of now, the Thrift Store? As the Polish saying goes, 
Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Note: The circus image is from Pinterest, where I could not find its origins. (I hate that.) I'll google-image search it later, but now I'm going out for coffee. 
UPDATE: Found it along with other cool images at Sideshow World: Snake Charmers.

6 comments:

Zhoen said...

Good job! And you never know, when you see a crack in the facade, shove a message in, it might work. Discomfiting the comfortable!

Odd, to hear someone think ultimate good can come out of a foundation of meanness and carelessness. The ends can't 'justify' the means, because the means determine the ends.

The Crow said...

Hey, that photo is from a studio (no longer in business) just a few miles from where I live, Cool!

Michael Leddy said...

“Not my circus, not my monkeys”: I like that! It can be great to walk away from an institution that has become unworkable, though there is probably always regret involved.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: That's it---I kept searching for the term for what management was saying---you got it: they believe "the ends justify the means."
Ugh.

CROW: Oh, how funny! I hadn't even looked.

MICHAEL: That--circus/monkeys-- is one of my favorite sayings.
Yeah, I feel some sadness at leaving (and a lot of sadness and anger about how it happened),
but luckily little regret:
after more than two years in thrift herding, I was starting to feel I'd learned what I could learn there.

There are only so many kinds of sewing supplies. :)

ArtSparker said...

I suspect that the people who run the store are not happy people, and may be more comfortable if those around them are of a similar emotional temperature.

Fresca said...

ART: Hm, interesting thought.
These guys may be happy enough when no one challenges them, I can't really say,
but they sure weren't happy when someone did (me).