Forty Percent Off Your Life

I had a rather harrowing experience this past Friday, which was Black Friday, to be specific.

Black Friday is always hellish when it comes to retail. Since I was working in a mall, I expected much more traffic. It was a bit more stressful than at my previous job, where there were never Black Friday sales to begin with, but I was managing to deal with it.

What I did not expect was to almost lose my life that night.

There was a shooting at the mall in a store on the lower level. A huge crowd suddenly stampeded into our store in a panic, and all of my co-workers ran toward the back. I don’t recall if I heard gunshots or not. I assume the immense fear and anxiety is to blame for the unclear memory. But I will never forget hiding in our backroom, scared for my life, wondering if we’ll get out, wondering if we’ll get home.

We hid for around twenty to thirty minutes. Some of my braver co-workers peeked outside the door every so often. The store’s shutters were down, so no one could enter. Eventually, police came and led us to one of the mall’s emergency exits, which was luckily right across from our store. We all ran. I got as far away from the mall as I could and call a relative to pick me up.

Minus the one person who was shot, no one in the mall was hurt and the mall was shut down for the night. The victim wasn’t critically injured, so he/she will hopefully have a speedy recovery.

It goes without saying I was shaken up, as were a lot of my co-workers, especially those of us who hadn’t worked in in the mall prior to this holiday season. One of my co-workers who’d been there for a few years tried to comfort me by saying that mall has a shooting every year (a few minutes of Google searching proved her correct). I have no idea how that’s supposed to be comforting. The mall was up and running the next day like normal, but most of the mall’s workers did not come in the next day. Neither did I. Some people can handle, but some can’t, and I don’t believe violence, and the risk of losing your life, should be part of a retail job, of all things. We didn’t sign up for that. Personally, if I’d known that mall has a shooting annually, I would never have applied. I’ve done active shooter drills at school, and I was still in no way prepared for that.

The bigger question to me, however, is why any sale is worth violence, let alone the loss of someone’s life. I’ve read about Black Friday violence. I know about the crazy crowds that trample each other, that fight to get what’s on sale before it runs with no regard for who they hurt. I know it’s been going on for decades now, but that only makes it worse. The USA is supposed to be the greatest country, correct? How are we the greatest when all it takes to reduce us to the behavior of savage animals is a discount for things we most likely don’t need? Why are workers expected to deal with the resulting violence, that could potentially spell the end of someone’s life in some cases, such as mine recently? Why is this just accepted by us?

I do not care how preachy I sound when I say this: No sale is worth someone’s well-being! No sale is worth their life!

It’s no wonder to me now why retail has such a high turnover rate. Note that outside of pharmacies and grocery stores, retail is not exactly an essential service. Yes, we need clothes, but we can by without spending $25 on a shirt. Seriously. I’ve bought very pretty and long-lasting clothes for cheaper. That’s not to say I don’t think people should be able to indulge themselves, but you won’t die without them. For the fact it’s not an essential and it’s, for the most part, an easy one to learn, I do understand why it pays so little (I’m not of the opinion minimum wage workers don’t deserve a livable wage because no one deserves to go hungry, but that’s another topic that’s been beaten to death), but if risking your well-being and possibly your life is going to be part of the job, it needs to start paying a lot more. And no, “time and a half” doesn’t cover it, and not stores give that anyway.

Though I may not have a choice, if I can help it, I will not work at the mall again. Yes, a shooting can happen anywhere, but that mall’s an annual target and all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If that were to happen to me, everyone would cry I shouldn’t have been there (in fact, my boss at my other did put the blame for the shooting on me for that very reason). I don’t think I’m paranoid for wanting to avoid it, knowing its history of previous shootings. Just because businesses are willing to trade lives for sales doesn’t mean I am.

Off my soapbox I go.

Has Anyone Seen My Heart?

To my shock, my last post in the “romantic” category was back in March! And it wasn’t about our relationship so much as it was about my personal feelings about our relationship.

I’ve no doubt I’ve mentioned this somewhere in a previous post, but I do not want to dig through my archives right now to find it. I am positive I’ve never made it the topic of a post, however, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately for some reason unbeknownst to me.

This upcoming January will make it four years since my boyfriend and I have met. I know four years isn’t long to most people – I’m not sure if it’s long to me, though it feels like it – but I’m certain we’re past the “new” stage. Lately, I’ve been unable to shake the thought of how close our relationship came to not happening. Despite it’s nothing more than “what if”, it scares me to know how easily we almost missed each other. It was literally a tiny bout of curiosity that led me to him.

I wasn’t unhappy when I was single, but being single is different before a good relationship versus after one. If I didn’t have him in my life, my life would still be full because I wouldn’t know him. I wouldn’t know what I know now. I wouldn’t know the relationship we have today or how it feels to love romantically and have it be returned. Because I do know those things, when I imagine us not meeting each other, it feels like my life would’ve been empty without him. I know if we broke up and I was single again, I would undoubtedly miss him and feel like a huge void opened up in my life. Prior, however, my single life would’ve continued fine without him because I wouldn’t know him. You cannot miss what you don’t know.

It’s a strange feeling, I admit, somewhat similar to the feeling I’ve talked about of being the age my mom was when she became a mother. It feels a bit surreal. If nothing else, I relate a little more to some sappy love songs, though I still hate cheesy romance. Ironic, I guess.

There’s a lyric in the My Little Pony movie Pinkie Pie sings that goes: “One small thing can be the biggest thing of all.” She’s absolutely right. One tiny “hi” (on his end) and one little curiosity (on my end) led to what we have now almost four years later. Our anniversary date is in late June, so as a couple, we’ve been together for almost 3 1/2 years instead of four, but the further along our relationship gets, the more those six months we weren’t a couple blend in. I don’t think in another four years, I’ll be saying “we’ve known each other for eight years, but we’ve been together for 7 1/2”. Does it really matter at that point? Does it matter now?

I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t occasionally turn into that stereotypical lovestruck teenage girl present in so many comedy sitcoms. Speaking for myself, the best way I can describe my feelings in a summary is feeling like I’m drowning in his love and I don’t want to be rescued. And just typing that makes me want to retch a little because I know if I read it from someone else, I’d roll my eyes. I’d think it was cute, but I’d still roll my eyes. A hypocrite am I.

Notice I said that was a summary. Typing out this full post is making me smile and blush like a smitten pre-teen because it’s about him. There are a lot more feelings I could say here, and I’ll probably make a lot of eyes roll. More than anything, every time I think about us missing each other that day and never meeting, it’s the silly, sappy feelings that make me saddest to think of missing out on.

  • Being curled up in his arms, as close to him as possible, and still not feeling close enough.
  • Never feeling the time we have together is enough. I say this as someone who is a huge introvert who loses her mind without her alone time (it does help he’s also introverted and needs his alone time).
  • At the same time (no pun intended), it feels like time freezes when we are together. Like this could last forever and I’d be fine with that.
  • His mere presence being comforting and lighting up my day or night. Even when he’s annoying me a bit, there’s still something about him being there that makes me feel better than if he wasn’t.
  • Hugs. Hugs! HUGS! I always need more hugs from him.
  • Waking up to find myself held in his arms. This kind of hug is actually my favorite. Feels very secure.
  • Holding and squeezing him tight
  • All of my troubles fall away when we are together. I thought it was being at his house that did this, but anywhere with him gives me this feeling.
  • That anything bad I go through feels doable if I have him. It’s not good for a person to be your only source of happiness, but at my worst, he may be the reason I wake up another day. I say “may” because love (of any kind) can’t do everything.
  • Him. Just him. Knowing there is this person in the world who loves me in a way I have not been loved before. Who I love with a strength I only ever felt for my best friend (platonically; get your mind out of the gutter!). Who made me not regret dropping my guard and (cheesy) unlocking my heart.

I am so glad we met. I can imagine my life without those feelings. Without meeting him, it’s still a good life. But since we did meet, I’m glad that life without him didn’t happen.

I wasn’t looking when I met you, but you turned out to be everything I was looking for. The best thing to find when you’re not looking for it.

So very glad it didn’t happen.

Screen Vs Screenless

I mentioned in a previous post I opted to buy a new graphics tablet: XP-Pen’s Artist 12. I also purchased their Deco 02 tablet, which was the package I had trouble with via Amazon. There is a newer version of that tablet, one they call Deco 03, but I chose Deco 02 because it uses the same pen as the Artist 12.

So, why do I need two graphics tablets? I don’t. But the reason I bought the second tablet is I wanted to try my hand at working with a screenless tablet.

I love using a graphics tablet for, well, what I feel are obvious reasons. A pen is a lot easier to handle than a mouse, less for my hand, and overall feels nicer. Regular paper and pencil still rules, but if I don’t want to use paper, I can sketch on my tablet instead.

When it comes to a screen tablet versus a screenless one, everyone has their own preference. I personally prefer screen tablets. I consider them a little easier to use than a screenless tablet, and having my drawing form on two screens at once is fun. I know some people prefer screenless because it prevents their hand from getting in the way, but I’ve not had a problem with that, so I can’t list that as an advantage.

That said, I have come to enjoy my screenless tablet just as much, and it has its own advantages for me. For starters, it’s a little less set-up. Just one wire, configure the pen settings, and I can draw right away. Thinking about it, that does make sense. I don’t want to call it a complaint because it’s really not aggravating to set up my Artist 12. Just a little less hassle with my Deco 02. That also explains why it’s so much cheaper.

I also like that I’m, to my surprise, able to draw without looking down. There is something to be said for that skill. However, this is where it’s a little harder to use than my screen tablet. I struggle to be as precise and it’s more annoying to try to get those little areas. I struggle simply to draw a curved line exactly where I want it to go. Maybe that’ll change as I use it more, but as it stands now, it’s a little bit of a nuisance. I’ll probably stick to using my Deco 02 for simpler work and use my Artist 12 for stuff that’ll be more time-consuming.

I’m happy I have both tablets. Minor gripes aside, I have fun with both of them and I don’t think I could ever (willingly) return to using a mouse. That said, if you are a mouse user for your artwork, I admire you. While my own skill counts too, I feel like I may not have had such an on-and-off feeling with art if I’d been able to get a graphics tablet back when I first started since that’s when my interest was at its highest. Better late than never, I suppose, and I was able to buy them myself instead of needing to ask for money. There’s certainly that pride to uphold!