Monday, September 27, 2010

Inefficient, uneffective, and just plain stupid protesting.

OK, so this is more of a rant blog than anything. Forewarning :)

I will start by saying, I am ALL for peta. Those of you who know me personally will know that I have recently undergone some pretty substantial lifestyle changes; most dramatically, completely eliminating all animal products from my life. Yes, this was mostly from a health perspective -- but it was also encompassing an ethical perspective as well. Although I do subscribe to the "live-and-let-live" philosophy, I am pretty passionate about NOT supporting the mass production of livestock in sub-par, inhumane conditions, just so we can gorge ourselves on foods that we don't *really* need to eat.

Effectively, I call myself a vegan. I believe that there are more conscious ways of living than purchasing products that we have NO idea of their source, or the ethical nature they were produced.

So today, I would like to rant about STUPID PROTESTERS.

One of the Customer Services box offices that I work in has recently been put on some guy's "local black list" -- and please pay attention carefully, because it took me a couple of times to figure out how we were affiliated -- for having an advertisement in the same promo magazine of a local hotel that also had a promo ad for a fur company. So basically, this fur company paid to take out an ad, and we paid to take out an ad, and they put them together in this little "zine" the hotel puts in guest's rooms... a kind of "best of Vancouver" sort of thing.

So this animal-rights fanatic guy who, I will add, is not officially affiliated with PETA, from what I can see on their website or any of their official publishings, has sent out some information to Vancouver people claiming we have formed some form of "partnership" with this hotel that apparently "supports" fur companies. Remember... "supports" fur companies by taking their money and advertising for them. And our "partnership" is that we appear in the same magazine as them.

WTF, right?!

So how does this affect me? Well, dearies, I'll tell you. I had a 20-minute phone call today -- my first one, I might add, where I have ever consciously hung up on a customer mid-sentence -- with a woman who called for no other reason than to verbally vomit her entire belief system on my unsuspecting ears.

This leads me to ask... WHY, OH WHY, do these people feel the need to throw their beliefs at you like spears, like religious fanatics on some sort of zealot quest? The sheer irony of the fact that I'm living a lifestyle COMPLETELY endorsing animal rights would make me chuckle if I weren't so insensed right now.

The phone call started innocently enough... her asking for ticket prices, learning about price zones, asking about the performer, etc... and then it moved into the "do you have a partnership with this hotel?", and then turned into a FULL-BLOWN RANT. At first I thought she was joking, then I did all the things you're supposed to do, state the bare minimum, say "i don't know much about that but what I DO know is...", and ask to pass them on to someone who DOES know.

Wanna know what her response to the latter question was? "No, I don't want to be passed on, because then I talk to mail boxes or never get email responses. I want to talk to a live person".

I was tempted to say, "will any live person do? Here, let me grab a panhandler from the street to listen to you so i can GET TO MY FUCKING JOB, LADY".

Honestly, I think a panhandler could've done a better job than me.

So this conversation continues for the better part of 20 minutes, she starts telling me that "you really should know more about the company you work for, lots of companies like Lululemon are very aware of their partnerships [note: I didn't mention that Lulu mass produces in China and exploits labour rights through loopholes]"...and my favourite, "even when I go to the symphony and see people wearing furs I get realy angry..." until finally I start to get super riled up. At this point she's grinding on me. NONE, not one point, of her argument makes sense... how are we supposed to control what people fucking WEAR to the symphony? And I start to raise my voice... until I get to a point where I'm telling her that I'm really not the one she needs to speak to, that her calling and uselessly bombarding me energetically with her intense opinions is just WASTING MY TIME... and that's about when I saw my boss start waving his hands with fear in his eyes, and hanging up my phone line mid-sentence.

So here's my rant. I am ALL for passion... I am! I'm all for living creature's rights, and for living consciously, and for speaking for those who can't speak for themselves. What I AM against, however, is people who speak just for the sake of speaking. Honestly, I've never been, or spoken to, or associated myself with, this hotel... and yet, I felt like I was being attacked when all I was doing was trying to book tickets for this lady!

Why, oh why, do these people feel the need to attack those who are absolutely powerless to change things?! Or even worse, who feel loyal to the company they work for, and have absolutely no beef with it at all?

I encountered a similar situation to this while workign for Coca-cola over the Olympics. I LOVED working for Coke. Yes, I'm aware there is a lot of duality associated with working for this company and the product. But Coke treated me SO well. They hired INCREDIBLE people, who I worked with and made fast friends with (still in touch with, in fact). And yet, during the Torch relay, there were protestors who threw rocks and marbles at horses and people.

Is there someone out there who will tell me HOW this makes a difference?! Seriously, I'm all ears. Wouldn't storming politics, or actually protesting the people who have the power and the gall to make change, wouldnt' that be far more effective than pissing people off by vomiting your feelings all over them? Wouldn't warming people to your cause, helping them see things your way, be a far better use of your energy and your day, then spending hours at a time bangign your head against the wall and creating walls of negative energy?

I'll leave you with an analogy I'm reminded of. I used to watch The Polka Dot Door (any 80's kids out there with me? Dennis Simpson, anyone? :D), and sometimes the puppets used to tell stories. One such story was one of Mr. Sun and Mr. Rain. It goes as follows:

One day, there was a man walking with a rain coat on. Mr. Rain made a wager with Mr. Sun.

"I'll bet you," boasted Mr. Rain, "that I can make this man take off his rain jacket before you can."
Mr. Sun chuckled and said, "Oh you do, do you? Go ahead."

So Mr. Rain puffed himself up and turned on his highest power. He blew and blew and blew cold rain, sleet, and gale-force winds at the man. He was impressed with himself for showing off his prowress so well. Never before had he put such intense conditions at once; what a show he had!

But the more Mr. Rain blew, the harder and tighter the man pulled his raincoat around his shoulders.

Mr. Rain sighed.

"This is one lost cause. Good luck, Mr. Sun, this guy is a real stubborn ass. I'd like to see you try"

Mr. Sun smiled. "Are you finished, Mr. Rain?"

Mr. Rain rolled his eyes. "Yes."

Mr. Sun smiled even broader now, and gently began to shine. And shine. And shine. All the clouds parted, the breezes slowed down, and it got hotter.

The man in the trenchcoat started unbuttoning his jacket. Then opening it. And then... took it off.

Mr. Rain gasped. "How did you do that?" he asked, amazed.

Mr. Sun smiled again. "I just lived as I am, and the man made the choice for himself. I can't make anyone do anything... he had to choose what to do for himself."

Things that make you go "hmmmm", right?


Marlena said...

Good post Megs. I think the reason why we, the lowly customer service rep get spewed venom on (and rocks and paint and swear words, ect) is that we are utterly unable to do anything. if one of these "Passionate" types were confronted with someone in actual authority, with whom they would have to back up their pious, ridiculous, bordering on homeless guy ranting faux arguments taken from whatever they can remember from AdBusters 3 months ago; THE WOULD POOP IN THEIR PANTS. You don't have to back up your person opinions to anyone, let alone someone dumb enough to think a ticket sales person at a THEATRE is not socially conscious. Perhaps transfer the call to the BC psych help line, or even better do what you did and hang up, and don't waste your well earned good blood pressure levels on a wanker.

Megan said...

Hey Marlena... how is it that I just got this comment?!

You're totally right. It just blows my mind and makes me angry that these people have all this passion coming from a good place... yet they misdirect their time and energy to totally useless facets. Maybe it's one of those EGO-driven things... they're too scared to *actually* make a difference so they pretend to by drawing attention to themselves.

How can we be this amazing race that sends people to the moon and invents life-saving technology... yet be so mind-numblingly ridiculous at the same time?