Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You Want Me to Shop Where??

A while ago, there was dialogue in the Yated between frustrated consumers who felt they overpay, and store-owners who claim to struggle to pay their rent.

Basically, the store owners were upset about the bad press that they receive, and that people say, "Why buy it there, when you can get it at Loehmann's for $50 less?" thus leaving them with fewer customers.

Besides the prices, did they ever think about their employee's attitudes?

Ya know what? Maybe the girl in BCBG outlet is fake because she's on commission, but she's never nearly as obnoxious as these Jewish store employees. These idiots openly roll their eyes at me, throw attitude in my face, and treat me as if they're doing me a bigger favor than I am them. They're constantly annoyed and impatient (due to idiot customers, I'm sure) and make me feel unwelcome. When I walk in, they shoot me a look like, "you're not gonna buy anything anyway," and don't bother to smile back.

Similarly, there is a Jewish store in the neighborhood that sells MAC cosmetics at an insignificant discount. The girls there are snotty, uninterested, and cold. I always try to be friendly and initiate conversation, but all I get is one word answers. Half the time they're on a personal phone call, and seem annoyed when I walk in. Not like they hang up or anything.

I went to the MAC counter at Macy*s, and sure the girl looked like a freak and a half, but she was nice, friendly, patient, and I ended buying more because I liked her, and she wasn't pushing me to buy anything. But it was so pleasant to deal with her! While we chatted, I asked about other products, like eyeshadow base that I never thought of before.

When I worked in a store, sure there were customers I didn't like, but I was patient with them and made believe that I cared. I'm not paid on commission, but I care about the store and its owners, and I want them to uphold a reputation for friendly employees. They drove me crazy on more than one occasion, but I was nice and patient until they left and I let out a big sigh with a, "GRR OMG!!"

I'm not saying the people in Goyishe stores are always more friendly, but there is a recurring pattern with specific Jewish stores.

Now about the prices. This is plain corporate America, children. I purchased a skirt in BCBG, 1/2 off the reduced price. Later, I saw it in a Jewish store for close to 3 times the price. I am not exaggerating. $10 short of 3 times the price. That's significant. Generally, there are many products that are cheaper in the big stores. Jewish stores are a matter of convenience, and it's easier to sort through less non-Tzniusdik stuff.

I actually learned about the importance of shopping in a Jewish store. I understand it's certainly a preference, and that if you're really getting ripped off, you can pay the difference from your Maaser money. So I don't mean to send all my readers off the MAC counter at Macy*s, but perhaps sending a message to those who hire these rude, inconsiderate employees.

It's also a matter of buying from someone like yourself. When I went to this place that sells Mac, the girl that worked there was around my age, and could have related very well. But chose not to. Last time I was at Macy*s, some cold, unfriendly gay guy helped me-I don't have much in common with him- he definitely could have been nicer, but it's not like being snubbed from one fo your own, which is an even bigger insult and turn-off.

Oh, and FYI, I have seen the conditions these store-owners live under. Nothing to plead poverty over.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shameless Self-Promotion

As you know, B"H, I've been nominated for the Jewish Isreal Blog Awards from the Jerusalem Post. Please vote for me! Each person can vote once every 3 days, so get on it!


Thanks a lot, and may the best blogger win!

(I guess.)

The winners will be announced February 7th IY"H.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oy vey-"Learning or Working?" --Is it Even a Question?

I was babysitting at a family in NJ recently. While the children slept, I read a few articles in their local Jewish newspaper.
Well, one thing I didn't like about it was the lack of Letters to the Editor-the only thing I read in the Yated, but I need it for laughs--and something Jewish to read on Shabbos.

Here, there were just 2 short boring letters --they were SO not juicy. And you know what else? There was, GASP, a picture of a woman! A few, actually. And there were men, who--get this-- wore knitted yarmulkes!! It can't be. Then! Oh, boy, an article quoted HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik ZT"L. Yeah.

Anyway, my point here was an interesting write-up about a girl's high school that had career day. They had panelists-married women- who choose to work and choose not to, and they explained why they chose the paths of life they did. Following that, they had workshops with women who have experience in the fields these girls were planning to persue. Not just OT, PT, Speech and Psychology like in the Bais Yaakov world. They had law, communications, and various others. I was thoroughly impressed.

The discussion there was an interesting one-whereas a girl who marries a working boy has the option of staying home and raising her own children, a girl who marries a learning boy and has to go out and work, and have some stranger raise her child.

ASsuming the guy "learns" the girl is basically saying that he Torah is important for her husband, but not so for her child. Her child wil sit at home with his/her siblings that she systematically pops out to fit in and compete, and they will all be raised by Ana Rosa. Is that a better option than the husband working to support his family?

In this other school, they are assuming the men will be breadwinners, and hopefully the women will have the option of not working full-time to support her family, and can stay home and remember her children's names. Isn't that a novel idea?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Don't Be Such a Freakin Yenta

When I was out with my married friends, as I reported in "Gloating Married People," one of them leaned in, drew in a deep breath, and asked--as if it was about Nick and Jessica's breakup--, "So, you dating anyone?" Then she had this coy smile, as if I had been a fly on the wall in Hollywood, and was expecting an intimate report on Brad and Angelina. Wow, was I ready to sock it to her.

I felt my blood pressure rise. I took a deep breath. I leaned in, opened my mouth, and ..... I swallowed air. The tip of my tongue shouted, in that same manner, "Ya pregnant?" But it remained there. I swallowed air, and shrugged my shoulders. "Oh! You are?? Who is he? How long are you going out? Where's he from? What's his name? Why didn't you tell me?" It's a good thing we were in public, and I wasn't near knives. "No, I'm not right now, but there are some guys around," meaning to tell her that it's not completely dead, so she won't try to set me up with a complete loser who's totally for me because he "watches TV," and "Who cares if he never went to college and smokes like a chimney..."

Anyway, I was really upset at how she asked. I know that married people hate being asked if they are pregnant, and rightfully so. They have the right to keep it to themselves until they are ready to share the news. Especially with their single friends. It's none of our business until they decide it is, or are so freakin obvious, that we can't help but notice. Although, I hate the idiots who are conspicuously pregnant and avoid it at all costs. Yeah, Ben & Jerry's only affects the stomach, apparently.

I think it should be the same way about dating. If a single girl asks me, (not in a sick nosybody Gladys Kravitz way) if I am dating someone, I'll give her a straight answer, "No I am not seeing anyone now," or, "Yeah, I am, but I'll let you know if anything comes out of it." This way, I am acknowledging what's going on in my life, and she should be mature enough to accept that answer.

I also hope that a shidduch could come out of conversations like that. Some fair responses could be,"I'm not seeing anyone now, but I just went out with a guy who would be good for you/your cousin..." or, "No, why you have someone for me?" I usually don't ask my friends if they are dating. If they don't tell me they're seeing someone, I am just not supposed to know. (Not to say I am not a yenta in all other areas, hehe) I think it's nice to drop a hint, so you don't call me one day, after we spent a whole Shabbos together, "Guess what? I'm engaged!" but that's a whole other post.

It's also obvious in the manner that someone asks the question. Last year, I was seeing someone seriously. During that time, a "macherish," cool-guy (married) 30 year old that my family knows shouted at me from a distance, "So, ya dating anyone?" with a chuckle. I did NOT want to answer him. What the hell is it his business? If he wanted to set me up, he'd do it like a mentsch. A woman approached me once, pulled me aside privately, and asked, "Michelle, I was wondering, are you seeing someone now? Because I think I might have someone for you." That's the way to do things. With respect for me, and the whole shidduch system.

People have asked time and time again with that "yenta" tone, psyching themselves up for juicy gossip. In the same hush-hush, tell-me-a-secret tone as, "Did you hear what happened with Nick and Jessica?" with a sick smile. I don't want to tell you. I don't wanna tell you the guy's name! I don't wanna tell you how many dates I went on! I don't wanna tell you why I/he said no!! Leave me the hell alone!

I know I am not the perfect non-Yenta, I like a juicy piece of gossip just like the next Jew, but a married girl asking like that is just plain rude.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Gloating Married People

I know I usually don't write more than one post in one day, but this one was getting to me, and I had discussed it recently with girls who agreed.

My friends and I recently got together with some married friends of ours. You know, a few months into the marriage, when their husbands have something else to do, and suddenly the girls realize that there are other people out there. No! I am NOT bitter--but it's dumb when they make themselves sound like they are doing us the biggest favor, "My husband is out tonight, so I figured it would nice to call YOU to get together. See? I'm not like those other girls, I actually call you. [I could really be doing something else...]" Thank you, you're welcome, don't do me any favors. Suddenly they're Lindsay Lohan because they got married. "Oooh, I got a phone call from Lindsay Lohan!" That's exciting --only to the people who actually like her.

So we're in the car. The two of them are in the back seat, and suddenly are roaring with laughter. "What's so funny?" I asked. "Oh, nothing, just married people stuff," one answered with what I call an 'a**hole' smile. It was that moment that I was SO ready to strangle that one. It's different when your older siblings do it, who are 25 and whatever. But these are your buddies, who sat through high school with you, who are simply throwing it in your face, "I managed to get married during the 'Shidduch Crisis', and you did not!"

These are the girls who constantly refer to their husbands as, "my husband," and nothing else--so just in case you forgot that "Moishy" is her husband, you should remember. Remember that she has a husband, and you don't.

I know my readers, "Oh, you're so jealous..." No. Wrong. I have another married friend. We go out for pizza sometimes, she brings her baby, and often tells me about her in-laws. But there is NO GLOAT. There was never a time where I felt like yelling at her. There was never a time, and my friends can back me up on both situations, that this girl threw her marriage into anyone's face.

Thinking about it, I realize it's totally a maturity thing. The second girl takes marriage as a fact of life. She understood before she got married that it isn't all a show. It's not about the big party and wearing a white dress. She was SO not into her wedding prep. She understood that this about a marriage. It's a relationship that contains an inner structure of hard work, challenges, compromise, giving a lot of yourself, loving this other person, and all the other things about marriage that I believe the first girl seems oblivious to.

She seems to believe that marriage is all about the image, the aesthtics. She gets to wear a sheitel, so everyone knows she's married. She's wearing a ring, so everyone knows she's married. She has arm candy so everyone knows she's married. She should be friends with the kid who's waiting for her baby so she can walk down 13th aveneue wheeling a stroller, and it won't be "boring."

To Call or Not to Call

As the Shidduch system progresses, (or deteriorates, really) some have adopted to the rule of avoiding the pre-date phone call, which has been a fixture in the system for a while.

These people feel that the phone call adds unnecessary stress to the people involved, and that it makes people have expectations for the date. I've discussed this with my friends that prefer not to have the phone call. They said they feel less nervous for the date without the phone call, becuase there are no expectations-good or bad. They feel that if they were to form a good impression, then an "okay" date would be a disappointment. Similarly, if they have a bad phone call, then they won't go into the date with a positive attitude. By avoiding the phone call, they don't know the guy's personality, never heard his voice, know only what the shadchan and well-meaning friends said about him, thus the guy has a clean slate...now that's a blind date.

On the other hand, the phone call advocates, like myself, prefer to speak before the date, so that we have a chance see what he's all about. We slightly get to know his personality and sense of humor (if he has any) before the date, so we kind of know what to expect on the date, and aren't left in a total shock when the guy shows up.

Hopefully, you have the brains to realize that people are very different on the phone than they are in person, so you can't judge anything by the length of the call, or the general mood of the call. You can't expect to marry the dude because you had a great phone call, and you can't dread the date, thinking you're gonna dump him before you even meet him. I think that's a maturity that should be necessary before dating, but I'm living in a dream world. People get married that are such immature babies, it's frightening.

Also, when the guy and the girl talk, it gives them a point of reference for the date. They've spoken before, and hopefully established a connection to refer back to on the date, "Oh, like we said two nights ago about how you went to your cousin's wedding and..."

Finally, the phone call allows them to decide where they're going, and what they're doing, so the girl is not terribly overdressed for the occasion. But that's a whole other post :-)