Just say “I don’t”

There are times when I have a couple signing up for library cards together and one introduces the other as the fiancé. Sometimes one will do all the talking, or fill out the forms for both of them. Or worse, will talk down to or belittle the other. I want to say to them to not get married to each other, that this is a train wreck waiting to happen.

I don’t, in part because of the unwritten rules of customer service. I don’t, because it is up to each person to live their own lives. I don’t, because people never listen anyway.

People don’t listen when their friends tell them not to marry someone. Why would they listen to a stranger?

Sometimes I’ll say “be nice” if someone is being rude to their partner. If nothing else, it tells the other person that what just happened to them isn’t normal.

Now, it isn’t just engaged couples that do this. Married couples will be hateful or condescending in front of me sometimes too. But they are already married. My hope with the engaged couple is that they still have a chance to back out.

It is a really bad sign if one member of a couple is talking down to or trying to embarrass their partner in front of a stranger. It means that it happens all the time when they are alone.

But, for me to say something is to get involved in a codependent kind of way. It is up to the hurt party to stand up and set boundaries. It is up to that person to say “You can’t talk to me like that.”

It is still hard to see. I feel kind of helpless when it happens.

How not to be a bad customer.

This may seem like a no brainer, but if you want good customer service, treat the clerk kindly. Don’t insult her. Don’t talk down to her. Don’t blame her for something that isn’t her fault. (Feel free to change the gender pronouns as appropriate.)

Basically, treat her as you would like to be treated.

I think everybody should work a customer service job for at least a year so that they develop some empathy and compassion.

The person behind the counter is a person, not your personal slave.

She didn’t make the rules, so yelling at her isn’t going to change them. It isn’t fair to her to attack her over something she has no control over. She feels just as frustrated as you do. Perhaps more so.

She isn’t allowed to defend herself either, so you just end up showing how much of a jerk you are if you attack her verbally. It isn’t an equal relationship.

She isn’t your friend. She has to be friendly to you. That is part of her job. If she isn’t friendly, she’ll get reprimanded. If she is your friend, she’ll give you her number or email address. Otherwise, don’t assume.

Don’t ask her out. Especially if she is married. If the only reason you know her name is because you read it on her name tag, don’t ask her out. Really. At least get to know her as a person first. Surely you aren’t asking her out just because she is female, right?

Don’t tell her your personal stories if they have nothing to do with what she is expected to do as part of her job. – unless she is actually your friend.

Don’t ask her to break the rules for you because you think you are her friend. She can get fired for breaking the rules. A real friend wouldn’t ask.

Communion words in Hebrew and English.

These are traditional Jewish blessings that I’ve incorporated into the Communion service. They seem logical to use, as Jesus would have known and used these prayers every week for Sabbath. I’ve included the Hebrew, the transliteration, and the English for all the blessings. Feel free to use both the Hebrew and/or the English. It is important to make the people you are celebrating Communion with feel special and included. Use what you feel would be most meaningful and inclusive.

Put out a nice cloth that has room for everything you need. You’ll need two candles, a plate, a goblet, an unbroken piece of matzo, and some grape juice (or wine).

Light the candles with these words –
ברוך אתה ה’ א לוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של שבת

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel shabbat.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to light Shabbat candles.
Then, touching the matzo lightly, bless it with these words –
ברוך אתה ה’ א לוהינו, מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam hamotzi lehem min ha’aretz.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Break it into smaller pieces – enough for everybody there, and distribute it.

Then, holding up the goblet with the grape juice (or wine), say these words –
ברוך אתה ה’ א לוהינו, מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Pass around the goblet and let everyone drink from it. They can also choose to dip their matzo piece into the grape juice (or wine) and then eat it.

(If this has been of use to you, you might want to read “The Condensed Gospel” and “Free Range Faith”, both available in print and e-book from Amazon, by Betsy Nelson)

Praying using an image.

Praying using an icon or a statue is exactly the same as using Skype to talk to God. It is a way of communicating with God.

Statues or icons are like telephones. When you want to call someone, you can pick up your telephone and dial their number. Then you can communicate with them. The telephone is simply a tool that you can use to reach them. Praying using an icon or an image of a God is exactly the same thing.

When Hindus pray using an image of the deity, they don’t believe that the deity is that image. They aren’t worshipping the image. They are worshipping what is inside that image. The image is a way of receiving the divinity. They believe that when they pray, God sets up residence inside that statue during that time, and that they can see and be seen by God. When the prayers are over, God departs from the statue.

Icons, used in Catholic and Orthodox traditions, are simply “windows” to the divine. The divine isn’t there, but it can be used as an interface. It is an access point.

Now, God is always present. God can be accessed anytime, anyplace, and anywhere, by anyone. But we humans can’t really handle that. That is a little too much for us. So we can set aside time to be with God. This makes it more manageable for us, and more likely we will listen to the message.

God can speak to us through dreams or burning bushes like was done with people in the past, or in any number of other ways. God is constantly trying to get our attention. The problem is that we aren’t always ready to receive. We may brush it off as coincidence, or an accident, or just simply not meaningful. We aren’t ready to receive the message when it comes.

Using an icon or an image of an aspect of God puts it on our terms and on our time. We choose the time we approach, and how we would like to interact with God. This makes the infinite more human-sized. We can then enter into the mental space ready to receive whatever message we are given.