Where Is The Love?

Seriously? Where is it?

My boss told me that when customers get mad at us about something that went wrong with their order, that we are to “not take it personally”. His theory that he shared with all of us at the yearly meeting was to “be a tree” and just keep on personally growing no matter what people threw at us. And yes, in hospitality I have literally had numerous things thrown at me! Including and not limited to: a big mac, a plate and a punch in the face. And yes, I have grown strong and tall, and my bark is thick as a 150 year old tree, but I still have feelings, because I am a person, not a tree.

As I delivered meals tonight I had one kid who when I delivered his chips said “Excuse me miss, can I please have some ketchup”. We teach our kids to be polite, well most people do. And children are amongst the best mannered in our society, because one thing I have noticed is that as kids grow older they gradually lose their sense of manners. I am abused 90% more by older people than by younger people. Somehow as we get older we seem to expect more and more out of other people, and ask for it more rudely than we ever have before. I’m not sure if it’s because they stop caring completely what other people think or if they have some misguided sense of entitlement. Either way it is neither here nor there, it’s still not okay to abuse someone for not meeting your expectations, especially when you don’t even know if they are directly responsible.

The trap comes in this industry when we are told “the customer is always right” and I’m telling you whoever came up with that clearly never worked in hospitality. The person who created that phrase had one thing in mind and one thing only, the businesses best interests at heart. The industry is beyond competitive, from mega giant franchises stealing each other’s customers because there is one on every block all the way to small town pubs trying to ‘out special each other’ we are in constant competition. And no one wants to lose a customer, businesses are so desperate to keep in the business that they bend over backwards, just to please people who honestly are behaving like bullies. We constantly reward bullies, we give people who abuse us free promotional items. The waitress goes home knowing that customers can walk all over her and she just has to take it, and the manager gave them some free fries. And I’ve been that manager, you are trying to calm down a customer for fear that they will make a scene, so you do what you’ve been taught and give the customer something to placate them. Bribery. And it’s not okay. That customer just learnt that if they yell at people they get free things, what sort of message is that? You wouldn’t let kids get away with that, so why do we let adults?

I want to work for a workplace that when a customer is screaming at you about how disappointed they are and they are never coming back we say bye and usher them out the door. Then we have a 5 second dance party. Thank god we don’t have to interact with that godawful human ever again. And hopefully soon they will be banned from every restaurant in the state. Don’t get me wrong, if you feel that there is genuinely something wrong with your order, feel free to ask for help. Just use manners and keep a calm civil tone and we will be happy to accommodate you at this new world of order restaurant. Because it is not okay to treat hospitality workers like they are scum on your shoe, I actually don’t care what they did: whether it was taking your order wrong or god forbid forgetting the sweet and sour sauce. It is not okay to treat people like that. If that was your daughter, or your mother, how would you feel about them being verbally or physically abused?

My plan is two pronged. First: as above, we need to learn to say no to customers. Not all the time, but sometimes you really don’t need their business again, because they probably won’t be happy the next time they come in either. And a customer once disappointed is 10/10 more likely to have even higher expectations the next time, or just ask for free stuff because they know they can get it. Either way, they are costing your business, whether in having to get new employees because the others all became “burnt out” from dealing with people or just in free product you give away to the bullies.

Secondly: a retraining school in how to be a decent human being. Every single person should work in hospitality to understand how mistakes are made in the industry, and their goal while working should be to never ever make a mistake and see how hard that is. That out of the 500 meals you deliver in one night, maybe one got fucked up. Because human error is a thing, and we are not robots, and nor are we trees. They should make hospitality a subject in school, you work for a business to experience what it is actually like. The answer of what it’s really like down there in the trenches: it’s rough; because society expects perfection. Every. Single. Time. And I don’t know about you, but that’s insane. Did you get 100% on every test in school? Do you drive 100% perfectly all the time? Is your life just 100% perfectly on track all the time? Have you ever tried your hardest but still not come out with a positive result? Probably not! So get a grip people, and let’s share some more kindness around instead of hate.

Truth is: I love people and I love this industry. But the people who make me cry are the ones that think that treating humans like they are slaves just because they paid 10 dollars for a burger. So yeah, I take it personally, and I will continue to take it every day, like so many of us out there who have to. But businesses need to get around the fact that customers are not Gods, and they don’t deserve special treatment over everyone else. Cause I am fed up with this fucked up world order. Somethings gotta give. We need to move forward into a world where it’s okay to make a mistake, as long as we fix it and learn from it. The pressure is not okay. You are paying for food, not nuclear bombs. Please just be kind to one another. The world needs that more than it needs restaurants with paying customers.

Mornings vs Sleep (the ultimate grudge match)

This was written a few months back but as I grow in confidence as a writer I will slowly be posting out all my old archives. Because the truth is I have only just began to share all the crazy inner workings of my mind. And although many of my posts have been animal/horse related, I do write on many different weird and wacky issues. So sorry if not everything is to your taste. But just pick the ones you think might be interesting and go from there. Because I haven’t decided on a specific theme yet and I don’t know if I will. Because why confine myself to only one topic? I don’t want to be a one trick pony.

 

Mornings vs Sleep

Why does society make us feel guilty for being late risers? For some reason; every health and lifestyle magazine that’s been published in the last decade seems to all come with one simple piece of advice. “Wake up early”. The reasoning behind it is that productive members of society do. While I agree that mornings are a beautiful way to start the day, I am suggesting it’s not the only way to live. Let’s examine the reasons why the mornings are so glorious and then totally disregard it.

One common argument is that the morning is quiet. Well if so many people were getting up early like you how it could be that quiet? For those of us that have failed the dreaded morning test. Don’t worry, studies have shown that you will never be as successful as your early rising dopple-ganger. So enjoy the quiet of the morning, those of you who are insane enough to do it.

What I can’t deny is that morning sunrise. They are usually phenomenal in the country area I live in. And there is something really satisfying about welcoming in the day from dark to light. Saying that, at least I am awake for every single sunset so doesn’t that count for anything? Staying awake so late to see the night welcomed in, and while most people are hurrying home to their loved ones, I hurry home to my dog to take him for that glorious sunset walk.

Mornings are cooler. True, I agree with this one. Especially being and outdoor activity person who spends most of their day outside it does get tiring when it’s so hot outside during the day. And sometimes, just sometimes, the morning is ultimately my only chance for getting out and exercising both myself and my animals. To be honest when it’s actually this hot I would rather not wake up at all. If I do wake up early to “beat the heat” as you will It is almost guaranteed that I will be back in bed no more than a few hours later and napping as much as I possibly can until other things demand my attention.

Why don’t I just get up early and nap every day? Well because life gets in the way. Sure I get up and start the day. But too often I get bloody distracted on the hamster wheel that is my life and before you know it is 6pm which is to me past an appropriate napping time and usually the start of work in my fun filled hospitality job where I actually need that energy from my morning sleep in or I start taking out meals without parmigiana being on plates (where they are supposed to be). So half completed sleep cycle leads to me half completing other things too.

Go to bed earlier argument. Oh but darling what fun would that be. How would I get all my mindless studying done? How would I work and how would I spend countless hours gabbing with girlfriends in chats that literally reaffirm my faith in life and renew my motivation to get up, but at a time I choose. In the morning, or at some point in the day. Plus some days despite my best efforts I don’t stay up late and head to bed as early as 6 or 7pm but lo and behold, it still doesn’t make me a morning riser.

Now my problem is not really with the people who wish to be early risers. Many of my friends are. Many of them grew out of the teenage habits of sleeping all the time and now complain of an internal wake up alarm. And look…as a person who has had to buy multiple increasingly louder alarm clocks to try and adhere to societies need for me to be awake in the morning, I completely and utterly envy them. I have tried but to no avail to will myself out of bed at an earlier hour just out of pure guilt. Out of off-handish comments made by family and friends when I complain about basically anything else.

The mornings are peaceful you say. You know what else is peaceful? Sleeping!!! I feel judged by most people even if they don’t openly say it. They seem to be waiting for me to “grow up”. I think they will be holding their breath for a long time. I read it all the time as daily advice that we should all have natural sleep patterns and go to bed early and wake up early.

Morning people are more productive. Counter argument: I am productive also. For the hours that I am awake I manage to make them count. Including fitting in hours of work, study, play and active hobbies. Still managing to function as a semi adult all the while. So yes, I am not a morning person. And I am done feeling guilty about it. On the occasion that I do have to get up early for things. Working 6am starts at work for 2 weeks straight for example, I suffer through and survive. If there is a reason for being up, I will gladly be there. Well maybe I will resentfully be there. Same thing occurs if I have to suck it up and get things done later than I would’ve planned because I used the morning to stay gloriously tangled in sheets. I refuse to feel guilty about my sleeping habits which are frankly, completely and utterly my business. I work hard and if in my current lifestyle can get away with it why the hell not? So I will continue to enjoy my mornings, and I hope you enjoy yours. Cause after all, it’s the best part of the day (if you spend it the right way.)

Welcome to the World of Equine Science

Why being a science student is more than just 8am practical classes…..

Science teaches us a lot. It teaches us that things are unquestionably right. At least until we go back and question them again. It teaches us to think differently about the world we live in. To think scientifically or more accurately: to think critically. Students of science are not just the ones who get to do crazy stuff like cut into a sheep’s gut at 9am on a Friday morning. They are also the ones out there in the industry, thinking critically about how we can improve things. They are on the ground. They are down there in the trenches pulling their weight. And most days, although I am very much a disgruntled uni student, I am also very thankful, that I get to be a student of science.

In one of my subjects, I get to study in detail how horses move. We spent a whole practical session watching horse’s move and evaluate them. How cool is that? Sure, university is a hellish ride, but it’s also a very interesting one, and even if I don’t ever finish this goddamn degree. At least I will know that I have some really cool stories to tell.

So what is the point of a science degree? Or more specifically: an animal science based degree. Or at least for me: an even more specialized equine science degree. A highly specialized degree geared towards…… Well yes, what is it geared towards? If I had a dollar for every-time I’ve been asked that question. “So what do you do with an equine science degree?” I wouldn’t have to go to university because I would be rich and would never have to work again.

So, the point. Well first of all as ridiculous as it sounds I think that the mainstream educational system needs a radical reboot. But barring that personal opinion, learning is still a positive entity and should be encouraged in any form, mainstream or no. The point of going to university is to learn and in one of my very first weeks we were already looking at critical thinking. The best outcome we can hope for is that growing occurs, a change in thought patterns or just a different way of looking at things. When you have to cut up a sheep with rib cutters you do start to think about how that sheep ended up in front of you.

You study the ethics of farming and really get to have insight into the industry, you have no choice but to think about it, many of the people sitting next to you at rural university are from agricultural backgrounds. Science hardens you in a way, no doubt about it. You have to find a way to understand and be grateful for the many carcasses and pieces of carcasses that you get to examine just to learn anatomy and physiology.

Let’s not forget the beautiful moments too. I know that coming up I am going to be witness to the birth of a foal, I have already seen a calf being birthed, and sows giving birth to piglets. I have nursed a baby kitten back from the dead. I have inseminated a sheep with my own hands. I have measured the scrotum of a bull (32cm is the ideal circumference for them by the way). Makes your boyfriend feel inadequate. 😛

And the absolute best part of going to a university and studying science is meeting like-minded people. We are such a community, a tight-knit, friendly, western boots wearing community. Who all understand the animal industry and work hard to learn what we can to about how to improve it.

I am an Equine Science student. I gallop up hills and then cut up hooves in labs then go straight on to work at a pub. My days are filled with study, and learning about all the new research out there. I write about protecting biosecurity and do presentations on reproductive control on horses. Loving every minute to be honest.

Confessions of a “Rich” Horse Girl

I am not a religious person. But oh my god, someone please thank the genius who decided to create or invent the hooved four legged’s we know as horses. And no, despite the title, I am not rich, but neither am I poor. But I am privileged enough to have horses in my life. And that is what makes my life truly rich.

I grew up horse desperate and obsessed. The only outlet available to me was reading saddle club or the “thoroughbred” series. In fact I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have even known about horses if it wasn’t for reading about them in books. Reading about young girls running around barns, chasing every wild horse. My imagination ran wild: what if one day I could own and ride my own horses! Wouldn’t that be just the coolest thing? Turns out that yes, yes it is.

So it was that I entered my teens searching and desperate for an avenue into the wonderful world of horses. It wasn’t easy. I taught my Labrador to jump over obstacles. I taught him to walk, trot and canter. But still, I couldn’t ride him. He only weighed 25 kilos after all, and he didn’t understand lunging at all.

I entered year 9 and me: “always planning the future” met with the school’s career counsellor. I told her that I wanted to ride horses, not even knowing if that was a real thing. Turns out it is. But not the easiest job to do….or the best paying one. Regardless, she pointed my wide eyed self towards a certificate in equine studies program. The first close up look at the horse industry that I had ever experienced. It was a real eye opener. Little did I know it was only but a taste of what was to come? A whole world of challenges, learning and the never ending hunger for more and more of horses.

I bided my time in high school, journeyed every Monday to my classes. Met my very first horse friends. Realised again and again how much I didn’t know and continued to try. I experienced working in the industry and was criticised and bullied by my supervisor, but all worth it to get a 5 minute lesson on a horse. I self-funded the 4 grand for the course all on my own through a job in hospitality and I waited, watched and kept dreaming.  It was then I discovered heartland, a TV show about a vision I’ve had as long as I have known animals and understood where they land in the pecking order.

Finished the last years of high school and worked my ass off to earn as much money as possible. I constantly browsed the for sale ads online on horse-yard and dreamed of which ones I would buy. Never thinking it was actually possible. Discovered that nearly every ad said “NO BEGINNERS”. I was confused, where am I supposed to start then? How do you start off as an expert?

As a teenager I had many goals and priorities and the first big one was to go to Canada and visit friends and families. So I did that then came back to work full time for a year. Once a week I drove an hour out of the suburbs to a stable an hour away because I finally had enough money to pay for them and a car to drive there in. Ah, so this is what freedom feels like. At these lessons I had many first milestones: my first fall and my very first jumps over tiny little cross-rails in trot.

Miss planning continued to plan her future all the way into university and the beginning of an Equine Science degree, I was so proud of myself and excited for what was to come. Not even second week and I was In my dorm room crying because I was nowhere near the level of horse handling skills or knowledge I needed to be and my classmates met me with savage disdain for my lack of experience. Sorry that my parents never bothered to afford horses, or that this was my first real chance at horsemanship. Despite my low level of morale I still thought that any interaction with a four legged was brilliant, even the sticking of a needle into a horses neck that I failed at and had to come back to do. Over time I do think I improved. Partly due to a job I landed as a groom/stable-hand for an agricultural student/eventing rider and trainer that I met and partly due to classes.

Fast forward to the end of first year. The real pivotal shift in my horse learning curve. A ridiculously nice friend offers me a horse to ride. I thought it was a joke. That it was never going to work.

The rest of it is history, and most of you know of it. This lovely generous family introduced me to Leo, one of the coolest most laid back ponies in the history of thoroughbreds. They floated him up. Hours of driving with horses in the back. They did this without hesitation, of course Beth would handle that. Never mind that I can’t even ride to save my life at this point. Slow walking and trotting and have never done so many basic horse care things. I am always bumping around having not much idea of what I am doing. I know lots now, thanks to the patience of my friends and luckily, Leo. And me and Leo have already achieved more than I even thought was possible. It’s at the stage where the sky is the limit for us and I am completely blessed to even have this amazing opportunity in my life. And when this does eventually come to an end, like all good things: at least I will know that I have struggled before, and that I came out with horses afterwards. So it can happen again.

Lone Wolf

The Balance between Independence and Co-dependence

Warning: this article contains self-pity

We need people. I shudder as I admit this to myself but it’s true. We gravitate towards our own species and have a need to communicate and connect with them. Some of us also need connections with other species to feel complete, connections that are even more amazing because they don’t require words, but are rather voiceless companionship that is steadfast in any situation. People need people as badly as they need water, food or air to breathe. They need each other to confide in, to comfort one another or simply to remind them that they are not alone in this world. Its evolutionary, and even the phrase “lone wolf” is inaccurate as lone wolves only make up 15% of the wolf population, making them the exception, rather than the rule. And even a lone wolf that is out there, is unlikely to live as long in the wild, unprotected by a family, and challenged to hunt only small prey, using much of its energy for a little reward.

Like wolves, humans do not do well under isolating circumstances. This is why solitary confinement is the most brutal technique that a correctional facility can create. Often we would rather be dead than spend any long period of time completely alone. Interestingly, loneliness is prevalent in today’s society, and it comes hand in hand with its best friend: “depression”. Interestingly though, I believe that most of the people who perceive they are lonely, are not actually as alone as they think and this is where I fit in.

The first memories I have of feeling alone and isolated from the world came from a change in location: moving countries. If that doesn’t make you feel like an outsider then you must be a very well-adjusted human very adaptable to change. I felt different, out of sorts, like a polar bear in the middle of the desert, and although it was not noticeable to many, it was how I felt on the inside. Feeling like you don’t belong makes you not belong. Treating yourself like you are different will lead to others thinking you are different too, and not necessarily in a good way. After many years of assimilating I started to feel more at ease. But I never lost that wariness, and any time I was cast out of a situation, or rejected by something I said off-handish, I once again felt like that polar bear. Strange, different and like I didn’t belong here. I still don’t really know where I belong to be honest, I still haven’t found a way to convince myself that people accept me for who I am. I’m not sure that I truly accept myself for who I am.

Ah but you have friends and family who love you and think you are amazing, people argue. But if I place my self-worth in their hands then it’s not real, it’s me seeking acceptance from those around me, something that I struggle to feel, even if it is there. It should be noted also that any attempts at self-improvement to someone in my position, they feel like I’m not good enough to be accepted, and that’s why I have to change “this, this and this”. “But you just have to change how you think about it” reads to me “your brain doesn’t work properly and you don’t think right. You are different, you are weird, and you are broken”. And yes maybe I am taking it too intensely, but how can I take it any other way if that’s how I think. And yes, enough of the pity party, I am aware that we can change the way we think about things. And that humans are capable of changing pretty much anything with the right tools available. But it’s no easy task, and I will continue to try and chip away. But in the meantime, underneath there is pretty much some deep swirling waters. And that I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for the emotions I feel from certain situations or the way that I think about things currently.

I am an open book, and for me talking to people can be mentally tiring, but it is also my way of think ideas out, and bouncing around thoughts, and validating my actions in some circumstances. I need that support, that validation, that feeling of not being alone. Why am I writing about this? Not for a cry for attention, because there’s nothing I hate more than a pity call, or an overly concerned friend acting overly concerned and making me feel even more weirded out. But I do need people in my corner, and right now I feel there is pretty much no one who I can really talk to without feeling like I am taking away parts of them, or annoying them, or wasting their time, or even just who isn’t sick of listening to me. And I know a lot of this is merely my perception. But after all. I am only human, and I am not very good at being a lone wolf. Turns out it is fundamentally chemical, oxytocin is the chemical that makes us feel safe in the company of others, when we are away from the herd, we have to keep reminding ourselves we are safe, even without the herd, and without that release of oxytocin.

The challenge, I believe, comes in being happy to be alone and not being a burden to those around you. The challenge, is being independently co-dependent so that others do not notice your desperate need for them. It is the casual interest that you might display when you have a crush on someone that is key rather than taking it way too far and blurting out every single feeling you have for them. The realisation that to some extent we are all actually alone in life and being okay with that fact. That knowing that loneliness can be broken up by moments of laughter, and companionship and of feeling “even just for a second” that you are in the middle of the ocean with a life-raft, and not a million sharks. That you have a pack that will grow and change and evolve around you. That you will appreciate their companionship even more once you’ve been on your own, and that feeling like you belong or are accepted is completely of your own making.

“The wolves knew when it was time to stop looking for what they’d lost, to focus instead on what was yet to come.”
― Jodi PicoultLone Wolf

Lessons to be Learned from Horses

Breaking you down then building you back up again

“Some people have hypothesised that the element of danger in human-horse interactions provides particular therapeutic benefits, through self-mastery, emotional regulation, learning how to take calculated risk or overcoming fear.”

Horses. What even are they? How does having crazy bonds with our with animals make us feel so good inside? Personally I love all of the different animals in my life and the warm fuzzy feelings that I get after spending time with the creatures that are closest to my heart. But as much time as I have spent with dogs and cats and everything else under the sun; horses are still a totally different ball game. There is nothing that really even compares to the relationship you can have with them.

As a young person new to the industry, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in an ocean and don’t have a lifeboat. Typically though I tend to be pretty harsh on myself so I become my own worst enemy when it comes to making mistakes, which anyone new to anything is likely to do. One helpful comment from someone else would send me into a spiral of beating myself up about it and trying to push down gnawing feelings of inadequacy. And this feeling would spread to every different part of my life until it even started tearing down my confidence in other things. Its those days when you feel like you can’t do anything right and days when you feel criticised and completely incompetent at whatever it is you are doing. You get knocked off because of some reason or another or for whatever reason it just isn’t working out. When this happens you try to brush yourself off and remember you are still learning. But I usually leave the paddock feeling like nothing I do is ever good enough so why am I even here?

Here’s why:

One step forwards, two steps back. Just think of it as at least you are still eventually going forward in a way, perseverance is key.

Look, not going to lie. This is all new for me. And I am an amateur, which means I honestly have a lot to learn about horses but here’s what I have learnt. Just because I am learning does not mean that I am any less worthy. It does not mean I suck at what I’m doing. And it doesn’t mean I love my horse any less.

As an adult who did not have the typical horse mum (shout-out to all the great horse-moms who did everything for their kids) I am so appreciative of everything I’ve had to work for to get to this stage. I am also like a kid on Christmas when it comes to time out with my horse. Bad day? Solution: go out to the paddock and work with my horse. And no; it’s not about the horse solving my problems, but it does give me a boost of confidence to achieve something, even if it is the simplest step it makes me ridiculously happy. Addicted to the happiness, you just keep coming back for more and can’t stop yourself. Horses are essentially like a drug. Because they take a lot of money, and they can absolutely destroy you, but damn, that high is amazing.

So yeah, sometimes I mess up, sometimes I don’t think before I act. I may occasionally do something a little “inexperienced” as you may say. My balance isn’t perfect, my hands not rock steady all the time. But hey, with a little hard work and a lot of persistence I know that if I continue to try my best then how bad can I be?

Everyone has a learning curve and this is mine. For me the pure passion coming from being able to do what I have always dreamed of doing is reward enough. It is a step in the right direction for where I want to go in life and because of that it makes every step more thrilling than the last. I love it. Sure it’s not the same as being good at something, but I’m pretty damn determined to make it work for me. And on those days when you just feel like every cue and every time you try and do something it’s not working out, try not to let it get you down. Go home, eat a few cookies, and get some sleep. Because tomorrow is a new day, and you may have fallen off today, but don’t let that keep you on the ground tomorrow.

Let’s not forget that not everyone in the industry is determined to tear you down. There will be friends along the way who will pick you up, dust you off and throw you back into the bull pen, armed with encouragement. A particular friend of mine has been my personal cheerleader from day one and without her support I could never have gotten to this point. So thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, and made me believe that I didn’t have to give up on my dream.

I do not have the perfect recipe for success. But a bit of patience, perseverance, a good friend or ally by your side will go a long way as will having a tough skin. Don’t be like me and let them get inside your head. Don’t let the bastards get you, as my mother always used to say. Life’s too short and there are too many horses out there waiting for you to ride them.

An Ode to Trash

There I lay, by the side of the highway

Broken and filthy, torn and discarded

What was I once, I cant remember

I had a purpose once……

Maybe it was holding some salty fries together in perfect little neat rows: like soldiers lining up for duty

Or perhaps I was a straw, helping people suck up the goodness and badness that is  liquid sugar

Salty or sweet, the rain has washed me away

I lay empty, once a cherished vessel, now worth nothing

Maybe I cost 10 cents to make

Why cant I at least join the others, in a container, where we could talk and laugh all day

Instead I live out the rest of my days in silence, the other empty discarded pieces are too scattered to reach out to

I am lost, I am alone, I am trash

Once I was everything that was good in the world, now I am nothing

 

"Until one has loved an animal, ones soul remains unawakened"