Thursday, February 28, 2013

Accident Leads To Anger, Jealousy - And A Need To Move On

Dear Tazi:

A few years ago I was in a car accident. I was not hurt, but my car was totaled. It was an old car, with over 300,000 miles and not much book value to it, but it ran. The person who hit me was uninsured, and had almost no assets so I couldn't even sue him personally to collect on my loss. My insurance company paid me a just under $1,000, but there was no way I would find a reliable used car for that kind of money - I looked! I ended up having to buy a new car.

The guy who hit me was held for financial responsibility and had his license suspended. He filed for bankruptcy a few months later, and discharged this claim against him, and got his license back. I thought that was the last I would ever see or hear of him, but then a few weeks ago the local paper reported that he won $10,000 on the lottery! In the story he was quoted as saying he planned to buy a new car, since he lost his in an accident a few years ago and blah, blah, blah...

Tazi, I wanted to punch this guy in the face! Who does he think he is? I had to borrow money and pay interest on it to get a used car through a dealership and am still paying it off and this guy gets to drive something new? How fair is that? I contacted my lawyer to ask if I had a case against him but was told that I don't; the initial case was settled when I collected against my own insurance. I looked the guy's phone number up and left a message, but he never returned it. I have written a letter to the local paper explaining why the guy doesn't have a car, but it didn't get printed. I just feel like this guy owes me something. Right now, I am resisting the urge to break the windows on his new car.

My girlfriend says I should let this go, that I needed a new car anyway and that the insurance settlement gave me my down payment. This is true, but I can't let go that this guy gets a new car interest free. What's your take on things, Tazi?

Angry and Aggravated

Dear Angry and Aggravated:

My take on things is that you got dealt a horrible hand in this situation and that busting out this other man's windows - or in any other way harassing him - will only make things worse for you. As hard as this is, you need to let go of your anger; if you can't do that on your own, try seeking professional help from a licensed counselor.

Not to make you angrier, but you are only seeing one side of the story - your own. Has it occurred to you that this other man's life has probably not been a bed of roses these past few years? You say that he had "almost no assets" and then had to declare bankruptcy. He had to be hard up if he could not pay financial responsibility of less than $1,000.  Bankruptcy is not a choice to be made lightly.

With a recent bankruptcy on his credit, this man is probably seen by many as unreliable. This will have made it difficult for him to find a job or advance at a job or rent an apartment. He will also be unable to finance a car, and after Uncle Sam takes his share of the lottery winnings, this man will have about $7,000 left over. I realize that is $6,000 more than you got for your car, but it is hardly enough to buy a new car; in today's market it might buy a 10 year old vehicle (not including sales tax, registration fees, etc.). Are you feeling a bit better now?

Life has handed you lemons, I am not denying you that, but I doubt the other guy's life is the bowl of cherries you think it is. Concentrate on moving on with your own life, and seeing the positive side of the situation. As your girlfriend pointed out, you needed a new car, and the insurance settlement gave you more than you would have received in trade for your old car; as you have pointed out, you were not injured in the accident. Those are two things to be thankful for; I suggest you keep busy by looking for more.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Husband Goes To The Dogs When Stressed

Dear Tazi:

My husband has a nasty habit from childhood that he has never broken. It is not like he can't break the habit; he just doesn't want to break it. "Ron" likes to biscuits. When he was a child, Ron had a dog that he loved very much. He would put the biscuit in his mouth and the dog would wrestle him for it. Ron tells me that often times the biscuit would break in two, and he and the dog would share the treat. Ron was only 10 years old when his dog died, and the habit of chewing on a dog biscuit comforted him.

By the time Ron got to high school, gnawing on a dog biscuit had become his way of dealing with stress. It was a habit that got him through the stress of an Engineering program in college, and since he graduated with honors I suppose there was something to it.  In the two years since we have been married, I had never actually seen Ron eat a dog biscuit - until last week.

Ron and I are trying to conceive and I have been having difficulty getting pregnant, which has put both of us under a lot of stress, and much to my distress I came home from work and found a box of dog biscuits on the kitchen table and my husband chewing on one while watching the evening news. Quite honestly, I was completely turned off by the sight of this; the thought of kissing my husband after he had been eating a dog biscuit made me physically ill (raising my hopes that I was pregnant, but I am not). I refused to kiss Ron until he had brushed his teeth and gargled, and even then I felt weird about it.

I have asked Ron to stop eating dog biscuits, but he sees no problem with it. Nutritionally, there is nothing wrong with them...but they are for dogs, not humans! Am I being unreasonable, as my husband suggests? Or does Ron need to grow up?

Scooby Snacks

Dear Scooby Snacks:

Everyone deals with stress differently and although your husband's method is unusual, I don't believe it is unhealthy.  Dog biscuits were originally created by a baker for human consumption (as a nutritious treat) but they tasted so awful the baker fed them to his dog, who gobbled them up and looked for more. Dog biscuits are made up of crude protein, carbohydrates (usually from corn or rice), fats and essential oils, and fiber - all things that humans need in their diets, too! Dog biscuits are made to be easily digestible and have the side effect (now marketed as purpose) of cleaning teeth and leaving doggie's breath smelling fresh!

Since Ron's habit of eating dog biscuits is cyclical - meaning he only indulges during periods of stress and stops during periods of inner peace - I think this habit is a great way to read his mood, as well as to relieve his stress. Rather than pick on Ron about a harmless habit, why not try to communicate with him about the reasons he is eating them - the stresses that you are both going through right now. Talking through your problems may not completely relieve Ron's stress (and his desire for dog biscuits), but I am pretty certain that harping on him about his unique habit will only add to the stress he is under - and increase his dog biscuit consumption.

Ron obviously has a deep, emotional attachment to his Scooby snacks, so I do not see him kicking the habit any time soon. You may have to learn to live with his habit, and be happy that he has not turned to anything stronger - like alcohol or drugs - to assuage his agitation. As long as he brushes and gargles before kissing you, he is doing his part to accommodate you; try to meet him halfway.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Vegetarian" Might Not Be, Upsets Hostess By Eating Bacon

Dear Tazi:

My best friend from college recently came for a visit and was staying with me for the week. "Karen" is a self-proclaimed vegetarian, so in order to accommodate her dietary needs and make her stay in my home as pleasant as possible, I went a little overboard. Yes, she told me not to make a big deal of her diet; that she would eat the meals that I serve and avoid the foods she could not eat, but as her hostess and her friend I wanted to make her feel at home. I went out and bought a vegetarian cookbook and the necessary supplies to cook the recipes. I spent a great deal of time in the kitchen creating special vegetarian meals that looked appetizing and that my family would eat. Karen told me that the food was delicious, and thanked me for the efforts.

While in town, Karen had plans that did not involve me (and I was fine with that) but we did agree to meet up for coffee one afternoon; I am really wishing that I hadn't. As I walked into the coffee shop I noticed that Karen had arrived before me, and was halfway through a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich! I expressed my shock to Karen over the idea that she was eating animal products, and she told me that she was not vegan so eggs and cheese are an OK part of her diet; and as for bacon she responded, "Well, sometimes I slip. I love bacon".

Tazi, I put in a great deal of time and expense to work around her vegetarian diet and am hurt to find out that she is not a vegetarian - not a real one, anyway. I tried to keep my cool through the rest of Karen's visit, but it was difficult as I continued to prepare the vegetarian meals I had already planned for the week. I think Karen noticed that something was wrong, but she did not say anything. After she left, I released my stress and anger to my husband, who laughed over the idea of me walking in on Karen eating meat! He thought the whole thing was hysterical!

I am considering sending Karen an email expressing my upset with her, and asking for an apology for her lies and maybe even reimbursement for the cost of the vegetarian cookbook, which was not cheap. My husband says that I am overreacting and that I should let the whole thing go, but he was not the one who was put out in the kitchen, or the one who was misled to believe that a special menu was necessary. I realize - as my husband pointed out - that Karen said not to go through any trouble on her part, but who actually believes a guest when they say that?

Steamed (Not Boiled)

Dear Steamed (Not Boiled):

I am assuming that your signature is a play on the way you cooked the vegetables during Karen's visit? Steaming really is the best way to prepare veggies, since it allows the veggies to retain their nutrients that would otherwise leech out into the boiling water. Just a tip...I did not mean to digress from your concern.

Not to take sides, but your husband has a point: Karen told you not to make a big deal out of her diet, and apparently she meant it; it was you who ignored her requests. Consider the cost of the cookbook, vegetarian menu, and your time spent in the kitchen the cost of being a gracious hostess to an old friend, as well as the cost of a lesson learned (that lesson being to take people at their word).

Rather than email Karen to vent, why not email her to let her know that you enjoyed seeing her and that you are sorry that you were agitated towards the latter half of her visit; that seeing her eat meat really threw you for an emotional loop, and that you hope your reaction did not put a damper on her visit. This will give Karen the chance to profess her apologies for misleading you with the idea that she is a strict vegetarian. There are all kinds of vegetarians - from the strictest of the strict (vegans) to those who will eschew red meat but eat fish (because fish have a very poorly developed sensory nervous system). While there are those who would not consider Karen a true vegetarian, there are those - including Karen - who do consider her one. Not being a vegetarian yourself, I do not believe that this is your judgement call to make.

In the end, try to remember the happy parts of your visit with your old friend, and work towards reestablishing the ties that have bound you together over the years.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tazi's Corner #33: The Fallacy Of An Urban Legend

Dear Readers: 

This week, I received the following email – an urban legend that, according to, has been making the rounds since 2009. I reprint it here to publicly respond to my comments on it:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A. (Substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Okay, so how many of you believe this or think that it “could happen”? To all who raised your hand, please lower them…this is the Internet and I cannot see you. I further recommend you all take a basic economics class in order to learn the vast differences between Socialism and Communism – something an Economics professor would already know – which will also illustrate the huge hole in the plot of the above anecdote. In the meantime, I am here to punch a hole in the rest of the story.

College students do not act this way; they just don’t. Remember, these are people who are paying for their education; depending on that education to assist them in their future careers. But this story is about more than just students; the above story suggests by extension that humans in general will only put out the minimum effort required of them in order to get by, and that they will willingly sop off of others in an attempt to get ahead without actually trying. If this is true, how did America ever become the country of comforts that it is? This leads to the argument that there are two types of people: producers and receivers, and the specious belief that producers are the ones working hard while receivers sponge off of the sweat of society. The problem with this argument is that it leaves out intrinsic values upon which humans depend to succeed in life, whether they realize these needs or not. I will again use the example of the student, and how the reality differs from the anecdote.

Humans, like the animals they forget they are, are pack creatures; following their natural instinct to form a group in times of stress, students will form a study group. In these study groups will be students of impressive skills, students of average skills, and students who have little to offer – just like life in the larger dynamic of the world outside the classroom. The students who have much to offer would appear to have little to gain from a study group, and would appear to be the ones being taken advantage of by their weaker counterparts, but things are not always as they seem. Even the strongest students in a class are still students – meaning, they are still learning the material being taught, just at a faster pace than others. 

The learning journey is a stressful one, and we all need someone to lean on when our motivation flags. Enter, the weaker among us. The weakest students in the classroom are often the most motivated learners; they just need a little more guidance to find the path to the answers, a little more reassurance that they can do it. For a strong student, taking the time to assist a weaker student can often result in a better grade for both, since you haven’t truly mastered a task until you know it well enough to teach another how to do it.  How does this apply to the world of economics?

Let us look at the many programs that would accomplish little if supported by the individual, but accomplish much when we band together and support a program as taxpayers; to start, a free public education. The money the average taxpayer pays to the government would not even begin to cover the cost of educating their child; since a free public school offers future benefits to society in the form of an educated populace, some pay more than others in order to see that all are educated – regardless of whether or not they actually utilize the public school system.

One of my preferred “socialist” or “fascist” programs is municipal garbage pick-up. Who wants to make a weekly trip to the dump with the week’s leavings in the trunk of their car? For the convenience of not doing this, I am happy to pay a little more than my share of the cost through my municipal taxes (I have almost no trash; my litterbox leavings are fully compostable!).

A third and final example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of single parts is the family unit upon which human society is based. An infant, or even a pet for that matter,  cannot care for itself, nor is it expected to contribute some form of financial or economic worth in return for having its needs met. So why care for them in return? Why do people love their dogs and cats so much, to the tune of several billion dollars a year spent on their care and well-being? Could it be that we offer some sort of intrinsic value that cannot be bought? What economic price would you put on your pet if someone offered to buy it from you? What price can be put on the wag of a happy dog’s tail at the end of your long hard day? A price cannot be put on everything, and just as in the classroom, we need others to lean on while in the outside world.

Some may argue that they made their fortune through hard work, without leaning on others; I argue that not all help received was financial. Often times it is not laziness but fear of failure that keeps someone from making a first step towards greatness. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, but those that go the furthest are the ones that have a strong emotional backing from those who believe in them. Those who end up the most emotionally balanced are the ones who are a part of something larger, not as an island unto themselves. Remember that not all great rewards are financial; not all wealth can be measured on the New York Stock Exchange – or in a teacher’s grade-book.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Are Her Reservations About Sex, Or Something More?

Dear Tazi:

I was reading in [a tabloid magazine] that this season's bachelor on The Bachelor is a born-again virgin, and plans on saving himself for marriage. Comments about a sexless engagement hit home because I am engaged to a man who is a born-again Christian and he does not believe we should have sex before we are married.

"Bob" is a born-again virgin, as well, not a full-fledged virgin, so he has had sex - just not in a really long time. I am afraid that I am making a mistake in marrying a man I haven't slept with; I am not afraid that he will be bad in bed (well, maybe a little), but I am afraid that we will be sexually incompatible. Unlike the women on TV, I am wholeheartedly committed to marrying my fiancé. I think. I love Bob in every way a woman could possibly love a man - except that one important one, since I have not been given the chance. 

I have not told any of my friends about Bob's desire to wait until marriage and my decision to go along with it; I would positively die if any of my friends found out and I am not comfortable talking this issue over with my mother, who is extremely old-fashioned and would not understand why there is a problem at all. Tazi, do you think Ia m worried over nothing? Or are my concerns valid?

The White Wedding Approacheth...

Dear The White Wedding Approacheth:

Are you certain that you don't have cold feet about marrying Bob, and are using your sexless engagement as an excuse to back out of your upcoming nuptials? I am going to suggest that - just for a moment - you remove sex from the equation. Are you happy with Bob? Can you see yourself building a life with Bob? Can you see yourself spending your life with a man like Bob? Do his religious views color other areas of his life (as is wont of those who are born again)? Can you live in a marriage with the rules set down by Bob's religion? If you cannot give an honest "yes" to all of the above questions, your hesitancy to take marriage vows with Bob may not be due your fear of what to expect in the bedroom.

If you have not already done so, I suggest that you and Bob attend some premarital counseling classes. Such classes are usually offered through the Church, but a community center in your area may offer them as well.These classes will focus on answering many of the questions that couples fail to ask or take seriously until after they have put a stress on the marriage. Once completed, you should have a clearer head about what is bothering you about Bob - and if it really is a fear of boudoir boredom. 

As the pet of a responsible human, I was neutered before I reached sexual maturity, but if what the women's magazines I see laying around the house say is true, having sex after a period of abstinence is like hopping back on a bicycle after the winter thaw - you don't forget how to do it right just because it has been a while since you did it!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Still "Undecided" College Junior Needs Guidence

Dear Tazi:

I am a junior in college and still undecided on my major. Pathetic, right? The problem is that everything I like to do (art, creative writing, and other liberal arts) will probably not lead to a good paying job upon graduation. The stuff that I enjoy that would lead to a good paying job (forensics, veterinary sciences) involve way too much math and chemistry, subjects that I would not touch with a ten foot pole. This puts me in a bad spot. I want a college degree that is going to be worth something, which is why I am not majoring in Communications (no offense to your Mommie), but I cannot figure out where my interests, abilities, and job opportunities will all come together (right now...over me!).

I went to my schools Career Services office and took a bunch of tests to see what kind of jobs I was well suited for, but the stuff that came back are jobs that I either would not want or don't make a whole lot of money - jobs like sales and copywriter. I could do these jobs without a degree! After two and a half years of college, I would like to finish what I started without ending up with a degree in General Studies or Liberal Arts. If I don't declare a major soon my school is going to declare me "non-matriculating", which would mess with my financial aid and put me last in line to register for classes. Can you think of a place where I will fit in academically and make money after graduation?

You Want Fries With That?

Dear You Want Fries With That?:

First let me say that a degree in Communications can be a good thing - if you take your classes seriously. It can lead to a multitude of career paths, including upper management when coupled with a graduate degree. At the Bachelor's level, you can enter the fields of marketing, media, advertising/promotions, event planning, public relations, and government and politics, just to name a few. Today's crop of Communications majors has its bad apples which have spoiled the reputation of this fine degree, but don't let that sway you from majoring in the field if Communications is what truly interests you.

Don't be this person. Just don't!

You mention that your interests are art, creative writing, and liberal arts. Have you considered being an Illustrator? Many publishing houses hire in-house illustrators for children's books (not all writers are also illustrators). You could strive to work as an Editor or as a Ghostwriter (not all who have a story to tell can write. Do you think Snookie does her own writing?). Marketing is another area that combines the interests you have mentioned. If fine art is your preference, a degree in Anthropology could lead to museum work. 

The results of career placement tests are only as good as the information you put into them; if your tests suggested none of the above careers or career fields, it is possible that you were not specific enough with your input. I suggest that you return to the Career Services office and investigate the types of careers available that match your interest and skills. Do not focus so much on the paycheck - unless you are entering a highly skilled field, such as Engineering, your starting pay will probably be nothing to brag about; remember, it is your average lifetime earnings that should concern you, and these will be based largely upon your success in the field, not your college major. In other words, follow your heart - it will lead you to the success you seek.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Memory Of "The Station" Fire: 2003 - 2013

Dear Readers:

On a freezing cold February night ten years ago, the lives of Rhode Islanders (USA) were forever changed, when a local nightclub called "The Station" was engulfed in flames and burned to the ground. The sparks started just after 11:00 PM, when soundproofing material was ignited by an indoor fireworks display; and within minutes fire engulfed the entire building, killing 100 people and injuring countless others. That so many survived is truly miraculous; that so many died is a tragedy beyond understanding. The scars the survivors bear are both physical and emotional.

The Station Nightclub Fire was one of the worst nightclub fires in U.S. history, and the worst nightclub fire in Rhode Island history. At the time, it was referred to as "our own personal 9/11". Being such a tiny state (we are approximately the size of the country of Luxemborg) it can seem like everybody knows everybody else; and if you do not know someone, you know somebody that they know or to whom they are related. Not a single Rhode Islander went untouched by this tragic - and preventable - event.

For the small part that I can play in remembering those lost in the fire, I am re-posting this column from last year. As it did last year, this column is posting at 11:07 PM (the time of the first sparks) to commemorate the memory of those who died in The Station Fire; so that those who live may never forget, and so those who never knew may now hear.

The names of the fallen are:

Louis S. Alves, 33, of Lincoln
Kevin Anderson, 37, of Warwick
Stacie Angers, 10/14/73 Worcester MA
Christopher Arruda, 30, of Coventry
Eugene Avilez, 21, of Burlington, MA
Tina Ayer,33, of Warwick.
Karla Bagtaz, 41, of Randolph, MA
Mary H. Baker, 1/26/71 Fall River MA
Thomas Barnett, 38, of West Greenwich.
Laureen Beauchaine, 35, of West Warwick.
Steven Thomas Blom, 38, of Cranston.
William Christopher Bonardi, Lincoln RI
Kristine Carbone, 38, of Taunton, Mass.
Richard A. Cabral Jr., 37, of Attleboro, Mass.
William Cartwright, 42, of Pawtucket.
Edward B. Corbet III, 31, of West Warwick.
Michael Cordier, 31, of Westerly.
Alfred Crisostomi, 38, of Providence.
Robert Croteau, 7/13/71 Fall River MA
Lisa D'Andrea, 42, of Barrington.
Matthew P. Darby, 36, of Coventry.
Dina Ann DeMaio, 30, West Warwick
Albert Anthony DiBonaventura, 18, of North Dighton, Mass.
Rachel DePietro (Florio), 31, of Providence.
Christina DiRienzo, 37, Plymouth, Mass.
Kevin J. Dunn, 3/25/65 Attleboro MA
Lori K. Durante, 40, of West Warwick.
Edward Ervanian, 29, of Cranston.
Thomas Fleming, 30, of Worcester, Mass.
Rachael K. Florio-DePietro , 31, of Coventry.
Mark A. Fontaine, 2/12/81 Johnston RI
Chief Petty Officer Daniel Frederickson, 37, of Coventry.
Michael Fresolo, 5/20/70 Worcester MA
James Gahan, 21, of Falmouth, Mass.
Melvin Gerfin, 46, Groton, Conn.
Laura Gillet, 32, of Pembroke, Mass.
Charline Elaine Gingras-Fick, Pawtucket RI
Michael James Gonsalves, 40, of Warwick.
James Gooden, 37, of Cranston.
Derek Gray, 11/4/80 Dracut MA
Pamela Gruttadauria, 33 Johnston, RI
Scott "Skott" Greene, 35, of Warwick.
Scott Griffith, 41, of West Warwick.
Bonnie L. Hamelin, 27, of Warwick.
Jude Henault, 37, of Lisbon, Conn.
Andrew Hoban, 22, of North Kingstown.
Abbie L. Hoisington, 28, of Cranston.
Michael Hoogasian, 31, of Cranston.
Sandy Hoogasian, 27, of Cranston.
Carlton "Bud" Howorth III, 39, of Norton, Mass.
Eric James Hyer, 32, Coventry
Derek Brian Johnson, 3/29/70 West Warwick RI
Lisa Kelly, 27, of Swansea, Mass.
Tracy F. King, 39, of Warwick.
Michael Joseph Kulz, 5/1/72 Warwick RI
Keith Lapierre, 29, of Worcester, Mass.
Dale Latulippe, 46, of Carver, Mass.
Stephen M. Libera, 21, of North Kingstown.
John M. Longiaru, 23, of Johnston.
Ty Longley, 31, of Northridge, CA
Andrea Mancini, 28, of Johnston
Keith A. Mancini, 34, of Cranston
Steven Mancini, 6/20/63 Johnston RI
Judith Manzo, 37, of North Providence.
Thomas Marion Jr., 1/17/76 Westport MA
Jeffery Martin, 12/9/69 Melrose RI
Tammy Mattera-Housa, 29, of Warwick.
Kristen McQuarrie, 1/13/66 Coventry RI
Thomas Medeiros, 40, of Coventry.
Samuel Miceli, 37, of Lisbon, Conn.
Donna M. Mitchell, 29, of Fall River, Mass.
Leigh Ann Moreau, 8/25/81 Providence RI
Ryan M. Morin, 6/8/71 Alston MA
Jason Morton, 38, of West Greenwich.
Katherine O'Donnell, 26, of Seekonk, Mass.
Nicholas O'Neill, 1/28/85 Pawtucket RI
Matthew James Pickett, 2/10/70 Bellingham MA
Carlos L. Pimentel Sr. 38, of West Warwick.
Christopher Prouty, 34, Pawtucket
Jeffrey Rader, 32, Danville, CAE
Teresa Rakoski, 30, of Taunton, Mass.
Robert L. Reisner III, 29, of Coventry.
Walter Rich, 40, of Attleboro, Mass.
Donald Roderiques, 46, of Mashpee, Mass.
Tracey Romanoff, 32, of Coventry.
Joseph Rossi, 35, of Pawtucket.
Bridget Sanetti, 25, of Coventry.
Rebecca "Becky" Shaw, 24, of Warwick.
Mitchell Shubert, 39
Dennis Smith, 36, of Pawtucket.
Victor Stark, 39, of West Yarmouth, Mass.
Benjamin Suffoletto, 43, of Glocester.
Linda Suffoletto
Shawn Sweet, 28, of Pembroke, Mass.
Jason Sylvester, 24, of Coventry.
Sarah Jane Telgarsky, 37, Plainfield CT
Kelly Viera
Kevin Washburn, 30, of Franklin, Mass.
Everett "Tommy" Woodmansee, 30, of Charlestown.
Robert Daniel Young, 29, of Taunton, MA

I thank you for taking the time to remember them.


Addendum: Sadly, the lessons learned from this tragedy have already been forgotten, and another nightclub fire - even more devastating - has claimed the lives of hundreds in Brazil. There are no words to express the sorrow felt for those affected. I feel as though offering my sympathies is too small a trying to sop up the ocean with a Kleenex; know that they are offered just the same.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Widow Wants To Date Again, Mother-In-Law Says "No"

Dear Tazi:

Two years ago I was widowed when my husband was killed in a car accident. Our marriage was not the best, but I stayed because of my love for his family. My in-laws are wonderful people who made all the difference in my difficult marriage. When my husband died, my mother-in-law was devastated at the loss of her eldest son, and our bond grew stronger as we grieved together. I truly thought we had a solid relationship that would weather any storm.

Tazi, as I mentioned it has been two years since "Fred" has passed. I would like to start dating again, and have mentioned this to a few close friends in the hope that they might know someone I would like to meet. I am not ready to join a dating site or go to any singles events; I would like to slowly enter the dating world, which is why I would like to go through mutual friends. I thought this was the respectful way to jump back into the dating pool, but even this doggy-paddle is too much for my mother-in-law to handle.

When I told Mom that a friend was planning on introducing me to one of her friends (the three of us plus another couple were going to go bowling) she did not take it well. She looked at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen and asked me if I had "forgotten Fred already". I hugged her and told her that I will never forget my husband, but that I need to move ahead with my life. I told Mom that Fred would not want me to spend my entire life grieving for him, but Mom disagreed! She reminded me that Fred could be very jealous (which was one of the issues in our marriage) and said that he would not approve of me starting over with another man. Ever.

Tazi, I am only 32 years old, and do not want to spend my life alone! I would like to meet someone and even remarry and start a family someday, something Fred and I wanted to do when we reached our thirties.  I do not want to destroy the relationship I have with my mother-in-law. Fred's brothers are all very understanding, and have even encouraged me to try dating, so I don't think it is too soon to start. I don't want to hurt Mom, but I don't want to appease her at the expense of my future, either. How do you suggest I handle this?

Widowed Wilma

Dear Widowed Wilma:

You have my deepest condolences on the loss of your husband. You do not mention for how long you were married or for how long you had been together, but thirty is far too young to have to go through the pain of losing a spouse. It is also far to young to be expected to spend your remaining years alone.

People grieve differently. For some, the pain of losing their spouse never goes away and they choose to remain single for the rest of their lives. For others, the time it takes to move forward varies from a few months to several years. Notice that I said "move forward", not "move on"; there is a difference between the two - in moving forward you are pushing ahead with your life, even as the memory of your late husband stays with you; to move on would be to leave his memory in your past. Someone needs to explain these facts to your mother-in-law, although I do not believe that someone should be you.

If one of your supportive brothers-in-law is up to the task, he should talk to his mother about the situation - as her son, as a brother who is still grieving, and as a brother-in-law who still has your best interests at heart. Your mother-in-law needs to understand that you are not looking to replace your late husband, but rather that he made a man's companionship so worthwhile that you find yourself missing having someone in your life. Think about it...if your experience with courtship and marriage was pure Hell, would you seek to repeat the experience?

Your mother-in-law may also have fears that she is not voicing. She could be afraid that you will meet someone new, re-marry, and forget all about her as you bond with your new mother-in-law! To lose a loving daughter-in-law as well as a son would be a burden no mother-in-law should have to bear. Please keep this in mind, as well, as you forge ahead in life.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tazi's Corner #32 - Are Black History/Women's History Months Achieving Their Goals?

Dear Readers:

February is Black History Month; March is Women’s History Month. Does this mean that the remaining ten months of the year are dedicated to White Men’s History? And if so, what happens to Native American History and Latino History? Asian-American History? Do they not get a month of their own, too? I ask these questions not to cause fractiousness but out of true concern for the teaching of history in our American schools.

I realize that much of history’s recorded deeds are credited to men by men, and this is not a screed against those men; rather, it is a suggestion that that those who record history look deeper before recording our posterities. Surely there are people whose skin color and sex differ from that of our Founding Fathers who worked to imprint their mark directly alongside those who shaped our nation! Why not include their accomplishments along with these teachings, instead of relegating them to a separate month, as if these accomplishments are somehow made all the more impressive because it was a black man – or a woman of any color – who accomplished them? Would the words of Frederick Douglass be any less thought provoking if they were orated by a white man? Would First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s tireless work for Civil Rights be any less noteworthy if she were born with a scrotum? I realize that at the time these events took place both sex and skin color did make the words and behaviors of these now historical figures shocking, but must we still be shocked and amazed that words and actions of such high caliber could be achieved by those possessed of these traits? Haven’t we moved forward at all over the last 75 – 150 years?

Please don’t misunderstand me; I will take Black History and Women’s History any way I can get it, if only to be assured that it remains a part of a well-rounded educational curriculum, but I feel that setting aside a separate month to focus on the subject in depth leads to educators focusing on the subject solely during that prescribed time. This, to me, is the greater ignorance, and my goal is to combat this ignorance! I ask: Are Black History Month and Women’s History Month accomplishing their goals of making Americans aware of the accomplishments of our minority populations?

Many years ago, one of my Mommie’s friends challenged her to name fifty Black people of historical note. (This was before the Internet was in wide use!). Between her and a few very well-learned friends (one who is now a Librarian!) they were able to accomplish this goal. The challenger, not to be vanquished, put forth a second challenge: name ten historically notable women. Again, the group pulled it out and came up with an even dozen names at which point a final challenge was issued: name five historically notable Native Americans. All were thankful she did not ask for ten, since all they could come up with at the time was five: Sacajawea, who also counted as a woman; Geronimo; Sequoia (for whom the tree is named, but they did not know what else he did); Crazy Horse; and Sitting Bull. Squanto was remembered after the fact, and Jim Thorpe was mentioned, but it his place in history was questioned. Does sports history count as American History?

Today, I set forth this same challenge to you, my readers: How many historically notable American minorities can you name? Please leave your answers in my comments section, along with any links to further information about them!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Racism Occurs In Many Ways, All Are Rooted In Ignorance

Dear Tazi:

I am a teenage girl of mixed heritage. My mother is white and my father is Latino. I grew up bilingual, and speak Spanish as well as I speak English, even though I rarely speak Spanish outside the home. I am very light skinned, and do not look much like my father at all, but it never occurred to me that people did not know that I am biracial. My last name gives no clues because it has been Americanized.

I started high school in September, and all students must take Spanish as a part of the curriculum. I am excelling in the subject, even though there are many differences between the Spanish being taught and the Spanish that I speak at home. We are learning "mainland Spanish" and I speak "Latin American Spanish", and I do not consider the two the same language - I guess it is kind of like American English and British English.

My school has parent-teacher conferences at different parts of the school year, and my Mom usually goes to these because my Dad is working. This past time, though, my Dad and Mom went together to the conference and my teachers all saw that my father is of a different race than my mother. Most of my teachers thought nothing of it, but some of them are making a big deal out of it, assuming things that are not true, like the idea that I had to overcome a disadvantaged background or that English is not my native language, and have been treating me differently. My Spanish teacher even made the comment that she now knows why I am picking up on Spanish so easily.

Tazi, I was born into a hard-working middle class family. I have not had to overcome poverty and I work hard to earn all of my good grades - even the ones I get in Spanish class! I am not sure how to respond when my teachers give me a pitying look or make a comment about how I have come so far in life. They obviously know nothing about my life! I have been taught to respect my elders, especially teachers, but this is getting hard to do when they are acting estupido! How do you suggest I deal with this, Tazi? My friends tell me to just roll my eyes and walk away, but that seems rude.

Alicia in Atlanta

Dear Alicia in Atlanta:

My last trip to Atlanta was several years ago (I stowed away in Mommie's luggage), but while there I recall hearing that the Latino community is the largest growing community in Greater Atlanta. this would make sense because it is also the largest growing demographic in the United States. Sadly, in Atlanta as it is in many areas, many of these Latinos were on the lower economic rungs of society in spite of their tremendous work ethic. If this is still the case, I can see why your teachers would make false assumptions about your background. It isn't right - not by a long shot - but it is human nature. Everybody loves a success story!

The next time a teacher makes a comment or gives a look alluding to the idea that, like Steve Martin in The Jerk, you overcame humble beginnings to reach greatness, offer a smile and a head shake to let them know that they are on the wrong track. If more is needed, explain what you have said here: that you were born into a middle-class family and have been fortunate not to experience struggles harder than fifth period Algebra (or whichever class gives you the most trouble). In the especial case of your Spanish teacher, should she say something again politely respond that you have grown up speaking a dialect, and that there are many differences between the Spanish you know and the Spanish you are learning. You might want to add that hard work on the part of both of you has resulted in good grades, but do so in private lest your classmates think you are a besador de tope!


P.S. Mi mama me está enseñando a español! ¿Cómo suena?

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Short History Of Valentine's Day! (And Of Course, Some Trivia, Too!)

Happy Valentine’s Day, Readers!

Today is one of my favorite holidays! What’s not to love about expressing love for one another and eating chocolate? Plus, my black fur looks stunning in both red and pink! In honor of both this holiday and Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he will be resigning at the end of the month, I have decided to look into the history of this holiday, named for a Catholic saint!

According to, there are fourteen saints named Valentine, Valentin, or Valentina, and even one Pope named Valentine! Luckily for my research, only one of these Saint Valentines are celebrated on February 14th; St. Valentine of Rome. Even the Church itself cannot confirm that he is the St. Valentine associated with lovers and love and that naked baby with the cross bow, but since today is his feast day I am going to run with it, although there is not much to tell: St. Valentine was martyred on February 14th, around the year 270, under the Roman Emperor Claudius for assisting Catholics in their plight against the Romans and for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith. It was a common fate among Catholics who lived during the time of the early Roman Empire.

Another tradition of the Roman Empire was the Feast of Lupercalia on February 15th, which was essentially an ancient (around 730 B.C. is when it is reported to have started) mating ritual where men essentially drew a woman’s name from a hat and romanced her in the Roman tradition – which, if you have ever watched Spartacus on STARZ, you understand to mean fornicated with her at every opportunity. Catholic priests were horrified by this tradition and many of them would substitute the name of a saint for the name of a local woman – thus explains one Valentine’s Day tradition, expressing love for the object of your desires and affection; it was just one more (successful) attempt to Christianize the pagan holidays of the time. (Seriously, does anyone still celebrate Lupercalia?).

Another reason St. Valentine is associated with love and marriage is the reason he was martyred; the assistance he gave to Catholics – in direct opposition to the Roman Emperor Claudius II – was to marry them. Emperor Claudius II felt that unmarried men without children made the best soldiers because, as is true today, men without loved ones are thought to be better in combat since it is presumed that they will concentrate all of their thoughts on battle and not on their wives and children back home. In ancient times, unmarried men without children were also considered disposable; if they died in battle, they died a hero’s death without leaving a widow and children in need of financial assistance. Apparently, Roman leaders were not the sentimental sort. With this logic in mind, Claudius II is said to have passed a law forbidding young men to marry; Valentine disobeyed that law and married young sweethearts anyway, which led to his imprisonment and untimely death.

It is rumored that while Valentine was in jail, he himself fell in love with the jailor’s daughter (this was allowed in the early Catholic Church, as priests were allowed to marry back then). On the eve of his execution, St. Valentine purportedly wrote a letter expressing his eternal love for the young woman, signing it “from your Valentine”. The tradition that follows from this legend is the giving of Valentine’s Day cards. A NicholasSparks novel could not possibly have a sadder or more enduring ending! But wait, there’s more!

But first an animated recap of the story thus far...

It was under Pope Gelasius (492 – 496) that February 14th was declared the Feast day of St. Valentine and celebrations of love and affection were outlawed by the church, having been deemed unchristian in spirit, since they were rooted in the feat of Lupricalia, which was still widely celebrated. It was not until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day expressions of love regained their popularity, which some credit to the British Duke, Charles of Orleans, who sent his wife a Valentine’s greeting while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. (What is it about love letters from prison that bring out the romantic in people?). This love letter – a poem, actually – is the oldest known written Valentine in existence and is preserved as a part of the Manuscript Collection of the British Library in London, England. Knowing this makes me feel like less of a pack-rat for saving all of my past years’ Valentine’s cards!

By the 1700’s it became popular among people of all social classes to exchange Valentine’s Day sentiments, although they were not written down due to the high rate of illiteracy that plagued society and the even higher costs of printing and postage. In 1840, the mass-produced Valentine was created when American Esther A. Howland created greetings out of lace, ribbons, and other fancies that caught consumers’ eyes. She presumably sold them, as these materials were not cheap. It was not until the early 1900’s that printed Valentine’s were commonly exchanged, popular due to the decreased cost of printing and the Victorian era tradition of not publicly expressing affection for another. Today, Valentine’s Day sees an estimated one BILLION greeting cards sent and exchanged, making it the second most profitable holiday for Hallmark, American Greetings, and the like (Christmas is first).

As my Valentine’s gift to you, dear readers, I will leave you with some fun, trivial facts (followed by my opinion) about this day to pass along to the ones you love. (Hey, it’s cheaper than buying a card!).

FACT: 85% of Valentine’s Day cards are purchased by women.
Tazi’s Opinion: Many of these are purchased on behalf of their cats

FACT: In Korea, single people who do not receive Valentines eat black noodles to mourn their relationship status
Tazi’s Opinion: It’s good to know that Americans don’t have a lock on such pathetic behavior.

FACT: Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day card than any other demographic; children are second
Tazi’s Opinion: Those 3” x 2” pieces of cheap cardboard that kids are forced to exchange with everyone in the class should not count!

FACT: The heart is associated with Valentine’s Day because the ancients believed that the heart is where the soul (and the source of emotions) resided.
Tazi’s Opinion: The pancreas would make a better choice, since it actually is heart-shaped…unlike the heart.

FACT: During the 19th century, doctors prescribed chocolate as a cure for heartbreak and loneliness
Tazi’s Opinion: I think this is a great idea! I also think that citizens should be able to write off the cost of Godiva confectioneries as a medical expense on their tax returns.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!


With gracious thanks to and for statistical information and fact verification.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Man Ask For (And Tazi Gives!) Tips On How to Spot A Gold-Digger

Dear Tazi:

I am a very wealthy man, one who was born into money and has worked hard to multiply what was left to me in trust by my grandparents. I was raised with good manners; exercise regularly to keep physically fit; have interests that range from sports to fine art; donate to charity and hold politically moderate views.

My marriage ended amicably after my wife and I grew apart, and I have been on the singles scene for about five years now. During that time I have dated several women whose ages have ranged from mid-twenties to mid-forties. All have been well-mannered, educated, and gainfully employed, but I could not shake the feeling that they were with me for the financial security I could offer them. One woman went so far to complain that the Valentine’s Day gift I bought her did not reflect my financial worth – a polite way of calling me cheap, I guess. Tazi, I am not cheap! I believe a gift should reflect the level of affection someone holds for another, not the balance of their checking account. Obviously, I broke up with that one.

I have met the women I have dated in various places – church, restaurants, and political gatherings, to name a few venues – but for some reason I only seem to attract gold-diggers; the last one tried to fake a pregnancy in order to get me to marry her – you should have seen the look on her face when I told her that I have had a vasectomy! I have tried dating women who are of secure financial means themselves, but most of them are either too busy with their careers to find time for a relationship or they are the “desperate housewife” type that secured their fortunes through marriage and divorce and are now on the hunt once more.

Tazi, all I want is to meet a nice woman who will love me for who I am, not for my finances. What do you think I am doing wrong?

Richie Rich

Dear Richie Rich:

A good way to attract gold-diggers is to flash your wealth. Whether you realize it or not, there is a good chance you are dropping hints to your economic status. For example, what kind of car do you drive? Do you buy your pants off the rack or have them custom tailored? Are your shirt cuffs monogrammed? Are your jeans plain old reliable Levis or do you wear $150 Hugo Boss’? Do you wear flashy jewelry or a luxury watch? Do you get regular manicures? Each of these questions by itself will not tell anyone much, but combined can paint a picture of how much disposable income you have, and how you like to dispose of it.

 A woman who is after you for your money will be able to tally up these things in a single glance; a woman who is interested in you as an all-around person will appreciate that you are nicely dressed, but will probably not know the value of your wardrobe and accessories. A woman who is after your money may offer a compliment along the lines of “I love your Harry Winston”; in recognizing that you spent over $10,000 on a watch you are being flattered. A woman with no such aims would just say she likes your “nice watch” (the exception to this being if she works in the jewelry industry and would recognize a Harry Winston).

There are many other ways to sniff out gold-diggers, but it usually involves spending time getting to know them. Someone who is on a serious mission to marry wealth will have a game plan that will be hard to recognize when you first meet him or her (men can be gold-diggers, too!). In talking with some of my wealthier contacts over a glass of cream (wine for them), they offered the following warnings:

1.       Beware of flattery. Women who are after your money may refuse to allow you to buy them a drink, dinner, or popcorn at the movies thinking this reverse psychology will work, but every one of them will work to flatter you. Put your ego aside and ask yourself if her compliments are sincere. “I know my pot belly isn’t sexy, so don’t tell me you find it attractive”, offered a friend.

2.       Is she overdressed for the occasion? If you are sitting at the bar in a mid-priced restaurant and she walks in looking like she’s dressed to go clubbing in downtown Manhattan, be on your guard; she is hoping you will see her as someone you can take to fancier places.

3.       If you are at an upscale venue, do her clothes match what the other women are wearing or do they have a discount aura about them? Maybe the price tags are still attached somewhere? Does she show up week after week in the same designer outfit? If she is trying hard to look like she has more money than she actually does, this is a bad sign. As one man put it, “I hang out at the sports bar, too, and I would rather meet a woman there because it means we have similar interests. When I see a woman trying to pass off a knock-off as the real thing, I get suspicious. If she isn’t being honest about who she is with the crowd, how can I expect her to be honest with me?”

4.       How does she treat the bartender? Another source told me he hates “women who are rude to the bartender…it’s like she thinks he is hitting on her because he is being nice to her, and she doesn’t have time for someone who makes his money tending bar.”

5.       Trust your gut. If you get a bad feeling about the woman you are romancing, follow your instincts. Humans are the only animals who do not do as their instincts tell them, and they usually end up paying the price for it.

I hope these tips are helpful and wish you luck in finding the right woman to open your heart to, without having to open your wallet as well!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When Time Is A Limited Commodity, Something Has To Give

Dear Tazi:

I started high school this year and since my classes now start earlier than ever, and I live further than ever from school, I have to get up earlier than ever – by 6 AM to catch the school bus for 7 AM. If I want to take a shower in the morning instead of at night, I have to wake up at 5 AM. Because I am not getting as much sleep as I need, my grades have been slipping.

My report card just came in, and I got C-minuses in two classes. My Mom flipped out because I used to be a straight A/B student. She realizes that it is because I am not getting enough sleep, and has told me that I must go to bed earlier – no later than 9 PM.

Tazi, I play sports and need to keep a minimum of a C- in all of my classes, so it’s not like I am going to start failing. I usually have practice or a game after school, and I work part-time for my father on weekends. I can’t quit my job because I am responsible for paying my own future bills – like the price of a car with insurance and a college education – and I can’t quit my sport because I am hoping it will lead to scholarship money in college. Plus, it is the only time I get to exercise or spend any time with my friends. Because of my crazy schedule I am usually up until 11 o’ clock every night doing homework – some nights even later.
My parents don’t want to hear excuses as to why I need to cut back on work (I asked and got a lecture about what to expect when I am an adult); my teachers don’t want to hear excuses about why I can’t complete my assignments (they tell me I need to set aside an hour a night for homework for each class I am taking); and I can’t take a study hall instead of gym class (I already tried asking). I don’t know what else to do, Tazi, except resign myself to living like this for the next three and a half years and hope that it gets better in college.

Tired Teenager

Dear Tired Teenager:

I, too, would be tired if I had your schedule, but then I am a cat and am used to sleeping a lot, so I asked the humans in my life if your schedule is as backbreaking as it sounds, and they agreed that it is. Teenagers, like cats, need a lot of sleep. Sleep nurtures the growing body of someone your age, and you are simply not getting enough of it.

The pressures put on teenagers today are enormous. Your father is right that as an adult you will need to work hard in order to succeed, but you will at least be able to see some of the fruits of your labor in a more immediate time frame; being in school can feel like work for no pay, and that’s downright demoralizing.

You sound like a mature young person, having explored all of your avenues and tried to talk matters through with your parents before writing to me. As an athlete, I know you need medical clearance to play sports, so I am going to assume you have had a recent check-up and are in overall good physical health. This means that your tiredness is strictly related to your schedule and your lack of sleep; this means, I can help you!

I suggest that you work on your time management. Humans have a tendency to waste time without even realizing it – that is, until they write down how much time it takes them to complete tasks and they see chunks of unaccounted time in their day. A good way to plan your day is to make an Excel spreadsheet and fill it in with your various activities and the time they take. Across the top row put the days of the week; down the side, the hours of the day – you can use 15 minute, ½ hour, or 1 hour increments, whatever your preference, but start with the time you wake up and end with the time you would like to go to bed. Next, fill in your day!

Start with “morning preparations” and block out how much time it takes you to get ready (be realistic); next, block out your school day; your practice and game schedule; and your work schedule. In the blocks that are left over, block in time to do homework, and even squeeze in a little free time for yourself. Next is the most important step – sticking to the schedule.

If you block out three hours each evening to do homework, make sure you are doing homework during those three hours – not checking your email, not checking Facebook, not staring off into space, but doing three quality hours of homework, with a few 5 minute breaks – and no more than 5 minutes – thrown in every half hour or so.

Once you have blocked out your schedule, you will be able to see where you have been wasting time (we all do it) and improve upon your habits. Your parents and teachers will be able to see just how overscheduled you really are and, now that you have a case to present, you might be able to schedule a study hall session during the school day. In the end, if there is simply no way to get more productive time out of your day, something will have to give. Would you be able to cut back on your work schedule if you promise your father to work extra over school vacations and summer break? Would you be able to drop one of the sports you play in order to cut down on the commitment to practices and games? While such a decision may not be ideal, it will be your first lesson in being an adult: learning that you can’t always get what you want (but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!).


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tazi's Corner #31 - Giving To God Does Not Excuse You From Tipping Others

Dear Readers: 

A few weeks ago, a Unitarian pastor named Alois Bell went to dinner at Applebee’s with some friends. Rather than leave a tip for the server, she left a note asking why she had to give 18% to the server (the automatically generated charge on parties larger than 8); she already gives 10% to God. I know about this – and you probably do, too – because the server decided to post a picture of the receipt (on which the note was written) to her social networking account. The picture went viral, and the pastor – now embarrassed by her behavior – complained to the restaurant manager. The waitress was summarily fired.

My question is this: why was the waitress fired? She was not fired for wrongly removing the receipt (or a facsimile of it) from the restaurant; she was fired for violating Bell's right to privacy; the waitress claims she was fired for embarrassing the customer. Yet, it was not the waitress who embarrassed the pastor; it was the pastor who not only embarrassed herself but threw off her cloak of privacy by self-identifying as a pastor.

Nothing like signing your title to offer some street cred

I am not buying the pastor’s comment that leaving the rude note was “a lapse in [her] character and judgment”, as reported on Yahoo! News. Such snark does not come naturally to most people; usually, it is the thing we wished we said/wrote after the fact. Something tells me that Alois Bell – Pastor Alois Bell – is not embarrassed at leaving the note, but rather is embarrassed at getting caught.

We live in a world where, thanks to the Internet, everyone can be famous for 15 minutes. Perhaps the opportunity for – or threat of – such should teach us to be more civil to our fellow man. The night of their dining experience, Pastor Bell and her party claimed no issue with the service received, yet chose to leave a rude note in return for pleasant service, rather than take up the issue of an automatic tip with the restaurant manager. Why was this so? Was it easier to act the part of the bully when she thought she would remain a nameless, faceless entity? The pastor’s congregation should not feel embarrassment over their pastor’s behavior; rather, they should feel anger that one so disrespectful to their fellow man is allowed to represent their ministry. It is the pastor who should be relieved of her duties, not the waitress; however, I doubt that is going to happen.

Right here, right now, I am calling for Pastor Bell to do the right thing and apologize to the waitress who lost her job after Pastor Bell complained of being offended. It is written in the Bible that Christ said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). As a pastor, Alois Bell should not only know this sentiment, but work to live the sentiment as well. It was Pastor Bell who threw the first stone; it is she who must now prove that she is worthy of her ministry by extending the olive branch and not a limb from a burning bush.

I offer further criticism of Pastor Bell's cruel comments by examining her claim that she “gives 10% to God”. Unless Pastor Bell does not bother to keep receipts for her giving, she can deduct that 10% from her taxable income on her end-of-year tax return which means that, in the end, the government gives some of that 10% back because the pastor is not taxed on this income. PolitiFact might  rate this claim "mostly true", but the lack of humility surrounding it makes me question the piety behind the action. It is the meek and the humble who shall inherit the Earth, not the self-righteous, no matter how much they give.

Please, Pastor Bell, explain to me how your giving to the Lord's ministries makes it okay to bully a waitress and refuse her a tip? From where I sit, the math is a bit fuzzy. Did you know that the waitress you stiffed is taxed a set percentage on every dinner tab she serves – whether she receives a tip or not?  I am reminded of another passage from the Book of Matthew (19:24), “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Pastor Bell, unless you preach from a different Bible, you should be familiar with the parable from which this quote comes; I think it is time you start to practice what you preach.

Unlike leading a religious congregation, waitressing is not a job that yields a lot of respect. The religious faithful of the world tend to accord their leaders a great deal of respect and awe, often times putting these leaders upon a figurative pedestal and offering praise and gifts to these leaders as a way of showing their faithfulness to their Lord. Perhaps it is human nature to do this, to seek approval and favor from those we put in positions of power (how often do we kiss up to cops, doctors, and politicians?), but it is also human behavior to allow such preferential treatments to go to our head. If you tell a person they are stupid and ugly, enough times over the course of their life, they will believe it and feel themselves worthless in a society that values intelligence and beauty. The same can be said for telling someone that they are special and deserve to be revered. It sounds as though Pastor Bell has started to believe her figurative pedestal to be real, and she above the mere mortals that serve her. Jesus wept.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Woman Learns the Hard Way Not To Loan Out Her Credit Cards

Dear Tazi:

I am in deep financial trouble and I don’t know how to get out of it. While we were dating, I allowed my now ex-boyfriend “Roger” to use my credit cards for emergency purchases, like clothes for work or gas to put in his car. He had been out of work for a while before we met, so when he found a job he had no good clothes to wear to it or any way to buy gas to get there until his first paycheck. Because he had to be added to the payroll, and there was a mix-up with his social security number it took him almost a month to get his first paycheck. After he got paid, rather than pay me back the money he owed me, he decided to go out and celebrate his new job with his friends, leaving me at home.

I figured Roger would pay me back the money he owed me when he got his next paycheck (he gets paid every two weeks), but that was the end of the month and his rent and utilities were due, so I figured I would have to wait another few weeks. Two weeks later, when I asked Roger for the money, he dumped me. He said he couldn't stay with someone who was going to constantly pester him about money.

Tazi, I feel so used, but that is only part of the problem. Roger charged almost $2,000 to my credit card for fancy clothes, shoes, and other things he said he needed for work. I do not have the money to pay this off, and can no longer afford to make the minimum payment, which has gone up because the balance is so high.

I have tried talking to the credit card company to tell them that the purchases obviously were not mine, so I should not have to pay for them; Roger is the one they should be harassing for money. The credit card companies have told me that unless Roger stole my card or otherwise used it without my permission I am responsible for the charges. I tried going to the police, but they told me that since I gave Roger permission to use my credit card it is a civil matter, not a criminal one, and they cannot help me.

Tazi, Roger has changed his phone number so I can no longer call him to ask him to pay me the money back, and my credit is in a downward spiral so I can’t even take out a bank loan to pay off the credit card. There is no one in my life who will loan me money; my own mother told me that if I can’t pay my credit cards what expectation others have that I will pay them? I looked into going to a payday loan service, but the interest rate is even higher than the rate on my credit cards, with less time to pay back the balance.

Tazi, would you be able to loan me the money to pay off my credit cards?

Tapped Out

Dear Tapped Out:

No. No I will not loan – or give – you the money to pay off your credit cards. For one I don’t know you; for another I am not a bank; and, to give a third reason, if I had the money to loan it would go straight to my Mommie to put towards her student loans. An education is an expensive thing – something you have learned by getting schooled by your ex-boyfriend.
I am printing your letter as a warning to others not to trust their financial stability with someone they hardly know. You do not say for how long you and Roger were dating, but mention that he was out of work before you met, and presumably found a job around the time you started dating. This means you were together less than a month when you gave him free reign with your credit cards.

Since you cannot make the minimum payment on your credit cards, I suggest you talk to the card issuer about working out a payment plan. Your ability to make purchases will probably be suspended during this time but at least your credit will start to improve. Do not refuse to pay the balance on your credit accounts – the purchases may not have been for you, but they were made with your permission which means you are responsible for paying the bill.

You may be able to recover some of your loss in small claims court, which would mean suing Roger for a breach of agreement, but you must be able to prove that Roger agreed to pay the charges he put on your credit account. This will be difficult if Roger was not listed as an additional user on your account. Sad to say, it looks like you will have to chalk this loss up to experience – and know to never loan out your credit cards again.


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