The Graduate (revisited)

You probably shouldn’t read this if you are one of those people who get a little thrill of pride when you hear one of our political candidates say things like “America’s best years are in front of us”.

“Children are our future”, the saying goes and my wife and I were given a glimpse of what that future looks like a few days ago in the check-out line at Wal-Mart.   The Gods of consumerism were smiling down upon us and, for once, we had picked a check-out line that moved at a smart pace.  The young lady doing the scanning and bagging was polite, talkative and pleasant in every imaginable way.  She engaged her customers in small talk, smiled and wished them a “great day” before cheerfully moving on to the next.  Then, it was our turn.

One of the items my wife had on the conveyer belt was a pair of little pink slippers (made in China) she was purchasing for our granddaughter, to go with a new robe she had just finished making for her.  The check-out girl remarked on how cute they were and asked who they were for.  My wife told her that they were part of a birthday present for our granddaughter who was, along with her parents, preparing to move to The Netherlands in less than a month.  [Here is where it all went bad]

With a smile and a cute laugh the check-out girl, who had just graduated from our local High School, said to my wife… “You are probably going to laugh at me, but, I don’t know where that is.”  

Neither one of us laughed.  Laughter was, in fact, the farthest thing from our mind.  Not knowing quite how to reply to this open admission of geographical ineptitude my wife said the first thing that came to her mind.  ..”It’s in Europe”

“Oh” the pleasant young woman replied… and with a laugh continued, “I don’t know where that is either”

Feeling like I had just been hit in the gut I wandered over to the Eyeglass Department as the conversation turned to how her boyfriend wanted to go to school to be a welder and how she couldn’t wait to have a baby.  There was a sign proclaiming [TWO for ONE] in the Eyeglass Department.  It seems that for $199 I could have my eyeballs examined and receive two pairs of glasses that were manufactured in China.  A quick calculation, and my mind was looking for just about anything to take it away from the scene at the check-out counter, (a buck for the frames and pennies for the lenses), clearly indicated that I was in the wrong business.

On the ride back home we discussed what had happened at the check-out.  We asked each other, in so many words, HOW something like this could happen.  We remembered to each other how we were made to do reports on other countries and draw maps with mountain ranges and rivers and natural resources, cities, ports.  We recalled the empty maps that we were required to “fill in” to prove our mastery of the planet we inhabit and that, as best we can remember, this all happened before we even got close to High School.

The question begging to be asked hung in the air.  “What else doesn’t she know?”  What other bits of knowledge we all take for granted is missing from the heads of High School graduates today and what, if anything, has it been replaced with other than high self esteem?

In our little town, on the eastern flank of The Blue Ridge Mountains, 18 teachers were just cut from next years employment at the High School due to “lack of funding”.  Art, remedial reading and music took the biggest hits.  The starting salary for new teachers is $32,ooo a year.  How new teachers are expected to pay off college loans is anyone’s guess.  It isn’t surprising that the turnover rate is staggering.  Morale is astonishingly low.

On the bright side… we have electrical power again!  We were one of the almost 3 million left without electrical power after the “Derecho” blew through eleven days ago. Intense Storms Called a “Derecho” Slam 700 Miles of the US  We consider ourselves lucky.  Thousands of our neighbors are still without.  Trees crushed more than a handful of homes on our main street and utility trucks from far away and exotic locations such as Canada have been spotted.  Wind gusts of 93 mph were recorded locally.  The storm, or, Derecho, was something, I confess, I had never experienced before.  One full hour of outrageous winds, lightning and not one drop of rain.  I was tempted to think “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”, but, a quick perusal of FOX News informed me that was all bunk and that Liberals, plotting to destroy our way of life, could be counted upon to use this weather event to further their evil ends.

I learned recently that 80% of the births last year in Richmond, our states proud capital, were to single mothers.  I also learned that 80% of the households in America neither purchased a book, or read a book last year.  Those depressing facts combined with our conversation at the check-out line at Wal-Mart have left me 80% sure that America is fucked.  I don’t really know “how” things are in The Netherlands, but, I’m betting most of the High School graduates fucking KNOW where America is!  Did you know that you can purchase marijuana there in stores that exist only for that purpose?

Do you remember those public service adds…  “This is your brain on drugs”?  

It’s beginning to sound better and better to me every day.

What are your thoughts?



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8 responses to “The Graduate (revisited)

  1. You live in a strange country…

  2. Ah Brent, now that hurts. Don’t you know that America is the greatest country in the world? Ask any American!

  3. Bret, hold on there cowboy….patriotism abounds in these United States and if you’re not careful a preemptive strike including cruise missiles, top notch propaganda, and the legendary few, and the proud just might awaken you and your country mates in the not so distant future. Call us crazy ..but that’s just how we roll…

    Mrs. N, how are you, I trust well. I’m certain your retail experience is the rule rather than the exception. it is far easier to pay some professional sports figure 40k each time they step up to the plate and swing a bat than it is to pay “Qualified” teachers a reasonable salary. The system is designed to project a great and illustrious future using the worst of the possibilities, which these days seem to be the only possibilities. Like the Renaissance, first son gets the wealth/name and maybe “general” attached to him, while the second gets castrated and put into the priesthood, although now community college for the first son and Walmart or a phone call center for numero dos. What can we possible expect???

    Here in the land of Enchantment, we have similarly staggering statistics on just about everything that can make the prospects regarding the future as dismal and dim as possible. In our defense, we do have the AMC series “Breaking Bad” filmed here year after year; we are also the “Cops” episode location leader in the nation. Meth production is up, education down, teen violence, crime and pregnancy, booming……No wonder it’s “Enchanting”.

    I think free $1000 Walmart gift cards with your choice of sterilization or lobectomy…hey it’s a start….

    I hope all is well in your world, power is plentiful and the hills are alive with summer. Be well.

    • Thanks Robert. That Brent has some nerve, doesn’t he? You know where that comes from? It comes from not being forced to pledge allegiance to the flag every day when he was a kid. How is he expected to remember that in America we are “under” God and that EVERYBODY has Liberty AND Justice if he isn’t forced to say it out loud every day of his childhood (and adulthood) if he joins the Rotary, Moose Lodge, or, other highly regarded organization?

      We must forgive his ignorance Robert AND keep a rocket loaded drone circling his home and place of employment 24/7… just to be on the safe side. I don’t want him to feel threatened Robert, but, in another sense, as a free people, I feel we owe him at least that.

  4. lifewithoutinstructions

    Well I know where The Netherlands are, and I know where Europe is but I admit I had to look up Derecho! I live near Gettysburg Pa , but fortunately we skipped the entire “straight line winds”. It is good to know that finally after over a week that our southern states have power again.

    My Daughter will begin college in the Fall. Initially, her chosen curriculum was Education. Since choosing her college she has decided to head into a different vocation . Her reasoning was simple, Teachers are under appreciated and under paid. She was worried about her ability to pay back her education loans on a teachers salary. I could not argue with her reasoning.

    Perhaps if Walmart and other employers actually had higher expectations of their employees and paid wages that reflected that higher expectation, then we might glean a spark of intelligence out of our young humanity. I suspect however that the basic expectation of a better than remedial education starts with the parent.

  5. I think it is ALL about parenting AND expectations [Lifewithout]. That is why the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. My only advice to your daughter is to stay out of debt! “It’s the new slavery”

    As the lyrics to the song go…

    “You go to school and you learn to read and write.

    So you can go down to the county bank and sign away your life.”

    (glad you missed the “Derecho”)

  6. Art Fern

    I remember an experience at a small grocery store in Frankford Twp. The little readout window on the cash register apparently blew out a bulb, so the twit behind the register didn’t know how much change to give me. I told her to reach into her open drawer and count up the change from the amount she had charged me, which she had on the register tape. Very suspicious of my obvious attempt to bamboozle her out of $2.67, she did as instructed but wouldn’t turn over this vast amount of money until she found a calculator and did the math. Amazed, she looked at me and said “WOW! Did you invent that??” I said “No, honey, it’s called ‘making change’. I’ll be back next week and we’ll discuss analog clocks. Meanwhile, keep studying and you’ll soon qualify for cosmetology school, maybe get a scholarship from the Wilfred Academy of Beauty”. Then I left, went into a small room and put my head under a pillow until the pain stopped.

    • Rick, I have, since the Wal-Mart experience, tried the “Netherlands” test on 3 other High School students and all three failed. It’s far worse than I thought. My daughter-in-law informs me that she received a letter from my grandchildren’s public school asking her to report any and all incidences of “bullying” that take place outside of school to the school authorities for appropriate action. It’s a good thing for you this story you relate took place long ago, or, I would have to report you for being a bully to that poor clerk.

      There is a new war taking place in America designed to blunt the tip of the last arrow in our quiver. Sarcasm, long extinct in the South, is marked for elimination by the powers that be. Making fun of people will no longer be tolerated!

      [Example] The news is full of condemnation for our President who had the audacity to suggest that Mr. Romney couldn’t be the CEO, sole stockholder and president of a corporation and SIMULTANEOUSLY have nothing to do with the activities of that corporation. He was clearly wrong to do that and Mr. Romney, quite rightly, demands an apology. Our President was acting like a bully. To besmirch Mr. Romney’s character is politics at its worst and beneath the dignity of what we, as Americans, have a right to expect from our leaders. CLEARLY!

      I guess we have no choice but to chalk it up to what we already know. He is a Kenyan. His birth certificate is fake. He hates America and has a lot in common with Hitler. He isn’t one of us. He has single handedly destroyed our economy. The only reason he went to college is affirmative action. He is out to rob the “job creators” and give ALL the money to lazy, good for nothing, immoral minorities.

      Hopefully, a Romney presidency, will free us from any more questioning of our rightful leaders and America can get past this “dark” and loathsome impostor of a President. WHEN WILL HE APOLOGIZE?

      See you in church Rick. I assume you will be worshipping today.

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