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?