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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Memorial Perspectives

Hot title huh? I couldn't think of anything better. Hopefully it will seem OK after you read this. Another of today's amazing "things" is the ability to connect with people. My wife and I have discussed that back when we were in school, when the year was over and you said "goodbye" to most of the people; it was really goodbye. You would not see them or hear from them until the next school year started. Now, school age people expect, and get, instant contact with anyone they have a cell number for with a text. If for some reason they do not have a cell number, they can fall back to the ancient contact system known as email. With a text message, or even email, you can contact someone and not even know it they are in the same country. Even when I went off to college I remember writing letters (think back, it will come to you - stamps, envelopes...) to people. If I got a reply, it could be months and at best was weeks later. We had phones, but I was lead to believe that a long distance call would bankrupt a millionaire. It was many years until I had my own phone bill and saw the real damage. Of course , since I would have been using a pay phone (some of you may not remember these - shiny metal phones with coin slots that hung on the walls in various places for anyone to use) and would have needed what then WAS a small fortune in change, OR would have had to call someone that would accept a collect call. Believe it or not, this is not the point of this post. I was making a point about contact. We have email, text messages, and a LOT of social networking sites. I am not sure how many of you belong to one or more of these, but I bet it is a lot if you are my age or younger. We have Facebook, Classmates, Linkedin, Twitter, MySpace, and many many others. I belong to and use in varying degrees the first three. Due to these sites I have made at least a minimum contact with people I went to high school with. We have written on each other's wall in Facebook, or traded an email or two after contacting one another by any of the sites. It has been good to hear from people that in most cases I have not seen or heard from in over 35 years (that's over 100 dog years!!). Now for the real point of this post. I am constantly amazed when I read the remembrances of my old classmates and friends. Their memories and mine converge at a lot of points, but diverge at many more. They will say something like "remember 5th period English - we gave ole Mrs Whatsit hell, huh? Was that great or what?" Now I will rack my brain and usually remember ole Mrs Whatsit, but not much else. I definitely do NOT remember having much fun at school (recess in the early grades, maybe - after the bell rang, absolutely). After about the 5th grade, I HATED SCHOOL!! And high school - basically four of the worst years of my life!! Now I had my physical problems that made them especially rough. I had been raised to be an athlete. I was to be a football player. I dutifully went out there and gave it my all. I dislocated my shoulder in a drill two weeks before the first game in my freshman year. I was out for the season. The next year, I had my knee blown out in practice a week before the first game. After two operations, I was out for my career. I missed fifty days of my tenth grade year recovering from surgery and such and eighty one days my eleventh grade year. I spent six to eight weeks in a cast both years. I also had an alcoholic dad on the home front that was driving me crazy. So, I will admit I had some reasons to hate those years. However, people are always going on about how teachers changed their lives. I hear and read stories from former students of teachers that comment that the teacher was the reason for their great success or accomplishments. That is where perspective comes in. There was not a teacher that I had until college (and there were few there!) that I thought knew their butt from a hole in the ground. I absolutely despised them all. The idiotic rules and mindless drills going over useless crap!! I get so angry now that I am sure my blood pressure goes up to dangerous levels. I was told I would understand all this more when I was older. Well I am pretty damn old now and I still think it was a royal waste of my time! At least in most of my college courses I could read the book, study a bit, only go to class and take the tests, make my A and leave. Sitting a listening to the teacher go over the same junk that I had read in the book infuriated me. Why ask me to read the book if you are just going to repeat it? (I usually had read all my books cover to cover by the fourth week or so anyway) But, the line I hated the most in high school was "show your work". This was usually in math. I don't know how I did some of the math, it just came to me. If it was right, I never saw what difference it made. I can tell you in real life in the business world - I have NEVER been asked to show my work! Results are all that matters. I guess the teacher thought if you didn't do a page of computations there was no way that you could have the answer. I never liked being called a cheater. I am getting mad now just thinking about it. AHHHHHHHHRRRRRRGGGGGGG!! One teacher in particular that I am amazed to hear people comment positively about was our music teacher. From about the fourth grade I had this woman in church and at school. She was absolutely the WORST of all. She managed to take something I dearly love - singing - and make me hate it. Her idiotic nazi-ish rules and competitions we had to do were the bane of my existence. Again, it is especially troubling to me because music and singing are (I guess were, as I do not participate any longer) a great pleasure of mine. I still can be moved to tears, laughter, and/or get goose bumps listening to a piece of music. This drill sergeant of a woman almost ruined that for me. She did make me walk away from it for three years. I have never forgiven her for that. Years back I got a letter from some girl I did not know asking me for a donation for some award her former students were going to give her. My reply was - "You guys have WAY to much time on your hands." If I could have defecated in a bag and sent it, I would have. Anyway, the point was perspective - memorial perspective (ahh, tie in) I am amazed by the people that went to the same high school as me for the same four years that write me about how great it was. It was four years of pure hell. Dredging up selective memories of the good times AFTER school won't change that for me.