Saturday, October 02, 2004

 

Admiration. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.

I had occasion to take Youngest Progeny to McDonald's yesterday, and despite it being the height of the lunch rush there were precisely two cashiers handling orders. Net result was a twenty minute wait for the order and one very cranky kid. Most of the local McDonald's are staffed by what appear to be relatively recent Hispanic immigrants with a relatively poor command of the lingua franca, yielding instant frustration if you deigned to order anything other than Numero Uno con Coke Dieta, and there seems to be a horrendous turnover in staff, as any time the kids drag me there, there is some training going on and the wait rapidly exceeds the patience factor. One elderly fellow on line with me expressed exasperation at the situation, and I counseled him about the five words in Spanish that would make any crew sit up and pay attention - "Imigracion! Muestreme sus tarjetas verdes!". While that's an old joke, back in the seventies a friend on an internship at the INS told many tales of INS employees who would wander over to Chinatown from the Federal Building in lower Manhattan, present their IDs, and feast sumptuously. We were naturally suspicious of said stories as they had the unmistakable smell of urban legendry, but he decided to demonstrate one late night at a well-known noodle house. We were too ethical to actually take advantage of the situation, fortunately....

Today's taxpayer-funded absurdity comes from my local school district, which sent home notes this week detailing the schedule for upcoming parent-teacher conversations . If this were merely the case it would be totally unremarkable, except for the fact that there were rules for the meetings included. Said rules included an admonition to watch our body language during the meetings. As you've undoubtedly noticed, I spend an awful lot of time in meetings for my job, most of them with financial services types whose personality types range from Yosemite Sam to Iosif Dzugashvili, so I'm well versed in handling meetings and knowing what's appropriate and what's not. I can't believe that the teachers and the school administration is that afraid of parents that they have to demand we watch our body language. It's not as if I'm walking in, handing the teacher a round of .45 ACP and saying, "We do understand each other, don't we?". The point to be made here is that the school district wishes to impose a certain sense of control and conformity amongst the parental victims of its ministrations, and I don't find it acceptable. I'm a professional, and can recognize someone as such in his or her own milieu. That means that I demand to be treated as such, and not as a know-nothing who just happens to have reproduced specifically for the purpose of indoctrinating my children into whatever liberal weltanschung the school district dictates. Home schooling does indeed have its advantages.

Courtesy of Kim DuToit, we find the best reading yet of Santayana by Kevin Baker. More eloquent words about the difference between the President and Lurch cannot be written.

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