And whatever you do…

April 26, 2013 on 1:05 pm | In computers, daily life, education, employment, jobs, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

And so it comes that I actually have begun to enjoy my job.

I’m not sure what that means. Perhaps it’s just the effect of time; one can only hold on to any emotion–be it hope for an out-of-reach career, or frustration at being unable to pursue what one believes is one’s “true calling”–for so long. Eventually the human mind can come to accept any situation.

Or maybe as Mr. Random Thoughts says, I’m in a place where all the random and wildly disparate parts of my education, past employments and life experiences have come together.

Whatever the reason, I’m not only fully capable of doing what I’m now doing for a living, I’m actually feeling fairly content at doing it each day.

Which troubles me. The pessimistic part of me warns that this too shall pass. It’s foolish to believe that any state of equilibrium, even mental contentment, will last. And this job, this odd mixture of freedom as an assistant pricing coordinator and extreme responsibility as an assistant bookkeeper, is not at all what I ever envisioned doing. It’s not teaching students. It’s not secure either; this company shifts its employees about like chess pieces from position to position and store to store. When they decide to promote you, you either take the promotion no matter the attendant commute, or you resign. Mr Random Thoughts thinks I should aim for a management position. It’s been indicated to me by those above me that this is not impossible. However, I really like working seven minutes from my front door. I do not want to work in another town, likely one that requires an hour or more commute. And I do not want the responsibility of managing other people unless they are students in my care. Adults, many of whom have questionable work ethics at best? No. I never wanted to teach at the college level either for similar reasons.

Additionally, this company is growing recklessly; their sole focus is on massive expansion and their infrastructure–particularly in terms of technology–is in no way capable of coping with the growth. Even their in-store computer system is frighteningly out of date. The emails between various levels of the corporation are both funny and frightening; people at all levels are so clearly in over their heads, under staffed, not communicating properly during key processes, and yet the company president and CEO are blithely assuring everyone that All Is Wonderful! We are On Track to Opening 150 More Stores in the Next Five Years! All signs though indicate that a cascade failure is rapidly approaching. The powers that be do not care; their goal is to reach a big enough size to go public and be purchased by some other corporation. In short, they’re looking for a big profit, not handing the company over to their heirs a decade or two from now.

Well, all I need is two more years, just long enough to get Youngest Son out of high school. And then, well, then I’ll do whatever comes next to hand for a living. Because it’s really that simple now. It doesn’t matter what I do, it matters how I do it: To the best of my ability, for God, and with the intent to be gracious for His sake to anyone who crosses my path.

Meanwhile, I am grateful to have a job that is finally beginning to pay somewhat decently (though not what I’d make as a teacher, and in no way what I might have earned as an attorney). I have the healthy beginnings of a 401k  to which my employer contributes (yes, two decades late but at least it’s something) and the ability to control my daily schedule rather than have it dictated to me while I stand behind a cash register. I can even go out and get a cup of coffee from the shop down the sidewalk whenever I choose.

Sometimes I can’t believe I was a cashier for over two years. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m still working in retail. Still, it has taught me a lot about humility, persistence, gratitude, and from where what strength (both physical and emotional) I have comes. I am still learning.

And maybe that’s the entire point after all.


Colossians 3:23

Not the one they’re looking for

February 1, 2013 on 7:22 pm | In daily life, employment, jobs, Uncategorized, unemployment | 3 Comments

 

 

 

Several weeks ago, I applied for yet another job. It was not a teaching job, but rather a writing and editing position the description of which was nearly identical to my skills.  I was given an interview. After the interview I sent the interviewer a handwritten thank you note. Ten days after the interview, having heard nothing, I called to find out where they were in the candidate selection process.

The interviewer told me,  “We’re in the process of finalizing the hiring of another candidate, but you can call back in a week and we’ll let you know if we are going to do any second interviews.

With nothing to lose, a week later I called back as she suggested.

She told me again, “We’re in the process of finalizing the hiring of another candidate.”

Yes, the exact same words. It takes three weeks to “finalize the hiring” of someone for a job that pays in the low five figures? The job listing is still on their website (where others have been removed and new ones appeared). So I’m not sure what to think, except that clearly I’m not a contender for the position.

I asked, “Can you tell me what assets the candidate you selected has which I might not have?

She answered (after a long pause), “No, not really. We look at a combination of objective and subjective things.”

What that tells me:  Regardless of  my skills and experience, including past experience directly with their company in a similar position, I am not what they want, and they can’t even tell me why.

I’m not sure how to feel about that, except kind of relieved. If they can’t articulate what they want in an employee which I don’t have, if the interviewer spends a full hour talking with me, yet can’t express to me where I failed to meet expectations, how well are they going to communicate needs and objectives during the workday? Probably about as poorly as they did 17 years ago…which is causing me to finally remember why it was somewhat of a relief to resign from the previous job I had with them back in the mid 1990s.

And so I continue toward my third year of ringing up groceries for a living, while searching for an employer who wants more from me than the ability to stand in one spot for 8 hours smiling and asking “Do you want paper or plastic bags today?”

 

 

Dear grocery store customer

May 14, 2012 on 12:02 am | In daily life, employment, jobs, lunacy | 1 Comment

Dear Grocery Store Customer,

Yes, as your cashier, a large part of my job is to be courteous and helpful to you. However, in the interest of maximum efficiency and future pleasant transactions between us, there are a few points I would like to make clear.

Just because I am wearing a name tag does not mean I want you to call me by name as I ring up your purchase. Nor is it an invitation to sing at me. The song you are attempting to sing is not about someone who shares my name, which is not pronounced the way you are pronouncing it. I do not find you singing at me cute, or clever, or funny, and neither would you after the twentieth time. That you are a chronologically mature man (it is always older men who do this) makes it even more pathetic.

Imagine you are at work, and I come into your workplace, oh, say, a bank, and your name is posted on your desk. I take one look at your name plate–let’s say it reads “Daniel Jones,”–and I begin to sing Elton John’s “Daniel.”

That would be all kinds of awkward for both of us, wouldn’t it? I doubt you’d find it cute, or clever, or funny. So let’s just not sing at each other.

And while we’re talking about communication, let’s discuss cell phones. Specifically, your use of them in the checkout line. I am not a machine. I can hear everything you are saying, since you are standing less than three feet away from me. And I really, REALLY do not need to hear about the bad sex you had last night, nor the medical condition you can’t get rid of, nor the fact that you are really pissed off at your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/significant other and want him/her/it to know just how you are feeling. I do not want to hear the bitchy gossip you are sharing with a “friend.” I do not want to know how much you hate your mother in law/father in law/ex husband. The fact that your puerile personal cell phone conversation is more important to you than being attentive to the people physically around you, or extending simple courtesy to the person with whom you are transacting business has not escaped my attention either. Feel free to ignore me.

I will however remember you and I will blog about you later.

Speaking of later…your children will not be children forever. One day they will grow up. And all things being equal, no matter what education they get, no matter what career path they take, one day they may end up doing a job they never planned on doing. Like being a grocery store cashier. Now would be a good time to teach them that there is no disgrace in doing honest labor. That just because someone is grocery store cashier does not mean he or she is uneducated and ignorant.

That teenage daughter of yours who says to you snippily, “What difference does it make if I can’t figure out how to put the groceries in the bag, I’m never going to work in a grocery store” may just have to eat her words one day.

And while we’re talking about the future, I realize that you think your refusal to use plastic bags, or paper bags, or any bags at all, will somehow make you the Savior of the Planet. In reality it will not. Your refusal to use plastic bags and your dirty bunches of beets and dripping raw chicken simply create a sloppy mess. Your insistence on only using one bag for three bags worth of food makes no sense. But hey, if it makes you happy to shove $149 of groceries into one dirty reusable canvas sack, raw fruit, vegetables and meats all shoved in together, hey, it’s your money buying the smashed bread and bruised bananas. Just don’t waste my time telling me how noble you are in eschewing bags. I don’t care that you are more worried about the planet than your own health or economic well being.

I. Don’t. Care. And I think you’re an idiot. The car you are driving to and from the store is far more damaging to the environment than the few disposable bags in which I attempt to place your purchases. You want to be noble, carry your groceries home on foot or on a bike, not in a BMW. I will not point out the blatant hypocrisy of your environmentalism however; I will smile at you, and ask you if you’d like help out with your groceries, and wish you a nice day.  I will not take out upon you the frustration of dealing with countless obnoxious, rude, insensitive and self righteous customers.

I will however, blog about it all later. A person has to have some kind of outlet after all.

Career trajectory

March 18, 2012 on 12:54 am | In California, daily life, education, employment, ethics, jobs, morality, public school, teaching | 1 Comment

It’s so hard not to be angry when I read about yet another teacher treating his career as an educator like it was nothing more than a sexual opportunity.

The central California city of Modesto is in an uproar after a 41-year-old high school teacher quit his job and left his wife and children to move in with an 18-year-old student, according to news reports…

[James] Hooker, who taught business and computer classes at Enochs High School, resigned Feb. 22. He was put on paid administrative leave Feb. 3 while officials investigated, and is now banned from having contact with students and staff at Enochs, where one of his children is a junior. No details about his children were provided.

Powers had been one of Hooker’s business students. He said their relationship was “strictly teacher-student until mid-December, when they started talking more frequently and then dated,” the Bee writes.

“I just kind of knew that she’s the one,” he said.

Powers moved out of her home last week and has stopped attending classes at the school. She said she is on independent study, plans to graduate in May and then study nursing at a four-year university.

She told ABC News that Hooker is “my best friend. I mean, he’s more than just a lover.”

I could write pages about how sick and twisted and predatory this behavior is, and how evil it is that the unions protect people like him (he’s not working now, but he is drawing a salary and will continue to draw a pension–complete with health care–so he and his child girlfriend can shack up in relative comfort).

California Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (a Republican, no surprise there) is proposing a bill to cut the pensions of teachers who engage in improper relationships with their students. I predict it will go down to flaming defeat at the hands of the union-backed democrat majority in Sacramento. At least she’s trying to do something.

And I could write about how tragically predictable it is that this girl who so clearly has no father in her life (only her mother has come forward to object) has fallen prey to a man old enough to be her father.

It’s all so sordid, and so aggravating to me as I stand on the fringe of the education profession looking in. I find myself wondering why I continue to hope for a full time job as a teacher. Never mind that there aren’t any jobs available, nor likely to be any next year within a reasonable driving distance of my home (in another state, perhaps). Just the idea itself of wanting a teaching career seems increasingly ludicrous though in the face of how utterly messed up the education system is. For me, it’s about teaching children the subject upon which I am most passionate: the English language. Helping them become better writers and speakers. Giving them the power to express themselves clearly. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one who doesn’t see teaching as a 2-years-then-you-get-tenure-and-you’re-set-for-life job with endless opportunities to slack off or screw around.

The truly frustrating thing is, I’m actually quite good at teaching. That’s not vanity; I’m not a perfect teacher, but every time I spend a day in a classroom teaching English, and the students respond to the way I present material, I know I’m good at it. I can see they’re getting the concepts I’m teaching. And they tell me they are. “You made this really make sense.” “I hope you teach our class again.” “I like the way you explain things.”

This is what I’m really good at doing. And I really, really enjoy it.

Running groceries across a bar code scanner and bagging them up? Not so much.

It has crossed my mind though that I’m not young anymore. Most days I don’t think about my age, beyond a momentary pause as I apply makeup in the  morning. The texture of my skin reminds me more and more of my late mother, and I realize I am nearly as old  as she was when I last spent significant time around her. A very sobering thought.

And then there are the longer than usual days at my grocery store job. An eight hour shift standing on my feet is bearable, for the first six. The final two hours are increasingly uncomfortable, until I reach a “how many minutes left?” state, where it’s all I can do to say “Hello” and smile at the customers. My back aches, and I find myself wondering, is this really how I’m meant to spend the next decade or so of my life?”

The rare substitute teaching job serves to remind me how much I enjoy teaching students about literature and writing, and how unreachable a classroom of my own apparently is for me. I’m only going to get older. And the credentialing programs are still turning out new, young teachers with fresh student teaching references while mine are now three years old. At what point do I resign myself to the fact that I don’t have a career, I have two (three if you count seasonal state test scoring) part time jobs.

Is this really how I’m meant to spend the next decade or so of my life?

In the midst of musing about life in today’s rural California, Victor Davis Hanson has some pointed thoughts of his own about growing older.

As we age (I’m 58), the conventional wisdom is to “downsize.” Sell the large house. Move into a condo. Travel more. Give up the lawn mower and chainsaw. Relax.

I prefer the opposite. Keep busier — more limbs to prune, add some more lawn, expect to spend three weeks hauling out leaves, and each spring to cut up a huge fallen oak or liquid amber limb. I saw that with my grandfather. At 80, his tasks multiplied while his ability to meet them diminished. If farming 120 acres was a challenge at 50 for him, mowing just a fifth of his lawn was even more so at 86. If the house I live in seemed from pictures in pristine condition at 60 (1930), when he was 40, it aged into the house on the hill in Psycho at 100 (1970) when he was 80. Still, he got up every day to do what he could, until he finally just ran out of gas, and one morning did not wake up. Living in the country ensures that the need to work keeps expanding as you diminish.

All this helps to adopt a similar outlook about America, not to tolerate the acceptance of a shrinking world commensurate with your own decline. I’d prefer America to take on ever more — pay down the debt, run surpluses in five — not fifty — years, build more dams and freeways, drill anywhere there is recoverable oil, beef up the military, require citizens to do more, not less for themselves, even as the bowing, apologizing, qualifying, sermonizing, editorializing, and nearly nonstop whining president seems to welcome our senility and wishes to retire the U.S. into a sort of permanent European condo with lounges on the tiny sixth-floor balcony.

I personally refuse to do the emotional equivalent (much less the physical) of retiring to a sixth-floor European condo (I’ve seen them, they’re depressingly utilitarian).  I fully intend to stay busy; “retire” is not a word in my vocabulary. I’m just unclear on how I ought to use the time I have left when the years ahead of me are fewer than those behind me, and the goal I was aiming for is no longer in sight.

From a broader standpoint, I agree with what Hanson is saying about America, and our attitude as a country. And I can’t help but think that if we expected more from each other as Americans–more dedication, more individual effort, more personal responsibility, and more commitment to ethical and moral standards–it would be a lot harder for the James Hookers among us to smile and act as though there was nothing wrong with what they’re doing.

 

Occupying and Jesus

November 8, 2011 on 10:56 am | In Christianity, crime, economics, faith, homeless, jobs, lunacy, morality, racism, religion, unemployment, unions | 5 Comments

As seen yesterday on Facebook:

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers… He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Jesus was the leader of Occupy Jerusalem, and was the Supreme First Occupier.

When I read this, my first reaction was to snort in disbelief. And then I felt a bit angry.

Equating Jesus’ behavior in Matthew 21 with that of the Occupy Wall Street crowd? Seriously? Equating his purpose with theirs? Seriously?!

Not being a timid sort, I expressed my disagreement, politely of course.

And the response was predictable:

[The negative stories about the Occupy movement] is corporate propaganda. They don’t like religion or Jesus. They just want your vote. Anybody who thinks Jesus would take no issue with Wall Street today hasn’t read the Bible. Jesus stood with the beggars, the lepers, and the prostitutes. Jesus would not have rung the Wall Street bell. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25. The “prosperity Gospel” has impoverished the soul of our country much like it did in India before Gandhi. The tea party movement along with radical environmentalists, abortion clinic bombers and occupy wall street all have their idiots…We all need to look at what folks are angry about and to look closely at those aspects.

My only response to that was to back away slowly, because there’s no rational discussion with someone who sees only what they want to see. And that’s a big problem with the entire Occupy movement.

You want it to be an anti-banking movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be an environmentalist movement? Or an animal rights movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a help the homeless movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a pro-communism movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a “Christian” movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be an anti-Semitic movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a business opportunity? Okay, it is.

It can be whatever you think it is, because in reality, it’s all of those and none of those things. It’s so unfocused the only way to interpret it is through each person’s own individual desires. And that’s why the Facebook poster truly believes Jesus would be part of–no, would lead–Occupy Wall Street.

Which is where my anger came in. To my mind, there’s little difference between a KKK member or a Nazi skinhead proclaiming that Jesus would be on his side, and an Occupy supporter proclaiming Jesus would back his movement. Both make God a tool of their agenda.

I hate that.

Believe whatever you want about the way our society should work, but don’t try to validate your beliefs by insisting God is behind them, or alongside them, or leading them. Just don’t.

The juxtaposition between Jesus response to those wanting him to stand up to the government and this:

is so stark that it’s mind boggling. Parenthetically, as one who works in a non-union grocery store (and no, I do not think it’s coincidental that non-union Whole Foods was targeted rather than Vons or Ralphs or any union grocery), I find this truly chilling. I don’t want to imagine the fear of the employees trapped inside as that mob attacked their building.

The Occupy crowd does not represent the average citizen, nor the unemployed.

It’s hateful and it’s violent.

Its protesting of “economic injustice” (i.e. capitalism) includes theft and vandalism. Even among their own.

The incidents are not random and few, they are many and growing.

What would Jesus do? Not this.

Elsewhere, Joel Griffith thoughtfully rejects the idea of a OWS Jesus

Would Jesus be camping with the protesters in the city park? Would he be leading an occupy “assembly”, singing solidarity choruses, and heralding the demise of capitalism?  If one takes the time to honestly review the stories in the four gospels, the only possible answer is a resounding, “NO!” Jesus lived under Roman rule.  The Romans oppressed Jesus’ fellow Jews, stationed military in Jewish homes and cities, and exercised political power over Jewish territory, interfered with Jewish religious life, and siphoned off Jewish wealth through tribute.

Though living under such conditions, Jesus never advocated revolution or political upheaval.

Read the entire piece, and if you still think Jesus was an Occupier, perhaps you need to ask yourself why. It may have far more to do with yourself and your own wants, than with the reality of God. You might want to go through the 4 steps Dr. Lina recommends as you consider how your belief in Jesus fits with supporting a protest like Occupy Wall Street.

 

Occupy yourself

November 6, 2011 on 10:04 pm | In daily life, economics, education, employment, jobs, lunacy, politics, unemployment | 1 Comment

I’ve been trying to figure out the Occupy Wall Street/Los Angeles/Seattle/Insert-City-Here thing ever since they set up tents in downtown Los Angeles. Not because I ever go to downtown Los Angeles; they could erect a tent city there and it wouldn’t affect me one bit. Nor would it surprise me, but that’s another story.

It just seemed more local to me than Wall Street, and I wondered if anyone would bother occupying some park in my own city. Not likely, as our parks are surrounded by trees, obscured from and in most cases remote from any substantial car or foot traffic. That’s what the Occupy people seem to want: high visibility, and they’re not going to get it in my city’s larger parks.

With some surprise I actually happened across a handful of protesters last week, not in a park, but on a high visibility grassy corner across from my city’s mall. Near a major freeway off ramp, it’s the only sizable grassy area that can be seen by a large number of passing cars.

The weirdness is, it’s not near any of the many banks in my city. It’s not near the mammoth biotech corporation that basically ate up the city next to mine. No, it’s across from a shopping mall. And I would bet real money that the protesters all have and do shop at that mall from time to time. I’d also bet that they purchased the obviously new camp chairs several of them were seated in at a large retail corporation–perhaps the Target a few blocks away, or the Costco or the Walmart on the other side of town.

Based on those…ironies?…and the fact that Occupy mobs fully embrace using cell phones and cameras produced by corporations like Apple, Samsung, LG, and others, as well as cardboard for their signs which is also produced by corporations, and they are wearing clothing they didn’t make themselves but bought at corporate run stores, I’m gathering that the protest against corporate greed is a little…skewed? Or maybe they just don’t get how much their own protest–much less their daily life–depends on corporate products.

Maybe they think that Steve Jobs would still have come up with the i-Phone if he’d never made more than $26,000 a year at Apple. Or if his wealth had been distributed to “the 99%” instead of amassed by himself.

Somehow I doubt that. I’ve read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, and I can say with some certainty that “corporate greed” helped create all the cool technology the Occupy mobs use so eagerly.

Never mind Jobs, just look at Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg. He’s still amassing wealth from his creation, and still finding ways to improve  its profitability. The Occupy mobs use Facebook extensively. Do they have any idea of the “corporate greed” behind it? I’d bet real money they don’t and they don’t care.

I’m not the only one pondering this blatant hypocrisy.

I’m left wondering just what the “corporate greed” is that the Occupy folks hate so much. I’m thinking it’s not a substantial, quantifiable, identifiable target. They just don’t like the fact that some people make a lot of money doing what they do for a living. And they think those people should be…what? Fired? Kicked out of the country? Killed? Eaten? It’s hard to tell based on their rhetoric.

I’ve been reading a number of wise bloggers thoughts on this issue, and they make a lot more sense than the Occupy chanting and drums. Charlie at Another Think points out that envy is at the core of this mob effort:

Inciting anger towards corporations and the rich is a way of diverting attention from the inconvenient truth that Washington has long been a slobbering drunk when it comes to spending. And, what’s worse, it owns the keys to the booze cabinet.

All this careless rhetoric against the wealthy has elevated envy to a virtue. The Occupy Wall Street movement is rooted in envy, one of the deadliest of human sins. After all, the goal of OWS, and the deranged children it has spawned in Oakland, DC and elsewhere, is to tear down capitalism (a greed-based system) and remake society around an envy based system instead. These young idealists and anarchists imagine a society where everyone gets a piece of what everybody else has, where no one will ever be allowed to stand higher than the next guy.

Capitalism succeeds because it allows someone with good ideas and a strong work ethic to rise above the average. It appeals to the competitive desire in most of us to improve, to do better.

By comparison, OWS-style egalitarianism can only succeed if we all agree to pull down those high achievers and make certain that everyone is merely average.

In that, the OWS movement shares an alarming amount of DNA with the French Revolution, and is attempting to live out its high-sounding creed in the streets: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

How long will it be before they start lopping off the heads of the wealthy in Zuccotti Park?

The always erudite Victor Davis Hanson–himself a university professor–blames the unrest on the unrealistic expectations of today’s university educated youth:

Apparently, most middle-class and upper-middle class liberals—many of them (at least from videos) young and white—are angry at the “system.” And so they are occupying (at least until it gets really cold and wet) financial districts, downtowns, and other areas of commerce across the well-reported urban landscape. As yet there is no definable grievance other than anger that others are doing too well, and the protestors themselves are not doing at all well, and the one has something to do with the other. I am not suggesting union members and the unemployed poor are not present, only that the tip of the spear seems to be furious young middle class kids of college age and bearing, who mope around stunned, as in “what went wrong?”

…Students rarely graduate in four years, but scrape together parental support and, in the bargain, often bed, laundry, and breakfast, federal and state loans and grants, and part-time minimum wage jobs to “go to college.” By traditional rubrics—living at home, having the car insurance paid by dad and mom, meals cooked by someone else—many are still youths. But by our new standards—sexually active, familiar with drugs or alcohol, widely traveled and experienced—many are said to be adults.

Debt mounts. Jobs are few. For the vast majority who are not business majors, engineers, or vocational technicians, there are few jobs or opportunities other than more debt in grad or law school. In the old days, an English or history degree was a certificate of inductive thinking, broad knowledge, writing skills, and a good background for business, teaching, or professionalism. Not now. The watered down curriculum and politically-correct instruction ensure a certain glibness without real skills, thought, or judgment. Most employers are no longer impressed.

Students with such high opinions of themselves are angry that others less aware—young bond traders, computer geeks, even skilled truck drivers—make far more money. Does a music degree from Brown, a sociology BA in progress from San Francisco State, two years of anthropology at UC Riverside count for anything?

So they’re petulant, they’re angry, they’re unemployed and unemployable, and they’re determined to be heard. In the meantime, they’re also starting to emulate the greed they protest.

…T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise emblazoned with Occupy locations and slogans are being offered online and amid the camp sites that have sprung up in cities across the country. A number of merchandise vendors, clothing designers and others are making plans to market a wide-variety of goods for a wide-variety of reasons even as some protesters decry the business plans as directly counter to the demonstrations’ goals.

And that does not surprise me at all. Capitalism, after all, works.

Children’s football and the level playing field

September 30, 2011 on 5:42 pm | In children, education, football, jobs, Obama, public school, teaching | No Comments

This really ticks me off, on a number of levels:

According to Arkansas Fox affiliate Fox 16, 11-year-old Demias Jimerson has emerged as such a dominant running back that the Wilson Intermediate Football League he plays in has reinstated a bylaw called the “Madre Hill rule,” which bars him from scoring a touchdown if he has already scored three times and his team has a lead of 14 points or more.

The rule is named after former University of Arkansas star and Oakland Raider Madre Hill, who, like Jimerson, played youth football in the Malvern, Ark., area. Hill proved so adept at getting the ball into the end zone whenever he touched it that the WIFL came up with the rule to try and keep scores from getting too out of hand.

Now it has brought the same statute back for Jimerson, saying that the rule isn’t meant to punish him, but rather to ensure that the other 21 players on the field stay involved.

“The other players on both teams, 21 are just left sort of, this is all Demias,” WIFL commissioner Terri Bryant, who is also Jimerson’s Intermediate School principal, told Fox 16. “So that’s why the Madre Hill Rule has been implemented.

“[Jimerson] is going to score almost every time he touches the ball.”

It turns out that Bryant’s assessment of Jimerson’s talent is only a slight exaggeration. In one of the two games the sixth-grader played before the Madre Hill rule was implemented, he scored an incredible seven touchdowns.

Rather than challenge the other kids to work harder, instead we just keep the truly excellent from performing once they’ve shown how great they are. Way to teach excellence to all. Except not; it’s the “level playing field” approach. We’re all the same, we’re all equal, nobody is THAT much better than anyone else. And if you are, well, we will keep you from demonstrating it, much less reaching even higher.

Meanwhile, the excellent must wait until they can get away from the restrictions that tie them down. Fortunately Jimerson can, in 2012. But if he always had to play only half (or less) as hard as he’s capable, how long would he bother playing football?

That would probably solve a host of problems for the woman running the football program. No need to apply “fairness” rules when everyone is unexceptional.

What are rules like the “Madre Hill Rule” really teaching kids? That when you can’t compete with someone else–when they are significantly better at something than you–someone will step in and impose restrictions on them. That way you don’t need to push yourself harder or work at something more than someone who is innately better at it than you. More effort on your part isn’t really needed; those who excel won’t be allowed to dominate. You won’t have to feel badly about your own relatively modest efforts.

And then kids take those concepts with them into adulthood, and the workplace, and life in general, and we are seeing the result today. We have people content to remain on unemployment assistance, and a dramatic increase in welfare reliance. We have a government obsessed with “fairness,” both socially and economically. If we’ve gone “soft” as a country, the way our current president claims, it’s because the focus is on promoting the marginal and the incompetent. That’s what you get with a level playing field approach; you wouldn’t recognize excellence if you tripped over it…and you aren’t likely to do so; a great deal of it has left town.

Ah well, at least Damias Jimerson has a bigger perspective than the idiots attempting to restrain him.

…the Madre Hill rule is only for fifth and sixth grades. Next year, Jimerson goes to seventh grade.

“I’m gonna run hard and bring our team to victory,” said Jimerson. Then he added, “but God always comes first, before anything, and grades second.”

God, grades, then touchdowns — Madre Hill Rule or not.

Of course, that attitude isn’t going to win him any favors from the public school system, but hey, you go, Demias. You’ll never be mediocre, on the football field or off.

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