By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
The recent deluge of graduate sections in newspapers nationwide is an enticingly wrapped gift, a “Pandora’s Box”, as it were, of joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, relief and distress for the future of the country.
What are these kids going to do? What is going to happen to them and us as a result of their choices and actions?
Well—whatever they do, it will probably involve getting more education at some point or another in the ambiguous life journey to solvency (I don’t know exactly what this means, either, but it sounds good.)
Clem and I were congratulating a Briar Circle graduate. His plans were, go to college, learn something, make a few-million dollars, live and die comfortably. At least this is what he was speculating on. We could not help but give advice.
My counsel went along the lines of being pure and honest, industrious and hard-working, learning from the past, applying that knowledge to the present, and using it for the future, but Clem shot me down.
“Is that how you were in college?” he asked.
Uh, no. I was the opposite. I explained this is why I knew the proposed hind-sighted course was better, wiser, and—
Clem interrupted before I embarrassed myself further. “What you need will be a good roommate,” he said. “You want somebody you can get along with well. The first few semesters of college are poop.
It’s because of those ‘prerequisite’ classes, but you have to take them before you can do anything that interests you. It will be at least two years before you really start studying for your major. My advice would be to go to a community college and get the prerequisite stuff over with. Live at home. You can stand it for another couple of years.” Then Clem asked me, “What would you say?”
“I definitely agree. But I’d start out with learning a trade,” I suggested. “It depends upon the major, but learn bricklaying, fry-cooking, welding, cosmetics—anything to make a living. This may apply more for Fine Arts majors, but learn a trade. A plumber can start out making 30 or 40-thousand a year, maybe, with no college education. Your typical ‘Master of Arts’ graduate will be asking, ‘You want fries with that?’ for all eternity.”
Ted, short for ‘Theodore,’ which isn’t his name but that’s what we’re going to call him, said, “So does a college education really do anything for students anymore? I mean, if I can make more money plumbing?”
“You can learn at other places. Apprentice yourself. Get a ‘McJob’ at. You could start as a server at a drive-through restaurant, and, after you work there for a few years, you can graduate to be an overworked, underpaid assistant manager. You might even get tips.”
Clem said this, but I had to interject, “Clem, there’s nothing wrong with people working. I respect them for it. In fact, I admire them for it. Any honest job is better than no job, until you find something better. A willingness to work is a ‘positive’ to prospective employers, too.”
“Well, you can be self-employed,” Clem said. Then he told the story about the kind-hearted manager at [a mega-chain that doesn’t advertise in The Ledger] who offered a job to the panhandler who had stationed himself near the store’s parking lot for several weeks.
“Does it pay at least $300 a day?” the bum asked. “That’s what I make here, on average.”
The job offer was declined.
Unwisely, the kind-hearted manager told what happened with the encounter; next morning, four deadbeat employees quit and took up panhandling. The sad part is, this story is not “urban myth.”
Theodore acknowledged the “regrettable, dishonest, opportunistic character” of the panhandler. He pointed out, “The man should be a used-car salesman, or lawyer, or televangelist or something. But I guess if he did that, he might actually have to do some work.”
We asked Ted what he wanted as a “major and minor” with his studies.
He was honest. “Well, ‘social’ studies, first. You know, meet girls, socialize—like you said, get the prerequisites out of the way. Then something in the humanities, with disciplines in philosophy, religion and art.”
Hearing this, what else could we do? Clem gave Ted the location of the chain-store that should advertise in The Heavener Ledger. The “$300 a day” panhandler has mysteriously disappeared; the position is open.
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