This morning while waiting for the train my ears were assaulted by one of those annoying canned announcements. It started with these word: "A friendly reminder..." Do hostile reminders exist? If it is in fact a "friendly reminder," you should not need to preface it with those words. What, if we aren't told its a "friendly" reminder do you think we'll plug our ears? Trust me we can tell it's friendly because of the tone of the voice and the words used. It's as if I started this with: This is a blog post. The "friendly reminder" ended with the recording saying: "thank you." Thank you for what? What am I being thanked for? I don't get this. What's worse is when an announcement about a delay thanks me for my patience. I'm usually not the least bit patient when there is a delay in service on the subway. I'm annoyed, frustrated and sometimes angry. But not patient. I think they're being sarcastic.
Ever called someone or been called or heard someone called "jerk" or "a real jerk"? Or many of the other tags we give to people who offend us or are rude or disagreeable? What about that chap you called "a jerk", that 's not all there is to him (or her). There's usually much more to a person. He (or she) may be a parent, a podiatrist, a registered independent, a baptist, a violinist, a college graduate, any number of things. No one is just a "jerk." We are all of us, even our most insipid and weightless individuals, fully dimensional creatures.
But what if a "jerk" self identifies as same? Maybe these people gather at some venues at various times. Let's imagine a large ballroom with people holding cocktails, mingling. It might go something like this.
"Hi, I'm Tim, I'm a real jerk and this is my wife Hazel, she's a bitch."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Claude and I'm an asshole. This is my partner Tori, he's a fucking asshole."
"It's nice to meet you. Do you by any chance know the Hendersons? Molly and Guy? He's a tool and she's total bitch."
"I think so, is that them over there talking to Blaine, the total loser?"
"Yes, that's them. And to their right is Rusty, he's a real piece of work."
Just then there's a loud crash. Someone has knocked over a stack of plates.
"Who did that?"
"Oh that was Kyle, he's a real screw up."
"No that was Danny, he's a total fuck up."
"I've got to find Tony."
"Oh the frickin' idiot."
"One and the same."
Speaking of jerks, one of my colleagues just expressed joy unbound because a student said that she was a "severe" teacher. She said it made her happy. (I thought: it makes me happy when I'm called a "good" teacher, but hey that's me.) This is a widespread phenomenon among teachers, the desire to be regarded as strict. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard a teacher brag about laying down the law to a student or to an entire class. Some teachers are forever bragging about their no-nonsense approach. Many of these teachers are quite good at their jobs, many more are quite bad, and some are in the great area in between. Of course it is incumbent upon teachers to have rules and insist that students follow them. Teachers can neither be weak nor taken advantage. This is especially true if, as I did, you teach in a middle school. Here I am teaching adults and about all I ever have to discipline a student for is peeking at their cell phone during class. (It has become reflexive for young people to get out their cell phone as soon as there is even a momentary lull. Class stops for a break and 90 to 100% of students will get out their phones.) But happily for me my days of being a drill sergeant are over. Now I teach rooms full of pussycats. Yet send some of these darlings to another teacher and suddenly orders must be obeyed and no dissent will be brooked. I don't get it. I also don't get why the height of someone's day could possibly be when they are called "severe."
Final note: Anyone interested in joining me for an eagle hunt please let me know. We use AK-47s. In addition to eagles we target falcons, condors and SUVs. I've had a passion for eagle hunting ever since, as a toddler, my adopted twin brother Angus was carried off by an eagle to a fate unknown.