Posts Tagged ‘social’
September 12, 2008 in The Way It Were
Tags: buzzcut, city, college, easy, fired, haired, harvard. shoot, history, long, pictures, pothead, schools, science, social, state, student, teaching, university
As a school photographer, I take pictures at schools. It was only a matter of time before the school I student taught at would come up. I worried at first, given my history.
Fortunately, my initial anxiety proved unfounded — besides the customarily cool-blooded greeting I always got from a certain teacher, puzzled indignation from across the room by way of another, and an awkward, friendly joviality from the principal, taking pictures there was a blast. Of course, once word got around that I was on campus, and I use that cliche liberally, just a few familiar faces came up to say hello.
Four of my trouble students stopped by; since last semester, these now-juniors had decided to get back on track. As they left, I ensured they had their priorities straight.
You’re graduating; you’re going to college — right? All of them, unequivocally, gave me the right answer.
I accept it, because, as my master teacher had noted, even if they’re telling me what I want to hear, at least they’re hearing themselves say it. One of the students went as far as to say that I was his favorite teacher, and the reason he was doing better this semester, but I doubt it — his parents weren’t happy come open house, and he always did tend to gild the lily.
The long-haired pothead who played hooky more often than not, and was more than a little belligerent during my student teaching semester, got a buzzcut and earned a honor roll grade-point average this semester. Because he had the most dramatic turnaround, I took the time to get in one more piece of advice as he sauntered away:
Don’t aim for City College: Shoot for State.
What are you talking about? I’m shooting for Harvard.
That’s the spirit.
I had half an hour to pick up a replacement social security card. There was no way I had enough time, so I went straight to office and confronted my boss.
There’s one right by the airport, nearby. I’ll go during lunch.
Thanks for offering.
I almost wish I hadn’t. As soon as the words slipped out of my mouth, I remembered that this particular office is notorious for long lines and slow service, even among social security administration offices. It’s practically at the level of an inner-city DMV. At the fastest, requesting a card is a 45-minute chore of a errand mostly made up of time spent reading your book and turning off your cellphone.
The last time I lost my card, I went to a dingy office in a San Jose strip mall, complete with 1973-quality interior decorating. It lasted a lot more than the 45 minutes the guard said it would, and I just knew I’d get the same uncomfortable chairs and wasted hour of my life this time around.
Imagine my disappointment that I was in and out just as soon as the social security card lady got back from her lunch. The blandly disinterested clerk from my last visit at the other office had been replaced at this office by an attentive clerk who, if I remember correctly, even smiled at me. More than once.
She didn’t disappear behind the counter for minutes at a time as she asked around her superiors about exactly how she was supposed to fill out the paperwork, and she wasn’t the 20-something answering my questions while busily texting her boyfriend. She started doing what she needed to do, and without blinking.
As I told her just before I turned to leave:
Whatever people usually say about the Social Security Administration, I had a very positive experience today. Please: Keep it up.
If only consistency weren’t completely out of the question.
May 4, 2008 in The Way It Were
Tags: clinton, debates, douglas, douglass, education, embarrassing, foxnews, history, important, lincoln, murdoch, obama, science, social, stupid, u.s., u.s. history, why
Proving the importance of a social science education, FoxNews ran a piece about the Lincoln-Douglass Debates. This is not a typo.
Here’s a video, via Ari.
… and though while the FoxNews interns’ lazy use of Google Image Search would lead first to mere and slight embarrassment, it was only the first in a long string of Election 2008 debacles that would lead to the collapse of the Murdoch-inspired news networks.
I propose a toast, that this future might meet us. At the expense of channeling the late, great Spiro Agnew — and I say that sarcastically — I really hate television news.
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Every day, we experience a thousand moments, each of those moments setting in motion a thousand slightly different possibilities in the future. When we make these choices, we are thrust toward another day's crossroads, where we have another thousand choices.
Given the infinite number of choices we make in a lifetime, why do we choose so many of the same routes and make just as many of the same mistakes as our parents and grandparents?
I plan to learn from their mistakes. Let's see how far I get.
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