Saturday, June 7, 2008

Words of Wisdom

On our last full day of school, my 11th grade students asked me if I was going to share with them some words of wisdom. Apparently, in prior years, teachers have taken the last day of school to share life lessons with the kids. I asked them what type of advice they'd gotten last year."Oh, I dunno," one kid answered. "Just generic stuff... I forget." "Yeah," a handful more agreed.

They said they'd be interested in my words of wisdom if they were more specific and applicable. Of course, they didn't use the word applicable. It's June. They stopped thinking several weeks ago. But that was their point.

The only one I could come up with at the time was, "Don't sucker punch someone who is standing at the top of a flight of stairs. If that person catches herself halfway down and gets back up, she's getting back up PISSED."

I wasn't sure that was too appropriate, though, so I began thinking about what good, specific, applicable advice I could offer my students. I tried to come up with advice that might be new to the kids.

A few of these might sound familiar to some of my old friends, but for what it's worth, the following list is what I came up with. Some are more serious than others, but all are true.

Driving

*Do not antagonize people who are driving like maniacs. Let go of your pride, let them by, and stay far enough away that, when they inevitably crash into a tree or someone else, you can drive around the wreckage. Trust karma.

Moving

*Don't bend wicker.

*Yes, everything needs to be tied down in the truck, no matter how jam-packed it is.

Work

*Wherever you work, no matter what position you're in, make friends with secretaries, custodial and maintenance staff, and anyone else most people overlook. They may not make the rules, but they run the show.

Interpersonal Skills

*Almost everybody likes baked goods.

*Listen up when people talk about themselves. They're telling you what's important to them. Remember the names of their kids and pets... and then ask about them occasionally. You can make friends with even the grumpiest people this way.

Injuries

*If you ever put your hands through a window - freeze. Most damage sustained by people who put their hands through windows is actually sustained when they jerk their hands back through the now jagged glass. So as you hear the glass crack, freeze. Then, assess the situation before you carefully remove your hands.

Impalement injuries are similar... more damage is done getting the object out. That's why occasionally you'll see news footage of someone being taken to the hospital with part of a fence sticking out of his abdomen. I would imagine, then, that the above advice applies. If you ever impale yourself with something - freeze.

*There is a correct bandage for everything.

Beauty

* If you're going to try a new hairstyle, bring pictures to the salon with you. The words "not too short" are relative. Pictures help.

* If you have two friends: one who's super nice and one who's a bit blunt, take the blunt one shopping with you.

Travel

*Remember that people can see you when you're in your car. It may feel private, but singing and dancing like a total goofball in your car is essentially singing and dancing like a goofball in public. Don't interpret this as "you shouldn't sing and dance in your car." Just remember that others can SEE you and behave accordingly.

As a side note, nose-pickers, the above advice applies to you, too. If you wouldn't jam your finger up your nose on line at Walgreens, don't do it in the car... we just don't want to see that.

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That's all I could come up with for now. If you've read my previous blogs you know my "leave the cat" mantra and assorted other advice on everything from how to behave at a school performance to how to not annoy your neighbors. I'm thinking of gathering some of the best ones, typing them up, and actually going over them with students during our last 20 minutes together before summer break.

Anyone care to make additions?

I'm out.