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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Would I lie to you?

When I said that I would be guest-posting on Lessons From Teachers and Twits today, did you think I that was pulling your chain?  Did you assume that I was pulling a fast one — asking you to pull my finger, as it were, but never pulling the trigger?  Is that what you thought?  Don’t pull my leg.

We all know that I could never pull that off.

So it must be true.  It has to be true!

I am blogging over at Renee’s place!

Here’s a little taste of my piece, Substitute Preacher

Nobody asked for my opinion, but I eventually decided
that she deserved some time off.
Ms. Jacobson was pregnant after all, and pregnant women
should not be required to teach fifth period English.  
In fact, I came to realize, pregnant women should not be
required to teach any period of English.  Or anything
else for that matter.  For a brief time, pregnant women
should be entirely devoid of periods.  They should also
say goodbye to: colons, ampersands, & Oxford commas.  
They should take a semester off -- or a trimester, at
the very least.

Don’t stop there.  Make like this is a library book (remember those?) and check it out!

And don’t forget to comment on the post!  I’ll be moderating and discussing the post in the comments section all day, so drop in and say something why don’t ya?

See you there!

(Have you gotten the hint yet?)


clicky, clicky!

This Wednesday, I will be guest blogging at Lessons From Teachers and Twits!

The blog belongs to (is the child of?) Renée Schuls-Jacobson, a woman who I encountered first as a teacher (as an 11th grader in 1998) and later as a twit (at any number of Camp Seneca Lake reunions).  I will link to the article when it is published, but in the mean time, you should check out her blog and make yourself at home.

Spoiler alert: The Wednesday guest post is a (pretty much true!) story of a life-changing, less-than-stellar classroom experience.

See you then!

Today is the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

I’ve always been a little baffled by the insistence that we “Never forget!”  the 9/11 attacks.  Personally, I would like to forget.  If possible, I would also like to forget the time I witnessed a motorcycle accident.  In fact, my list of “Never Forgets” — and your list, too, probably — does not include any (!) of the most traumatic, horrifying events in memory.  We tend to want to forget those things.

We  hire therapists to forget those things.

In any case, while I believe it is perfectly acceptable (and perhaps clinically advisable) to forget the horrific nature of that day, I often use these anniversaries to review my state of mind and perspective during that supersaturated day of confusion, fear, and sadness.

Below is a poem I wrote on the night of 9/11.   My goal was to write about the irrationality of what I had just seen using hyper-rational, mathematical language.  It was the only way to begin to wrap my mind around what we now refer to as The Events.

Two Minus Two / by Zach Sparer / Sept. 11, 2001

To explain humanity
or the [lack] thereof
We need not an equation.

Viscous eyes aim themselves skyward
Several sturdy symbols stand tangent
Awaiting their next proudest moment
Like invincible soldiers before battle.

They will stand until x = infinity;
Only the unthinkable could intersect
The glory of these tremendous twins.
A whole number.  Simply.  Two.

Ninety Degree
Flying like
Ninety Degrees
But not exactly right
Since they were minutes apart

Something was off.  Some

Aged 2000 years
In a few hours.
The proud soldiers now stand
Parallel to the soil.

Without having collected any data on the subject, my guess is that most Americans view Labor Day quite simply: a day off from work (unless you work at any retail store in the country).  Further, I suspect that most folks do not spend a great deal of time recognizing the unapologetic and irony-free connection between the labor movement and this day free from, well, labor.

Ten years ago (!), while peddling foam fingers and other miscellany at a picturesque minor league baseball stadium in Rochester, New York, I wrote (poorly and haphazardly) about one of my first interactions in the labor market.  Now, as a general rule, except for the days when unsupervised children would literally try to nickle-and-dime me (by negotiating for items with nickles and dimes), I was quite content with my summer employment situation.  However, I never could completely understand a justification for the sizable gap between the value that certain employees brought to the organization versus the amount of money they were paid for their services.

By the end of the summer, I had written what I considered to be a professional letter to Red Wings management.  At the time, my definition of “professional letter” revolved almost entirely around the use of single-spaced Courier font.  Also, lots of commas.  And no swears.  In the letter, I lamented a to-be-implemented policy whereby the distribution of meal coupons to certain employees’ (including those who work gift shop) was to be discontinued.  We relied on those meal coupons.

Copied from the letter, the crux of my argument was as follows:

Many times, if we are having trouble making sales,
employees are sent home after about 3.5 hours of work.
That makes that day’s tangible income equal to $20.13
(3.5 hours x 5.75 = $20.13).  Subtract my required
purchases of $6.75 ($4.75 for food and $2 for parking)
and the grad total for working one RedWings game is equal
to $13.38.  The point here is that by taking away our meal
tickets, you also take away 1/3 of our daily earnings at
Frontier Field.

Ultimately, the story — not a fairy tale — ends exactly how you would think:  The Red Wings never got back to me. Employees continued to work.  The meal coupon policy was indeed rescinded, and I made a few less dollars that summer than I believed I had bargained for.  Luckily, I still had a blast working at the stadium and will fondly remember my time as an employee of a real live baseball team.  But that by itself does not diminish the fact that my fellow employees and I were ignored and a fringe benefit removed merely because management had no incentive to listen.

As we age, I believe we begin to see ourselves primarily through particular social and political lenses.  But as a mostly-clueless high school graduate working in a minor league gift shop, I was too naive or too distracted to recognize where I fit on a socioeconomic or political spectrum, or whether — and the extent to which — these classifications impacted my understanding of the position I held as a team store employee.  In retrospect, I realize that what bothered me about the situation is that employees were not linked arm-in-arm and we did not operate as a cohesive unit, but at the time, all I saw was a vague injustice.

Of course, I know I’m not exactly sailing into uncharted territory here, but my experience that summer as a low-level employee has stayed with me, especially on Labor Day.

Diego Rivera, "Peasants"

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