“I wouldn’t trade common sense for anything in the world.”
How many times have we heard the above statement proclaimed, yet, have we already done so? Reckless spending, terrible business decisions, political ineffectiveness and inefficiency, failing educational systems and religious pandering for profit, has taken America by storm and it should be a beacon of warning for us all. But is it?
How has all of this come about? What is the answer to the haunting question…Why?
What you are about to read may shock many of you and possibly anger you. It may cause most of you to shake your head in disbelief, and it may sadden some of you to the point of tears. What you are about to read are not jokes or fiction. They are true stories.
Phonebook Fundamentals 101
Sipping coffee in one of my favorite hang-outs one evening, two teenage kids, one boy and one girl, entered and asked the barista if they could borrow a phone book. She complied and the two teens placed the book on the table and began thumbing through the pages. They kept turning from front to back, back to front, flipping pages and occasionally glancing at each other with puzzled looks on their faces. After witnessing this for a few minutes, it finally dawned on me that these two youngsters could not find what they were looking for, so I walked over and offered my assistance. This conversation ensued.
“Are you two having trouble finding what you’re looking for?” I asked.
“Yeah” said the boy. We can’t figure out how to work this.”
“Well you don’t work it son, you just look things up.” I replied.
“Yeah, but we don’t know where to look.” the girl answered.
I asked what they wanted to find and after spending about twenty minutes explaining the difference to them about the residence, business and surrounding communities sections, they finally began to catch on. The conversation continued.
“Do you mind if I ask you two how old you are?”
“We’re both sixteen.” said the boy.
You’re in High School then?” I quizzed.
“Yeah” the girl reported. “We go to ……… High.”
“You’ve been using the computer mostly to do this kind of thing haven’t you?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s a lot easier just to google this stuff, but we left our laptops at home. We’re sure glad you were here.” the boy exclaimed.
I asked, “Well, do you think you can use the phonebook at least once in a while from now on?”
“Yeah”, said the boy. “If we ever get out without our computers again we can now.”
I bid them goodnight and without so much as a thanks, they left the coffee shop, hopefully armed with some useful information that would serve them in the future. I slumped back into my chair, sadly hesitant to believe that it would. There is, however, hope. There is always hope.
Entering one of my favorite fast food restaurants, I was greeted, if you can call it that, by the youngster at the front counter. I placed my order and when the attendant punched in the menu items, I handed her a five dollar bill and waited for my change. I waited, and waited…and waited until the worker looked at me with disgust and bewilderment and said,
“The change thing isn’t working. I don’t know how much change to give you.”
Somewhat mortified I asked, “So you don’t know how to physically count correct change to the customer?”
“No”, she replied. “Nobody ever taught me how to do that.”
About that time the manager made his way to the front counter and asked if there was anything wrong, giving his employee a stern look. I stated that there was no problem and that we were merely having a conversation about counting change. The girl then pointed out that the change indicator wasn’t working and that she didn’t know how much to give me.
The manager then asked. “How much was the total?”
“Two seventy three.” said the girl.
“How much did he give you?” asked the manager.
“A five.” the girl replied.
What happened next astonished me and sickened me as well. The manager, who appeared to be a man in his mid-thirties asked, “How much are you supposed to get back?”
Holding back my frustration and nausea at the fact that the manager himself couldn’t count correct change, I volunteered my services in the teaching of such a simple, but apparently obsolete undertaking. It was around three o’clock in the afternoon and I was the only customer in the place, so the manager called his entire staff to the front and the lesson began. Within ten minutes, everyone was counting change through the ingenious process of using their heads. It was a momentous occasion and I kid you not, everyone was smiling and laughing and carrying on like we had just discovered the cure for some deadly disease. I was thanked by everyone and having been handed my meal, we all shook hands and I sat down to forcibly consume the food.
I was actually given the correct change after school dismissed. Yes…I still had to pay for my order.
I was enjoying a quiet evening at the coffee shop when Phil came around the corner half bent over in howling laughter. He belched out,
“Uncle Mike, you’re not gonna believe this. When (name withheld out of compassion) comes in here ask her what happened to her cell phone. You’re gonna die when you here it.”
So when Phil’s aforementioned co-worker entered the coffee shop with her usual greeting I casually asked what had happened to her cell phone and…Phil was right.
“Well Uncle Mike” she began, “I dropped my phone in the toilet and it quit working, so I thought if I got it dried out it might work again, so I put it in the microwave to dry it out. But when sparks started flying and it started making all these crackling and buzzing and frying noises, I yanked the microwave door open. It really ruined my phone then. Do you think it could have blown something up?”
I explained to her that I wasn’t an expert in demolition or nuclear science, but since the microwave uses radiation and the cell phone could emit an unknown amount of radiation, there is a possibility that when the to technological devices encounter each other, it just might cause a reaction of very explosive proportions. I mentioned things like an unshielded magnetron and electrical charges and, well… I hope she got the picture.
Yes, Phil was right. I felt like I was gonna die. It wasn’t from laughing however.
A Key to Success
We had been having a wonderful conversation when she glanced at her phone and noticed the time. She gave me a hug and said she had to run and hastily exited the coffee shop. Within a few moments, she re-entered and frantically told me that she couldn’t get her car door opened. I did the dastardly dumb assumption thing and presumed she had locked her keys in her car. We went outside and I attempted to pry the window open just enough to get my hand in but was miserably unsuccessful.
I asked her if there was someone she could call or if she had another set of keys and told her I would be glad to take her wherever she needed to go to get them. She said that she didn’t have another set of keys but that if we couldn’t get the car open would I please give her a ride to her house. That’s when I noticed something very peculiar. She had keys in her hand.
Spying what appeared to be an electronic remote I asked her what the keys in her hand were for. She replied;
“Oh, these are the keys to my house and car.”
In bewilderment I asked, “These are not the keys to this car are they?” With a puzzled look on her face she replied, “Yeah.”
I beckoned her to give me the keys and the lights went out all over the world when I put the key in the door, turned it clockwise and the door magically unlocked. I placed my hand under the door handle; pulled, and the door opened almost as miraculously as the Red Sea parted. She looked at me with utter astonishment and shouted; “I didn’t know that would do that! WOW! That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! I thought the key just turned the car on. Do all car keys do that?”
I informed her that, not only did the key open both car doors, it also opened the trunk. STOP THE PRESSES! You would have thought the wheel had just been invented by her exuberant reaction to such enlightening news.
Her age, you might ask? Well, I’m not certain of her age but I can tell you that she was a junior attending a major university at the time this occurred.
What is even more appalling is that, not only had she not been taught the simple function of key usage in school, her parents had neglected to inform her of this wondrous phenomenon. Sadder still, who knows how long she would have stood beside her car, frightened and wondering what to do, when a key to success was in her very own hand all along.
Have we become so politically correct that we have endangered our children and their future by refusing to properly educate and parent? Have we become so afraid of offending someone that we just turn aside from the basic principles of right and wrong? Have we bartered away the one thing that has sustained us and kept us free? Have we traded God given wisdom that is common sense for the nonsensical, worthless opinions and ideas, concocted and conjured in the minds of mere mortal men? Have we gambled away Almighty God and total trust and faith in Him, and Him only for technology, entertainment, materialism, and political and religious rhetoric and rants? Have we gone down to Egypt once more?
An undisciplined child is an unloved child and whether it be businessmen, bankers, brokers, builders, politicians, pastors, the president and our very own children, if we do not return to good old fashioned chastening and consequences for inappropriate action and tolerate wrongdoing no more, we can kiss this country and all it has stood for goodbye. How we have spit in God’s Face, the grace He has given us!
Contrary to popular belief, discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm and enlightenment. It is their greatest ally. Those, whom God loves, He chastens and disciplines. If it is good enough for God Almighty, it should be a supreme example for all of us, and even if you claim that there is no God, please just look around. If common sense doesn’t tell you that we are in one hell of a mess in this country and that man and his systems are the cause of it then…well, I guess it really has become uncommon sense after all.