I have been meaning to write about this for months. It is well that I forgot because I have had new experiences which have led me to be even more pissed off.
I live in Portland near Lewis and Clark College. A small liberal arts school that is charging students $39,970 per year in tuition so they can graduate with a really useful degree in art history, Hispanic women writers, or the sociology and economic traditions of the Dobe !Kung. I know because I went to one of those schools and I have studied the above and now I’m a receptionist. But that is not what pisses me off, that’s a choice you make and if you don’t like the debt and lack of jobs, don’t Occupy anything, learn a trade and shut it.
So I live near L&C, I walk my dog around the campus and the adjacent roads quite often. During the course of these walks, we encounter L&C students. I would venture to guess that about 90 percent of the college students we pass do NOT make eye contact with me. Two people walk past each other on a college path and you don’t even acknowledge the other person?! I know this because I look right at them once we are within 6 feet of each other. They have their stupid ear things in and either look straight ahead or at the dog. That’s just rude.
I have taught four French classes at juvie. I was early for class on July 6 and waited in the entry area of the administration building where classes are held. There is another French class before mine but I can’t make it down from Portland in time for that one. I was sitting waiting and a Youth came out of the bathroom, looked right at me, smiled and said, “hello”. When their class was dismissed, the half dozen Youth walked past me to return to their quarters. Each one looked at me and if not smiling, they were at least curious as to who I was. They all looked at me and they all greeted me. Every freaking one of them.
This past week was the Bastille Day party for my French class and I will write more on the fun and irony of that later when I get the photos cleared. For now, I am simply comparing two groups of people, same age group, living in starkly contrasting circumstances; one group has worked hard to get into a good school and are studying to be lawyers and bankers and executive directors or whiners, I don’t know. The other group is working hard to get out of the mess they have gotten themselves into. Only one group (according to my very personal and non-scientific research) is polite enough to Look Me in the Eye and freaking say Hello!!!
My father was a hardass about handshaking, eye contact and introducing ourselves to my parents’ friends. I taught my children the same things. Do people not instill the value of a firm handshake, eye contact, manners, etiquette any more???
Maybe my inmates could teach a class in interpersonal communication at Lewis and Clark, I bet the pay is pretty good.