THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 382, August 27, 2006
"Government is not the way to get things done."
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
One of my editors asked me to write a back-to-school column this week. This assignment is difficult for two important reasons:
1. To me, back-to-school means buying school supplies. Unfortunately, I know little about that process. When I was six, my mom overbought book covers, pencils, and folders. It was the only time we ever went shopping for school suppliesever.
2. I have a desk job. This means my entire life revolves around sitting at a desk, checking the clock, then checking it again because I didn't really check it the first time. It's hard for me to get back into that back-to-school mindset. Years after graduation, I feel like I never left.
Indeed, there are many similarities between going to school and having a desk job. If there's a difference, though, it's that schoolsespecially high schoolsactively put you in situations meant to highlight your shortcomings, while the working world lets you hide your shortcomings behind cubicle walls for weeks at a time. Officially, this is your reward for being old enough to handle responsibility. Truthfully, it's because not having personal space would probably lead you to kill yourself. Most companies would rather keep you alive than train a new employee.
Either way, this difference makes having a job at least marginally better and closer to freedom than spending one's days in our nation's educational prison system. So rather than dwell on back-to-school issues, I'd like the rest of this column to focus on something more optimisticnamely, a few of the things students are put through, which finally go away when they get out of school.
If you're reading this as a student, think of this list as a small ray of hope. If you're reading it as an adult, think of it as a reminder that, no matter how much your life sucks, you still have it better than kids.
ELECTIVES: Every school has courses that students must elect to take. Ostensibly, this means you're interested in whatever subject those courses are trying to teach you. If you take woodshop, for instance, it means you'd like a career making birdhouses with sharp nails sticking out to endanger the lives of birds. The working world is under no such delusions. People with jobs realize employment has nothing to do with what you enjoy. Instead, you work for whoever offers you the most money at the closest distance to where you live. Then you spend as much of your workday as possible looking up things you enjoy on the Internet. This is called "time management."
GYM CLASS: For some reason, someone decided a long time ago that schools should consist of long hours spent on plastic chairs. Somewhere along the way, someone felt bad about this, so they decided to give kids an hour of volleyball and exercises in physical intimidation. Thus, the idea of Phys. Ed. was born. Most companies don't have room for basketball nets and wrestling mats in their offices. For this reason, gym class goes the way of the dodo bird and rational political discourse once you find employment. Unfortunately, this means you can no longer use the expression, "I forgot my clothes," if you wish to be taken seriously. However, if you find a company with generous health benefits, you can sit on your rear eating candy all day, and your boss will pay to clean your teeth.
PERIODS: Like sentences and the female anatomy, schools derive their very structure from something called periods. Every 45 minutes, a bell rings to make you forget what you just learned, so you can go learn something else. Ultimately, this means you learn nothing about everything. Once you get a job, though, periods go away. At that point, being scatterbrained is called multitasking, and this is considered an asset. The more inefficient you are, the more people figure you must be doing some really good work.
SCHOOL SPIRIT: High school sports hinge on the idea that you should only root for athletes who take the same buses as you do. Since people with jobs usually find their own transportation, the working world operates under a slightly different principle. Instead of pom-poms and marching bands, employers will ask you to be a "good team player." This probably sounds like the same thing as school spirit, but it isn't, because it's easier. Now, all you have to do is pretend you're listening when other people talk to you, and say things like "What we should do is this" or "What we really need is that" to make it sound like your goals are the same as whoever owns the company. Occasionally, someone dressed as a Cougar or Spartan will come by your desk, urging you to put your hands in the air. That aside, though, it's a real piece of cake.
SEX EDUCATION: Schools teach about sex by gathering kids together and making the process as awkward as possible. Companies teach about sex by holding Christmas parties and serving vast amounts of alcohol. Of course, this process is still somewhat awkward. On the bright side, however, the alcohol is free.
As recommended by Kent McManigal