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Heroes Work Here!

February 18, 2021

Plain to see, out in front of the main post office in my hometown of New Bern, North Carolina, stands a sign that reads, in big letters, HEROES WORK HERE!

Okay, so let me make myself perfectly clear, I like my postman, or postit, or whatever one is to call someone in these strange times who appears to be male and delivers the mail, but I seriously doubt that he qualifies as a hero. The people who work in said post office are friendly and helpful, but they don’t qualify as heroes either. My handyman isn’t a hero, and I dare say he puts forth more physical effort at his job than they do theirs. He also takes more risk.

What’s with postal workers being heroes, then? Their job exposes them to COVID? I have a sneaking feeling that’s it. If I’m right, they ain’t heroes. They’re just doing their jobs. Furthermore, if doing one’s job – one that involves the possibility of exposure to COVID – is heroic, then people who won’t go to work because their jobs expose them to COVID must be cowards. I’m thinking of the thousands of teachers across the USA. Who are the only people who have refused to go to work because of COVID? Teachers! Nurses have continued going to work. Doctors have continued going to work. EMTs, dentists, policepersonits, and firefighters have continued going to go to work. All of the aforementioned risk as much if not more exposure to COVID than teachers. Yet teachers, hiding behind their unions, have refused to go to work when their exposure is minimal, especially given that COVID seems to have decided that kids aren’t worth infecting.

Over the past fifty years or so, I’ve witnessed the ubiquitous dumbing down of language. Take the word bully. When I was a kid, bullies were kids who beat you up for no reason other than they seemed to like inducing fear into certain other kids. Today, a bully is someone who makes another child feel bad. Hello? What ever happened to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me!”? Today’s equivalent seems to be “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but calling me a name will ruin my life forever!”

Perhaps I have little to no sympathy for kids who collapse because other kids call them names because I used to enjoy the challenge of coming up with a name that was worse than what some other kid called me. He called me a sissy, so I told him his mother wore combat boots. I guess that one won’t work anymore, but you get the idea.

A principal once told me that the mother of a fifth-grader called him one afternoon to report that another kid had bullied her son. At lunch, he had poured about half a cup of Chex Mix down the back of her snowflake’s shirt. The snowflake in question needs a George in his life. George would chase me home from school and, being bigger and faster, I couldn’t outrun him. When he caught up with me, he would pin me to the ground and tickle me. So, being tickled is okay for about the first two seconds after which it is worse than being waterboarded.

Notwithstanding that George chased me home from school nearly ever day for a year, I have no lingering resentment. Besides, George was eventually sent off to reform school. Seems he was doing far worse stuff than tickling me to tears.

Another dumbed-down word is trauma. I sometimes think the only person in the world who’s never been traumatized is me. According to their parents, today’s kids are traumatized all the time. All it takes is something they don’t like, and they’re traumatized.

“Loud noises, like sirens, traumatize him,” a parent once told me concerning her eight-year-old.

Huh? What does he do when he hears a siren? Get in a fetal position in the corner of his bedroom, suck his thumb, mumble incoherencies, and rock back and forth catatonically? No, he just puts his hands over his ears and screams, “Make it stop!” His mother, otherwise intelligent, doesn’t seem to know that telling him to be quiet is an option. No, she drops what she’s doing, runs over to him, and holds him on her lap until the siren is out of range. SHE is the reason he’s “traumatized” by sirens. If it wasn’t sirens, it would be the sound of a fly buzzing nearby. His supposed trauma is her reason for existence. It gives her motherhood meaning! The problem, of course, is that her son’s ability to ever form a functional relationship with another woman is being slowly dismantled. His mother is doing him what might be irreparable harm. I guess that qualifies her as a bully. She needs a pair of combat boots, for sure.

Copyright 2021, John K. Rosemond
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