“How mush fer a rib?!”

9 Feb

The longer I teach storytelling in my classes, the more important I think it is that I only blog when I have an actual story to tell. Or a Vivian story to tell.

Today I was in Postal Pack and Ship, once again late in sending Cal’s Valentine’s Day birthday present. I’ll skip the story about how I spent all afternoon trying to find a $6 flat-rate box and ended up paying $22 to ship a box of brownies, a check and a card.

MUCH more interesting stuff happened. Stuff that makes me, the world’s biggest adolescent and young adult proponent, worry about all our futures.

(And just so we’re clear, while this story demonstrates alarming behavior by “youths,” it’s CLEARLY their parents’ fault. As it usually is.)

While I was at the counter of the friendly shop, a college-aged couple came in, and they wanted stamps. I feel like the dialogue is really better than any retelling I could come up with, so here goes:

Pam (the owner): “May I help you?”

College Boy: “We need stamps.”

Pam: “OK, what kind? (laying stamp samples out across the counter) We’ve got cars, jazz, plain ol’ American flags … which ones do you want?”

College Boy: “Whichever are cheapest.”

Pam: “Ummmm, all stamps are the same price, so …”

College Girl: “OK, the rose ones are pretty.”

Pam: “OK, how many?”

College Girl: “Um, eight?”

Pam: “OK, eight books or eight stamps?”

College Girl: “Oh, just eight stamps. Right?”

She looks toward College Guy, questioning, then back at Pam.

College Girl: “How many do you need for a card, like two?”

Pam: “Like a greeting card? Usually just one. Unless it’s a funny size or extra heavy …”

College Girl: “No, it’s just like, birthday cards.”

Just, like, birthday cards.

I got into the car and immediately quizzed Vivian on how to address an envelope, where to put the stamp, and what those blue boxes that say “USPS” on them are for.

When I teach college students, I try to be accessible and friendly, and when they don’t, say, know how to use a Mac or understand what I mean by “thumb drive,” it’s totally understandable! I work with them, because they are attending college to expand the knowledge base granted to them by their secondary education and the life lessons instilled in them by their parents.

But for me to imagine that someone who’s probably 21 or 22 years old  has no idea how much a stamp costs or how many go on a birthday card? That’s just odd. It makes me kind of feel dumb, like I’ve totally overestimated the entire 18-22 demographic of Stillwater. Do I have students like this in my class? Are they confused about the rest of the world? Do they understand that voice in the drive-thru isn’t trapped in a tiny box? That the dirt goes into the vacuum bag and not through the cord into the socket? Have they ever even run a vacuum, or did they think the carpet just used dry shampoo on itself until its nap gleamed?

Mom and Dad — yes, I’m talking to you, People With Small Children — you simply CANNOT be the helicopter parents you feel tempted to be. Right now it’s playgrounds and sandlots, but I am telling you that if you don’t let your kids do stuff, screw up, learn from examples and do their own thing, they are going to grow up to socially and emotionally retarded.

Was I a complete moron in college? Absolutely. But that wasn’t my parents’ fault. They made me do stuff like clean the house, fill the car with gas, balance a checkbook, understand the difference between beer and mixed drinks, and just generally experience adult life AS A TEENAGER STILL LIVING AT HOME. Where they could help and guide, but not DO.

So I’ll get off my soapbox now, but remember, parents and someday-to-be parents: It may be hard to watch your precious little ones make mistakes, fall down, and get hurt, but it sure beats the peals of laughter I shared with Pam after those two left (God bless their little pin heads).


5 Responses to ““How mush fer a rib?!””

  1. Jaclyn February 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I’m going to be honest: When I moved to OKC, I didn’t, for the longest time, know how to mail a letter from my house.
    I blame this, in part, on growing up in the country, where you just raised a little red flag on the side of your mailbox to signal you have letter presents for the mailman.
    But I didn’t have a little red flag at my house in OKC. I would just put mail in the box on my porch, and the mailman wouldn’t take it. So, finally, I confronted him in my yard.
    Not really “confronted.” I didn’t punch him.
    I just said, “Hey, sometimes I put mail in the box, and you … don’t take it.” I realized this was one of the more passive aggressive things I’ve ever said.
    “Oh, you’re supposed to put it in the clip.”
    I HAD BEEN WONDERING WHAT THE CLOTHESPIN WAS FOR. There is a clothespin snipped onto my mailbox, and I just thought it was for big mail. Nope, that is my means of communication with my mailman. Whew.

    • senatorallen February 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

      I appreciate your honesty. But I am going to have to have a talk with Travis and Peggy.

  2. virginia@pecot.com February 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    So today when the kids get home from school with thier goody bags full of candy and I don’t let them eat a single piece due to a certain candy-sneaking incident that occured twice at my house yesterday, I am not a bad mom? Because as pick-up draws closer and closer I am feeling weak. I need strength against those excited little faces with bags of candy. I picked the wrong day to teach them don’t do what Momma says don’t do.

    • senatorallen February 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

      Is there a happy medium? Could you say, “Momma needs you to understand how important it is to do what she says, and so you can have your candy after we go home and do XXX chore”? Just a thought. I know, you have to pick your battles carefully. They get better as they get older, too, about apologizing, etc.

  3. mary March 4, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Enough rope to swing, not hang.

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