Good evening America! Well I’ve started this blog on election night which translates to: I’m sick of politics and will enjoy my Eddyline Brewery Jolly Roger black lager instead of watching the idiocy play out on a the old internets and television. We had an unplanned trip to the great State of Kansas this week to check on a loved one. No worries, he’s on the mend and will be up and about in no time. It was a thrilling 1100 mile drive over the span of three days but we came out alive, if not slightly saddle sore, from the adventure. Irregardless, now cometh the latest and greatest edition of the Diatribe!
Close your eyes and visualize this with me: It’s late. The Muffin, me, and the little bambinos are in the middle of nowhere Colorado on I-70 and decide its time for a late night meal (and the 100th potty break that trip for the Boo Bear). On the horizon we see the bright lights, the hustle, the bustle, and all of the excitement that is Limon. There it is! The place of our respite and nourishment majestically rising over the horizon like the Phoenix of legend! The Taco Bell beckoned us like a sweet siren’s song!
What I ordered is really not at issue here. Besides, just like all Taco Bell (aka Toxic Hell) food, it involved a tortilla, meat, beans, and cheese with some clever Spanglish marketing word. What I took issue with was the “meat”. I ordered whatever it was with seasoned ground beef. Beef. You know, the questionable byproduct of a cow. Beef. It’s only four little letters, yet it represents the livelihood of literally millions of Americans. It represents the settlement of the West, the fencing of our great country, the romantic cattle drives of old, and the cowboy. The beef cow singlehandedly represents more nostalgia to many folks than anything other than perhaps classic cars, baseball, and Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house.
So, was I reviled by the quality of the aforementioned beef? Was I suspicious of its odd texture? Yes, but that’s not what I’m so bent out of shape about. Let me explain what happened:
The Muffin took over piloting our family truckster for a while, I helped the wee Dooley’s eat, and girded myself for the pending consumption of my “food”, when I looked at the wrapper and saw this…
BiF. What?! The word “beef” is plastered all over a Taco Bell. If this person didn’t know how to spell “beef” there was literally dozens of places they could have referenced for the proper spelling. Not only did this person totally miss spelling BEEF, they showed a total disregard for capitalization rules! I would ask what it is that they learn in the Limon public education system but I’m afraid it’s far more systemic than just one little blip on the map in eastern Colorado.
America, how can we as a society manage to allow someone to not be able to pull off the spelling of “beef”? I blame all of us for this failure. Student’s haven’t put forth the effort to learn, parents haven’t followed up with teachers and the schools, no one seems to want to hold anyone accountable for anything, and we have all just come to accept this butchery of our language.
Now I don’t want to go off on some Andy Rooney-esque rant here but come on! At first, I wanted to turn around and go have some words with the taco artist. Perhaps, lead them around and show them all of the places that the word “beef” is scrawled in that restaurant to help them with future spelling cues. But, there was plenty about that person that I didn’t know. Do they have a learning disability? Was that the absolute best that the person could do? So I calmed myself down, stopped pretending to be the grammar police, and watched out the window as the miles ticked by. It gave me time to think about education in general, and what my kids have to look forward to.
Effective communication is key to becoming successful. Don’t give me the 1 in a billion example of someone who made piles of cash as a junior high drop out. That one person does not excuse us from holding the rest of our youth accountable for learning. Calculators will help us with our math. Google will help us with science. Computers will do pretty much everything else for us. But the written word? Well that’s on the person running the pencil.
When people fill out job applications and your potential employer has absolutely no idea what half of the words are because they bear no resemblance to reality…you’re going to be hard pressed to get an interview. If your prospective employer comes down with a case of eye strain and a migraine from trying to read your application and sees that your expected salary range is over $50,000 a year…your app ends up in the trash.
Employers like to see written applications still to this day. Why? Because they can quickly weed out the ones that are not equipped for the professional level job at hand by simply glancing over one sheet of paper.
Students: Don’t put yourself behind the 8 ball by short changing your work. In modern competitive job markets you must give yourself every opportunity for success that you possibly can. Learn to write neatly, learn to spell correctly, and show pride in your work.
Parents: Don’t accept anything less than your child’s best! You are the best catalysts for your child’s future success. It’s not the school’s responsibility, it’s yours. If you set your child’s goals high (yet attainable with a reasonable amount of work) then you are setting them up for a lifetime of success.
Teachers: You have a hard job. You have a curriculum that you must abide by and may very well have had no say in its construction. You have a calendar to follow and it doesn’t usually allow for deviation. I will encourage you to make a difference in each child’s life. Sometimes you are the only safe adult in that child’s life. Some small gesture you show them may change the course of their life forever. Encourage them. Make sure they understand that they are capable of nearly anything they are willing to work for. Strive to be that one teacher we all had that made a difference and we never forgot.
Failure is ok. We must allow our children to fail. We should be there for them and help guide them to the ground as they fall, but they must fall from time to time. It’s hard to watch your children struggle. It’s hard to watch them take their emotional licks. Don’t believe me? Go to the last game of a Little League season and watch as they pass out the participant medals. You can see it in the eyes of the child that receives one of these trophies that it means precisely squat to them. The only reason those trophies are given out is to placate the parents out there that don’t want their child to ever feel bad. Feeling bad is ok. If you’re there for them, help them learn and grow from that struggle and they will be better for it.
So here’s my thoughts America: The world is passing us by. Other countries have rejected the mantra of mediocrity that we have so thoroughly embraced. We are sliding faster and faster towards the bottom of the heap of developed countries. Change begins with every parent out there. Change begins with you.
No, I’m not mad at the Taco Bell person. I don’t know enough about them to be mad. Besides, BiF could stand for Beef infused Food byproduct for all I know.
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