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Published on June 24th, 2014 | by Richard Black


A Brief Review of Household Toilet Habits Followed by Semi-Coherent Rant on the Value of Higher Education: Part One

I was going to write a post today about…well another topic but the wife vetoed the idea. Suffice it to say that there are now two people in my household who attempt to take a leak in the middle of the night while standing and we both with the same rate of success as far as hitting the inside of the toilet bowl in concerned.

At least I now have plausible deniability on my side.

On other subjects Darcy is doing well (thank you for asking). Other than looking like she is one enormous scrape she seems to be quite happy. Summer is in full swing, swimming lessons have been scheduled as has camp at her new school but neither have begun as of yet so there’s really nothing to report on that front of interest to anyone other than myself and I like to think that I keep pretty informed where my daughter is concerned.

And so without a topic in mind I sat down to write and realized that I’d most likely wasted almost a $100,000 on a liberal arts education. The thought occurred to me as I was cleaning dishes, and again when I was throwing a few loads of laundry in the washer, and again when I was vacuuming and mopping the floors and then again when Darcy beat me soundly at a game of Candyland and then again at Concentration.

Aside from occasionally updating the checkbook I could have dropped out of school around second grade and been able to perform the tasks required of me adequately these days. Instead I chose to waste a whole lot of time and effort, and let’s not forget money, on my education.

Some people, people with a laserlike focus on their goal to become an actuary, life insurance agent or neurologist spend the bulk of every waking hour to make their dreams a reality. They can look back on the past twenty years and think, without much irony, that there whole life has culminated in the moment that they’re in, and the next and so on and so forth until they’ve achieved some measure of notoriety in their chosen field or accepted failure and moved into a consulting role.

I jest of course, just a bit, no one in their right mind ever spends a lifetime attempting to become the best  life insurance agent. I’m not certain but I believe that is the sort of career one finds him or herself in like banking or an “escort” in much the same way a player in Monopoly pulls the Go Directly to Jail Card.

“Well shit it looks like I’m going to have to be a male stripper today,” I can hear myself say some fifteen years ago if things had gone a bit differently.

Of course I’m simplifying matters.

There are multitudes plugging away at dead end careers and jobs that they’ll be stuck in until they’ve hit 65 or 70 or whatever the age people have to be to get medicare these days. And most of them don’t complain much. They’ve accepted their lot in life, they have a home and a few kids and vacation in Destin or the Poconos once every three years and generally believe that they’ve got things pretty good. And maybe they do.

Sure they’ve matured a bit, accepted life’s lot, but I guarantee that most of them never thought that they’d be a chiropractor or benefits specialist a when they were younger. Show me a child under ten who wants to be an attorney and I’ll show you a kid that should be neutered or, at the very least, a candidate for the PR wing of some white power group.

There are exceptions of course. Cops, firemen, teacher, the social services and the occasional politician who generally attempt to contribute something, not to mention those in the medical field or the eggheads breaking ground in particle physics and the like.  There are others who are happy doing whatever it is in the hell that they’re doing but for the most part the vast majority of us in any job simply contribute nothing more to society than making someone else comfortable.

To paraphrase Thoreau the rest of us lead lives of quiet desperation and provide the world with the humdrum muzak of our lives.  At some point we’ve deviated from our dreams be it by understanding that we lack the ability or simply through happenstance and more than a few of us have been lead to believe that a college degree is required for “success” whatever that means.

The fact is that not everyone can be an astronaut or even a fireman or a teacher or a cop. Whats that old phrase? You can put a pig in a prom dress but it’s still nothing you want to poke no matter how many Coors Light’s you’ve downed? I’ve screwed that up but you get the idea.

We’ve been lead to believe that everyone is special, resplendent, and in one way each and every one of us is a beautiful and unique creature with a story that deserves to be heard and an opinion that truly matters and in one way we are. There will never be anyone like me, or you or my neighbor who persists on tuning up his motorcycle at two in the morning and I think we can all thank God for that.

In a more correct way however we really don’t matter outside of a small handful of friends and family.  There will be no monuments built other than tombstones for our passing and any memory of our achievements will be wiped clean within a generation or two and that is as it should be.

Most of us are not exceptional. Capable perhaps, disappointing at times certainly but in the grand scheme of things we are rarely noteworthy and somewhere along the way we have confused the idea of being exceptional, of being the very best, with that of living a life of value.

I know I have.

Part of this is due, in my humble opinion, to the aforementioned idea that as children we are all special and capable of achieving anything if we simply work towards whatever goal we have in mind regardless of capability or circumstance.

And some do, but they are the exception (please see above). Others take a different path. Most millionaires these days aren’t trust fund kids but men and women who have struck out on their own. Exceptional people who have chosen to break the mold.

My generation and those following have been sold a bill of rotten goods and that being that a college education is necessary for success and that anyone who goes to college will be successful. This is an outmoded train of thought and one more suited to the 1950’s than the 2010’s and don’t get me started on what the cost of higher education will be once Darcy is ready for college.

Suffice it to say that in the 1980’s a college degree was to a high school degree what a Master’s or PHD is to a BA these days. Maybe a formal education has become that much more integral in this day and age than it was thirty years ago. I’m sure in some ways that it has but the idea that we’re all going to need MA’s or MS’s in the next few years to get a job seems like more of a plot to fill the coffers of various foundations and endowments than anything else.

I’d love to expound but I’ve had a bit too much to drink and I’ve still got a mountain of laundry to plow through before I go to bed.

I have a BA in English Composition and am able to appreciate the irony of the fact that I’ve blown a ton of money to perform the same sorts of services anyone who graduated from 8th grade could perform for minimum wage while I’m doing the same work for room and board.

The whole situation reminds me of the coal miners who used to work for scrip in the company store but that would be unkind and I’m not just saying that because my wife reads these posts.

Fortunately I’ve discovered that  palimony can be awarded to men in my position in this state in the event she takes offense.

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