March 18 2007

March 18 

Yes, I will include a couple of my favorites this time - but first, a few words on happenings this week: 

In regards to the piece I wrote about teachers. I received some good feedback on it, and everyone agrees—including teachers—that for the sake of everyone involved changes need to be made. One person who responded mentioned a very important issue concerning the school system that I didn’t even touch on -


In my opinion (and I’m always allowed my opinion here, one reason I love to blog J), these state assessment exams are too standard, too regimented, and not at all good for those who are...


just not good test-takers. This would include me…

I feel it’s a big reason why some teachers have lost their enthusiasm and love for teaching. And I can’t blame them there. So I guess it’s time for parents to do more intervening, more complaining, and more VOTING to get the right people in to help make schools more productive, more conducive to learning  and -  come on now - MORE FUN. Because not only do kids absorb more knowledge when they’re enjoying what they’re learning, but we all tend to remember things more easily during times we’ve had fun. Think about it. That’s why you often remember more good times than bad as you get older. Well, least I hope so.

Anyway, let’s all hope and pray for change so that both teachers and students can enjoy what they do, enjoy each other’s company, and in the process, produce better leaders…. 

Okay, now I have to share something with you that reminds me of that Bill Engvall joke, “Here’s Your Sign.”

I’ve been working on an article about teenage bullying and fighting, and in my research came upon this startling statistic:

“Teens who carry weapons are more likely to suffer serious injuries. When teens fight, those who carry handguns are three times more likely to require medical attention than those who do not carry weapons.” 


I realize that we all have different degrees in intelligence, but still, some things are just way too obvious. Like some of those inane warning labels: Don’t use hair dryer in bathtub. Do not iron clothes while wearing them (really, check the label next time you buy an iron), and on every label from baby oil to hydrogen peroxide to sun screens – WARNING: For External Use Only!” 

Ya Think??  Could there possibly be someone who would actually try drinking that stuff? 

It also reminds me of something my Favorite (yes, we’re finally getting back to that!) teacher in Journalism 101 emphasized to all would-be reporters. “Do not,” he said, “ever ask someone whose house is burning in front of their eyes, or kid has died, or lost their job, “How do you feel right now?” 

We’ve all heard that one, haven’t we?

I was taught never, ever, to use that horribly distasteful, inept query back in the early ’80s, and yet I hear it all too often. Still.

I’m waiting for that one person who, in the midst of their darkest hour, whips their head toward the reporter, looks them straight in the eye and says, “How the F~%#* do you think it feels, A~*# - H*#@? 

And who knows? Maybe that has happened, in which case they wouldn’t air it anyway, even though it would surely make great ratings. I can already hear the viewers standing up in their living rooms shouting YES! IT’S about F*&$%#@’ TIME!! 

As you see, I did not spell out those words because first of all, like those labels that state the obvious, it’s not necessary, and it’s like I’ve always told my daughters: While swearing isn’t nearly as bad as the violence and sexual innuendos we’re bombarded with in our TV and radio programs, it’s in rather poor taste, and I want them to have class.

But, of course, sometimes you just have to make a point. Then you go for the symbols….  

Every time I hear a reporter ask that question, I think of Mr. Gene Dent, my journalism teacher. He will always be on my list of Favorites, because, although I attended a private all-girls school (which by the way, was not my choice - my mother made me), he was the first teacher who (much like Erin Gruwell) gave me the encouragement I needed, and was the catalyst for my getting an internship at a local newspaper. He’s also a really nice man (and by now, you know how much I like nice). It sounds corny, but he made me believe that my dream of being a writer wasn’t all that unreachable. I ran into this dear man a few months ago. I was working one of my part-time day jobs at a restaurant and he came in. I hadn’t seen him in 20 years. He looked absolutely the same.

I was so thrilled to tell him what I’d been doing in that time. Upon hearing about my book, he was anxious to see it, so I ran out to my car (every smart author carries a copy at all times) and when I showed it to him, I told him how he had affected my pursuit as a writer, how much his inspiration, knowledge, and support helped me along the way. It was one of those great moments between a teacher and former student.

One teacher can indeed make a difference.

And that’s what I mean about the importance of having a good teacher, and why every instructor should aspire to do the best they can. It’s a win-win, slam dunk… 

Another of my Favorite People is the Plain Dealer columnist, Connie Schultz. Her greatest talent is not only writing, but lobbying for the Everyman and Everywoman who works hard making a living. Last Friday, her column was on appreciating, and tipping, your hairdresser. She has now become beloved by stylists everywhere. I know by personal experience (since I’ve been a stylist for, well, let’s just say more than 30 years – though I now work just a couple of days a week because I still love it and it also helps me in my many ways as writer) that this profession has long been underappreciated. There is still a bit of a stigma that if you can’t do anything else, might as well “do hair.” I actually had a man in my chair one time who, upon leaning toward the mirror to read my Ohio State Board of Cosmetology license, looked back at me and said, “You need a license to do this?”

I was oh-so-tempted to retort (while smacking away at my Bubble Yum), “Nahh … actually I just woke up one day and uh, had this mind-blowing epiphany, and thought, Hey! I know! I’ll go out there and cut and dye people’s hair for a living - that’ll be a hoot!” (Smack, smack).

If only people knew all it takes to become one (must study chemistry, electricity, anatomy … and that’s just the theory part). And talk about standard testing…. 

And just like restaurant servers, I’ve been stiffed (why, just yesterday while out for St. Patty’s Day, my friend, a server, told me that one if her tables last night got up, handed her the bill, and walked out the door before she could see that not only did they not tip her, they didn’t even leave enough to cover the check! Which of course has to come out of her own pocket. Hey, Connie, there’s another column for you - I just can’t believe people can be that insensitive, and down right nasty).

And yes, I’ve had my share of nasty customers, too. But fortunately, I’m now in the position where I only do my longtime regular clients who I absolutely love and treat and tip me very well (well, I do have one who has never tipped me in the ten years I’ve done her, so I’m hoping she caught Connie’s column).

But yeah, hairdressers work hard on their feet, and have to deal with all kinds of issues (my favorite is when they do their own hair - then go to the hairdresser to “fix it.” Which of course costs more than just going there in the first place). And yes, those who’ve been doing it for years do charge more, and rightfully so. They have earned it, and years of experience should have a decent price tag. 

Okay, once again, I’m over my proposed blogging limit (when am I ever going to get that right? Well stay tuned and see - it will happen one of these days J 

And it seems I’m not going to run out of favorites any time soon. But for now, I’ll let you get back to your life, and I, mine. 

Let’s meet again next week.

Thanks for reading.  

And till next time,

Read your Labels Carefully ….