Saturday, April 7, 2018

May You Live In Interesting Times (No. 2)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

                                   THE AGE OF UNLIGHTENMENT?                   

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

Dear Gentlereaders, 

I've written a few columns, three to be exact (1,2,3), titled The State of the Zeitgeist. This was supposed to be an ongoing thing, but it hasn't been. Well, it's back (tell your friends) and it's now called May You Live In Interesting Times.

               "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." -Aristotle

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

A local version of Ron Burgundy (Geezer reference: Ted Baxter) is on the air.

"American Motors announced today that due to declining sales of the locally produced Neo-Gremlin, the third shift at the Zenith plant will be temporarily suspended and approximately 1,100 employees will be laid off.

Archie Sternberger, president of the Zenith chamber of commerce, estimates that a total of roughly 3,900 local jobs will be affected to one degree or another because they are economically tied to the plant."


So, what do we do now?

Well, we adjust, we downsize... it's not like we've got a choice.

You gonna look for a new job or ride it out and hope you get called back?

Yes (GRIN).

I don't...

Sure ya do, I'll do both. I'll never find anything that pays as well, but I might not get called back. Sales are way down and if gas stays cheap they'll stay down. Besides, your brother's living proof that my theory's correct. Might be best if I don't go back.

You mean...

Yup. Work the line long enough and brain death is virtually inevitable. I wonder if I could get a grant from somebody to conduct a study...

She Gibbs-slaps him while simultaneously suppressing a laugh. Hey! if it wasn't for him you wouldn't have a good job to be laid off from.

Define good.

Any job that pays close to what that one pays regardless of the risk of brain death.

Point taken... good thing I'm married to a nurse. Hey, once you get your masters will you make enough to support me? I've always wanted to be a househusband.

Don't hold your breath... and what about the kids? The kids...

...Like us, have to deal. We spin it as a reality check, a life lesson, which it is.

Mmm, I get all tingly when you channel Ward Cleaver. But what about Disney World? That's the first thing they're going to ask.

Tell 'em the ways and means committee has authorized a temporary subcommittee to study the matter and file a report ASAP.

Oh, OK, I feel much better now.

They toss rueful grins at each other.

Why an Honors Student Wants to Skip College and Go to Trade School

[Gentlereaders, the headline above appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 3/6/18. If you would like to read the article I've shared it on my Facebook page (twice). The WSJ has a heavily fortified paywall but permits sharing via Facebook.

The article caught my eye for two reasons. The very first Sticky (Dude) is confronting career choices even as I write and his next youngest sibling (Abbagirl) is not far behind; Bug and Duuude still have a minute. 

Also, the honors student featured in the WSJ article attends a high school in a suburb of my hometown, Pittsburgh, Pa. That's Pittsburgh wit an h yinz guys. 

Most likely, by the time my grandstickies read this, it will be ancient history to them, the process of career choice having already begun. The advice I'm giving them in real time is to think about what they would enjoy doing but not neglecting consideration of how much the world might be willing to pay them to do it.

The article in question is built around the fact that one Raelee Nicholson and an older cousin rebuilt a car when Raelee was 14. "...when we got it running it was the best feeling in the world. I really like working with my hands." Ms. Nicholson is an honors student who finished in the 88th percentile on her college boards.

She's currently rebuilding an '87 Trans Am. Rather than go to college she wants to go to a tech school and become a diesel mechanic.

The absurd price of college/student loan indenture, the fact a college degree ain't what it used to be, the unpredictability of the job market of the future and parents who went (or wish they had) to college — is the actual subject/point of the article.

The comments on the article tell the real story. There's — screw college and the likely accumulation of significant debt partizans. There's the — even a liberal arts degree and an impractical major is worth it crowd. There's a — follow your bliss club. Etcetera.

What all the commenters have in common, though most don't acknowledge it, is that predicting what will provide job/career security in the Dizzinformation Age is like whistling in a hurricane. Interesting times. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.

[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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