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Posts Tagged ‘high school’

I heard this phrase in a Gym Class Heroes song and it inspired this very short story that follows.

He said to her, I hate you like a slug hates salt.

For Majorie, this was more than just one of the usual insults that are thrown her way on a daily basis. She had gotten accustomed to the dark scowls and stares in the hallways. She grown used to the whispers in the locker room, or the threatening notes slipped between the slats of her locker. Majorie had even found the “I hate you” statements said straight forwardly to her face, or sometimes to her back, as she walked through one clique or another, rather ordinary.

But this one was different. This insult meant something more to Majorie than the other ones. This insult at last revealed something about the hatred she had found so absurd and incomprehensible. Why would they ALL hate her so? Surely there must be one of them that could like her, just a little bit; someone to say hi to in the mornings and wave to as they passed on their way to class. Surely someone could sympathize with her plight. She hadn’t know what she had done was wrong. It had felt like the right thing to do. And that’s what was so puzzling, it had felt SO right, deep in her soul, in her stomach, down to the cells in her toenails, she knew that it was the right thing to do.

What had it gotten her, this surety of justification? The scorn of the students that surrounded her day in and day out. Majorie recognized that the politics of high school were difficult to navigate. She consciously knew that by alienating those students most popular, she had created a ripple effect in the social pool, eventually creating the tidal wave that swept her away to an isolated island so far, she couldn’t even see the other unpopular people from here. Majorie sulked and cursed silently when she thought of those freaks and geeks who suffered at the hands of the popular kids, but still did nothing to aid her isolated suffering. How could they not see how closely their stars were aligned? How could they not see how she was just a hair’s breath away from where they might be should they choose to do the right thing as well? How could the social outcasts of high school leave her so outcast?

And then one day, that boy, the one who stared at her over lunch tables and through crowded rows in class, had said this to her. “I hate you like a slug hates salt.”

Majorie knew that slugs would definitely hate salt as it was deadly to them. But Majorie felt there was more to this that just a reference to how she poisoned the student body. She felt that there must be a clue here; that somewhere in this statement was the life-line she had been waiting, praying for. Majorie must break it down.

She mulled it over in her mind at night before bed and in the morning over the sink. She focused on the words as she walked silently through the noisy halls, as if the phrase had created a protective bubble around her. Notes that had been slid into her locker fell to the ground unnoticed. The unspoken words that seemed to deafen her at lunch and after school, went unheard as she listened to the phrase over in her head and rolled the words carefully around in her mouth and over her tongue, tasting each one. This last insult formed a shield, armor, steel plated around Majorie, so that the cruelty of each day sounded like a faint ping upon that armor instead of the slashing wounds it had been prior to the day of the insult.

I hate you like a slug hates salt.

I hate you was clear enough, but it was in the simile that Majorie felt the clue must lie. She’d already recognized the reference to poison, and how she must be the salt in this comparison. So it was the slug she found intriguing.

Could a slug hate? Was a slug even aware of salt in the first place? Was it only once the slug was placed in the salt that it became aware of it’s hatred for it? Making any hatred the slug had prior to that moment, just hatred of the unknown possibility of poison or death. Thus was Majorie this threat, the threat of the unknown, the threat of the possibility of death, of destruction over everything the slug is? Did Majorie wield that much power? Was she so challenging to this world of petty politics and feuding cliques that she was to be equated with the death of just such a world?

This was a revelation for Majorie. This was a moment of greatness so overwhelming, Majorie nearly fainted in class. She hardly noticed the stares and gawks as she slipped out of the classroom down the hall to the bathroom. Majorie this time didn’t shrink from the room, she smirked and stood tall.

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It has come to my attention that in today’s economy it is entirely possible to be overqualified and under-experienced. Not only is it possible, it’s common, it’s an epidemic! Is it possible that too many people are going to college? Are too many people coming out with degrees? There are thousands of colleges out there these days. Not only are there the junior colleges and universities of the old days, there are now purely online universities, private universities and colleges by the score, and growing numbers of public universities as the demand for higher education continues to grow.

But is this just a vicious cycle? Do you actually need a four year degree in psychology to be a scheduler for a marriage counselor? Do you need a BS in Math to work as a junior book keeper? Aren’t we setting the standards for these jobs a little high? But yet every one of these positions requires a college degree. It seems that these days every office, sales, or white collar jobs says “BA/BS preferred.” Thus creating the need for more people to go to college and get a degree to fill the position that they didn’t really need a degree to do.

Wouldn’t it be fairer to our students to provide more specialized vocational training or career advise at an early age? Would it be completely un-PC to give job training in high school instead of requiring students to take a 4th year of English they don’t want or a 3rd year of a language they’ve been failing for 2 years before? Couldn’t we offer these students technology training or carpentry skills or book keeping? Can’t we tell our kids that not everyone needs to go to college to succeed? Can’t we just say out loud that this pressured academic requirement we’ve created is keeping our kids from succeeding? What we’re doing instead is pushing students to go to a college, that may or may not be truly accredited, get into tens of thousands of dollars of debts, only to begin a job that will pay them the same or less than a vocational job they could have had right out of high school.

And then there are people like me. A four year degree, 2 years of grad school and a teaching credential. And the jobs I’m being offered are either paying $10/hr, but to which I’ll never be hired since I’m incredibly overqualified to spend my day filing and copying. It seems employers would rather hire someone with fewer credentials, since they are less likely to leave the position for something better. And the jobs that I would like, that pay according to my academic credentials, I don’t have the relevant experience for; that is, I didn’t spend the last 3-5 years copying and filing. So what am I to do?

I think I’ll try a writing career!

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