For over 35 years, I've been a witness to the deliberate "dumbing down" of our society. And I've had enough.
As best I can figure, it all started with that ridiculous comment that "there's no such thing as a stupid question". Well, yes, there is. And heaven knows, I've heard most of them. Just yesterday, this subject came up and I allowed as how I was tired of walking thru stores and hearing "Are you finding everything all right?" (No, I've found a number of things that weren't all right. Here's your sign....")
And just as there are stupid questions, there are stupid answers. Some years ago, I called a business that was located on a street that goes straight east to west like a rifle shot. I asked "Are you on the north side of Montgomery Blvd. or the south side?". The answer? "We're above Montgomery." (Oh, so you're suspended in the air, floating above the street?)
Much of the blame for our current plight can be laid at the feet of those who not only do nothing to fix the problem, but who also put down those who would. I remember a few years ago when I made a remark about an article concerning the pending Y2K roll-over wherein the author commented that "most Americans feel that the new millenium begins on 1 January 2000". One person present said "Oh, you're not one of those purists, are you?". I did manage to hold my tongue, or I would have said "No, I'm just one of those people who can count." By not correcting sloppy thinking, we allow it to continue.
I've also had enough of mushy-headed drivel that sounds nice but says nothing. The other day -- per instructions -- I sent off an e-mail (with resume attached) to a company's "human resources co-ordinator". Here's the text of my e-mail:Ma'am:
Ms. ________ ________ of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development here in Chattanooga suggested I contact you regarding the subject position.
Per instructions, my resume (in MS Word format) is attached.
I'll spare you the usual "boilerplate" that comes in these cover letters and simply say that my 29½ years in the military involved mostly clerical/administrative work. More than 7½ years of that time was spent running the Orderly Room at my unit at Kirtland AFB. You will find that I am organized, methodical, and detail-oriented.
As a Senior Non-commissioned Officer, I am more than able to get the job done with a minimum of supervision.
I would be delighted to discuss this position with you and see how my administrative and organizational skills would enhance your operation.
You can reach me at any time on my cell phone (###-###-####) or by e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
And here's the response I got:Dear Mr. Jahn:
Thank you for your interest in the Administrative Assistant position with (our company). Narrowing the field of candidates was very challenging.
After extensive review of your qualifications, we have moved forward with our recruitment process.
We appreciate your participation in the application process and wish you the best in your pursuit of successful and satisfying employment.
After a fun discussion with some other Linksters, I sent of the following reply:Ma'am,
Thank you for your unexpectedly quick reply. Please let me know what the next step in the recruitment process is so that I can move forward.
Your company is apparently headquartered in Omaha, but the position is located here in Chattanooga. Please let me know soonest who I need to contact to get this going.
I look forward to working with your company.
I can't wait for the reply to that.
Having an IQ north of 140* and having no little experience with people who refuse to come right out and say what they mean, I believe I correctly deduced from the e-mail I received that I didn't get the job. But nowhere does she come right out and say that. That's my point, and that's what's wrong with our society.
(*Not that I place any great stock in IQ tests, but I add that as a point of reference.)
This kind of mushy-headed "thinking" has become all too pervasive in our society, and I've drawn a line. No more. A high schooler taking an algebra test is "mentally challenged"; a person with an IQ of 70 is retarded
. Get used to it. A foreigner who sneaks across our border without our permission is an illegal alien
, not an "undocumented worker". Get it right.
Another area where I've had enough is in the area of civility and manners. Remember the good old days, when barging up to someone and blurting out a question about something that's clearly none of your bloody business -- without even so much as an "excuse me" -- was considered rude? Apparently, that's no longer rude. But pointing out that the question should not have been asked, is. How perverse is that? Remember when butting into a conversation that one is not a party to was considered rude? Now, "rude" is defined as ignoring people who try to insinuate themselves into a conversation. Or, worse yet, pointing it out.
I've also had it with bullies, especially the cowardly type who go complain to some third party about something they "don't like" or aren't "comfortable" with, in the hope that that third party will do something about it. You got a problem with someone? Then it is incumbent upon you
to resolve it directly
with that person. If you're not adult enough to do that, shut up about it.
Bis hierher und nicht weiter.