No. 479 - SORRY H_ _ _! I’M GOING TO SUE YOU!!

No. 479



There is an old saying I hear quite often that goes, "Time flies when you are having fun." This is certainly true for me. When I got to thinking about something I wanted to share with you today, I suddenly realized that it had happened over 25 years ago. Back then, I had a unique experience as a public speaker that I have never had before or since. I had been invited to be the motivational kick-off speaker for the annual convention of the Southwest Bowling Proprietors, and the convention was being held in Little Rock, Ark. These were the folks who own bowling alleys in Arkansas and several surrounding states. Most I would say, were from Texas.

My talk went great and I had a lot of fun, and I was invited to attend the banquet later that evening. The speaker was going to be Dr. Gerald Fisher, educator by profession but also a great after-dinner humor speaker. Since I had heard Gerald speak on several occasions and knew a little about him, the program chairman asked if I would be willing to introduce him, since he had never met him. I gladly accepted. That evening when it came time for the featured speaker, the program chairman got up and said, "To be honest, I donÕt know anything about our speaker for our banquet, but there is a fellow out in the audience who does, and I'm going to ask him to introduce Dr. Fisher." That was neat. Never happened before or since.

That was a long time ago, but I still remember one of the stories Gerald told that evening. He said there was a family with several small children shopping in a grocery store. One of the children, a boy about 7 years of age, wandered off and was checking things out about two aisles away. About this same time an elderly gentleman was also shopping and did not see this young boy who had walked up behind him. When he turned around to move on, he accidentally knocked this lad down. Realizing what he had done, he quickly leaned down and said, "I'm so sorry." To this, the kid replied, "Sorry H_ _ _, I'm going to sue you." We all laughed, but unfortunately this was the sign of the times and would become more so in the years to come.

A good and humorous example of this happened some time back out in the state of California. The staff of the Pacific Palisades High School voted unanimously to record the following message on the school's answering machine because they wanted to implement a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework. This came about because the school and teachers were being sued by parents who wanted their childrens1 failing grades changed to passing grades though those children were absent 15 to 30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes. Again, this is the actual answering message for the school.

"Hello! You have reached the automatic answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting the right staff person, please listen to all your options before making a selection. To lie about why your child is absent Ü Press 1. To make excuses for why your child did not do his work Ü Press 2. To complain about what we do Ü Press 3. To swear at staff members Ü Press 4. To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you Ü Press 5. If you want us to raise your child Ü Press 6. If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone Ü Press 7. To request another teacher for the third time this year Ü Press 8. To complain about bus transportation Ü Press 9. To complain about school lunches Ü Press 0."

And here is the way the message ends: "If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teacher's fault for your child's lack of effort Ü hang up and have a nice day!"

When I read this thing, I chuckled a couple of times, but I also realize that the education of our children is serious business. In most cases, most people who will read this can see right through the motives of the parents who had filed the lawsuit.

When we fail at something, what is the first thing we usually want to do? Transfer or fix the blame somewhere else, right? I am a parent and a grandparent and I care about the quality of education we have in our nation's schools, especially our public schools because I am helping to pay the bill. The truth is, schools and teachers need our help. We will only have better schools when parents take responsibility for their childrens1 discipline and behavior and prepare them to learn in their formative years. It must be a team effort.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)