One Fine Evening At The Club

“So, Reg, I’ve been thinking.”

“Ah. That explains it, Syd.”

“Explains what?”

“Why all these salesmen have been wandering around looking like they’ve just been furloughed. They couldn’t get you to stop thinking, so they couldn’t sell you anything.”

“Actually, it’s furloughs that I’ve been thinking about. You know that story that’s been making the rounds about the couple who couldn’t work out the price of avocados?”

“Yes, I know the one.”

“And how that’s used as a reason why we can’t afford to be losing teaching days out of the school year here in Honolulu?”

“That does seem to be the popular opinion.”

“Well, riddle me this, then. Our avocado-buying hero graduated from a public high school, right?”

“Presumably, yes.”

“Twelve years in the classroom at our expense.”

“Surely, by now, …”

“Let’s say the public’s expense, then. Twelve years, and he still doesn’t get simple arithmetic. How much more time in school does he need?

“Syd, I can’t tell you how glad I am that you understand this. Ever read The Hobbit?

“Ages ago. I like to think I’ve outgrown the need for hobgoblins. Except when they come to the door at Hallowe’en. That’s this weekend, isn’t it?”

“It is. Then you won’t be surprised when I tell you for what age group Tolkien wrote the book.”

“What age group was that?”

“The British equivalent of American fifth grade.”

Fifth grade?? You’re joking, Reg! My son was telling me that it was on the reading list for a literature course in college. And many of the students found it too tough.”

Exactly, Syd. We keep getting told we have to keep kids in school, get them more days in school, get them into college. The rest of the world is doing it so we have to as well, to keep up. But what good does it do if all that the bachelor’s degree certifies is the ability to do grade school work?


“Oh, right, you once hired a college football player. Didn’t work out well, did it?”

“I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Your son doing better in the job?”

“He gets by. I only intervene when I have to.”

“Which is just about every day. Like me and my daughter. They’ll learn.”

“I hope so. But what can anybody do about this education thing? We can’t keep throwing good money after bad.”

“The whole system has to get more efficient. Set the standards and stick to them. No more excuses, no more court cases, no more 9-to-5. Everybody has to buy in, teachers, parents, kids, the lot. You have to meet the need of the nation with this much time and this much money. And if you don’t make the grade, you’re out.”

“The private schools can do that, of course. But the public schools?”

“Why not? Look, there are some people who are never going to learn algebra no matter how hard they try. Why force it on them? Design programs that get them to do what they can do the best they can, and let them go do it. Wait tables, if that’s what they prefer. How much time do you have to spend in school to wait tables?”

“There are people who prefer to wait tables?”

“There sure are. ‘Dependent natures’ and all that.”

“Who said that?”

Abraham Lincoln, no less. And who am I to argue with a god?”

“Speaking of gods, the accountants aren’t going to be very happy with this scenario. Not those who’re selling college courses to students, for sure, however useless you think those courses are.”

“The accountants get it. They’ll cope. They’re the only ones I know of who do college right. ‘Cause they worked out long ago that their path to riches is by keeping us happy and their labor scarce. So you’d best believe that they have standards, and you, student, will meet them or else. The biologists keep complaining that nobody pays them what they’re worth. Well, dammit, if they had a guild that set strict standards of admission and performance like the accountants have, there’d be fewer biologists, but they’d all be millionaires.

“And you know as well as I do; somebody who tries to cheat the system and run his business with a non-certified accountant usually gets what he deserves.”

“Chapter eleven?”

Chapter seven. Really, Syd. You sound like somebody who needs more wine.”

“I have to admit, that Château Mouton Rothschild was a nice drop. But the bottle’s empty.”

“Indeed it is. I’ll order another. Boy! Boy!! Shiftless lazy white coon! Git your ass over here!”

“Yes, massuh.”

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. I’m a little amused at your abuse of the profit motive and Quilly’s paid blogging. Presumably, of course, if we cancelled the exclusivity of accountancy we’d all be somewhat richer and think we’re much richer.

    • The apparent contradiction doesn’t pass the sunshine test, Doug. “Paid blogging” is an oxymoron. Especially given the numerous and varied deviosities in play by advertisers to get their copy for free instead of for pennies. If anyone is making a profit, it is the overseer manager of the blogger stable. Who would, if anyone cared, be quickly convicted of aggravated insult to minimum-wage laws. I refer you to Hafiz.

      Actually (and unfortunately), the Shakespearian treatment of accountants would probably make at least the top-earning 5% of us poorer. And maybe the rest of us too, depending on how many Madoffs we allowed to run loose until it was too late. But we might have a small chance of being able to understand the tax codes.

      • Actually, dawg, I reckon that an accountant who sees that someone is actually paying bloggers would find himself alternative clients – ones who are actually working from a sound business model and have nonmicroscopic profit potential. (WordPress wouldn’t let me nest this comment under your last.)

      • I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by how much Quilly gets per post. I have to think the value calculation must include links as much as people actually reading and being persuaded. Even so.

      • There are actually several different value calculations in play, Doug. Links are important factors in many of them. Quilly could tell you more, if she chooses.

      • Doug — some posts pay a flat rate. My average for 200 words is about $9.00, though for some I get as much as $15.00 to $20.00 (it started out at $6.00 but the quality of my writing upped my payout). The “link only” posts pay per click — usually between 13 and 29 cents. I don’t use those much because my readers don’t seem to be “clickers”.

        I am a “small change” blogger. There are high powered folk who make much more than I. On average I seem to bring in about $50.00 every ten days. I can’t live on it, but it’s paid for my blog hosting for another full year and purchased a couple of luxuries.

  2. Hubby is a controller/accountant and he is not rich. Wish he were. We have money woes right now.

    Ever thought about those students who suffer from a learning disability called dyscalculia? It’s like dyslexia, but has to do with the inability to calculate with numbers. Sometimes, I am so slow with numbers, I think I have it.

    • Gigi, our Reginald would probably consign the dyscalculic to waiting tables and other servile tasks, along with everyone else who didn’t meet his educational standards. To accommodate this policy and make it economically feasible, he would gleefully repeal the Thirteenth Amendment. Reg, of course, is not an amoeba. And it is to stop the Reginalds among us, Rush, that Our Government has laws mandating the appropriate education of Our children, disabilities and all.

      Sorry to hear about your woes. “Penniless” is not fun. Crede experta.

      • hey, waiting tables aint that easy! A waiter needs to be akamai enough to use the cash register/computer and to rattle off prices and the daily specials to diners.

        P.S. After 2 weeks as a waitress at the Reef Hotel, I was fired for being “too slow.” This was a part-time job during my senior year at UH.

      • Waiting tables isn’t easy, Gigi (WordPress isn’t letting me nest this comment under your last, either). I never did it, but I did try being a manager at a fast-food restaurant (like you, a job during my senior year in college, though it was full time while I was also taking a full slate of classes [long story, not now]). I lasted two weeks. But Reginald’s point would be that, easy or not, jobs like this require no more than a (nominal) sixth grade mastery of English and a strong work ethic, whether willingly adopted or enforced with the lash. And he would be happy to cut the taxes that his accountant is ensuring that he doesn’t have to pay, by denying schooling to those who, by his criteria, aren’t worth the expenditure.

  3. Gigi — I couldn’t cut it as waitstaff, either — too clumsy! I retreated to the kitchen and cooked the meals instead. They let me have sharp knives, but not around the patrons!

  4. Some great lines in there as always, Amoeba, thanks for the grins!

    I’ve always wished that the education system didn’t insist on raising Renaissance kids—after grade school, I’d love to let kids specialise where they’re talented, and then *challenge* them adequately in that talent.

    Schools are definitely designed for the ‘average’ kid, if such a creature exists. I have one gifted daughter and two autistic kids: all three are failed by public schools and we can’t afford to go private.

    As usual after a post of yours, I could go on and on and….

    • Susan, my understanding is that the British system used to do precisely that. Preteens got tested, and that test decided their educational fate. I don’t know how that system got quashed, but I remember hearing a lot of resentment about it from folk who were convinced that it was rigged in favor of the upper classes. I reckon that any “one size fits all” educational system is going to wind up hacking off enough people to ensure its destruction. And any flexible system is going to hack off enough accountants to ensure its destruction.

      Maybe we should all just stop having kids … 😉

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