It’s hot here, hot like you don’t have in California. I don’t mean it’s hotter here; it’s not, of course. I mean good, big, moist, heavy, Great Lakes hot, with the air full of water, and the sweat pouring off your body, and the heat pouring off the trees so you can smell their sweetness, and the occasional heat storm for relief. It’s storming right now, a torrent, but still hot; the rain is sweeping down in huge gusts, and there are girls clad in little bits of gauze running down my street and screaming. There is nothing like this glorious weather.
Right. So a couple of weeks ago, Jake applied for a sales job at a sporting goods store. When they hadn’t called him about it after a week, one of his parental people encouraged him to call them. He resisted, then he called. And — get this — the manager of the store said: “You passed the test. Anyone who doesn’t follow up by calling us doesn’t get the job.”
From this experience, Jake has learned the critical lesson of the contemporary working world. Be pushy; bother people; shove your way to the front of the line. I wonder why he resists this lesson. Oh yes! It is because he is a dignified and honourable young man. He doesn’t whine for a better grade. He doesn’t worm his way into a teacher’s good graces. He does what he’s called on to do; he rises to the occasion; and he doesn’t make special demands.
The motto of my family when I was growing up was: Never Complain, Never Explain. At the very least this means: wait until the store calls you. You tell people what you want, then you step back. You perform to the best of your abilities, but you don’t call it to people’s attention. This is why I cannot respond to the monthly email I get from my college asking me to list my accomplishments so that they can be publicized. I am quite simply unable to do this; it would violate a deep seated taboo.
It is a good way to be. And I am glad Jake is learning not to be this way, since this is not the way the world works these days, if it ever did.