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The Don Quixote of Donkeys

John W. Pinkerton


When I was born in '42, I kinda liked the lay of the land.  Mom and Dad were tolerable, my teachers were good, politicians were…well, politicians, a colorful bunch, baseball was king, and the fights on TV were great.

Idiots didn't talk much when I was a young fellow.  Most idiots knew they were idiots because folks were kind enough to point the fact out to them.

Today everyone---and I do mean everyone---thinks he has a right---no, an obligation---to express whatever stupid thing they're “thinking.” Now I can't deny them their right, but some of you folks need to step away from the microphone.

The recent political season brought all the nut cases to the fore.  Although the election is over, lots of them are still speaking in a manner worthy of Babel of Genesis.  Oh, well.

I worked in a public school for thrity-five years and, of course, had a professional responsibility not to make kids feel bad about themselves…although it would have been a kindness.  When it became a “thing” to find something positive to say to kids even when they said or did things which were incredibly stupid, I was doing pretty well with this until one kid gave an incredibly foolish answer to an English language  question.  I froze like a deer in headlights trying to think of something positive to say to the kid.  I gave up.  “Wrong.  Incredibly wrong.  That's the worst answer I've ever heard.”  Oh well, I tried.

At work I never felt the obligation to extend this kindness to adults.  When an adult said something incredibly stupid, I felt the obligation to pin the tail on the donkey.  They're adults: they should know better.

I recall a prissy little counselor who was bemoaning the fact the most of our male students had little ambition beyond going to work at a service station and buying a pick-up truck.  Slowly I turned and responded, “Oh, honey, we call those overachievers.”  I didn't make many points with her, but I did pin the tail on the donkey.

I tried to be kind to my fellow teachers simply because they were a rather naive bunch poorly equipped to do verbal battle with a hardened veteran of life like myself.

My favorite targets were administrators, particularly superintendents.  They, unfortunately, were in positions to do great harm, and most had questionable motivations for their decisions.  I considered them to be fair game all year round kinda like squirrels in Texas…shoot 'em when you see 'em.  Of course this attitude didn't make me a favorite of the powers that be.  I recall a point in time that I realized that I had not left the campus in over five years as a representative of the school.  Apparently they realized that I would probably speak poorly of  them whereever they might send me.  I had to laugh at this realization---apparently my jibes were having the desired effect of making the uncomfortable.

I believe I came by my abrasive nature through my association with my Irish parents who both had sharp tongues which spared few fools.

Now that I'm retired, I feel a little like an Irish Don Quixote roaming the countryside  pinning the tail on the donkeys I encounter.  It's my calling.