To The Class of 2005

January17/ 2000

.. Today you are the kings and queens of your domains, lauded and applauded by parents, grandparents, fellow graduates, yourself and enterprising entrepreneurs selling graduation memorabilia.   Enjoy it, soak it up, wallow in it for tomorrow you enter that mythical life stage referred to  as “WHEN YOU GROW UP”.  The myth behind that myth is that such a time and place actually exists.  Like everything else you have been told up until now, fully half of what I will tell you in the next 10 minutes is unadulterated bunk.  The challenge for you is determining which half.

   A show of hands please … how many of you in this college graduating class were either Homecoming Queen, Quarterback, Chief Cheerleader, or Student Body President in HIGH SCHOOL?  I see a lot of hands, cool.  Now, how many of you were Homecoming Queen, Quarterback, Chief Cheerleader, or Student Body President here in COLLEGE.  Whoa, where did all those hands go? 

   Reality Slap … you competed against 100s in high school … against 1,000s here in college. Now you will compete with 1,000,000s not only here in America but all around the world.  If you are used to and expect to be “the prettiest, the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, the best” the best way to do that is to run back home and go to work for “Daddy’s company” … an option not to be discounted if available … 

   If you grew up in a traditional semi-nuclear family (admittedly that includes fewer of you than ever before in our nation’s history) you are used to being the apple of somebody’s eye.  You have always been “special”.  Even on this campus you have been mesmerized that only “the best and the brightest” matriculate here.  That same elitist mantra is preached on EVERY college campus.  Heck, Hadji is being told that at The University of Calcutta right now. 

   Since the age of three you have maintained that much of what you had to, or could not, “do” was “not fair”.  Going to bed at 8 PM, “eating your vegetables”, and Saturday morning classes is going to ratchet up really quickly to The IRS, Alzheimer’s, and “good looking superficial people” getting promotions you deserve.  

   All of 2005’s crop of “the best and the brightest” get summarily dumped into the adult work force.  A lot of you “eye apples” are going to be scrambling for a limited number of brass rings.  The ratio of brass rings to “eye apples” is forever out of synch. A year from now, and every year thereafter, a new crop of “eye apples” will be “competing” for “your” brass ring.

   Since you were toddlers, obnoxious relatives and strangers in malls have asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.  Starting tomorrow that changes to “and what do you do for a living?”  You don’t need a legitimate answer to that rhetorical question.  Fake it like most of us do, but you do need to work on your answer.  “Consultant” and “considering a lot of options” are popular deflecting responses.

   You have heard the philosophical quandary “Why do Bad Things happen to Good People?” That worries you because you consider yourself “a good person”.  We will deal with that illusion in a moment.

   I am unable to tell you “why babies die”, “why nuns get hit by Mack Trucks”, and “why Roy Williams lost his whole team”.  I also don’t understand “how MapQuest works”, “why Oprah is so popular”, or “why anyone would order much less eat a giant triple bacon monster burger at Hardees’”.   The plight of “Good People” will not cause you as much concern as it’s reverse quandary “Why do Good Things happen to Bad People?” 

   When I said “Bad People” you immediately thought of Adolph Hitler.  Every one does. Running close behind Adolph in New Millenium polls are Joseph Stalin, Hillary Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Krzyzewski, and Chuck Amato.  If you truly waste your “Bad People” vote on a sports coach, you are in for such a shock in “real life” that your chance of surviving corporate America or marriage are even worse than Shav Randolph making All NBA next season.

   One does not have to mastermind the annihilation of 6,000,000 Jews to be “a Bad Person”.  Look up and down the row you are sitting on.  Now lean in real close so I can whisper a secret to you.  “There are “bad people” on that row with you.”  Say it ain’t so BobLee!  Alas, it is.

   It’s guaranteed that in the years to come you will have “a bad person” as a “boss” or supervisor.  You will have “bad people” as co-workers … as clients … as neighbors … as business partners … sitting behind you at a movie theater … and all around you in heavy traffic.  I would include “as spouses” but I’ve scared you too much already with this.  Those “bad people” will win various competitions with you and you will see them enjoy the fruits of their “bad person behavior”.  You may even be the “bad person” someone else encounters.

   Rationalize that “they will get their comeuppence one of these days”.  That is another myth about “life”.  There simply are not enough “comeuppences” to handle all the “bad people” in society.  That is why many of us chose to believe in “the eternal firey depths of Hell”.  That obnoxious neighbor playing his stereo at 3 AM and that gross guy who didn’t wash his hands before grabbing the door knob in the public restroom will end up there.  Thinking otherwise really messes up your mind.

   You think you have “common sense” aplenty AND a “great sense of humor”.  In addition you, in your estimation, are “a good person” and are (TAA DA!) “a people person”.  Congrats, those self-assumed qualities will get you hired as a telemarketer for a discount mortgage company or a waiter at Applebee’s.  40 years from now you can look forward to being a Wal-Mart greeter at the first Wal-Mart Galactic Superstore on Neptune.

   If asked to grade the other students on your dorm floor or your fraternity or sorority mates you would not score all of them so high on “common sense”, “sense of humor”, or overall affability.  Guess what, they scored you lower than you would like to believe too.  Out there in the “real world” the grading is even tougher and non-stop.

   As to “what you want to be”, don’t fret about that one UNLESS you think you actually do know; then be worried. Your current view of any occupation is so idealized as to be unrecognizable five years from now.  You might spend your entire life searching for “your niche” and learn 50 years from now that “itinerate job changer” was your true calling.

   Succeeding mostly involves mundane every day issues that your pointy-headed professors never bothered to mention. It ain’t about “theory” it’s about RESULTS. Did you take Show Up Every Day 101 or Nose To Grindstone 102?  I didn’t think so.

   Those personality tests you took as freshmen four years ago …  you tried to fool’em by checking all the positive qualities so you could get into the popular majors. You should have checked “Forest Ranger” as you will learn at or about your 40th birthday.

   Speaking of “forests”, many of you have student memberships in The Sierra Club and P.E.T.A. and such trendy student “activists” organizations.  When those organizations try to get you to upgrade and become a regular member at several hundred dollars a year, 99% of you will toss their materials in the trash with those 72 “You have been pre-approved” credit card applications you will be getting daily from now on.  Go forth and “change the world” will become go forth, pay the mortgage and what’s for dinner.  CLUE: The world will “change” with/without your involvement.  Ask your Daddy and his Daddy. 

   In closing, if you remember nothing else from these remarks, remember this.  Before you know it, assuming you survive (and X number of you won’t which is yet another fact of life) you will automatically, at age 50, receive an application to join AARP.  That will scare the bejebbers out of you because you will think it must be for your parents.  Staring at that AARP membership application will effect you even more than looking at that diploma.  Your life is by no means “over” at 50 but you might think so, especially now you would think so.

   What happens to you ‘tween this diploma and that AARP letter is “UP TO YOU”.  You will at various junctures try to assign that responsibility to your parents, your boss, your spouse, the government, God, and a combination of those aforementioned “bad people”.  The sooner you accept accountability for your ever-evolving life circumstances the better you will appreciate them and actually exert some slight control over them.  

   There will be times when you should “go along to get along” and times to “stand up for what’s right”.  Just do “rock, paper, scissors”.  You will likely get those times mixed up like the rest of us usually do.

   Collect all the bromides, homilies, and Far Side cartoons you can.  Stick them on your bathroom mirror, your desk, your dashboard, and certainly on your refrigerator with magnets provided by your local pizza delivery service.  The one about “Life is a Journey, Not A Destination” is probably your best choice along with The Serenity Prayer.

   Definitely get a DVD copy of “Office Space” since every one of you will likely serve a sentence of some indeterminable length in such a stiflingly depressing environment … and remember the sage advice of New Age philosopher Jennifer Anniston … “everyone is responsible for their own flair.” 


Swagger’s Stumper

In Office Space, what was Milton’s favorite piece of office equipment?

Bonus Stumper ???


What do they call the guy that 

graduates last in his class at Harvard Medical School?


   BobLee’s column on the UNC-USC possibility definitely “made waves”.  It reached the highest levels of “powers that be” establishing your favorite Internet Legend as “that guy who wrote the consummate column” on the subject.  

“The Ghost Who Walks” was The Phantom.

    Swaggy will be attending the NC Sports Hall of Fame banquet tonight with a stellar cast of “didn’t you used to be ______” local collegiate has-beens.  At Swagger’s table will be a former Duke QB, two former UNC QBs, Billy Packer’s Deacon running mate, #23 from Garden City LI, and “the Dean Smith of NC high school basketball.  Can’t you hear the media mumbling “who are all that guys sitting over there with BobLee?”

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