Education minus

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2003

A niece of mine down in Greensboro went to a fast-food eatery, I won’t mention the name, and saw on the menu you could order 6, 9 or 12 chicken McNuggets. She said she would like half a dozen. The girl behind the counter said they didn’t sell half a dozen, only 6, 9 or 12. So she ordered 6. My niece said it didn’t surprise her because at a grocery store she picked up one of those wooden bars to separate her groceries from the lady in front of her. When the checker got to the bar she picked it up and looked all over it for the bar code, couldn’t find one and asked my niece if she knew the price. My niece decided not to buy it.

It happened to me at a local shopping center. A cute little thing couldn’t get in her car because the &uot;remote thingy&uot; battery was dead. She was near to crying when I took it from her and used the attached key to open her door. I suggested she get a new battery for the remote thingy. I heard one even stranger: A cop had corralled his suspect, put him in a chair at the station and put a colander on his head with two fake wires fastened to the copy machine. The cop had written, &uot;he’s lying&uot; on a sheet of paper in the copier and each time he asked the suspect a question he pressed the button and showed the result. The suspect finally confessed. These four short stories point out that education is everything; it was Mark Twain who said that a cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college degree.

Being powerless against a powerful power company can be frustrating. A tree falls on a line and you are the only one affected. You call that number and talk to a machine that assures you your service will be restored as soon as possible. Figure on about six hours, the lights will come on about the time you start the generator. Why so long? The one person servicing the entire eastern half of the country is working on a blown transformer in Atlanta. But that’s nothing – I’ve been trying to get three deep holes in my lawn fixed since November 2002. The only repair truck in Suffolk, unless others have been called in due to an expected hurricane, got stuck by pulling off the side of our stone driveway.

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He needed a wrecker and between the two they tore the yard up pretty good. He said he would report it. It is now April 30, 2003, 150 days later. So far I have written to their &uot;customer&uot; service, informed the meter reader, told another driver who was here on a subsequent repair call, talked to an actual person on April 10 who said they had never heard of the problem but she would issue a work order. That was 20 days ago. We have learned to live with the holes, marking them well so wandering lost children won’t stumble in. We have even considered turning it in to a picturesque pond but are afraid we won’t be home when the repair people finally show up and sure as hell they will fill it in.

Now and then you get the desire to eat out. Sure, there are thousands of places to dine in Tidewater but why travel when there are many to choose from right here in good old Suffolk. Except the Chinese take-out in the old Phoenix Bank, it’s bordered up but that leaves many others scattered all over the 430 square miles. So I looked in the Suffolk News-Herald for a place not too far away. There I saw this headline about restaurant inspections by the Health Department listing 51 eateries and 14 local schools with bad marks after their names. The Health Department did not describe what might constitute a bad mark, critical or not, but should put out some sort of identifying code so we can judge for ourselves. When I recently I looked at the filter under our kitchen hood I popped it in the dishwasher and up to that moment no one in our family had died.

Knowing what is and what is not &uot;critical&uot; might cause less damage to the image of our local food providers. Don’t worry about kids in &uot;tainted&uot; schools; they have cast iron stomachs.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.