Unlike the rest of the world, America sets aside the first Monday in September to honor its workers rather than a May Day commemoration.
And the big Amazon smile has pulled up to my mailbox. Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) walked out to greet the driver as he tries to save delivery persons a lot of steps to his front porch if he can avoid it.
For working on this holiday that honors American labor, the driver is not earning anything extra. But, he says with a smile, “I’ve got to pay my bills.” He’s grateful to have a job during this pandemic economy.
As for GOT, he could have waited until Tuesday for the delivery, but it wasn’t a delivery option. When you order from Amazon, they schedule you as fast as you’re willing to pay. GOT, being the skinflint that he is, always takes the free option. Maybe he’ll have to look harder to schedule weekday deliveries, but Amazon employees, you really need a union.
This post is not to examine the many labor sins of Amazon. Why not boycott? Because there is no alternative. Why would a teacher give their business to Walmart? If you object to Bill Gates, then your alternative is Laureen Jobs. It’s hard to protest with purchasing policy when every option promotes anti-public education ideas.
Labor Day is the traditional end of summer and, in an election year, when the campaigns kick into earnest. This year feels different and it’s not only the pandemic. Events are in motion, the causes have occurred, and all we have to do is watch events play out in real time.
- For educators, the real debate continues over the wisdom of opening school campuses for children to attend. Although there are good arguments for and against, the fact is that the buildings have opened and students have come. Even if we closed now, teachers, staff, and children have already been exposed to whatever has come inside.
- We’ve been running in cycles. The first cycle concluded in May, after we shut down to head off the first potential exponential explosion in cases that would stress and perhaps break our health care systems. People relaxed, believing the threat to be over, aided in that belief by politicians doing victory laps around their states. But a second cycle took hold as people refused to follow public health advice, gathered in large groups for the traditional celebrations of Memorial Day and July 4th, and we saw high numbers during the month of July that only slowly declined into August.
- It seemed that people were sobered by July. GOT noticed a high percentage of compliance with mask-wearing, for example. But now, as the numbers decline into early September, GOT is noticing many persons no longer bothering. They won’t wear masks and they won’t keep their distance. The third cycle begins, and it’s no use arguing about it. We will see what happens in October.
- Fortunately, at his school, the students do wear their masks. The masks will slip down, but a gentle reminder brings an immediate adjustment. Physical distance is much harder. It is impossible in classrooms where 33 students sit in a room and, without cattle prods (smile, it’s a joke), we’re not going to keep them six feet apart in the hallways. But they mostly walk facing one direction from doorway to doorway. They’re not gathered in front of lockers or facing one another.
- We haven’t had trouble with sub coverage, but GOT’s school is an academic magnet and the admission requirements generally screen out discipline problems, which means subs want to work at his school.
There are other cycles moving as well. GOT has lost interest in the burning issues of the day because, frankly, those issues have burned for a long time. There is no fresh fuel for the fire. Again, the causes have happened, events are moving, and we are waiting to see them play out in the next few months.
Examples: In Jacksonville, interest in the investigations of the aborted sale of the public utility wanes. While there are new things to discover, the essential story is known. Nothing of interest will happen until the federal grand jury begins dropping charges and we see who gets swept up in the dragnet.
Trump quotes. Really, something the man allegedly said two and a half years ago has relevance now? This non-story would die out except for all the unceasing blatherskites who have to keep commenting. The election cycle has two months to go and little, if anything new, will happen. Turn out and vote and hope your side wins.
Hurricanes. We’re on the P name and it’s only early September. The storm cycle is one we have little control over year by year. Its intensification is due to extra heat in the ocean and atmosphere. But we set that cycle in motion years ago. While changes may affect future decades, for now all we can do is wait, watch, and go through the storms as they wash ashore.