Thursday, July 28, 2005

Two more in the Essential Panoply of Minor Virtues

Late post, manuscript casualty. But I'm so freaking edified with the progress I'm making.

Thank Votan the weather broke. NYC does not get as hot or cold as Chicago, but the last two days of heat plus humidity have made going outside more like stepping into a soothing steambath. Provided the steam is urine-infused vapor forced through an exhaust-scaled tailpipe.

I've written before about politeness as a potential savior of the world. The live-and-let-live juice that Lileks hopes will keep the world smite-free. However, according to Woody Allen, "eighty percent of success in life is showing up." Allen says nothing about promptness.

Well, Mary Blevins, who worked the counter at Junior's in Brooklyn for 43 years with unflagging pleseantness is my idea of modern saintliness. Perhaps it's because in my life, I've struggled with tardiness and inconsistency that I so admire her. Perhaps it's the blue eye shadow.

"Mary has the right attitude, and the right work ethic," Mr. Rosen said. "And I can't tell you that I remember her missing a day of work or ever being late."

The JS may want you to register for this article about Willie Jude's 32 years of service in Milwaukee's public schools as a principal and administrator, so I'll excerpt what I noticed.

Willie Jude was in high school in rural Mississippi in the early 1960s when a teacher brought in a telephone to show to the students. It was the first time Jude set eyes on an actual phone...But Jude also says the world of his parents offered things that the world of today's parents of MPS students lacks - strong parenting setting good standards for kids, to name one...

Show up and show up on time. Both in his years in the MPS central office and in its high schools, Jude made a priority of fighting truancy and - something he considered just as serious - tardiness. He says parents and MPS don't do enough in dealing with these.
"There are two major things that businesses are complaining about (related to the high school graduates). Tardiness and attendance. They go together into attitude and relationships. (Business executives say) if a kid comes in here punctually and they have a pleasant attitude, we can train them... "Once a student is punctual and in school, a lot of other problems begin to disappear."

Promptness and Reliability don't cost big money or require an advanced degree to understand, and yet they are so often defining characteristics of the successful and admirable.

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