broadsideblog

If I were Queen…

In behavior, children, cities, culture, design, domestic life, education, entertainment, family, food, life, parenting, urban life on January 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm
The Sceptre, Orb and Imperial Crown of Austria...

The Sceptre, Orb and Imperial Crown of Austria in the Schatzkammer, Vienna (Photo credit: David Jones)

Oh, the possibilities!

As I get older and crankier, (OK, even crankier), I have a growing desire to enact sweeping changes.

Because: 1) I’m right; 2) you’re wrong; 3) if you disagree with me, I can have you drawn and quartered.

Ooops, sorry. Not queen just yet!

But in the deluded if pleasantly optimistic fantasy that I will soon awaken to the news that I am, in fact, in possession of: 1) ermine robes; 2) an orb and sceptre; 3) a big shiny crown; 4) power; 5) a throne…Look out.

I would:

Make every single person of able body work retail for a month, during the holiday season. You might be bagging groceries, or using one of those nifty folding boards to make a pile of T-shirts all tidy or stocking shelves. But you will definitely be exposed to the rudeness, demands, in(s) anity, germs, badly-behaved children, dumb questions and finger-snapping of shoppers. (If lucky, you will also have amazing moments of connection with some very cool people.) Only then can you possibly understand why “They’re so slow!” and learn to control your eye-roll and sighing when service fails to meet your needs. That low-paid, physically-grueling, intellectually-deadening job most likely doesn’t meet much of theirs.

Show every child, at age 12, (or earlier), the tools necessary to care for themselves and their home — and teach them to use them. Then make sure they do! Gender-free training, this would include household appliances, clothing and dish detergent, cleaners, polishes, dusters, brooms, mops, toilet bowl scrubbers, Windex, an iron and ironing board, a needle and thread, shoe polish and brushes and shoe trees, a lint roller.

Toilet bowl swab.

Toilet bowl swab. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure every child over the age of 12, (or earlier), knows how to shop for groceries, compare prices and make wise choices on their own. When is a melon fresh? What can you make with a mushy banana? Is that cut of meat really cheaper?

Make sure every child over 12, (possibly quite a bit earlier), can read a food label, read and follow a recipe, prepare food safely and cook meals from scratch, using no canned, frozen or processed ingredients. I’ve never owned a microwave; you can make a great meal in about 6 minutes if you have the right ingredients.

Insist that no child be allowed to leave high school, (drop out or not), without passing a mandated financial literacy test. They would fully comprehend how to balance a checkbook (or ensure they are not spending beyond their means without full awareness of that); apply for a loan; understand an APR, a FICO score, a SEP and the value of a low-interest line of credit. The complex language of a vehicle loan, home mortgage or other major commitment — like college debt — would be familiar and accessible to them as they move into the larger world.

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...

Factors contributing to someone’s credit score, for Credit score (United States). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Repeat this test — like renewing a driver’s license — every two years, as the economy changes and people forget, become distracted and/or their needs change.

Make sure everyone knows the essential importance of prompt, sincere and personal thank-you notes. On paper, with a stamp.

Give every teen leaving home a toolbox with hammer, screwdriver, cordless drill, screws, nails, a level and a tape measure so they they can use them safely to maintain, repair and improve their homes.

Make every designer of every public space — especially the enormous expanses of American grocery stores — much more aware of the 47 million Americans who suffer from arthritis. Many shopping environments completely ignore the needs of those living with chronic pain and impaired mobility.

Create quiet zones in every possible public place, with severe fines and enforcement, to reduce cellphone abuse, earbud leakage and the blaring televisions that now assault us in airport departure lounges to (yes, really) hospital emergency rooms. When I am jacknifed in pain with a 104 degree temperature, television only makes me feel even worse. Surely people can distract themselves quietly and privately in shared space. Research increasingly shows that constant exposure to noise is extremely detrimental to our physical and emotional health.

Make every affluent teen spend a month, alone, in a developing nation — or zone of extreme poverty within their own country. Only by living among people earning pennies per day can someone understand what poverty is really like, what wrenching choices it imposes, what family damage it inflicts and what decisions, personal or political, perpetuate it.

Require every graduating college student, no matter their field of study, to learn a second language. We live in a global society. Insular thinking is dead.

Create many more affordable, attainable ways for lower-income teens and young adults to leave their homes for six to 12 months, working overseas or in a foreign country, to learn firsthand what other nations are doing better, (or worse), with their citizens’ lives. The “news media” is no substitute for firsthand experience. Trans-national friendships and experiences, whether created in high school, college, grad school or through your own initiative, are often life-changing.

Force Big Business to donate a fixed percentage of profit, (tied to CEO bonus and compensation as well), to re-patriating jobs to the United States. Call it a tax, a tariff, whatever. Just do it. Business must not be rewarded solely for raking in billions of corporate profits while stiffing millions of Americans of the chance to earn a living here.

united states currency eye- IMG_7364_web

united states currency eye- IMG_7364_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

Require every client hiring a freelance worker to pay a percentage of their fee up front.  The shoemaker does it. Upholsterers do it. Frame shops do it. Making people wait for their payments and stress over meeting their own financial commitments is immoral and obscene. Sweeten it with some form of tax credit, but make it happen. One third of Americans do not have “a job” — they work in this manner.

If you were Queen or King, what would you decree?

  1. All hail Queen Caitlin! And a lot of universities already require some foreign language aptitude. I got out of it because I took a test showing I have proficiency in Hebrew. Oh, and if I had the power, I’d start a reinvestigation of the case that put three innocent boys from West Memphis, AK in jail for over 15 years, give the LGBT community the same rights as heterosexuals, institute sensible gun control policies, and provide more help to the mentally ill.

  2. I’d make room on my throne for you!

  3. You can’t be queen because I want to! But I’d enact every one of your suggestions (except the shoe tree thingie) and the word would be a better, more compassionate place.

  4. Where do I vote? May I be so bold to add another? How about teaching all children over the age of two how to say please and thank you and then maybe they can go home and teach their parents the virtue of good manners. Great list!

    • Thanks…One friend of mine was able to teach her very small daughter very good manners, so much so she could sit with us at dinner and be polite. I know it’s work, but it is apparently do-able.

      • Yes, it is work and it is do-able. I have five sons that are most definately aware of their manners towards other people, especially their elders, women and the infirmed. (please pardon my boastfulness but it is true) My relatives would rise up out of the grave and get me if I raised anything less. Interestingly as a side note, good manners have become so much a part of their life that none of them will stand by and allow any of their friends and colleagues to be disrespectful or hurtful to someone else without bringing it to the offenders attention. It does not happen on it’s own, it must be taught and DEMONSTRATED in the home.

        We do a lot of camping and travel around the country quite a bit and I love going south where there is still such a high regard for good manners. Sir and ma’am is still a big part of that culture. In my opinion alot of that carries through into the society as well. I find where people respect one another they tend not to abuse one another as well. Great topic!

      • My mother made clear to me that writing thank you notes was not optional…You have to learn this stuff!

  5. I’ll come and live in your kingdom! But I’d lobby for a rule that allowed anyone (well, if they were old enough!) to marry, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. I think I’d also like to add in to your practical skills for children and young people that they should learn to look after a baby, or perhaps have to be licensed to look after one. Sort of a warrant of fitness to be a parent and much like the exposure to poverty and retail, give them an idea of the hard work it can be. I’d also like to see hard work properly rewarded, no matter the level of your job. Love the topic!

  6. If I were King (yes, I want to be King–it’s a fantasy, right?)… I like many of the items on your list, but I think I’m more comfortable blocking out noise in public spaces. I’ve always said I believe everyone should have a point in their life where they have a job where they work for tips, waiting tables, delivery, etc. Mandated, paid vacation time and days off for all–including SAHMs. Remove federal funding from states that choose to make access to contraceptives, abortion, and counseling difficult to impossible>>>with fines and penalties if the state’s response is to cut funding to public health, transportation, and or education.

    I’ll stop here, cause I could go on and on.

  7. You’re a tyrant.

    Got my vote!

  8. I’d vote for you! Oh, I don’t suppose they do that in a monarchy. Oh well, I’d be happy to stand outside the palace and wave a little flag.

  9. This is an amazing post. As a young person in this country, I agree with so many of these ideas. People (especially young adults) have no idea what other countries, people, or lives are like other than their own, and the media does not do a good job of showing them. As a freelance writer, I absolutely gave a fist pump for the last idea!

    • The U.S. media, certainly…BBC does a much better job, as do many foreign-language outlets, but few Americans speak a second language well enough to follow in another tongue, which compounds the problem.

      I see many freelance people who are not writers (i.e.designers, etc.) set these terms. The problem with working with media corporations is they set the terms and you accept them, or not.

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