The Norman Transcript


March 28, 2014

The Paine! The Paine!

NORMAN — Thomas Paine was troubled by many things during the American Revolution and began the first of 16 pamphlets with the words “These are the times that try men’s souls.” A stirring yet comforting phrase that can be applied to just about any time in history and to greater and lesser events in people’s lives.

Sometimes you reach a certain level of frustration with people and Thomas Paine’s words will pop into your mind. The alternative solution may be a therapeutic lobotomy. “No Paine. No Brain.”

Unfortunately, exasperating people abound, creating special moments which crush that last good nerve we treasure.

Our parochial grade school’s report card included a section on the student’s behavior. Some of the choices were: Takes direction well; Takes criticism well; Will cheerfully kiss Sister Mary SOB’s feet just to get a passing grade; and so on. The teacher would check the Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory box on each item and the student took that report card home. If the checked U boxes outnumbered the checked S boxes, then a parental explosion was guaranteed to follow.

To be fair, the U box kids probably squashed those poor nuns’ last charitable atoms.

However, even a child has his or her tolerance limit as well. With each detour taken from the “expected” route, another “Satisfactory” box bit the dust. Free spirits and convent people rarely mix well.

The same report card boxes should be used to rate adults who refuse to pay attention while instructions are given for specific tasks. Clearly, the recipient of the offered guidance believes he or she can “figure it out” or expect an infusion of “divine guidance” when the new task or project begins. The simpler the task, the harder it is for some people to grasp the process, which is why Hubby and my son beg me to avoid mechanical objects like can openers and pencil sharpeners.

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