Commence now | Chuck's World
Someone stole mail right out of my mailbox once. Some people found it scattered on their lawn a few blocks away.
And then it happened again, and I met another nice neighbor, who went to the trouble to bring it to my door.
I work at home, and I usually pick up the mail, but sometimes I forget. And this is an easy target, on the street, an old-fashioned mailbox with no lock.
It might have happened a third time; I’m not sure.
Still, some quick math tells me that, not counting holidays and Sundays and those days when inconsiderate people park their cars directly in front of the mailbox, I’ve had mail delivered well over 1,000 times in this house. Having it stolen two or three times isn’t a crime spree.
It only had to happen to my new neighbor once, though. He felt strongly that mail addressed to him should not be stolen even once, so with his help we both put up these big steel mailboxes with locks and keys.
It hasn’t changed my life, except that I have to remember to take my keys when I go get the mail. It’s a little easier to leave town for a couple of days, etc. It hasn’t changed the behavior of inconsiderate parkers at all.
Still, from time to time, I get the feeling that something is missing. It’s my imagination, I guess, or some latent paranoia, but I’ve been experiencing it more lately. And I finally figured out why.
We didn’t get any graduation announcements this year.
It shouldn’t surprise me. My children are well past that age, as are my nieces and nephews. I’m sure at some point, somebody will get some sort of degree and feel like sending out an announcement.
Just not this year, apparently.
And I still know high school-age kids (their parents, really), and it does seem like most years somebody I know, no matter how superficially, graduates. I can think of several coming up over the next couple of years.
I just noticed it this spring, and I started to imagine this group of graduating high school seniors (I’m excluding college graduates, who tend to have their own timetables. But congratulations).
I apparently know none of you, although that doesn’t mean I can’t do some homework.
Most of you were born in 1996, for example.
That was the year a political scandal nicknamed “Whitewater” was making lots of news, although it turned out not to be a scandal, or anything, really. It didn’t keep Bill Clinton from easily winning re-election that year, although he’d run into another scandal a bit later.
You were born the same year as Pokemon, and Nintendo 64, a video game system that leapfrogged the current technology.
It was the year that 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was mysteriously murdered in her home in Colorado. It was also the year of another horrific crime, the murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas, thus beginning what we now refer to as AMBER Alerts.
“Braveheart” won the Best Picture Oscar that year, making Mel Gibson a remarkable artistic force in filmmaking. You are excused for not knowing who Mel Gibson is.
A bomb was set off at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the O.J. Simpson trial began (You may be excused with Mr. Simpson, too.), The Ramones played their last show (Look them up. You might like the music.), and Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the company he founded, thus creating the world you now live in.
You were in kindergarten when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 happened. I assume your memories of that are fuzzy and incomplete, although I wonder if you see low-flying airplanes sometimes and shiver, and don’t know why.
When you were 10, you were probably going to the movies to see the second installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Ice Age,” along with “Cars” and maybe “Happy Feet.”
You’ve grown up in a world in which the Internet has always been a part of your life, just faster now. Cellphones have always been around.
You probably remember watching movies on VHS tapes, but barely. Televisions are bigger, thinner, and a lot clearer than when you were born.
A lot has happened in your lifetimes, in fact. You were born into a world that was about to change rapidly and drastically, in both good and bad ways.
Your parents almost certainly used a hospital phone, or possibly a pay phone (ask someone), to spread the news of your birth. Nobody texted anybody. Your grandparents didn’t interact with you on Skype or FaceTime.
This is for my benefit only. We live life in one direction, and that’s the one you’re facing right now.
It just helps the older folks, sometimes, to think about just how young you are, what you’ve lived through, and the all of the possibilities ahead. I have great faith in you, Class of 2014.
Not just because I’m sentimental, either. As I said, I know none of you this year. But I’m optimistic by nature, I like what I see, and I wish you well.
And were I to give you advice, I’d suggest someday looking at what was going on when you were born, and a child, and a slightly bigger child. And hold onto the friends who made a difference, as long as you can. Particularly your teachers.
Don’t rob mailboxes. It’s a Federal offense.
And check out The Ramones someday. You might be surprised.