Saturday, October 9, 2010
The Reality Download
On a recent Tuesday, a rising junior at one of our nations fine universities joined his Dad for lunch. Over the course of the meal pleasantries were exchanged. The father, a "self made" man talked about his latest business issues, the son talked of school sports and a bit about his class work.
While awaiting dessert the son said,
" Dad, I've forwarded on to you the e-mail about next semester's tuition. As you've no doubt read it's up a few percentage points and this term they are receiving funds early to secure slots in the upper level curricula."
Smiling the server delivered desserts and coffee which absorbed the father's full attention for a few minutes.
Stirring his coffee the Dad looked up and asked,
" How did you want to handle that?"
"How did you want to handle that?"
"I'm not sure I understand you Dad, handle what? I forwarded the e-mail to you, all the data you need is in the e-mail." His demeanor was respectful but he had a slight expression of annoyance around his browline.
" Well, it's nice of you to keep me informed of what's important in your life son, it means a lot to me. But, I believe that tuition statement is yours not mine so what are your plans toward that obligation?"
" Is this a joke Dad?"
" No son, it is not. Why did you ask?"
"Dad! What is going on here? This is crazy! Since when do you ask me what am I doing about tuition? You take care of the tuition Dad, I take care of being the student".
The father set down his fork, reached into his breast pocket to extract some papers which he passed to his son. The son picked up the papers saying , " What is this? Christ Dad, I have to get back on campus by 3pm for crew. Will this take long?"
"Son, those papers are portable so if you need to leave go ahead."
Opening the papers the son was surprised. In his hands were bank statements, the title to his car, an insurance policy in his name only, a receipt for auto tags and taxes.
" What's this about Dad?"
"Choice and change", responded the Dad while signing for lunch.
He thanked the server, stood and asked his son if he would care to join him for his walk back to the office. Outside on the sidewalk the son said, " Look Dad, if you are making a point I am not getting it.
What I am getting is a stress headache so could you please just tell me what this is all about?"
In a relaxed manner the Dad looked over at this son , took in a deep breath and said,
"This is about choices and changes just as I said in the restaurant. You know son, your generation were so enamored of the virtual potential of change, the power of the virtual, you pretty much overlooked the real. Millions of us parents sat around dinner tables trying to explain to our kids the reality of the virtual choice but we were not heard. For you son, reality is now here to trump virtual. Your college fund is depleted. You lost about 47% in 2008. You've had 5 full semesters and a few summer sessions of tuition, books, fees, drawing from the remaining 53%. You are pretty much tapped out. Some of those papers I gave you is a print out of your college fund, the loses and the transactions to date. There is some money in there but sadly, insufficient to cover your tuition."
Reeling a bit from this news the son sat down on a bench, shuffling the papers until he came to the funds report. He read the papers carefully, ran his hands thru his hair before standing again to address his father.
" Okay, this shows we took a pretty serious hit. But Dad! what is remaining will not cover the basics for the remainder of this semester never mind the upcoming one. I need some help here Dad. I mean, I never thought I would be standing on a public sidewalk asking my Dad if he was going to help me with college. I mean it Dad! You are the CEO of a great business, we aren't poor people Dad so what is the problem?"
" No problem son, just a choice. I choose my beliefs over yours."
" What! Dad, this is nuts. What beliefs? What choices? What the hell are you talking about?"
" Son, this is about owning your choices. You made one, as did millions of you fellow virtual reality voters.
When your generation voted into office a virtual idea of a man versus the reality of an idealist who never has worked a day in his life, this is the reality you elected. I am making another choice. I believe in an America which is business driven, not government driven. I do not believe in the redistribution of wealth. I believe in equal opportunity to earn wealth. I do not believe in rewarding greed and failure. Nor, punishing those of us who have successfully achieved independence, accountability and decency through hard work, ethical practices and prayer. I will not support the needs of an individual who rejects these beliefs or declines to acknowledge the consequences of choice. You helped put into office a man who stands against just about everything I believe in. As a parent, I am obligated to provide you with wings. I want those wings to work son. I will tell you now I think the flights for your generation are going to encounter extreme turbulance. I am taking this action to do my best to help you accept and prepare for the world you have chosen."
" Wait a minute! You are refusing to educate me because you couldn't control my vote? That's crap!"
" NO son.
This isn't about control.
It is about accountability.
Yes, I could manage to come up with the funds to pay your remaining education expenses but to do so I would have to eliminate some expenses. Those 'expenses' are good employees who have worked hard and loyally for us for decades. I don't think they should lose their jobs for your education. I don't think
they should lose their jobs, home, pensions and all hope in this real world because your generation flexed it's numbers and decided to elect a president like it was a video game scoreboard. Game over."
" Dad, you can't stop progress or technology or all the changes to come. And you can't expect my generation to want a leader older than our grandparents. We made the best choice for our time. This might have caught you by surprise but you have to adapt! Every generation does. I'll help you get a handle on the new reality stuff Dad but, right now, I need for you to stand tall and do the right thing. For me."
Placing a gentle hand on his son's shoulder the father said,
" Thanks son, but I'm good. You see I have a new downloadable app out there for all the parents who need a little advice about how to help their kids own their choices. It's doing really well at a dollar per download! Actually, I am pretty confident the company employees and I will all have comfortable retirements now that our websites , blogs, twitters and links are up to speed. "