Confession No. 4: I live in the real world

9 Jun

When I was young my father often spoke of a place he called “The real world.”  It sounded like a horrible place for many reasons: Money apparently did not grow on trees in the real world; shit, of all shapes and sizes, happened on a regular basis; and all of the Chinese people there were planning to eat my lunch.

I know this because my father would tell me nearly ever chance he got, starting in the fourth grade, “You better apply yourself in school or when you get into the real world, the Chinese are going to eat your lunch.”

I was never quite sure why the Chinese wanted to eat my lunch. As far back as I can remember my mother would make me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain wheat bread. The bread was similar to soil in the Great Plains states after a long drought. It was so dry, in fact, that by the time lunch came around, the bread would absorb all of the jelly and 95 percent of the peanut butter. What I was left with was a sandwich that required a half-gallon of hormone-ridden milk to get down. Throw in some unsalted tortilla chips, an apple, and there you have it- that was my lunch.

I constantly tried to trade off pieces of my lunch for junk food other kids had in their lunches, so why on earth would the Chinese, or people of any other nationality want my lunch? My father made these people sound very intelligent, but I highly doubted their ACT scores if they were gunning for this consolation prize of a bag-lunch. I mean, I had tortilla chips while other kids had entire snack pack sized bags of Kool Ranch Doritos and full sized Snickers bars. What was wrong with these people?
I can understand being hungry, but obviously these people didn’t know quality.

There were the years of hot lunch, which I could see being a bit more desirable, especially on pizza days. To this day I’m still not sure how those lunch ladies made a rectangle of pizza covered in guinea-pig sized turds of sausage so damn tasty. And who could forget the chips and cheese? A bowl of spicy cheese and a pile of chips that were so salty they made slugs cringe just thinking about it. I’m not sure if there was any nutritional value to any of this food, but I could see it being so much more appealing to the Chinese.

Of course I eventually realized what my father was really saying was, ‘The Chinese are motivated, good students, and will dominate the work force when you get older, so you better study hard and be prepared.’ Now that I’m out in the real world, I think it’s fair to say that if the Chinese people really wanted my job, I would have to agree with my 10-year-old self and insist that they just don’t know quality when they see it.


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