Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sometimes, 11th place is not so bad


You guys, I am not a fan of 11th place ribbons and the Everyone is a Winner! and Everyone is Special! attitudes because we all know they are crap. In the real world, when performance reviews come around, your boss might be told that she has to curve the ratings and that only one person can get an Exceeds (and hence a good raise) and the rest have to get Meets (which might mean no raise), you know that Everyone is Not A Winner.

If you are unfortunate enough to work for a place like I used to, where there was a dedicated elevator - one of the four in the ten-story building - to the executive offices on the second floor - offices that were locked to general employees and once you know that the CEO got a $1.2 million or a $12 million bonus (either one is too much) in the year that over 1,000 salaried employees, including moi, were laid off (they had already decimated the hourly ranks over the previous five years) and the stock price dropped from $42 to $28, thus rendering all my options at $38 completely worthless*, you can understand why those offices were locked because otherwise, we might have been storming them with pitchforks, you might also have the policy that employees in staff groups, like Legal, can't get Exceeds, which means by definition, they cannot get decent raises. You know then that Everyone is Not A Winner.

I don't like stupid ribbons. I don't like stupid ceremonies. I don't even like valid ones. I am talking high school/college graduation here as opposed to kindergarten/sixth grade/eighth grade. Really, people? Really? You want to celebrate that your kid finished kindergarten?

That reminds me of my friends Joan and Steve, who, when Hooters came up and I asked what they would do if one of their daughters wanted to work there, answered, “We really have much higher aspirations for them than that. We think they can achieve more than that sort of work.”

Don't you have higher aspirations than kindergarten for your kid?

With God as my witness, I will never attend another graduation ceremony again. NEVER. Is there anything more boring than watching a couple of hundred of people you neither know nor care about walk across a stage and shake someone's hand? It's boring even if you know the people. As SH and I do not have children, we will never be obligated to attend a graduation.**

Which brings me to a question I see on Dear Abby sometimes. The stressed mother is wondering oh no! How will she allocate the eight graduation tickets among all the relatives?

My answer to her is not to sweat it - that nobody really wants to go, anyhow, and they will be darn relieved to have a good excuse. If there are people who actually like attending graduations, please send them my way, because I have a lot of very tedious and boring yard and housework that I would be happy to delegate.

But this is not a post about graduations. It's about 11th place ribbons and how dumb they are.

But.

Maybe a little bit of encouragement is not so bad.

As in, maybe some positive reinforcement will give someone the confidence to keep trying and to get better.

As in, HEY NEW TENNIS TEACHER! I KNOW I STINK! I KNOW I'M GETTING WORSE WITH EVERY SWING! YOU DON'T NEED TO TELL ME!

Oh yes.

With every stroke in yesterday's class, I got progressively worse. The new teacher's solution was to stop the class and give us a long lecture on how different grips affect spin and how we should adjust our grips, which is fine in theory, I suppose, but I am still at the stage where my mantra is, Eye on the ball. Eye on the ball. Follow through.

As in, once I can be sure that I actually

1. Hit the ball
2. In the center of the racquet
3. Every time and
4. Get it over the net and
5. In bounds on the other side,

then I will worry about adjusting my grip.

I hit the ball. Out into the bleachers. Into the net.

"You are getting worse! How can you get worse?" he said.

He lobbed the ball to me. "Don't screw this one up!" he warned.

Guess what?

I screwed it up.

He sighed and shook his head. "You getting worse," he admonished me.

Yes. I know. I know I am a crummy athlete. It is not my plan to quit my day job to become a tennis pro. I am not counting on making money with this sport.

My intent is

1. to have fun
2. and get exercise
3. with my husband
4. as our usual joint activities are eating and watching movies

Therefore, it is not essential that I be perfect or even really good. I will be happy with Good Enough. I will be happy with an 11th place ribbon. Leave me alone, tennis teacher.




* My mom: Why would you pay more to buy stock from your company than you would pay on the open market?

Me: I wouldn't. That's the point.

** Exception: The ceremony when my cousin Eric finished flight school and got his wings was quite moving, but that was more of a family reunion than a graduation.

3 comments:

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

Well, you already know how I feel about pointless graduation ceremonies. When it comes time for my kids to graduate from high school, I know my mother will be clamoring to attend, as she actually loves those sorts of family things.

If you played tennis with me, you'd look like you're good enough for Wimbledon.

Fijufic said...

I remind my players that the objective is to "win" even though we are having fun. Pretty much sums it up with everything you do in competition be it checkers or cricket...

Class factotum said...

Oh Fuji - I want to win. I want to win a lot. But I am also a realist. So I settle for having fun!