Custodian

Custodian: (n) a person entrusted with maintaining a property; janitor.

No one is born a goddamn brat, but we are quick studies.

It’s because of what that position—brat—affords us:

  • We can claim to be superior without having to offer evidence.
  • We can hold our breath until we get what we want.
  • We can become the most important person in the room by making other folks jump and beg.

Unfortunately, the buckets of puke that accompany “brat” make it a tad obnoxious.

I have been a brat.

I did more than play it on television. I took my experience with the role and incorporated it into my personal life.

When I was about to graduate from high school and my classmates wanted to dedicate the yearbook to our school custodian (it was that kind of era—championing the underdog and a search to lift up the obscure) I was against it.

I thought it was stupid.

I could not imagine giving an award to anyone who wore a matching shirt and pants.

The worst part of it was, they asked me to interview this custodian and write the blurb that would appear under his picture in our annual.

I was pissed off.

Worse than that, I was rude to this aging gentleman, who worked very hard to clean up all the snot from the noses of the brats who walked his hallways.

Another problem immediately came to the forefront: trying to get this servant to speak.

He didn’t want to talk about himself.

He didn’t want to elaborate on his past.

So finally, to meet the deadline, I wrote my impressions about him. For you see, over the half-hour encounter, they had changed.

Managing to get a few words from him about his daily activities, immediately I realized that I would be unwilling to do what he performed. But what struck me was his final statement, which I inserted into the prose of my piece.

I’ve never forgotten it, and it remains in my mind even today as a true pearl of wisdom. He said, “I think what I do is important, because it’s what I’ve been given to do.”

It was a brilliant axiom.

One that I wish our national leaders would take into consideration.

One which daily haunts my soul.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Cripple

Cripple: (n) a person who is disabled or impaired in any way:

Webster considers the word “cripple” to be offensive.

I wonder if we have reached a point in our play-it-safe-society where, in trying to pursue what we might refer to as neutral language, we’ve actually ended up becoming more offensive by pointing out that this particular language which we now eschew is forbidden because the people it refers to are constantly perceived as underdogs.

Honestly, I never gave the first thought about someone in a wheelchair until I found myself in one.

I suppose I assumed that they were paralyzed, or perhaps had been so stricken by disease that they were unable to stand and walk.

Certainly, my training as a good Midwestern Christian let me know that such individuals required healing, and if Jesus were really here, he would quickly get them back on their feet.

But you see, what is really offensive is believing that because a person can’t walk, he or she is less than someone who can, and therefore we must be careful not to offend them with some misused term.

After all, there was a time when the word “retarded” to the average person meant exactly the same thing in exactly the same spirit as the word “challenged.”

Is it less vicious to call someone challenged than to call him or her retarded?

I don’t know and neither do you. We just follow the temporary whim of society’s need to imitate inclusion.

Then again, the “N word,” which is now considered to be abominable, was derived from the romance languages. For in Latin, the word “black” is “niger.” In Spanish, it is “negra.” Perhaps that’s where they came up with the “N word.”

What is offensive is a condescending belief that we must defend people because we have decided they are incapable of speaking for themselves. Is that not truly the most prejudiced thing that we can possibly do?

So if you come to see me and you want to find out what difficulty I’m having with my legs, you can relax.

Because crippled, weakened, impaired, challenged, hobbled or blessed all sound basically the same to me.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 


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