For many educators, Fall Break is the best break because it marks the end of the hectic march connecting school years. Since Spring Break, we have ended one year (with the endless reports) and started another. Then in August, school starts again, and a new generation of reports begins. Virtually everything converges in the days before Fall Break, from grades to budgeting, so for your local educators, it really can be the Fall Breaking Point. Thankfully, hunting season is here!
We lowly educators are not alone this year, however. Many parents and students have also developed a twitch, or worse, a blank stare. I also see it across the service industries: restaurants and retail workers and customer service people are at the Fall Breaking Point. Whether they work at a drive-thru or the counter at City Hall, ask them, and I bet they have been cussed lately. People are downright mean. Surly. Abusive. Beavis and Buttheads. No wonder people are quitting in droves. Economics are surely a factor, but I bet they are also tired of getting attacked over the most trivial of matters.
My job connects me to people from all walks of life, so I can assure you that it’s not just limited to frontline workers. If you are nearing the breaking point, just consider those in law enforcement. In addition to endless attacks on their credibility in recent years, they face Beavis and Buttheads who are also potentially armed. Furthermore, substance abuse is the other pandemic in this pandemic, exacerbating domestic abuse, child abuse, and other horrendous crimes. When I knock on a door during the school day, I am greeted by happy children, but when they knock on a door, they brace for violence instead of smiles.
It gets worse, however, for those who have traditionally maintained our safety nets are nearing the Fall Breaking Point, too. Pastors and counselors are dragging after this two-year slog through COVID and all the baggage it has produced. Our medical professionals, however, may have suffered most after living in bizarro universe for the past two years. When our mental and physical health providers are barely holding on, what will the rest of us do?
Regardless of your profession or position, however, the COVID age has depleted you. If you are human, something about this is getting to you: politics, economics, supply-chain issues. Did you realize there was a Funyuns shortage recently. Come on, man! Funyuns, for God’s sake!
Fortunately, I read in a good book once that none of us is facing anything alone. If we are stressed, we can be reassured that our fellow brothers and sisters are stressed, too. Sometimes, just knowing that we are not suffering alone is the blessing. When you’re ready to tear into that clerk because you cannot get your favorite snack, consider how many cussings they have endured lately. Don’t be the one who breaks them this fall.
We have heard that misery loves company, but that only applies if that company somehow makes things better. More accurately, it should be misery loves kind company, for we can only reduce others’ stress if we offer love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control as alternatives. Against such things, Beavis and Buttheads don’t stand a chance. Otherwise, we just make each other more miserable. So if you are near the Fall Breaking Point, just remember that literally everyone you know is also angry about something. Instead of pushing them over the edge, however, reassure them that we will somehow get through this. And if that doesn’t work, get a hunting license. Even if you don’t kill anything, sitting out in the cold for a few hours would likely do us all some good. Wear lots of orange, however, because the other hunters are mad about Funyuns, too, and they are definitely armed.
Tom Deighan is currently the superintendent of Duncan Public Schools. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Read past articles at www.mostlyeducational.com