Lance Scranton: ‘Those people’ — them and us
February 21, 2012
Everybody knows "those people."
We're glad to talk about them because they tend to make us feel better about ourselves. Almost every night of the week, there's a full line-up of "those people" on TV. People who hoard, need an intervention, make a living picking garbage, dig through the swamp, make illegal alcohol, or drive around repossessing vehicles from unsuspecting delinquents.
Every community has some of "those people."
They stand by the exit at Walmart holding up a sign asking for help. Some won't find a job or always seem to be on welfare.
Employees who smoke outside the entrance to stores and make us cough through the cloud as we enter, or drivers who talk on their cell phone as they pass through a red light or the ones who pretend they are listening to you while staring at their cell phone the whole time you're speaking.
Schools have "those people," too.
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The student who treats everyone like their emotional punching bag. Parents who charge into the building to let certain teachers or principals know just exactly what's on their mind, or the teacher who appears to treat kids poorly.
Oh, and don't forget the principal who always seems to make the wrong decisions for kids.
But, here's the truth: At one time or another we've all likely been guilty of being one of "those people."
We can be the one who people talk about as the reason things aren't the way they should be. Worse, we can end up feeling like we're surrounded by so many of "those people" that we actually start to believe that we're the only person left on the planet with any common sense.
When we start making judgments about people's choices, actions, and circumstances, we can speed down a pretty destructive road.
Maybe that guy from Walmart might actually need some help. The student who misbehaves might have issues and school is his or her only safe outlet. The teacher may not know their attitude is affecting students negatively and the principal is forced to make decisions every day that may not be popular with everyone.
It's fun to sit around, sometimes with friends, and make fun of "those people" because sometimes they might "deserve" our critical analysis of their actions and attitudes.
I can be guilty of wondering where common sense was jettisoned when people decided that a cell phone was more interesting than the actual live person — but I am a bit old-fashioned.
As we move forward to make our schools the best they can be, I hope we don't become "those people" who pass judgment without finding out what's going on, or take the time to talk to the people involved.
Let's be "the people" from Moffat County who are a concerned bunch of community members who want to get involved to make things better.
We'll arrive at our destination much faster and have far fewer casualties.
Lance Scranton is a Moffat County High School teacher and coach. He writes a weekly column for the Craig Daily Press and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.