Saturday, May 16, 2009

Graduation Gall

I went to a recent graduation ceremony that really pissed me off. There was a time in my life when I went to four or five of them every year. While boring, they were all inoffensive. But this one - at a college - really took the shit cake.

It was because of the main speaker. We'll call him Fathead O'Douche. First, the guy who introduced O'Douche almost brought himself to the point of climax carrying on about O'Douche's accomplishments. That was all fine and good, but it wasn't making anybody else hot. The audience was full of fussy babies and parents trying to settle said babies. And uncomfortable, possibly incontinent old people patiently waiting for all the bullshit to end so they could see their loved one walk across the stage. These family members had made a considerable journey to get from the parking lot to their seats, and they deserved more respect than they got for the effort they'd made.

Then O'Douche gets up, and it's as if he thinks the introduction for him was just to get the crowd fluffed for his orgy of his self aggrandizement. I'll paraphrase his speech: "Congratulations you all, I know you've worked hard to get to this place. But I've worked harder and done more, and without the advantages you've had. Blah blah blah, me me me, I I I, get down on your knees and worship me as a god."

All that's plenty bad enough, but then he capped it off with "You all are graduating at a difficult time, and you're probably worried. Well, you've got reason to be. You're going to have to go to work earlier and stay later than everybody else to be successful."

It was as if nobody had told him that many of the graduates in front of him had returned to school after 10, 20 or 30 years of working for companies that laid them off (and maybe screwed them out of some pension money) despite all their overtime and neglected family life. Or that most of them were already familiar with the concept of giving %110 percent because they've been juggling a job, school, and/or a family. It was as if this supposedly brilliant man was too dumb to understand that people graduating in this economy might appreciate a little inspiration and encouragement instead of yet another reminder that the job market is a scary place right now.

Somebody let go with an air horn during this self-absorptionfest. The crowd seemed to appreciate the distraction.

Schools need to readjust their ideas about who graduation is for. In my mind, it's supposed to be for the graduates. Why do schools feel like they have to get people who have never attended classes there to do the commencement speech? They always look for somebody with a recognizable name, or somebody with money, a stranger to provide yet another mind-numbing exercise to complete before graduates can get what they worked so hard and went into debt for: A goddamn diploma.

When I graduated from college, our commencement speaker couldn't make it. What a fucking relief. The gods surely smiled upon us that day, because one of our own gave the commencement speech. He was a familiar face, he was in our shoes, and he did a great job. And he probably didn't cost anything.


Anonymous said...

What's worse than your disappointment with the gradulation ceremony was your decision to disappoint us with a weak and profane account of it.

verona said...

Sounds like my account was accurate enough for you to recognize it, however.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your account and thought the profanity correctly relayed your anger and emotion on the subject. I agree with your point about self-absorbed speakers hogging all the limelight.

- a fan

Anonymous said...

verona, what's with the dark blue font against a brown backgound? it's very hard to read unless you highlight it. could you change it to something more visible please? i enjoy reading your blog.

-another fan

verona said...

Thanks - I don't know what's up with that - sometimes it's like that for a few seconds when I pull up the page but then it turns dark brown against light brown again. But I've heard complaints about that before so I may have to experiment with other templates -

Claudette said...

What's a gradulation ceremony??? Can I go?

tina said...

Too bad the first commentor can't spell "graduation". Perhaps he/she needs another four years or so...