Whitesburg KY
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Caring goes a long way to being motivated

Have you gotten acquainted lately with anyone who is illiterate? I met a man a few months ago who was. This man was a good worker and was good at what he was doing, but it was backbreaking labor – brute labor, if you will. But he was providing for his family, something a lot of well-educated people aren’t doing.

But how long will a man last doing a job which a machine should be doing? Educational opportunities about in today’s society, and I wondered why this fellow had missed the boat.

I have some old Reader’s Digest magazines and read an article the other day which appeared in a 1976 issue. A man lost his life because he couldn’t read. The doctor filled a prescription for nitro pills and put them in a child-proof bottle. The man died trying to break the plastic bottle by pounding it with a brick in the soft soil of his flower bed. He couldn’t read the instructions on how to get the bottle open, and nobody had shown him how.

As youngsters growing up, my siblings and I were looked upon as just another useless addition to the community. We didn’t have what a lot of other kids had as far as worldly goods. Our stepmother often referred to us as idiots. There was no emphasis put on education or religion. Probably the only reason we went to school was because the law required us to go.

We went barefoot in the summer and all four of us wore bib overalls even though two of the four were girls. When cold weather came, we got a pair of brogans. We two boys donned our long handles at this time.

When I was 50 years of age, I worked at a college. I decided to try my luck at college classes to see if I was as dumb as people thought I was while growing up. I could take two classes each semester tuition-free as an employee. I took two classes the first semester and made A’s in both. So I figured I wasn’t as dumb as people had thought I was.

There was a young lady, who is very dear to me, working there – and I emphasize lady. She took classes with me that semester. When the semester ended and I got A’s, I figured I had proved my point and I told her I was quitting. That didn’t go over very well with her. She planted her hands on her hips and looked me in the eyes and said, “You can’t quit now. You have to see this thing through with me.”

I figured if she cared enough to have confidence in me and believe I could finish what I had started, I could do it. And thanks to this little lady I did finish in 1999 with a degree in law enforcement, having 96 hours with a 3.66 grade point average.

Sometimes all it takes to get someone motivated is to care enough to give them a little self confidence. It became a challenge for me after she lit a fire under me, but I really enjoyed it except for algebra, which I didn’t need anyway. I had a lot of fun, too.

At first, when I would go into a classroom, the young students would look at me as if to say, “What is that old fogey doing in here?” I always sat up front so as to hear better and could hear them giggling behind me. I guess they figured out that this old fogey wasn’t flunking because I kept coming back for more. Really, I think me being there made them work harder.

I had some of the nicest people I ever met as instructors. They treated everyone as equals, no matter what their financial status or where they ranked in society. One of my instructors was a trooper, and I bet he was glad when I graduated because I had about 12 classes under him. He was a good one and always made things interesting.

As I have stated previously, all it takes is for someone to care enough to give you a push forward instead of backward. There will always be a select few who feel they are superior to everyone else, but they do so out of pure ignorance.

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