I had business at Amphitheater High School this afternoon. It was an eye-opening experience.
Leaving the hand surgeon's office (don't ask.... I have vowed not to whine) with a numb finger and a general idea of the direction in which I needed to travel, I listened to Rush Limbaugh's non-apologetic apology and silently fumed. He's not retracting the underlying sentiment. He's merely upset that he slid to the level of the left and used two inappropriate words. I guess asking for sex tapes is still okay with the right. As I said, I was fuming.
I made all the lights and was destined to be on time; there was the football field on the left, just where I knew it would be. Unfortunately, the parking facility I'd imagined never materialized. There was a locked gate, presumably opened for events but certainly closed tight this afternoon, barring access to the lot I saw and then the field was gone. I was passing a strip mall, not the rest of the school as I had hoped.
Turning left and then left again I retraced my steps and spied the school at the end of a road marked Dead End. Ignoring the irony, I turned in and hoped for a parking lot. I was disappointed. It was truly a dead end, although the school was tantalizingly lurking just beyond the cement barricade defining the dead end. And this is where my luck began to change.
There were two end-of-the-day-disheveled boys sitting on the barricades, leaning against the chain link fence. Backpacks at their feet, they barely noticed as The Schnozz and I drove in and wondered. Rolling down my window, I asked for help and was rewarded with a dazzling smile. Hair-to-his-shoulders jumped up and gave me concise, clear and thoughtful directions to the lot I needed. His friend nodded sagely, confirming each step with a serious mien. They were happy to help.
The lot wound around the outside of the campus. I was not in the mood for a long walk to my destination. I rolled down my window and asked, once again, for help. Once again, I received a big smile and a helpful hint. I was beginning to sense a pattern.
Parking in the handicapped spot nearest the exit gate, I crossed the driveway and wondered if I were standing in front of the library. Ms. Cell-Phone and Ms. iPod were groovin' on the retaining wall but were happy to assure me that I was standing in front of the library. Their response was harmonious and charming; they were definitely on the same wavelength.
I approached the front door at the same time as another young man; my smile grew as he hurried just a bit so that he could open the door for me. I returned the favor on the inner door and entered the library filled with admiration. I had not seen a single piece of trash on my journey around the school. I had random interactions which were uniformly perfect. The library was quietly buzzing with scholarship. I was on the world's most polite campus.
It wasn't smarmy. It wasn't obsequious. It wasn't designed to garner attention or applause. It was genuine. It was what was expected when conversing with an adult. It was respectful and it was real.
It didn't end there. After we chatted, the student I had gone to meet said that he would walk me out to my car. His mother raised him right.
The next time you begin to despair about the youth of today, consider taking a trip to Amphi High School. It just might change your mind.