Kids these days. You can't understand their "music," their language is either in ALL CAPS or in incomprehensible abbreviations (OMG! LOL!), and they're all smarter than we are.
Oh, don't agree with that last point? You think young people are dewy-eyed ignoramuses, and all wisdom resides between the ears of Grandma and Grandpa, eh?
Tell that to the 87-year-old Augusta woman who met a stranger in the Martinez Wal-Mart May 10, withdrew $5,000 from her bank account and gave it to the stranger - thinking she was going to get a share of a bigger chunk of money for her effort. (She didn't.)
Or tell it to the 65-year-old Martinez woman approached in the same parking lot May 5 by a man who asked her for some $100 bills that he could copy the serial numbers off of. She withdrew $1,200 from her bank and gave it to him, hoping to get $30,000 back - and (you guessed it!) instead is $1,200 poorer.
The lessons here? Well, don't give money to strangers in the Wal-Mart parking lot, for one thing. Duh.
But the other lesson is that, for all their wisdom, old people sure can be gullible. Scam-artist predators take advantage of seniors' trust, borne of an era when a handshake sealed a deal. And they exploit human nature's desire to get something for nothing.
Young people are rarely the targets of scam artists; they're too cynical to trust anyone. But they are often guilty of expecting something for nothing - which brings us to our topic.
Once again, our high school graduates have missed the opportunity of hearing me speak at their commencement exercises, held Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center and Air-Horn Test Facility.
The late Aubrey Shaw, my friend and a columnist for The News-Times, likewise lamented never being invited to speak at graduation, and it is in his memory that I annually tell the graduates what they missed.
And to think: They could have gotten my words of wisdom for nothing.
The truth, though, is that there isn't much in the world worth having that is available with no cost or effort. Those old people, and many others, got scammed because they thought by participating in shady activity, they would get a bucketload of easy money.
Who do they think they are, politicians?
The lesson our graduates need is that the "easy" part is over. No matter how hard those final exams or end-of-course tests seemed, school is a coddling cocoon compared to the real world.
Those old folks were ripped off in a parking lot; teenagers are more likely to be scammed in cyberspace. So it is there that I sought advice from participants in The Chronicle's online forums.
When asked, "What would you tell this year's graduates?" the forum participants offered their own words of wisdom - many of them in this vein:
• You aren't owed anything you don't earn by pain, toil and sweat.
• Take responsibility for your actions.
• Life isn't fair. Get used to it.
While we don't know who these folks are - they go by monikers like Wabisabi and Sargebaby - their words carry a lesson that all young people should hear: Unlike school, the world can be an unforgiving place, one that steals money from old people. It's up to you to make a place in it for yourself, if you're going to grow up and turn that youthful intelligence into seasoned wisdom.
Accordingly, another forum writer added this advice to new graduates, "Take a deep breath: Think about where you want to be when you are 50 years old."
Hint: Not in a Wal-Mart parking lot giving money to a stranger. LOL.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
More advice for graduates from participants in The Augusta Chronicle's online forums:
Education is the key to success and that curiosity drives continued learning throughout life.
• Never, ever accept it when someone tells you "You CAN'T ______ (fill it in). The world is full of nay-sayers, who stand ready to thwart your progress in life. You must deny them their victory over you. They deserve only a two-word response - "WATCH ME!"
• Believe in yourself. Achieve. Always remember that this is AMERICA where wondrous things are possible.
• Take responsibility for their action and the decisions they make. We need to break the cycle and start emphasizing personal responsibility again.
• Learn to rely on yourself before allowing yourself to rely on someone else.
• You aren't owed a damn thing you don't earn by pain, toil and sweat.
• Life isn't fair. Get used to it.
• Credit cards are designed to keep you in debt and poor.
• Save for your own future.
• Never for a second think that the government has your best interests in mind.
• Work to live. Never live to work.
Sometimes not making a decision is making a decision.
• Before you voice your opinion ask yourself, "Does anyone really (care)?
• Character is what you do when nobody is looking.
• Recommend reading Think & Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill; Acres of Diamonds by Og Mandino; The Magic of Thinking Big; anything by Zig Zeigler and other life-changing books, but especially the Bible cover to cover. Remember that it takes a "Dreamer to make Dreams come True," "Nobody makes anything until somebody sells something," and in the Immortal words of Winston Churchill; "Neva', Neva', Neva', Give up!"
• Take a deep breath. Think about where you want to be when you are 50 years old.
• On your first payday, pay yourself first, and save for the future.
• Be truthful in everything you do.
• Punctuality is golden.
• Praise your associates.
• Investigate, and never be afraid to ask questions.
• Last, find something that you love to do, and do it. If you love your work, you will excel in it.
• A mythical "Graduate" was once given a single word to expand his future. "PLASTICS!" Now, I'm going to give them three more: "ALTERNATE FUEL SOURCE!"
• 1. Go forward with an education after high school so you can be selective about your future career. Don't look for a career that makes you money, but rather look for a career that will make you happy. Work is where you will spend every day of your life for many years and your happiness there will reflect on all areas of your life.
2. Wait until you are in your 30s to get married because you don't know who YOU are until then. Knowing full well who YOU are will help you choose the best person for a long-term relationship.
3. Be quick to forgive people who have hurt you. Negative feelings will only hurt you more.
4. Smile at every person you pass by and throw in a compliment to top it off. You will make somebody's day!
5. Perform at least one random act of kindness every day. Could be anything. Stopping to pick up trash from the side of the road, pay for lunch for the car behind you in the drive-thru, make surprise visits to your Mom, etc.
6. Maintain good credit! Limit yourself to one credit card and pay it off every month.
7. Don't forget to be good to yourself and enjoy life. You deserve it.
• What you do or what you say matters.
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