After the Fact: I’m special

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you aren’t special. Everything and everyone else has specialized and you’re just lagging behind! 

There are few “one-room” school houses left (and some of those are just tourist attractions) because each grade now demands a teacher specifically trained to teach that grade or subject. They “specialize.” By the time you get to college, your class is taught by an “associate” or a graduate student looking to perfect his specialization.  Only in a smaller college or university, like Adams State, are classes actually taught by the individual listed in the catalog. In other schools, the professors are far too busy figuring out how to make a specialization within their particular specialization.

Every elementary school teacher tells every child, “You’re SPECIAL!” And they mean it, at the time, under the circumstances. Parents think their children are special, “no matter what.” There are times when Patience, my great-granddaughter, really is special; there are an equal number of times when she can be a real pain in the kazoo.

In other pursuits, one shop specializes in changing the oil in your car while another deals only with brakes, and then there are doctors, who lead the way in specialization: one for each toe on the left foot, another for the right little piggies. When you find one who will care for the whole body, like Mike Noonan at Valley Wide, you take the whole family (and don’t tell everyone else in the world about how special he is.)

Household maintenance and repair is a “whole ‘nother ball of wax.” There are plumbers and electricians, all of who charge more than a teachers’ salary. There are carpenters, glaziers and people who do tile, fewer who know how to make and lay adobe bricks as well as Kenny Sanchez could do it. Being a “tradesman” leads only to advanced specialization: try to find a “plumber” who can replace the pump to your well! The number of “do-it-all” handymen who are reliable, affordable and really know how to do everything is somewhere between slim to none. After a succession of disasters, I finally found one who really lived up to the top of the trade. Then he left the Valley.

Unless you’re from “hardy stock,” I don’t recommend a single woman look at rural real estate. Farming is considerably more than planting a garden and, unless you’re Valley grown, you haven’t a clue what will and what won’t grow here, when to plant it or when to harvest. Even if you have all of the toys required for being a farmer. Having a John Deere does not mean you know how to even clear the driveway of snow. You have to specialize! Then you’re qualified to offer help to the other single ladies you know who live “out in the sticks” where snow fills their drive. By the time you become a real farmer like some of the Beirigers or Stoebers, you’ll have specialized in twenty dozen skills, all in time to celebrate your 80th birthday.

The key to success is to specialize! If you make breakfast waffles on Sunday mornings, become the BEST waffle-maker in the family, a specialist who has waffle talent that your kids will remember when they go off to college. Or your sons will remember after their wives try to “make waffles like mom used to make!” The key is to find a really good waffle mix, use it but hide the box before everyone comes to the table for breakfast.  The same applies to good pickles. Buy very good pickles, put them into your own jars and throw the original containers into the trash: cover liberally with other trash so they aren’t visible. It’s better than being remembered for your “kerosene pickles” as is my one-time mother-in-law. She specialized in chicken and dumplings. But that’s a topic for another lesson.