April 23, 2011

Once when I was a kid, my brother and I raked leaves for Uncle Henry, who then paid us $5.

I asked my father to split it for us, and he tore it in half. That made a big impression on me.

That memory came back to me when I watched this video clip from "The Office"...



... which somebody pointed out to me when I mentioned that I was thinking of buying a desk that has a push-button motor that raises it into a standing desk.

25 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

I asked my father to split it for us, and he tore it in half. That made a big impression on me.

What was the impression?

traditionalguy said...

I suspect that Uncle worked for the Federal Reserve Bank.

Ann Althouse said...

"What was the impression?"

The idea of tearing money in half had never occurred to me. It shocked me, but it was also funny.

It was stunning to have my father do something that seemed destructive and to do it because of what I'd said. There was word play involved, taking something literally. I hadn't realized I was leaving myself open to that.

I was forced to think about the moral/legal issue. I'd said split it, so was I responsible? He did what I said to do.

I didn't understand what would happen if money was torn, so it was the first time I'd thought about what it would mean.

I still didn't have what I wanted, which was my half of the money, so it was annoying, and weird that my father didn't solve my particular little issue, though that money was important to me.

traditionalguy said...

Oops. Uncle henry paid you for your work, and then it was your Dad who manipulated the currency, left you broke, and made you blame yourself....definitely FED trained.

Harry said...

Let us know how the stand-up desk works out, if you choose to buy. Our chiropractor has suggested that for us as sitting at the computer is taking its toll.

edutcher said...

"I asked my father to split it for us, and he tore it in half"

That was mean, considering it wasn't his money and you had earned it.

Probably also a federal offense.

PS Knew you had a sister, but the brother is news.

jeff said...

Yeah, I'm not getting that either. Sounds like a mean thing to do to a little kid. I'm assuming he would have been cool with your throwing a bowl of mashed potatoes at him next time he asked for them to be passed? And it would also be his fault?

Ann Althouse said...

It wasn't mean. It was comical and intellectually challenging.

I wasn't cheated out of the money in the end. I learn a few things.

edutcher said...

OK. It just seems like the kind of trick some people play on a kid in the name of "teaching a lesson" that only inculcates the idea that you can't trust people and you should be just as mean as they are.

My apologies to your father, if he is still with us.

The Crack Emcee said...

The lessons we get out of life are so different:

I was about 11 years old, working for my uncle, doing demolition on houses, and we took a bunch of copper to a weighing station. He told me to collect our money, so I walked up to the window and the woman checked our weight and paid me, but, as soon as I turned around, my uncle clocked me - I mean really knocked me for a loop, full in the face, with is fist - and I fell to the ground with him saying, "Always count your money."

And, now, I always do, and I'm grateful to him for it because it's kept me from being cheated and saved me tons.

Needless to say, there are things about the male experience I find amazing and invaluable.

T J Sawyer said...

What a wonderful opportunity to learn about the value of damaged currency and how to handle it.

It brought to mind the story that Steven Levy tells in "In The Plex" about the two guys who invented and disclosed "Pay-per-click" advertising but failed to patent it within a year of disclosure.

There are lots of very important and useful things that our schools fail to teach.

Lincolntf said...

Great clip. Great show.

William said...

I think if Solomon had actually bisected the baby, the two women would have learned a valuable lesson about wasting the court's time with infantile family disputes.

edutcher said...

The Crack Emcee said...

The lessons we get out of life are so different:

I was about 11 years old, working for my uncle, doing demolition on houses, and we took a bunch of copper to a weighing station. He told me to collect our money, so I walked up to the window and the woman checked our weight and paid me, but, as soon as I turned around, my uncle clocked me - I mean really knocked me for a loop, full in the face, with is fist - and I fell to the ground with him saying, "Always count your money."

And, now, I always do, and I'm grateful to him for it because it's kept me from being cheated and saved me tons.

Needless to say, there are things about the male experience I find amazing and invaluable.


No offense, Crack, but no man decks an 11 year old, particularly since it was a sucker punch (you didn't even get the chance to count it, right?). There are other ways to make the point.

I'm sure the lesson stuck with you, but that was a chicken thing to do.

Rose said...

i have one - a drafting desk that raises and lowers, can act as an easel or a flat desk - LOVED it back in the days of hand layout, light tables and pasteup and waxers and press type - now it's in storage. Computers have replaced everything - from darkrooms to typesetters to layout and design...

pbAndj said...

-Althouse explicitly says the issue was not "little" to her. But it was a little issue to her father. So, in this comedy (as she describes it), who was the joke on? Being the butt of the jokes of folks further up the food chain isn't necessarily liberating for the person being toyed w/, especially if they learn to kowtow instead of learning to to call BS.

-Altouse now says that she wasn't cheated, because she learned something. But, what did she really learn? It seems that her new knowledge has caused her to relate to a situation where one person (literally) bursts the bubble of somebody else, as is shown in the clip that Althouse is associating with her own life.

"I could burst a million bubbles All surrogate and bullet proof"

tim maguire said...

And the best part of your dad's lesson? traditionalguy's take wouldn't have been possible without it.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"I was forced to think about the moral/legal issue. I'd said split it, so was I responsible? He did what I said to do."

Moral/legal issue? At what age? Was your father a literalist, much? Jeff makes the point.

"I didn't understand what would happen if money was torn, so it was the first time I'd thought about what it would mean."

In my household and many others I suspect, a torn bill means nothing more than getting out the Scotch tape and piecing it together. Nothing immoral or illegal needs to be considered.

"I still didn't have what I wanted, which was my half of the money, so it was annoying, and weird that my father didn't solve my particular little issue, though that money was important to me."

Annoying, weird, important. I think your father was simply having a bit of fun with you Ann.

Gabriel Hanna said...

We've all been children but it is hard for us to know what children are going to remember about what we say and do, or what importance they may attach to it later.

Five bucks seems like a lot of money, in the Fifties, to tear up as a joke.

I was in college before
I learned that the value of money is imaginary--I'd known about inflation but it hadn't occurred to me to wonder where the value of money came from. It's not just paper money either, gold and silver have the same problem. And the value depends on how easy it is to get and on how badly people want it, which is just a longer way of saying "supply and demand", like any other good or service.

I intend to blow kids' minds with THAT one. Far more fun than telling them Santa's not real.

madAsHell said...

Always count your money.

Clerks depend upon the cash register to indicate the correct change. They can no longer do the math in their heads.

If they can't do the math, then they can't short change you.

AJ Lynch said...

I don't remember you ever mentioning you had a brother?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@madashell:Clerks depend upon the cash register to indicate the correct change. They can no longer do the math in their heads.

It's not necessary to do the math if you can count back change--which young people can't do either.

One day I made the mistake of trying to pay cash for something I was buying from my university. There was a student working there and she didn't know the (admitteldy Byzantine) procdure for handling cash, so a full-time employee showed her.

She did fine up until "now count back his change". She said, "you mean, count the change I'm holding"?

Suburbanbanshee said...

Re: "count your money"

I believe the 'sucker punch' in question was of the same nature as the buffet received traditionally by a knight, or the slaps once given to Confirmandi upon receiving the Sacrament. Hard unprovoked hits were a traditional memory aid for every generation until our own, because people actually do remember pain better than pleasure.

Trochilus said...

Ann,, here is another cute Wilmington story for you, à propos of your leaf story.

My older brother and I grew up in Edgemoor Terrace, just up from Governor Prince Boulevard. Our house was on an "inside corner" lot, which happened to have a significant number of trees. So, cleaning up both leaves and downed branches was a common chore for us as well over the years.

One fall, my father offered to pay my brother and his best friend (who lived next door) the princely sum of $0.10 per branch to clean up the yard, right after a windy Nor'easter storm had passed through.

Late that Saturday afternoon, he went to check on their progress . . . and found the two of them carefully breaking the larger branches into MUCH smaller ones, the results of which they were then memorializing, and placing the diminutive sticks in piles of one hundred each.

As I recall, there was a negotiated settlement of the matter . . .

Now I'm sure, my brother and I both experienced "big impressions" from that as well, though I suppose mine was largely confined to the frustrating sense that there was yet one more thing I would not be able to get away with as I came of age!

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