Words & Banter

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream … For A Vaccine?

It was like any other weekday morning, a tumbler of hot coffee on my desk and the morning news on the TV in the background, as I brace myself as I open Outlook. Computer issues? Nope, especially now that I have a new computer. Instead, it's the daily onslaught of emails generated by Black as she seems to do her best thinking while the rest of us are sleeping.

Well, the subject line of one of her emails, "Crazy idea?", stands out and I open it to find an image of a Good Humor truck and a leading question:

Remember the Good Humor trucks that would come by every day every summer when we were growing up in New York?

Of course, I do! They were one of my favorite summer memories, and definitely the highlight of any given day, as the sound of the Good Humor truck would have me shouting to my dad and racing to the bottom of our driveway, impatiently waiting for my beloved Strawberry Shortcake ice cream pop. Often, my dad was right there beside me, sometimes to get a Chocolate Éclair bar, sometimes just to be there to enjoy my excitement. One of the luxuries of having a home office.

But, as usual, I digress. After momentarily wandering down memory lane, I continued reading. I know that Black doesn't usually reminisce, so figured that it probably something to do with the business side of ice cream. (Especially since I'm not sure she even eats ice cream as she's so committed to staying a size 2.) But I'd never have connected these dots:

Obviously, the Good Humor trucks were set up with freezers. Since the COVID-19 vaccines require refrigeration, I could not help but wonder if there could be "Good Health" trucks in neighborhoods where people do not have easy access to pharmacies, doctors, or hospitals to receive the vaccines.

Not knowing whether to laugh or roll my eyes, I just stop and think about it. And then I remember how I've known for a long time that Black's brain doesn't work the way most of ours do. Of course, this is just a "crazy idea" as her subject line indicates. Or, is it?

We know there currently are shortages of the vaccine, and challenges with distribution. But as vaccine supplies improve, wouldn't it be wonderful for communities to have the same excitement when they heard the sound of the Good Health truck as I did when I heard the Good Humor ice cream truck?

When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.

Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.

Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,

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Red was your typical straight-A student, getting great grades starting in kindergarten straight through to graduating from college.(Black’s grades were less than stellar, plus she was a discipline problem – some things never change.) And then, excited and proud of herself, Red thought she was done. Black, on the other hand, thinks of education as something that never ends, and much to the chagrin of students, will tell them,

Homework never ends; it just is called “research” when you get older.

Over the last few years, Red has come around to Black’s way of thinking and realizes it’s a mindset. And that education is more than the classes you take in school.

September is when students of all ages are back in school, but it’s also National Literacy Month, which is about so much more than reading and writing. Literacy includes things like Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, Health Literacy, and even News Literacy. (As the linked Conversation Starters indicate, Red was the “poster child” of a highly educated person who lacked many of these basic literacy skills.)

So, we challenge you to find a topic that interests you or one you could benefit from learning (personally or professionally) and start doing your homework.

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For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer (temperatures aside), and as we switch from a summer holiday mindset back to the “real world”, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

You don’t need us to tell you how falling back into a work or school routine can be challenging, especially if you’re facing a backlog of tasks and responsibilities. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the “silly season” is just around the corner. (Red has been seeing Halloween decorations since mid-July, which means Thanksgiving and all the winter holidays aren’t far behind.)

But you don’t need us to tell you why you feel overwhelmed; you need help dealing with being overwhelmed.

When our new website goes live next year, one of the major sections will be THE DAILY HELP, where you’ll find easy-to-implement tools to get your day back on track and feel more in control.

But that doesn’t help you … NOW. So, here are a handful of our favorite posts to help you deal with daily challenges we all face. (Red admits that she picked the ones she felt she needed to reread.)

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