I love my wife. I really do. We’re as different as night and day, and that works for us. It is a work in progress, like most marriages are, but we work at it. When she decides she “needs” something, she’s going to do it. She runs, bikes, and swims. I think working your day around physical exertion is time wasted. I used to run…for punishment.
Every Thanksgiving Day for the past three years, some of the Hatler Grandkids (photo above) have run the Gold’s Gym Turkey Trot 5K in Jackson, Tennessee. Everyone is just stunned that I don’t “train” or “get ready” for the “race.” Like every other year, my athletically fat self showed up in 19 degree weather, and ran it a shade under 33 minutes. I accomplished two of my three goals. I didn’t come in last and I never stopped running, but I failed to break the 30 minute mark. I still count it as a successful “race.”
But I digress……
Rewind to January 1, 2013. Jody (my lovely bride) decides she’s going to be a coffee drinker. She’s never been one, but we brew a pot, in a coffee maker that has never been used. Within 48 hours, we have a Keurig, and an endless supply of “K-Cups”, or whatever they’re called. Now, she can’t get her day started until she has her coffee. Forget the fact that for (x) years she has been just fine without. But hey, what the wife wants, the wife wants. She needs the caffeine because she believes it gets her body going.
But I digress……
One of the biggest surprises after my election to the Weakley County School Board was to find out we actually get paid. Believe it or not, it is state law that School Board members are to be compensated a minimum of $ 4 per day. I know….ridiculous. Being a public servant is about performing your duties for the constituents, free of charge………….or so I thought.
This past Sunday and Monday I was in Nashville attending the Tennessee School Board Association’s new member orientation. I, along with 109 of my newly elected colleagues, were learning the ins and outs of state law, responsibilities, and legislation in regards to the State’s educational system. When the discussion about the pay rate surfaced, most of us are laughing about the fact we get paid, and then we start going around the room discussing how much we got.
My jaw hit the floor when a member from a county in the south west corner of the state informs us that they are paid $ 15,000 a year. Let that sink in for a minute.
Granted, they deal with a larger population than we do in Northwest Tennessee, but $ 15K????? There are people in Weakley County that have jobs that don’t pay that a year.
Before I could get my jaw back in place, and the rest of the room quit shaking their heads and laughing, we were told that, ” If you think about it, it’s really not that much money. It doesn’t even pay for my gas going to visit my schools.”
I used to put 25K miles on my car a year driving all over West Tennessee, and my total expenditures on fuel never topped $ 7K.
It was at this point that I realized a couple of things I kind of knew already, but what stuck out to me the most was how we, as a society, have truly decided we should be compensated for everything……EVERYTHING.
I am stunned every time someone asks me how much I get paid to coach my daughters rec league softball teams. I’m still trying to figure out if I’m stunned because they think I do, or are genuinely shocked when I tell them I don’t.
We need to take a good hard look back at our lives, and the people who helped us out along the way. We also need to understand that no amount of money will ever repay people and the impact they had. There are countless numbers of people who have been there to lift us up and help us out….free of charge. Teachers, mentors, church members, grandparents who weren’t your grandparents, youth league coaches, ballet instructors, parents of friends, the list is endless.
Those people were the caffeine in our developmental coffee, and they didn’t take a dime.
Heck, they didn’t even ask to snuggle.