tabling at Rolling Meadows High School December 3, 2013

The first lunch period at Rolling Meadows today was pretty quiet.  Mostly the occasional student came by the table and enjoyed some candy.  Things became livelier in the second lunch period.

Dumb question of the day:  ”Is this [table] for snowboarding and ski club?”   I shook my head no, and the inquirer walked away quickly.  What about a table occupied by an old fat woman with brochures about peace suggested snowboarding or skiing? lol

Two boys strolled past, gave me a glance, and muttered something about the military.  They said to each other that they were not interested in the military and kept going.  It’s surprising how many kids assume that an adult at a table in the cafeteria wants them to enlist in the service.

Most of the students who came by were either planning to go to college, or had no clue what they wanted, or both.  I gave out quite a few check lists about applying for college and financial aid.

One girl came by and seemed to like what she saw of our literature.  She was wearing a sweat shirt from a from a state university in Wisconsin.  She said she was going to go there and become a vet tech because of her love for animals.  She didn’t seem to grasp that she could go to Harper for a few months and get all the certification she needed to be a vet tech.  *sigh*  She had thought about becoming a zoologist, but that would require a Ph.D.–too much school.  She indicated she didn’t want to stay in school long enough to actually become a vet.  She seemed sweet and smart, just uninformed.  I trust somebody will tell her what she needs to do to accomplish her goals of caring for animals.  She’ll be a good vet.

A boy in the 11th grade came by and chatted.  I asked him what he was going to do after high school.  He said he was going to open his own business–shoes.  Or clothing.  Or maybe a restaurant.  At least he was not interested in the military.

Two girls in hijabs came by together.  I think they said they were juniors.  Girl A said she liked peace and picked up a zine and some other material. Girl B said she was going to join the military.  When I asked why, she said she thought it was really interesting.  ”Killing people is interesting?” I asked.  ”I want to heal people,” said B.  Then A explained that B wanted to be a military doctor.  Why a military doctor rather than a civilian doctor, I asked.  B didn’t seem to know, but she liked the military recruiters.  B said she wanted to join the military and had talked with he recruiters at school.  She had made an appointment for the recruiters to come to her home and talk with her parents, but the recruiters never shown up.  So I asked B about her plans for education.  She said she planned to attend Harper.  It became clear that she had no clue of how far beyond Harper she would have to go to become a doctor.  I encouraged her to complete college and med school before committing to the military.  I guess the recruiters had not taken the time to tell her about how the military might pay for her education.  Maybe the recruiters were afraid of her hijab?

Our friend Daniel came by.  He said he was planning to audition to be in the school play next semester, when they’ll do The Laramie Project.  Good for him!  I remembered going to BGHS a few years ago when they did The Laramie Project and Westboro Baptist Church said they were coming to protest against it.  Westboro never showed up, of course.  I didn’t mention that to Daniel.  We’ll see what happens when RM does the play.  I hope to see it and support Daniel.

During the 2nd lunch period a girl and boy were hanging out together near the table.  They were rough-housing quite a bit.  She seemed to keep trying to do massage-like moves on him and hurting him. He told her to stop and kept yelling in pain.  I told her, “Don’t do that.  It hurts.”  She replied, “What?” I told her to stop hurting him.  They seemed to settle down.  After a long while I looked over and saw that she was at it again.  I gestured for her to come over.  They both came.  I told her she needed to think about how she was treating this young man.  I told her my son’s girlfriend in 9th grade had hurt him like that and it had ended badly.  She said, “We’re just messing around.”  I said, “So were they.  Hitting and hurting each other is not healthy and it’s a bad habit to get into.”  I hope they’ll think about treating each other more respectfully.  If an old lady I didn’t know had called me out on my behavior, I would have given it some thought (eventually).  But who knows.

Moments before the bell rang to close the lunch period, a girl dashed over and grabbed a brochure about what girls need to know about the military.  I asked her if she was planning to join the military.  With a confident smile she nodded and said yes.  ”Then you definitely need to read that,” I told her.  She took off as the bell rang.  I didn’t get to talk with her.

I did a candy experiment today.  In the past we have observed that Starburst seems to be a favorite among students, even beyond chocolate, which I don’t personally understand.  One girl at RM greets us as the “Starburst people.”  Today I had three dishes:  one of Starburst, one of small candy canes, and one of Werther’s Original.  All were enjoyed, but Starburst was again the clear winner.

I don’t know if I accomplished anything today.  Most counter-recruiting days you never know.  All you can do is plant a seed or two.


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