The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

It is becoming more and more difficult, as I reach this age where I am now, not to spend some time looking back. Looking back and comparing yesteryear to this year, and marveling at the changes I’ve been privileged to have seen.

And marveling at some that haven’t happened.

For example: The biggest change has been in communication. It seems like only yesterday that if one wanted to speak to a neighbor on the telephone, you went to the phone on the wall, took the receiver off the hook, and gave the crank on the side a couple of energetic turns to get the operator. The operator then did the connecting.

Often, the operator when I was growing up was my Aunt Leah, and she proved to be a stalwart supervisor of my and my brother’s immediate communication needs, which were in fact to be connected to Shirley H., a cute 13-year-old who was the focus of a lot of our growing adolescent yearnings.

We rang for the operator: “Have you done your homework?” asked Aunt Leah, who happened to be on duty. Rats! She knew full well we had not. And when that produced some stuttering and stammering, she demanded: “Let me talk to your mother, Young Man!” My mother being of course her sister. The jig was up, at that point.

Now contrast that method of communication to the immediate non-long distance cost of talking to just about anyone anywhere. Or texting them. Or exchanging photographs and videos, again instantly and at almost no cost. (No apparent cost, at that moment anyway.)

And yet, what more is to come. I’m not done living, and things aren’t done developing, not yet.

Recently I learned that the local elementary school has a room the teachers and staff call “The Yet Room,” It is called that because, as today’s young citizens are first learning their fractions and the elusive nature of the English language, lots of them are stunned into a kind of plateau of learning, one which seems impenetrable to them at the moment, but which the teachers and staff know is, well, not.

Some of us take to most of the learning we go through quite naturally. And some of us don’t.  So there is a room aptly named The Yet Room, because when you don’t,  that is where you go. You don’t go there because there is no hope of learning some elusive bit of education, but because you merely haven’t learned it Yet. 

For example, take the words that begin with “ch.” The “chuh” sound, as in the word “chair.” Simple, right? But wait, what about the word “chiropractor?” That’s the “kuh” sound. Or the word “school.” That doesn’t fit any rule. Or the word “comb”? Then the word “bomb”?

The English language put a lot of us in The Yet Room. 

Then there are math things, like fractions. How to combine 9/16, ⅝, and ¾. (My computer cannot even write them the same, much less add them.) Of course this would not be a problem were we to adopt the metric system, which has no fractions. Yet, we refuse to adopt a system where, for example, we would walk into a lumber store and have to ask for, not a 2 by 4, but a 38 by 90. (mm, of course) But wait, a 2 by 4 isn’t really even 2 by 4; it’s 1.5 by 3.5 (inches) So switching systems means we first have to figure out nominal and actual. 

It ain’t happening! The metric system and our refusal of it is the only example that I can think of upon which our society actually agrees. Politics? Religion? Race? Food? Sports? Clothing? Appearance?  We can only conclude that–for those things and more– The Adult Yet Room has several locked closets in it. And we’ve lost the keys.

Apparently, even as adults,  I think most of us are not really even visiting The Yet Room.

I think we’re living there.