Day: May 6, 2024

Mon. May 6, 2024 – another week ahead of us to use wisely…

Warmer and wet in Houston, but maybe not stormy. Still some rain in the forecast though. We got rain several times yesterday, and that kept temps down. It was comfortable for me to wear long pants…

After a day messing with windows and puttering around the house, I attended the final meeting for my daughter’s “finishing” school- Cotillion Club. She’s far from finished but at least knows about some of the finer points of moving in “society”. At the very least she now knows that there are things she doesn’t know. Known Unknowns as it were. She’s not big on arbitrary rules so I’ve been explaining how useful politeness, and social graces are. Knowing what to do in a situation is FAR easier than figuring it out on your own, and far less stressful. And you can always choose to break or ignore the rules, but to do so out of ignorance is not desirable.

Every class and culture has signifiers, norms, rules of behavior and decorum. Marc MacYoung has written extensively about violence for example, and the people who commit it. He explains clearly the norms, rules, and behaviors associated with the kind of people and the cultures in America that routinely experience violence. Miss Manners has done the same for a different segment of our world, and a Protocol Officer would describe yet another segment. I figured that knowing a bit more about the culture and expectations of the social class above ours would be a good thing for my girls. It certainly can’t hurt. And while I don’t aspire to that society, I’ve worked in it and along side it, and knowing something about how it works is very helpful.

The same can be said for societies and cultures adjacent to ours but “lower” as well. I try to pass some of that along too. Some of it was very painful to learn. Some of it might be described as “street smarts”. There aren’t any ‘finishing’ schools that I know of that prepare one to move among those groups, outside of three letter agencies and possibly social work orgs. You might not think you’d want to fit in with those groups, but I can tell you that you absolutely don’t want to stick out or inadvertently give offense or offer reasons to be targeted. You certainly benefit from recognizing and seeing the indicators that others might miss. And while you are unlikely to “pass” as one of them, every culture appreciates someone following their rules, and most are willing to cut someone who is trying some slack… and it’s important to recognize when your best strategy is to play on your outsider status so that you get ALL the benefit of the doubt and aren’t punished for not following the rules.

One of the reasons I go on and on about getting out and practicing in the secondary economy NOW, while you have other choices, is to begin learning how to move and do business in that world. Even when there isn’t any element of criminality, it’s still a different way of doing business, and of conducting oneself, and very often there is a black or grey market aspect that is unavoidable. Sometimes it’s the product, but often it’s the people. They are from marginalized cultures or circumstances. They move through the world in a very different way from someone with a Gold card, a steady job, and a clean criminal history.

It’s very useful to be able to cross cultures and interact with people in different places and ways, whether that means putting on a suit and going to the country club, or putting on a carhart and going to the diner, or a sundress at the farmers market. Having stuff is going to be important to us all in the near future, but having the ability to get along with different groups of people might be the difference between success and disaster.

It takes practice and a sharp eye. Stack some time around people. Stack some stuff.


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