Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir.
As I said in mentioned in a recent post, I have started work at St. Mary’s this semester. Strangely, I have had to adjust to being called “Sir” on such a regular basis. I know the term has been used for decades to speak to someone in a position of authority, but I must admit, it is used far more liberally here in England. I’m not talking about the usual polite terms of “yes sir”, “no sir”, “excuse me sir”, but rather other interesting uses: “ask sir”, “sir is in charge of your game”, “sir will show you the drill”, or “please ask sir for the ball”. It is essentially used as a pronoun.
And the English get mad at us American’s when we butcher the language! At least they don’t say “yuns” like the sirs and mams off in western PA.
Have you ever had a person that is in a place of authority over you and they call you “Sir” far more than you call them “Sir”? One of the supervisor’s who works for my Dad’s company does this. If I am working under him, or call him about something, he always greets me with courteous “Yes sir”, even with my informal “Hyaa, Noah” greeting. There are a few possibilities here. First, he has no idea which one of his bosses kids he is speaking too, or it is his military background kicking in? Either way, he is a wonderful guy to work with. Yet, it always makes me feel bad and I think, next time I’m going to say sir first! Then I do it and it feels like I’m taking the Mickey.
“Hi SIR!! Sir, I said Sir, Hi!”
To be clear here, I am not complaining about any of this. Our culture and society are slowly losing basic manners, so anywhere you can find some courtesy and respect is refreshing.
I’m finding myself in the curious transition, that I am sure everyone goes through, where you begin to be seen as an elder more often than a youngster. I remember talking to my good friend about it just before he was married. We were commenting on how funny it will be to hear people calling him Mr. Inzeo. Then we realized it really wasn’t funny at all and that we had wasted our youth away blowing things up and shooting each other point blank with paintball guns; we were officially beginning the process of getting old. I’m sure my elders are all like “shut up kid”, you don’t know what old is! While they are surely right, as usual, I bet they can look back to the period in life that I am talking about, where you are in the process of crossing that fuzzy, undefined boarder into adulthood.
Fortunately, the kids at St. Mary’s are always there to remind me that I’m really not that old. I walked into a room full of young boys the other day and they asked me who I was. I said: “I’m the new teacher’s assistant”, to which one of them replied “really? how old are you like 18?”. “I wish kid, but no, you have to call me sir!” It must have something to do with my full beard.
That group was full of interest about me after that.
“Will you sing your national anthem?” “No”
“What about saying the pledge of allegiance?” “No”
“How does your national anthem go?” “Oh say can…wait NO!”
“Can you recite the pledge of allegiance?” “No”
(In the end, I folded and did a little bit of both – they regretted asking me to sing.)
Another group, on another day, kept trying to get me to say things because of my accent. For some reason, whenever this happens, “Potato” seems to be a favorite word. In this particular case, I was asked to say it in a nice high pitched granny voice. It turned out to be something along these lines:
I submitted to one refrain of “Potato”, but stood strong against pressure to repeat it; along with other words and phrases, which included “hot dog” .
Needless to say, it has been quite the experience so far. Everyday that I go in I become more familiar with the situation, and with my own responsibilities. Luckily, for most of the groups, but particularly the boys, they always bring the energy. The challenge is, thus, to channel that energy into one activity where they will actually be focused on learning something. The idea is not just to let the students run around and blow off steam so they will be calmer in the classroom – though that’s not a bad side effect. Rather, you are teaching them the fundamentals and benefits of sports and athletic activity. These fundamentals include health, leadership, teamwork, hard work, and willingness to learn. The Physical Education Department isn’t primarily for the purpose of making great athletes, but rather to make well rounded individuals by using sports to cultivate in students other essential life skills.
In honesty, I’m doing quite a bit of learning myself which is always good. While I mostly help out with the football/soccer, I’ve had a few lessons in rounders and netball, and am looking forward to the possibility of learning a bit of cricket and rugby at some point as well. I’ve been helping out with basketball too, since the cold weather has been keeping us inside, and memories of the good old days, when I was a baller are slowly coming back…even if the skills are not.
Lastly, I am always impressed and in awe of good teachers. Being a good teacher, who can inspire students, is no easy task; as I am beginning to find out. I know I was blessed with some excellent teachers throughout school and they were crucial to my development. It is often easy to forget how much of an effect teachers have on us, our families, and our culture in general. It is a great responsibility, but also a great opportunity.
And that kind sirs and lovely ladies, is all I have for you today.
Go head first!