Saturday, October 4, 2008


I worked the "Grocery" booth at Reality Town down to the Junior High yesterday. This is the 4th time I've done it. It is some "real" serious fun. Here is the basic idea:
Take 300 9th graders, give them a fictitious job, salary, family based on their grade performance in 7th and 8th grade. Put them all in a room and send them forth to purchase homes, insurance, groceries, clothes, day care and cars with their checkbooks. Oh my! I am an avid people watcher, and believe you me, this is a side show worthy of Ringling Brothers. 9th graders alone are a hormonal carnival ride, but put them all in a small, stuffy room and add the peer pressure of "what job do you many kids...does your wife work and contribute to your income?" and let me tell you, it gets interesting.
Three things stood out.
First, can I tell you how many kids made out the check to "grocery's"? Ummm...go back to English class for awhile. We're raising a generation of kids who think "ur", "thks" and "rofl" are actual words. Not surprisingly, most of the kids who couldn't spell "groceries" also had very low income jobs; I had to send quite a few of them over to the financial counseling and supplemental income booths. Two years ago, when I worked it for Tyler, there were kids making deals in the "park", and administration had to get involved. Let's just say that the word "john" was bandied about. I guess if you're strapped for cash....
Then there were the 4.0 kids who got to choose the highest paying jobs...they had $100,000 and more a year to spend, and did just fine. Ryan was one of these of course. For these kids, Reality Town is F!U!N!
Second, I had kids who had gone to the Donation Booth and paid their tithing. First. By the time they got to me, they didn't have enough money for groceries. Yep. And I watched while they struggled with making the decision of erasing their tithing donation, or going over to get a second job or join the military for extra income. It was painful. When I told Jill about it, she practically choked on her lungs she was laughing so hard. "That's R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. for ya mom! Ha ha ha ha..." I pretty quickly clued in, and decided that if they were struggling, I would look at their check log, and if I saw a tithing donation I offered them a price break on groceries, or waived the mandatory "eating out" fee. But sometimes even this wasn't enough and they wound up at financial counseling anyway.
Third, I have GOT to stop judging people by their appearance. There were the usual suspects: the kids with stuff written in pen all over their arms, girls with so much black eyeliner on you can't even tell what color their eyes are, boys with "girl" jeans on so tight you worry they won't be able to father children someday. It was one of these boys, (who also had hair so long he practically dislocated his neck constantly swishing it out of his eyes) who I overheard telling his friend to get over to the donation booth...."Jesus is my best friend! You have to pay your tithing first!"
A few minutes later, I had to send him over to financial counseling because he didn't have enough money to buy groceries.
Reality Bites.


jillian said...

You make me laugh!!! :) I think it's awesome that you volunteered to do that AGAIN, even though you're so busy with Renaissance stuff. You're amazing. :)

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

Sounds like an educational experience for everyone involved. Too bad my kids didn't have anything like that in their middle school. I'm sure there won't be a donation/"tithing" booth, though:-)

I love your lay-out. Where do you get your background? It's pretty and cute but not too busy.

Lilian said...

This post had me laughing! Our jr. high does this for the 8th graders. So, it will be Jacob doing it next year.