There’s nothing quite like your Senior Year, is there? Whether it’s in high school or in college, there is a status that goes with being a senior. You have finally arrived, reached the plateau, climbed to the summit.
My senior year in high school was in Tucson, Arizona in 1970-1971. I could finally walk on the official school seal that year without fear of repercussions. After all, I was a senior. There were privileges to be had.
Of course, by the time I reached my senior year I came to understand that there weren’t as many privileges as there had appeared to be in the years leading up to that one; sort of like there was a senior mirage visible only to underclassmen.
You see, my junior year had been filled with an anticipation that was hard to contain; I was about to reach the apex, the ultimate freedom. But when I actually got there, there were harder classes to take, plans for the future had to be defined and pursued, and my responsibility meter was expected to be in rare form.
Not all that long ago I reached another plateau in my life. Another senior year (if you will). This more recent status gives me small discounts at Kroger on Wednesdays, cheaper coffee at certain restaurants, and less expensive tickets at the movie theater.
But now it’s not a senior year; rather, it is called senior years (plural). And there are privileges to be had. A few, anyway.
People who I think are about my age call me “Sir” often. And sometimes I am passed by when someone is in need of some “heavy lifting” (you see, they scan the audience of persons in front of them, look right past me, and secure the services of someone who can’t be more than 10 . . . well, maybe 20 . . . aw heck, probably 30 to 40 years younger than me).
You see, I am in The Senior Class. And there are privileges to be had, right?
At least, that’s the picture I had . . . the way it appeared to me . . . . Hey! Don’t tell me that was another senior mirage!
Like it or not, privileged or not, I am a part of the senior class. And with that status comes (you guessed it) responsibility.
How many times have you gone into a bank, post office, doctor’s office, grocery store, department store, convenience store, coffee shop, restaurant, or any public place and witnessed seniors angry about the service there? It’s almost as if there was a memo sent to all senior citizens, instructing them to be bitchy (pardon my French; actually its roots are in English and Old Norse, etc.) on any given day.
“Old people,” it is often said, “are just grumps.” And sometimes this is due to the fact that they no longer can see very well, hear very well, move about very well, recall the right words to say, or even think very clearly. That is enough to make anyone grumpy.
On the other hand, it is sometimes due to the fact that seniors . . . (bear with me now) . . . have no class.
At a time in life when one should be able to bring decades of experience (both good and bad) to the table, the benefits of both success and failure in life, the seasoned precision, reliability, and wisdom of a class act both tested and proven in the smelter of living – there is often nothing to show but a bitter, frustrated, impatient and demanding old senior.
I do not want to be part of such a senior class.
“With privilege comes responsibility,” it has been said.
I open doors for seniors (and others, too), because I think it is appropriate to honor our elders, and also because sometimes older folks are too weak to do this for themselves. When my mother became feeble and I had to care for her, helping her in and out of her wheelchair, etc., I became more aware of older folks and their struggle to do the simple things I take for granted.
Now, every time I see someone helping an elderly person into or out of a car, or into or out of a wheelchair – I think of my mother. And I respect them for helping.
This is all right and good. And I hope our society never loses this sensitivity and respect for those who are weaker, or older (however, I do see this eroding).
But doggone it! It is also right and good for the senior class to lead the way: exemplifying respect for others, patience in adversity, a cool head in the midst of turmoil, and high character in the face of corruption and scandal.
As a senior, you are responsible. You realize that the mirage of privilege is just an illusion.
And you approach the challenges of the current day with what could rightfully be called “senior class.”
Because you have not finished!
Commencement is coming! Act accordingly, with the dignity that accompanies your elevated status.
And at all times, in all circumstances, never fail to exhibit . . . Senior Class.