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Front Page » June 26, 2012 » Opinion » Discrimination in Alphabet City
Published 849 days ago

Discrimination in Alphabet City


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By By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

I have decided to file a lawsuit.

Why not? Everyone else does.

I have decided to sue the alphabet. What holdings it has, other than the English (and other) languages, I don't know, but I am going to get my pound of retribution out of it. I deserve it.

And I am going to make it a class action suit. Anyone whose last name begins with the letters O-Z can join in. We, as a group have been sent to the back of the line, class, roll, etc. forever and it's about time we were compensated for it.

Those haughty people with last names that begin with the letters A-K better watch out too. They are like the one percenters: always getting ahead of us in everything.

As for those with names with the first letter from the middle of the alphabet (L-M-N), you are even worse, you no-good fence sitters. No matter how the alphabetical order is broken down, you always end up the same.

I have been haunted with this S name for my whole life. It started right after I was born. They actually listed the babies born in January of 1952 in my home town newspaper in alphabetical order. And it continued, on and on. Anytime we had anything to do in school, it was always "line up alphabetically."

And I always complained to teachers and administrators. They just wrote it off as nothing important. But then all those I complained to, it seemed, were in the "upper" half of the alphabet.

That's another gripe I have about this whole thing. It's how we in the later half of the alphabet are classified. People never say later in the alphabet, they say the "lower half" of the alphabet when they refer to us as a group.,

We are individuals and deserve recognition for that. This stereotyping us as all less than the front of the sequence is wrong.

I do remember one time I had a teacher that tried to fix it for us, a little anyway.

After I rallied a couple of kids in my fifth grade class at Grant Elementary School to talk to Mrs. Lindsey about the situation on the daily rotation for reciting times tables (the easy ones came first), she changed how she had been doing it. She decided to still use the alphabet, but by first name. But there was this one kid name Jim Miller in our class. When she announced we should line up for lunch one day by the first letter of our first name he jumped right to the front of the line. She told him he had to go farther down the line, because there were certainly a lot more children with letters "ahead" of J. He pointed out that if she looked in her roll book she would find that his actual first name was Aaron. It was. Suddenly everyone had new first names, except me and two other kids. I had moved up one spot to R. Big deal.

She never tried that again. But then what could I expect from someone with a fence sitting name like Lindsey.

High school was like a contest to see who could get the worst treatment when it came to your last name. You had to line up in gym in two rows for activities. When there were skills tests I always got paired with this bully in the row in front of me whose last name started with a J. He was a real idiot and always tried to pick a fight with me when we were doing such things as playing one on one, playing catch or practicing correct setting for volleyball. The only time that changed was when he was absent, then I got some smelly H guy who never took a shower after gym.

The yearbooks were bad too. Not only was I always towards the back of the class in the book, but in one book it was like someone did some bad planning. The photos of the second half of the alphabet students were somewhat smaller.

It was worse when I got to college. They not only alphabetized you they also used your social security number as well. This complicated things even more.

Then there's the phone book. If you want anonymity a good place to go is a spot past N. By the time they get to writing that part no one seems to care much. However, if your name begins with U, X or Z you get singled out for your lateness in the order by getting your very own section along with maybe five names.

Women have an advantage. They can change their situation. I always told my daughter to look for a husband with a last name that began with A or even B. She chose a B. I and she found out you should never marry someone because of the letter their last name started with.

Anyway this alphabetical thing is a travesty, and I want it changed. Before I die I want to see equal treatment for those that, through no fault of their own, ended up with names that sent them to school lunch late every day in junior high, when all that was left were smashed rolls and lima beans.

Yeah I could have legally changed my name to AAArdvark or something like that, but who has the money. Anyway my heritage is important to me.

It's time there was an awakening in the nation to the plight of the alphabetically challenged. The kind of consonant you have that starts your name shouldn't be a factor. And vowels should get equal treatment too.

Heck I may even start a defense fund and rally people around the country for a change in attitudes where people are not judged by symbols and graphemes, but by what they are worth to our society and way of life.

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June 26, 2012
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