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Dear graduates: Get a job, pay up, be civil, help others

By C.T. BOWEN
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002

It's here. The end of the school year. Classes concluded Friday for seniors and commencement at Pasco County's public high schools is just five days away.

As the bands rehearse Pomp and Circumstance, we offer another version of unsolicited advice for the class of 2002 as its members depart the 13-year cocoon:

Don't pull any pranks this week. A few laughs aren't worth the risk of missing graduation ceremonies.

If we have to be more specific: Leave the glue and beehives home. Just ask the kids in DeLand who face felony charges for a joke gone awry.

Don't post your slam book on line.

Don't write something in a slam book that you wouldn't want written about yourself.

If you must compile a slam book, you show potential to become a commentary writer.

Watch CNN, MSNBC or even FoxNews. Don't let The Osbournes be the only reason you have cable.

Better yet, read a newspaper.

Take the outside pitch to right field. You'll be a bigger hit at the company picnic softball game.

If your boss is pitching, don't be afraid to take a called third strike. This is called career development.

If your boss is umpiring, get out of the game. This is called career preservation.

Remember that schools are gun-free zones.

If more education is in your future, attend class. Don't ask classmates to sign in for you. It's an imperative point at the police academy.

If you prefer the rural lifestyle, be sure to pen in your pigs. If you choose the suburban lifestyle, don't act like a pig. In both cases, your neighbors will be appreciative.

Make sure the lot line on your waterfront property actually goes to the water front.

Don't be an opportunist.

Use your turn signals.

Don't use hand signals. They tend to promote road rage.

Order a meal that isn't wrapped in paper and served on a tray.

Drink milk even though you no longer are ingesting cafeteria food five days a week.

If you are accused of breaking the law, be prepared to pay the consequences. There's no longer a coach to give you a get-out-of-jail free card for the next big game or meet.

Likewise, if you get a traffic ticket, don't call the police to complain. Pay up. This is particularly true in the New Port Richey city limits.

If your future children ever get a traffic ticket, don't call the police in a fit of belligerence. The profane language and declaration of war won't help. This is most applicable in Port Richey.

Don't forget, it's still Civility Month. It's bad form to publicly criticize the person who gets the promotion you thought you deserved.

If you run for public office, plan on losing a few campaign signs. Do not expect police officers to serve as personal hall monitors.

If you win public office, keep your campaign promises. In other words, differentiate between public service and lip service. If you truly believe "Children are our future" then act accordingly. Don't treat education funding as an afterthought.

Vote. These days, it's as easy as playing a computer game.

Visit the library or a bookstore now that you don't have a research project due. The volumes that beckon offer unlimited enjoyment.

Ditto a museum. An existing museum. Don't make plans to stop at the former Hacienda Hotel for a wind-tunnel or similar hands-on exhibit.

Protect the environment. Even if it means not using your favorite sandbar the way in which you are accustomed.

Don't take Harry Potter too seriously.

Don't take professional sports too seriously. Life is full of frustrations without adding the Buccaneers, Devil Rays and Lightning on top of it.

Listen to the classics: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Richards and Jagger.

Don't tell public servants you pay their salaries.

Your parents just spent 18 years taking care of you. Be prepared to take care of them in their later years.

Leave the rave early and get some sleep.

Spend a season coaching youth sports. You'll suddenly appreciate your own teachers, coaches and mentors.

Remember to thank your teachers.

Seek gainful employment. Just don't try to take my job.

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