Updated: December 7, 2013 6:17AM
The local school superintendent couldn’t understand why I didn’t write his name beginning with the impressive title of “Dr.”
“I have a doctoral degree and all my staff and students refer to me as doctor,” he insisted in a huff after reading my column, which referred to him by only his name. “And why didn’t you list my appropriate credentials after my name?”
First, I explained, according to journalistic style standards, I’m allowed to only cite medical doctors as “Dr.” Second, the lengthy list of acronym-soup credentials after his name had nothing to do with his input for my column.
Plus, I hinted to him, aren’t such titles, credentials and professional achievements more about our ego, depending on the situation? Unless it’s to confirm someone’s history or validity, I’m not really interested in their college degrees, licenses, certifications, etc.
Still, this stuff is very important to us, I’ve learned in my job.
He’s not the only professional to proudly share with me a litany of seemingly holy deeds, degrees and workplace accomplishments. In many ways, such things define us, at least to ourselves. Should they?
On Tuesday, I gave a media-relations presentation to the newest class of Leadership Northwest Indiana, or LNI, which offers participants a highly educational 10-month program to learn more about the resources, characteristics and potential in this region.
LNI’s goal, in part, is to develop a crack team of informed and enthusiastic civic-oriented leaders to help direct the future of this multicounty region. So you could imagine the impressive bios of these new LNI participants.
I was more intrigued, though, how their self-written bios described each of them, starting with their job, then work experience, educational titles, volunteer work and so on, usually ending with a brief note about their personal life.
“He is an author and performing poet,” one bio concluded.
“He is an avid cyclist, concert-goer and loves to cook,” ended another one.
One of my favorite things to do when I meet new people is to simply let them talk about themselves, allowing them to voluntarily define who they are. Or, more to the point, how they want other people to view them.
Within a couple minutes, they unknowingly tip their hand by revealing their own self-description through professional versus personal priorities. And, trust me, if they think you’ll be impressed by their titles and such, you’ll know it soon enough.
During my conversation with that school superintendent, I purposely kept calling him by his first name – not by “Dr.” as he’s typically referred to. This is something I routinely do with most public officials, movers and shakers. He didn’t like it one bit.
After I hung up the phone, I thought of a more appropriate title for him. But I’m not allowed to write that in the newspaper either.
Shame, shame, shame
My recent column on the “KOHL’S ... SHAME, SHAME, SHAME ON YOU” protest at local Kohl’s stores attracted a lot of reader feedback. But the most interesting one came from the union behind these protests, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters.
“This isn’t a union vs. nonunion issue,” wrote John Carr, the union’s business representative. “It’s a matter of protecting the standards carpenters have in Northwest Indiana.”
He shared with me the flier that is distributed at these protests: “The KOHL’S at 166 Dunes Plaza, Michigan City IN. is being built, at least in part, by G&F GROUP LLC., AN OUT OF TOWN CONTRACTOR FROM GEORGIA.”
“G&F Group LLC. will not hire local carpenters and they do not pay their carpenters our Northwest Indiana area standard wages, fringe benefits and economic conditions. In our opinion, the use on a Non-Area Standards Compliant Contractor — whether due to greed or ignorance, whether intentional or not — means that KOHL’S is acting detrimentally to the welfare of our Community and its citizens. Simply stated, KOHL’S is harming the economic welfare of our entire community. Thus, the banner at this location.”
I also heard from one of the protesters who, surprisingly, is not a union member but a hired hand paid to stand alongside the banner.
“We are hired by the union specifically for this job,” the woman told me. “We are people just like you. Jobs are hard to come by now. We could work at McDonald’s for minimum wage. In fact, we get people that yell out their car windows, ‘McDonald’s is hiring!’
“But we make more doing this job. Know that we stand there in the rain, in the freezing snow, in the 105-degree heat waves. We are not lazy bums, we do not feel entitled to anything, we work and we go home to our families just like you.”
To hear more from Carr and the hired protester, listen to last week’s Casual Fridays radio show at http://lakeshorepublicmedia.org/local-programs/casual-fridays/.
My column on the Enbridge Energy 6B Phase Two Replacement Project, aka “the new pipeline,” forgot to note an important aspect of this controversial issue.
It’s the region residents who now must deal with this pipeline on or near their properties, I was told by a few readers.
The project is slicing a three-county swath through Northwest Indiana from Michigan, a 300-mile endeavor costing around $1.5 billion. Its main purpose is to double the capacity of “tar sand” crude oil to 500,000 barrels a day by mid-2014.
The Indiana portion, from Griffith to the Michigan state line, replaces 60 miles of existing 30-inch pipeline with 36-inch pipe at a cost of $300 million. It has an estimated construction completion date by year’s end.
“But what about in future years?” asked Frank L. of Liberty Township in Porter County. “What if something happens then?”
Other landowners are voicing their concerns or complaints at the “LINE 6B CITIZENS BLOG,” at GrangeHallPress.com/EnbridgeBlog.
What day is it?
My favorite viral video of the week features NBA all-star Dirk Nowitzki, who stars in a funny spoof of the Geico “Hump Day” curious-camel commercial to help the Dallas Mavericks sell season tickets. You can watch it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwrstxuicZk.
Connect with Jerry via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.