Somewhat Ironic Careers

We’ll leave my law license out of this one, I found a scrap of paper just now that had these words on it:

Human Relations Unit Sensitivity trainings led by my sensitive, brilliant father — always on guard against attack.

There were riots between ethnic groups in the NYC public high schools in the 1960s.  Jets and Sharks, they’d square off and rumble, with violent consequences.  A bloody nose or knife wound seems quaint by today’s standards, but my father’s mod squad would be called in and they’d find the leaders of these gangs and take them off to a weekend retreat.  Role playing, a chance to hear each other, guided trainings done by a multi-racial, multi-ethnic team of idealistic former teachers.

“We were pretty successful at stopping the violence at one high school after another with the kids we worked with.  The school would be peaceful for a year or two, until the kids we’d worked with graduated and their little brothers and sisters started killing each other,” my father told us, about the time he left that job for another equally stressful one.

Then, at dinner, the master of human relations and sensitivity training would go to work, reflexively doing what he could not help doing better than almost anyone else in the world. The insensitivity sessions the poor devil ran over dinner were legendary and unforgettable.


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