"If you are sucked into the engine of a jet, all that will come out the other side will be body parts," my husband read to me and giggled. Then he filled out the form on the bottom and signed it. Apparently he has seen the video.

"So wait...wait... how close do you get to those jet engines? Exactly how much risk do you have of being sucked into a jet engine? And do you promise me that you will never never never never never never NEVER get that close to a jet engine?" It hadn't quite hit me until that moment that I could indeed become a widow. Widowhood does not appeal to me even a little bit.

"Mami, we don' get near the plane until the engine is off. We don' allowed to be close to a plane with engines on. I don' gonna be sucked into a engine. But it could be funny..."

"It could NOT be funny."

Other than that, though, Newark Airport isn't a bad gig for a soon-to-be-naturalized guy with one year of college and a CDL with Hazmat and Tanker endorsements. The hours aren't the best, but the actual minutes aren't too bad. With plenty of down time, Papi is getting through a book, in English, on a topic he likes. The benefits are as good as or better than anything Corporate America has to offer. His co-workers and his managers are scrupulously polite, and his credit and respect grow as he gains more experience. Regular pay raises and a union mean that with time, he'll have assurance of a comfortable standard of living. That he comes home smelling of jet fuel is a slight problem, but one that can be easily surmounted with a shower and change of clothes.

So here's my point: I sit, day after day, reinforcing an education system that teaches children to despise such jobs. Not only the jobs; the people who do those jobs are somehow also to be despised, or at best pitied. Perhaps that's my perception of the situation. According to my perception, however, to an adolescent, "pumping gas" or "serving fries" is the equivalent of failure.

What if, however, the gas-pumper or the fry-server comes home to an equally loving wife, pretty home, good children and stimulating hobbies. Equal, that is, to the guy who did everything right, who got the degree from the college and made a career for himself in Corporate America. Then, what if the gas-pumper or fry-server teaches his children that there is no such thing as demeaning labor, and that any job offering the compensation you need to live and care for your family is a good job. That the only demeaning job is the one that expects you to give more of yourself than you receive in return. Corporate America offers those kinds of jobs, too.

Well, that might mean that I wouldn't have a job for me. Peri-educational jobs that offer the competitive edge a higher SAT score would give you wouldn't be offering such a great service any more. Dang.

That means that by showing respect for the kind of work my own dear Papito does, I might, just might, do myself out of a career. In a world where students do what they are best at doing, and gain respect from doing well and creating a life of good people around them, that extra hundred SAT points would...would...

...assume their correct proportion in the grand scheme of things? No. I cannot afford that.

Kids, study hard and do well in school! For God's sake, do you want to end up sucked through a jet engine! Well, that's where you'll be if you slack off!

*sighs with relief* There. Saved my job.

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