Stay in School

Michael Giberson

A few years ago I attended a free concert in the park in Arlington, Virginia by The Grandsons. Between songs lead guitarist Alan MacEwen observed that the bass player had a gig in Atlantic City, New Jersey the night before and had barely arrived at the park moments before the concert was to begin. The bass player – I don’t recall who it was at the time – offered an explanation that ran something like this:

I haven’t actually had any sleep yet, so I hope I can keep up. But it was a lot of fun to play with [name of band leader since forgotten]. Actually we played the early show at [casino name forgotten], we opened for [band name forgotten] and were done by 10:30 or so last night. But [other person’s name] and I decided to gamble, and had a few drinks. Then we met [members of some other band] and drank some more and gambled some more. This continued until we got hungry, and went for breakfast. It was light outside and I said, “Hey, I’ve got to be back in Virginia by noon,” so we grabbed some food and hopped in the car and drove like madmen down I-95. And [musicians name] was in the back feeling sick, and I’m saying to hold it in because I got to get back to Virginia, and …

At this point the bass player stops the story and looks out at the crowd. It is a sunny Sunday afternoon, a few clouds in an otherwise bright blue sky. Families have picnic blankets spread out. Kids are frolicking.

He blinks a few times, and then sums up:

So, kids, remember: [with emphasis] stay in school, take your vitamins, and always listen to your parents!

Okay, so I wasn’t taking notes, the story might not be exactly as depicted. Given the bass player’s demeanor that day, I’m not sure his account was reliable in the first place. But I remembered the moral of the story.

I was reminded of the episode by Derek Thompson’s post at the Atlantic Business Channel, Go to college, in which he makes his point by reference to unemployment statistics.

Probably a better argument, even if less memorable.