Hello, Mrs Baker, and thank you for letting me speak today. Hi class, my name is Mr Devereaux, and I’m here to talk to you about my chosen career in government. I’m also your class president, Zak’s, dad. Hi, Zak!
Zak? Oh, he’s not responding. Well, at home he’s not embarrassed to talk to me as a peer. We often discuss the broadsheets together at breakfast. I’m sure a lot of you are the same with your dads.
OK, well, I’ll get on with telling you about my job. I’m a commissioner for the state for social programs, which means I’m in charge of buying services that I think will help the people in this state thrive. I’m sure Zak would have told you all about it already.
You’re looking blankly at me, OK: so, a person who buys services is called a “commissioner.” It’s a tough one to spell, but luckily, not quite as hard to do!
OK, so there are lot of families out there who need a bit of help living in a way we consider normal, and a lot of families who need help bringing up their children in a way society deems fit, and my job is to help those people so they and their children are not disadvantaged. I’m trying to guarantee a bare minimum level of upbringing and societal integration here.
Anybody? Does anybody have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about?
Hmm. Well, some of your family members may have had interaction with the services I set up. God, I hope so. Probably at least a couple of you will be engaging with them as new accidental parents in the next few years.
Nothing…Hey, Zak? Is that how it is here? Jeez, it’s worse than I thought. Sorry Zak. Sorry, son. Probably should have gone private after all. Wanted to prove a point. Thought we would all be richer for it. Let’s not mention anything about this place to Grampa, OK?
Zak? Will you say something please?
Aaah, OK, you can tell me later. A bit embarrassing to have your old man here in front of your classmates, huh?
So day-to-day I attend meetings with other commissioners so we can use a multi-disciplinary approach to purchasing services. So, take the prison service, for example.
Oh, now a few of you have perked up, I see! Bit more relevant to you, perhaps? Oh yeah, now that’s it. Glad I’ve finally got your attention.
Wait, do a lot of you not have dads at home, is that it? Raise your hands if you have a dad at home. C’mon, don’t be shy.
No, nobody at all going to raise their hand? Zak, raise your hand, come on, start the ball rolling.
No? Well I can’t believe that none of you has a dad at home. A lot of you, statistically, sure.
OK, that’s fine, you don’t have to engage with me. Engagement is the problem generally. I guess it starts earlier than I thought. Huh, Zak? I’ll just continue.
So with the prison service, when people get out of prison, maybe your dad…or another family member…
Yep, OK, got most of you back again. When someone gets out of prison, they often need help readjusting. It can be difficult inside, often violent, very macho, and your dads will have needed a different skill set there than they do on the outside. They’ll get out with no idea how to act with any decorum. Inside they might have been sexually abused, belittled, physically harmed, even signed up to a religion they previously had no experience with. I mean, if they had any wherewithal, they wouldn’t be inside in the first place, let’s face it. One moment they’re their cellmate’s boyfriend and the next they’re being asked to be a husband again, to a woman. That’s why they’ll be violent, steal from your mama’s purse, get into drugs, that sort of thing. You know what I’m talking about, right? I see some smiles now. I think I’ve dropped down to your level a bit more successfully here. Good.
So I’m the guy who decides whether to buy a rehabilitation or prevention service, or more parole officers to drag your daddies back into jail after they re-offend. And they mostly do, as you well know. Maybe they like prison better than life with you and your moms?
How many of you guys feel safer when your daddy is inside?
It’s just as well for Zak that I’m a good guy, a law-abiding guy. He can’t even open a can of soup without me, let alone assume the role of breadwinner by slangin’ dope when I’m doing a stretch! Are most of you doing that right now? I’ll assume that’s how it is. I know you can’t talk about that in front of Ms. Fuddy Duddy, your teacher here, right?
But I know it’s difficult for you people, not getting any love from your parents, often abused. I know that’s why you’re acting so aloof now. Can’t let me know that I’m making a difference, huh? What do you call it…frontin’? Is that it? Zak, what do they call it?
Well, fear not, kids: I’m going to get you the help you need. I will work tirelessly to intervene in your family life. I won’t rest until all of you have a chance like my Zak here. Oh, I’m being told that my time is up. Is that right? I thought I had twenty minutes? No? Oh, you want me to take Zak home with me for the rest of the day? Huh, OK. Is this normal protocol after a careers session?
OK, Zak, get your stuff, the Mercedes is just out front. Actually, we can beat the traffic out of the city if we leave now. I’ve got a Residents’ Association meeting tonight anyway, so this is great. Don’t forget your cello.
Guys, it’s been great talking at you, or “rapping,” as you might say. I hope you’ve taken something from this. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ll hire people to get those bad men away from you. And stay out of trouble, or I’ll be coming for you!
OK, those are soda cans and bottles. Well, that’s gratitude for you.
Kids today, Jesus. Come on, Zak. Maybe you can try and help these kids? Help them from inside the system, eh? Ha ha. My little Trojan Horse.
OK they’re really throwing things now. That was a chair leg. Let’s go, son.
Goodbye kids! I would say “stay in school,” but if this is how they let you behave, I’m not so sure. Bye, Mrs Baker, we won’t be back! OK, see all of you in a few years! Good-bye! Run, Zak! Run!