Hello everyone, my name is Osgood Stickler, and in case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a stickler. My father was a stickler and his father was a Stickler. He’d better be. He was born Johann Stickler in Bavaria. Well, in Munich actually. In fact he was born in a second floor back bedroom on 1352 Manheim Strasse in Munich at a latitude of 48° 8′ 13.7544” N and a longitude of 11° 34′ 34.0464” E. See, I really am a stickler. So is it any wonder I’d gravitate toward the not-quite-a-policeman field of a Truancy Enforcement – a profession to which my persnickety nature and exacting expectations are well-suited? Some might argue that if my last name was Vlasic I’d gravitate to a job in the field of cucumbers. But it’s not. So I’m a Stickler, not a pickler.
Now there’s a vast difference between a stickler and a person who suffers from OCD. I’m the normal one. I don’t nitpick. Oh sure I might enjoy coloring inside the lines more than your average bear, but then again, what do we really know about average bears, let alone how they might color something. It has always been my tenet that if you do your duty and keep your nose clean, you’ll succeed. And it’s not just the nose. It’s other body parts too. But I think it’s important to start with the nose…and maybe include the ears. Basically you should keep clean any uncovered body part another person can see. The hidden parts, not so much – unless they start to smell worse than your average bear, but then again, what do we really know about the smell of average bears?
My interest in enforcing truancy laws began in the early 80’s when Dr. Stephen Hawking’s less cosmic brother Ralph, published his groundbreaking book A Brief History of Truancy. Alright, it was groundbreaking to me at least. In this special interest book Ralph Hawking deconstructs the salient epochs of truancy and brilliantly relates the enforcement of attendance requirements to the universe as a whole. In this masterly tome, Ralph Hawking traces a general history of absenteeism, enforced attendance and just plain being AWOL. It’s broken down by distinct Truancy eras:
- Truancy in Later Hominids: 40,000 BC-10,000 BC
- Truancy Before the Beatles: 10,000 BC-1963
- The Beatles: 1964-1970
- Truancy, Truancy, Truancy: Truancy in the time of Marcia Brady: 1971-1974
- Truancy in the time of Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: 1975-present
In my world view, the field of truancy is beyond reproach and cannot be desecrated. Case in point – the satirical publication The Onion wrote a series of so-called spoofs on my cherished field featuring such attempted lampoons as:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Truant Officers
- Punctuality: Gateway Behavior to Being on Time
- Truancy is My Mistress and Enforcement Its Handmaiden
- Verified Attendance: What Better Way to “Be Here Now.”
- Spotting The Serial School Skipper: Techniques and Tips
These supposed send-ups claimed to satirize the drab field of truancy enforcement, but for me these stinging parodies read like the 10 Commandments or some other authoritative behavioral laws sent down from on high. They only reinforced my unshakable belief in the necessity of truancy enforcement. So instead of laughing at these articles I responded in deep and meaningful ways. My mission was clear – I needed to pursue a degree in Truancy and become a Latter Day Truant Officer. We each have our thing and this thing is mine: enforcing the not-quite-laws (guidelines) written by not-quite-legislatures (school districts) to ensure attendance by not-quite-adults (juveniles). Who doesn’t enjoy not quite being the police?
But to fulfill my life’s goal I needed to get credentialed. I mean you just don’t enter the complex field of Truancy Enforcement without an MTA – a Masters of Truancy Administration. So I researched my educational options and discovered the only university that issued such a degree was Trump University. And for $45,000 and almost 3 hours of online course work, a well-financed student could obtain this one of a kind degree in Truancy Administration. After an arduous 3-hour afternoon of filling out forms and transferring funds, I was awarded my enabling sheepskin – an MTA from TU. Armed with my diploma I could now tackle the societal problem of youthful truancy.
After fielding several lucrative offers, I decided to hire on in the Oakland School District where I was issued a Vespa and a gold-plated badge (most of which was filled with chocolate). It’s amazing the amount of respect a truancy officer commands while putt-putting along Martin Luther King Blvd in a Vespa and stopping “homies” to explain the corrosive effect of dilly-dallying. My practiced admonition sought to convey in gritty street language to truant juveniles the importance of attending class:
Greetings seemingly indifferent adolescent. My name is Osgood Stickler, but you can just call me O-Stick. I see you’ve just finished your 3rd bottle of Vanilla extract and I’m concerned you’re flavorfully inebriated. You should know tenderfoot, that it will behoove you to become educated. Therefore I encourage you to attend class – soon and regularly. If you do not comply with my earnest suggestion I’ll have no choice but to issue you a written warning. Remember, after 10 warnings you’ll be issued a summons and if after that you resist my correctives you’ll given an application to MacDonalds. Peace out.
It didn’t matter if they were students or not. I encouraged everyone to go where they were supposed to be – and to do so in a punctual manner. The response from my client base was immediate and overwhelming, and I should be out of the hospital in about a week. Such are the fortunes of those on the frontlines of modern day truancy. All I can say is that as a latter day truant officer I’m on a mission from God and I won’t rest until everyone’s in their place.
Family members say I should reassess my punctilious nature and opt for the less contentious field of Notary Publics. And maybe they’re right. Perhaps I am being too much of a stickler. But what can I do? A tiger can’t change its stripes, and a Stickler can’t stop being a Stickler.