The humble word “with” (and its Latin version, “cum”) could be better used in these two ways:
THE SUMMA CUM LAUDE GRADUATE’S CAKE
Did you read about the case of Publix and the summa cum laude (with highest praise/with highest honors) graduate?
His mom ordered a cake from Publix online, and requested that his graduation distinction of “summa cum laude” be inscribed on the cake.
Publix’s online ordering system prohibits “vulgar” terms, so the “cum” was represented as “—” when the mom originally ordered it, and she commented in the comment box that it was not a vulgarity, but should be inscribed as requested.
When she went to pick up the cake, this is what had been made:
This image appeared in the Huffington Post and numerous online publications.
The graduate’s parent said her student was “absolutely humiliated.”
Here’s the Washington Post version (the most detailed) and the Huffington Post version (if you can’t get past the WaPo paywall).
Publix and online ordering
In my experience, online ordering at Publix still has wrinkles (as the graduate’s family experienced). I ordered a princess happy birthday cake a few years ago (because trust me you can have a daughter in her late teens for whom a princess cake is still the bomb diggety) and the store eventually called to say they didn’t have that version.
A scramble ensued to find a Publix with princesses (granted, she wasn’t going to have a three-year-old level tantrum if I didn’t provide it but still …. it’s the principle of the thing).
Even long before online ordering was a thing, I ordered a cake in person from Publix, and gave them a picture of the 1-year-old-to-be that was going to be added to the cake via an edible image. What did I get at pickup? “Happy 18th birthday, Mackenzie.”
Screwups can happen IRL and in online commerce.
This is one of those situations in life that is frustrating but is also a) easily fixed and b) deserving of perspective.
(And full disclosure: I have done my share of online griping about things that turned out to be minor (and some that I still consider relatively major). I do try also to recognize the dazzlingly good and positive things that happen too.)
To the kid: For what it’s worth, I can tell you from the perspective of a mom, this doesn’t deserve the “absolutely humiliating” label. Not to discount your feelings, but people and corporations mess up. Some worker at Publix did what they saw on a printed order form to do (granted, they could have asked/clarified). Just enjoy the cake. And congrats on your 4.89 GPA — that’s incredible.
To the mom: I understand your frustration too. I do. I’m really glad to hear you are “laughing about it ” (Huffington Post) but not entirely sure why you are going to “avoid Publix for now.” I know it wasn’t you that picked it up (and I can see my husband not proofreading a cake if I sent him to pick it up) but I have seen Publix fix an error in flat out minutes. I realize you may not have even had “minutes” to go back and get it fixed but I wonder if they don’t deserve just a bit more grace than they’ve been given. I feel like they probably try to teach that at Christian-based home schools like the situation in which your child was educated.
To Publix: Please update your online ordering system (or train your bakery workers to carefully read the comments section of online orders). Or suspend online ordering until wrinkles like this get ironed out. Please: iteram conare (try again). Maybe next time you’ll get it right.
(Note: I don’t know Latin and I’m relying on Google translate so if you’re a Latin expert, feel free to correct me!).
THE KIDS BEING SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENTS
The New York Times says “more than 700 children have been taken from adults claiming to be their parents since October, including more than 100 children under the age of 4” at various stations along the US-Mexico border.
One of many questions about this complex issue: is President Trump’s administration starting to use the threat of separating children from their parents as a deterrent to trying to cross into the US?
Furthermore, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has “reported at the end of 2017 that of the 7,000-plus children placed with sponsored individuals, the agency did not know where 1,475 of them were” according to the Arizona Republic.
The issue of how/when/why/where we allow people from other countries to cross into ours is bigger and different from the fact that children should remain with their parents.
Here are some articles to read. I am frankly trying to digest it all myself, so at this point the best I can do is say is “read this,” pray if you are a praying person, and act in some tangible way.
From the New York Times (may be behind a paywall): Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken From Parents at U.S. Border
From PBS Frontline: HHS Official Says Agency Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Unaccompanied Minors
From the Arizona Republic (opinion piece): Montini: The feds lost – yes, lost – 1,475 migrant children
From Vice: What Separating Migrant Families at the Border Actually Looks Like
From Political Charge: #WhereAreTheChildren: How to Help
I think many of us in our country are awfully selective about how we use hashtags regarding other people’s children. Remember how we all got behind #BringBackOurGirls when Boko Haram abducted hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria but many people in the US took more of a #SendBackTHEIRGirls attitude when so many children from El Salvador arrived in Arizona in 2014?
In this case, termed #WhereAreTheChildren widely on social media, the girls (and boys) are here in the US. Decisions must be made about their long-term whereabouts, but in the meantime they should be #WithTheirParent.
I am so fortunate to have been able to travel to El Salvador (and Guatemala) with Unbound. These week-long trips only scratched the surface of truly understanding the issues faced by people (especially women and children) in Central America. Although this is a HUGE understatement, the desperation many of these people feel to leave their countries is born of life-threatening risk day and day out (not to mention restricted access to education and difficulty earning enough to survive).
As the Vice article I link to above notes, one parent was separated from her children upon arriving in the US then assigned a bond “too high for her to pay—$12,500—deeming her a flight risk for being connected to a gang, when her sole connection was the harm they did her [the woman reported being beaten in front of her children by MS-13 gang members].”
Although I am a citizen unwilling to wait until some hypothetical next time, for the purpose of this discussion, Maybe next time a child won’t be forcibly separated from a parent, lost in an administrative maze and exposed to potential human trafficking. But let’s make “next time” immediate.
It’s ironic that today’s post is devoted in part to advocacy. I just revised my LinkedIn profile to delete one of my favorite parts of my profile, the fact that I am an advocate. I decided it may be confusing potential employers. Rest assured I will always be an advocate. ALWAYS.
But I need a full-time job. Therefore, if you have any leads (Tallahassee or remote), I would appreciate you letting me know. Here’s my LinkedIn profile. I am looking for communications work (writing, editing, proofreading, social media) but also have extensive health policy experience. And I can promise a solid work ethic, professionalism and enthusiasm wherever I end up. I took a necessary detour through the world of caregiving for a few years, performed it willingly and lovingly, but it’s time to help pay for these two college educations for which I am responsible and get back on a full-time professional track again.
I doubt it will happen by next Sunday (although you never know!) but maybe next time (or soon) I post a blog, I’ll be doing it with a fond word or two of farewell to the gig economy as I move on.
BACK TO “WITH” AND “CUM”
The only way I know to wind this up is to offer to bring a cake inscribed #WithTheirParent to a postcard-writing party or other advocacy event (about this issue of the missing kids).
Who’s up for it?
This post was written in response to a Kat Bouska prompt: “Write a blog post the ends with the sentence: Maybe next time!:
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.