N is for Normal

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, it was NORMAL for the mom to be home with the kids. My family wasn’t normal. My mother worked outside the home as long as long as I can remember until she retired a decade and a half ago.

First, she was in the bookkeeping department at McLean’s department store in downtown Binghamton. Then she moved less than a block to Columbia Gas, where she was reportedly the first black person to work as a customer service rep. When she moved to Charlotte, NC, she was a bank teller for First Union bank.

No one has ever suggested that my father was anything like “normal.” In fact, my biology/homeroom teacher told me straight out that my father was “CRAZY” for leaving his job at IBM of six years (that he hated), especially for a position with Opportunities for Broome, an OEO government job (where he thought he was making a difference). Government jobs come and go, but once you’re in the IBM family, you were set for life. (IBM decided it actually DID start having to lay off people in the 1990s.)

So, normalcy isn’t always that appealing. It’s been used as a cudgel to block all sorts of individual and collective rights.

Conversely, I AM sympathetic, as I watch the trauma over the worldwide economic crisis, when I hear people ask, “When will things get back to NORMAL?” Likewise, the “crazy” weather generates a similar response. People are desparately looking for a sense of stability/sanity.

I have to wonder if “normal” is coming, or, as I suspect, we’ve come to a “new normal” of stormy weather, fiscally and meteorologically.

As Bruce Cockburn sang: The trouble with normal is it always gets worseLISTEN.

Maybe Normal is just a town in Illinois.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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36 thoughts on “N is for Normal

  1. This reminds me of the Improbability Drive in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: ‘We will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway. Thank you. ‘

    ‘Probability factor of one to one. We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem. ‘

  2. “Maybe Normal is just a town in Illinois” where I almost transferred toward the end of my university career, before I came to my senses. Normal was what we used to call our “cross state rivals”. I’m sure transferring would’ve violated some sort of law.

  3. Aye Roger – I have been called some things in my time, but normal was never one! lol! probably why I get along with good people like yourself! lol! Great stuff!
    Denise ABC Team

  4. Normality is overrated. I was going to quote Hitchhiker’s Guide as well, but Shooting Parrots beat me to it. I wonder if someone ever wrote a History of Normality…that would be quite a fascinating subject, so many things were once considered normal.

  5. Hello Roger!! At the end of this day you will be amazed to know how many not normal people will tell you that they are crazy!! I am one too standing in the queue!! Have a great week ahead!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Good stuff, Roger. Your parents sound super. Good for them!
    I remember a time, when I was almost six (my sister was an infant, so I know how old I was) when my father was applying for jobs and my mother was working evening shift as a nurse’s aide at the hospital.
    Not only was that “not normal” but on her nights off my mother discovered she couldn’t get the baby to go to sleep. Finally, she asked Dad for help, and he said “You’re not wrapping her up right.”
    Mom insisted she was wrapping the baby up “normally”, the way she had with me and with my brother. “Well,” said Dad, “she likes the way I do it.” So he spread the baby blankets out flat on their double bed, placed my sister on one side, and rolled her up like a sausage roll. She was asleep by the time he picked her up.
    Normal’s not for everyone!

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittieโ€™s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  7. I guess “normal” is just how you look at things. I thought my life was normal and then found out it was absolutely not!

  8. we are also having a tent city at our city square which is NOT NORMAL as no tents are alloweed in public land.

    I don’t know where this is going to lead to.

  9. I don’t suppose there is any way of looking back over your life and saying ‘there!! that was normal’ But its a good question to ponder when you haven’t anything else to think about.

  10. I grew up in the 50s and my mom used to work part-time and that’s not the norm here then but by the late 60s more moms began to work leaving kids alone at home after school .

  11. I think everybody has his personal “normal” ! What is normal to me is not necessarily normal to you. Some people don’t like homosexual people because it’s not “normal”. It also was not normal when a women wanted to go into politics or study at university. Normal was to love babies and be a mother ! To me that has never been normal and I am from the generation where it had been normal. My father always said that I am not normal, because I did my things my way and not as the majority of the crowd ! The meaning of “normal” shrinks when you learn to be tolerant. If somebody wants to be a vegetarian why not, others eat fried bugs and worms, for them it’s normal too.

  12. Good post that has generated a lot of response to the work from other bloggers. I’m also aware that “normal” is totally subjective. All one has to do is look around!!

  13. I don’t think there is any such thing as normal, and have always celebrated not being ‘normal’ just like everyone else. I love being different than the norm and don’t care if it’s not ‘trendy’ …LOL
    Great N from you! Long live we abnormals… oh, that doesn’t sound too good, does it… hehe
    Thanks for visiting my blog and such a lovely comment too.

  14. Roger, you know we grew up in the same former swampland (Nature seems to be trying to reclaim it). I always said, “IBM giveth; IBM taketh away.” My mom worked for the telephone company as a “real” operator (the ones we kids used to prank call to ask the time of day), as well as a secretary at… well, she couldn’t tell us at the time; she was high-clearance, but at Singer-Link, assisting with administrative tasks on their top-secret Gemini simulators. Plus singing on Saturday nights.

    My dad took the “normal path,” GAF. He retired one week before they laid off the rest of his department, i 1974. Damned lucky.

    The word “normal” makes me cringe. I have a short poem, a 1-2-3 that I post around Madison:

    Hatred
    is not
    the new Normal.

    Let’s see if THAT catches on. Had to click on your pic at ABC, even though I am way behind at answering comments… pray for Broome and Tioga Counties, although my good buddy Matt is taking leave from his regular State job to oversee FEMA operations there and is reportedly doing a hell of a job… my sister’s first house is under water, and we’re not talking mortgages… Peace, Amy http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/not-me-never-again-abc-weds/

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