Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Green Scare

Son's Older Brother is 17. If you recall, we started the process of adopting him last fall, but it didn't work out. The short version is that we were getting the truck cleaned out on Friday to pick him up on Saturday morning when we got a call from his foster father telling us that Son's Older Brother was no longer able to join our family, and please don't call any more. We eventually figured out that he'd had a change of heart, and that led to a few months of separation between Son's Older Brother and us.

Well, that's in the past. Fast forward to a few nights ago.

Son's Older Brother called Monday night. He asked, "Can I come over this weekend and spend Saturday night at your house?" He sounded a bit depressed, but that didn't concern me, because he always sounds a little depressed on the phone. I was a bit surprised though, because it's rare that he takes the initiative to set up weekend visits. We made the arrangements, and I passed the phone to Son to give him a chance to talk to his brother.

I went upstairs to put some clothes away when the phone rang again. Since my back hurt, I was a bit slow to get to the phone in my bedroom, so Son and I both answered the call. At this point, I have to let you know that Son's Older Brother has a name that's unusual, but not unique. Let's just pretend, for the moment, that his name is Samuel.

When I picked up the phone and greeted the caller, I heard Son's voice doing the same. The caller said, "Hi. Is Samuel there?"

I thought it was odd that Samuel had called a few minutes before and then somebody was calling looking for him. Samuel has had some trouble in the past, but he's been on the straight and narrow for a while, now. I pretended that our phones were interfering with each other by speaking very loudly. "HELLO! HELLO! OK, SON, GO AHEAD AND HANG UP!"

When Son had hung up, I asked again what the caller needed. He indicated again that he wanted to talk to Samuel. I told him that no such person lived in our home. He asked if he could verify our phone number, which he did. He said, something like, "Okey-dokey!" and hung up.

I started to get very concerned that Samuel had gotten in some kind of trouble or that someone had stolen his identity and had gotten him in trouble. Kids in foster care have a little more exposure of their personal information, because foster parents get their SSNs and names. I got more and more agitated, so I did a *67 to find out who had called. It was a land line in a suburb about 8 miles away. None of the web reverse lookups would tell me who it was. Plus, Samuel doesn't have our home phone number; he always calls us on my cell phone.

The next day, I called the number around 10:00 from a conference room at work. I figured that businesses would be open by then, and private citizens would likely be at work. Either way, I might find out the business' name from the person who answered or the citizen's name from any answering machine.

RING! RING! RING! "Hello, thisissomewordsthatareallslurredtogetherhowmayidirectyourcall?"

"I'm sorry. Whom did I just dial?"

"Army Recruiting Center, how may I direct your call?"

I told her that I'd dialed the wrong number and hung up. I started to laugh with a bit of relief, then I got a bit upset. When we were getting things together to adopt Samuel, we enrolled him in our local school district. Of course, his old school had to get his records back, and he never actually attended our school. However, our school district's recordkeeping system must be scratches on parchment, because we've received a few contacts asking why Samuel isn't in school or that his bus schedule is changing.

Anyway, now I am concerned that Son's school sells the names and addresses of children to some organization that gives them to colleges and military recruiters. This seems wrong to me. Plus, I found this over at indexed.


Shay said...

Public schools are required to give this information to recruiters as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. No chicanery on their part.

GDad said...


I've never been a fan of NCLB. My thought is that our armed forces operate best with volunteers who go in eyes wide open. Of course, DADT and its predecessor policies prevent me from having known this first hand.

Shay said...

I'm not a fan of NCLB but am not sure what it has to do with your second sentence?

Concur on #3. It's an idiotic policy.

Hoji said...

The Venn diagram you linked to reminds me of this Venn diagram.

When I was in school I took the ASVAB to get out of class and blew it out of the water. I had recruiters beating down my door.

Then they actually saw me. I can verify that recruiters do indeed leave a trail of flame behind them when they reach 88 miles per hour sans flux capacitor.

Angry Professor said...

Might Samuel have given the recruiters your number himself?

GDad said...

Stupid, stupid stream of consciousness writing...

Shay, my thoughts were that the best soldiers/airmen/sailors/marines are the ones who make a decision to join the armed forces for reasons that make sense to them and who go into it with an understanding of what they are going to experience.

I've talked to parents of kids who are in that age group right now, and I've talked to some of the kids, and it seems that at least some military recruiters are being less than forthcoming with the realities of military service. The theme I've heard is that they promise more benefits that the recruit will get, and they give the impression that incoming recruits will get a sweet two-year deployment in Germany or Hawaii rather than a strong possibility of a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

One of the gentlemen on my team at work served some years in the US Army about 30 years ago. He was one of the sources of the information above. Likewise, my youngest brother talked to a recruiter about a year and a half ago.

I guess I still haven't tied it to NCLB. If NCLB mandates that schools give kids' names to recruiters, and the recruiters are engaging in questionable tactics to recruit, I guess I'm guilty of assuming some sort of guilt by association.

Feh. The whole thing makes my head hurt. Maybe I can think clearly about it later.

Also, AP, Samuel doesn't have our home phone number. I asked him today, and he was a bit shocked that this story had happened.

Faith said...

Thanks All! Now I've received an education info here. My elder sons had receive calls, but because they had talked about it I guessed they had signed up for info. Now with one more son at home, I think I'll some questioning if they call for him.

I'll agree on NCLB.