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Remember National 'Pay Attention!' Day

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opinion Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Remember National 'Pay Attention!' Day
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

It makes for an awkward situation in my retail job.

Someone will gush, "Wow! How long have y'all been open on Saturday afternoons?" Then I must find a non-condescending manner of answering, "Um ... well ... since ... this may be off by a few weeks ... 1999."


It's frustrating because surely at SOME point in the past decade they've seen the hours posted, heard a commercial or driven past on a busy Saturday afternoon!

Similarly, I am simultaneously amused and dismayed by reports that youthful Twitter users are constantly asking questions such as "Who's Dick Clark?" and "You mean there really was a ship called the Titanic?" Surely one can't live and breathe without at least ABSORBING a few cultural landmarks!

Don't get me started on unheeded medical advice. Surely somewhere sometime everyone gets an opportunity to learn (or at least investigate) news such as "Yes, you can get pregnant the first time or while standing up" and "Yes, condoms can break" -- if they'll just listen. We all CHOOSE what to heed and what to let slip in one ear and out the other.

Am I guiltless? I drive the same mile-long route to lunch three or four times a week -- but even with a gun pressed to my head, I couldn't name three-fourths of the businesses I pass. Or identify the make of gun, for that matter.

We're all working on a degree in obliviousness. We're all wrapped up in our own little worlds -- daydreaming, listening to traffic reports for cities 50 miles away, butchering the same song for the 500th time, anticipating what WE'LL say next instead of listening to the person we're talking to. By design or neglect, we wallow in willful ignorance.

We need a National "Pay Attention!" Day to help us get our heads out of the clouds (or other less hygienic locations). You can't stop and smell the roses if you're too preoccupied to acknowledge the existence of the flowerbed.

Am I mandating omniscience? Am I inviting the government to implant photographic-memory chips? Am I advocating suicide through sensory overload? No, I just think we should all make an honest effort to notice one or two new things each day.

Try to learn the names of your co-workers' children. Remember your congressman's name. Notice your sister's neighbor's new lawn decoration. Learn the name of a singer outside your own generation.

The rewards could be life-changing. You might learn to impress a customer by anticipating his needs, pick up a bargain that was advertised only in a shop window, give better directions to motorists, remember an apartment vacancy to tell your brother-in-law about, be less of a wallflower in discussions of current events, find opportunities to volunteer in the community, detect a skin cancer early...

I propose the creation of a National "Pay Attention!" Day as a way to help us be more attentive amidst the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. We could celebrate it July 4 every year and concentrate on --

What? There's already some sort of holiday on July 4? How come no one ever tells me these things?

Okay: July 6, then. National "Pay Attention!" Day. Mark it on your calendar. Make it the first day of the rest of your life. You'll notice the difference.


Danny Tyree welcomes reader e-mail responses at

Pioneer staff reports