Spring is (finally) here. I love seeing the bright colors of flowers, trees and the returning birds. It has me thinking about other things I would like to see changed to make the world a little warmer.

 

1. Senior pictures

I enjoy seeing pictures of high school seniors; I think having senior photos is a fun tradition that — done well — can capture the essence of a graduate's personality and interests.

I find some senior portrait poses to be problematic, however. Seeing pictures of a young lady laying on her back, looking up at the camera while giving viewers a clear view down her shirt seems to be overly sexual. Similarly, shirtless photos of young men seem to send a muddied message.

I'm not saying young people shouldn't pick flattering angles. They have every right to dress and pose how they like, but senior portraits should celebrate academic achievement and a milestone in life. I encourage high school seniors — and photographers — to think about what they’re promoting with their images and focus on what is important for that moment.

 

2. 911 dispatcher classification

Though 911 dispatchers are almost always the first person to talk with those reporting an emergency situation, they are classified federally under “Office and Administrative Support Occupations.”

This is a major misnomer. While it can look from the outside that all dispatchers to is answer the phone and type on a keyboard, a closer look at their job clearly shows just how vital they are to public safety.

Dispatchers are truly the first first responders — talking with individuals who have just been in a car crash, are feeling suicidal or who need immediate protection from some bent on doing them harm. I've sat in dispatch offices and heard tales of call takers trying to figure out what was going on during a domestic dispute, trying to calm a frantic parent whose child was not breathing and coordinating multiple agencies to respond to wildfires. It does not take too many weeks on the job for dispatchers to have heard emotionally charged situations and people, the memory of which may haunt them for the rest of their lives.

There have been several efforts in the past to reclassify dispatchers into the same category as police officers, firefighter and emergency medical services personnel. All were unsuccessful.

On March 7, a bill commonly known as "911 SAVES Act" was introduced in the House of Representatives. I hope this is the one that finally passes and gives dispatchers not only the recognition they so richly deserve, but also what they need to become even better in their profession with additional training, funding and resources.

Keep tabs on this issue. Write your congressman. Show your support for the men and women who work 24/7 to connect us at a moment's notice with the help we need. After all, when we have well-equipped dispatchers, the whole community is safer.

 

3. Railing against self-checkouts

I know, I'm not fond of having to scan and bag my own items, either. But this is a change that isn't going away, and being rude or snarky to the employees of an establishment doesn't help matters. I can guarantee you it wasn't their idea to put them in the stores.

Who knows, in another few years of technological advancement there may not even be such a thing as a physical checkout stand.

Again, it's up to you which line to go through. I don't condemn those who use self-checkout, I understand it can be a convenient option. Personally, though, I'm happy to wait another minute or two to have someone else fiddle with trying to open those plastics bags – and please don't judge me for still using them.

 

Those are just three things that have been on my mind lately. Whether or not you agree with me about these issues, I encourage you to take some time to work considerately for positive changes in your world.