Other bits and pieces

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturn May Have Been Onto Something

What seems like 300 years ago when I met Big D, I was working construction and living in an apartment with my brother.  I made $8/hour and spent pretty much the bulk of that on rent, bills, pizza and beer.  Well, you could call it beer--Keystone light was the beer substitute I could afford in any measurable quantity.  When D and I got married and joined the service, we started out in a one-bedroom apartment.  We had her 14 year-old car that she had paid cash for with money she’d made waiting tables after high school.  (You’ll have to ask my sister what happened to my car)  Alexis’ crib was under the dinning area light next to the kitchen.  We had a bed, a card table, some handed down pots/pans, etc., and …well that’s about it.  Our disposable income after bills, gas, and food was about $30/month which we would use to rent the occasional movie.  And we were happier than a fat kid with a spoon and a jar of paste. (No offense Josh)

Now this isn’t intended to be some “up hill both ways” post.  We were also not alone in our situation…all our friends were in the same boat.  It’s just how it was; it was how you started out.  “Starting out” being the key phrase here.  You left home under whatever circumstances, maybe you had a little parental starter kit, but for the most part were on your own to scrape and scratch together a living.  The best thing about it was that there was nowhere to go but up, and having basically nothing was the greatest incentive in the world to work hard, get promoted, get educated, and make it better.  The current generation of young people starting out seems to have an entirely different set of expectations.

18-20 year-old kids today want it all, and they think they’re supposed to have it walking out the door.  The entitlement mentality issued to them by the boob-tube has them thinking that you are required to have a six-figure income, fancy car, omni-tron T.V., a bustling social ’lifestyle’, and all the responsibilities of a s 6-year-old hedge hog.  So, what follows is a few tips and pointers for all the young people just getting their first taste of that freedom from their evil parents they’ve been longing for.

  • Do this first.  Walk around your parent’s house.  Notice I said ’parent’s’ house because as much as you may believe that everything around you is your personal field of green to use and abuse with impunity, I assure you it isn’t.   You will notice a lot of nice things.  There’s likely a nice T.V., nice furniture, a reasonably spacious accommodation,  cable entertainment and internet, etc.  Outside a few exceptions to the rule, all of this stuff did not well-up from a magic hole in the ground so your parent’s could pluck it like Manna from heaven when they were 22.  They accumulated all of it over the course of your life by working very hard for years and years and years.  And none of it is yours, so maybe you should start appreciating it.
  • Assess your job skills.  You don’t have any.  In case you are wondering why the saint of an employer who agreed to take a risk by paying you to be a productive cog in his/her machine of his/her dreams isn’t willing to pay you $45/hour to take the trash out and mop floors, this is why.   The only reason they are paying you minimum wage is that they have to.  Your contributions to their evil corporate empire are likely to be worth about half of that…if you’re lucky.
  • Understand that your social life is not the center of anyone’s world but yours.  It’s in everyone else’s way.  Your parents tolerate the narcissistic emotional mean attraction that is your life-consuming gregariousness with more patience than a Cambodian landmine waiting for a goat.  Your budding romance is annoying.
  • Your high school education makes you smarter than a lot of people.  You already know this.  What you don’t know is the actual demographic--I will help you.  Your HS diploma is a certification that you are smarter than: A) Everyone who doesn’t have one. B) No one else.  Contrary to what you’ve allowed yourself to believe because your teacher lauded you for your last writing assignment, or by that debate you won with arguments you  Googled, you actually…truly…I mean really really really really…don’t know shit.
  • Moving out of your parent’s house is not going to be a sweet release into nirvana.  (And yes, nirvana is a word that actually means something, it’s not just a bad band from the 90’s).  If you think the world of your parent’s making is ‘oppressing your free expression’ and ‘smothering you with rules’, wait until you get out of it and into your own world.  It will wrinkle your mind!   All that time you thought you were going to have for heavy petting and kanoodeling with your heart-throb romantic interest--yeah there isn’t going to be any.  If you’re going to college, you will be spending every waking second either working, studying, or taking care of your apartment so that your roommates don’t evict you.  And yes, you will have roommates because otherwise you will starve to death.  Oh, and roommates could give two shits about your social life either…they just want you to pay your bills and do your share of the house work. 
  • Life experience:  You don’t have any of that either.  All that stuff your parent’s tell you that you think is unreasonable, stupid, and just because they just ‘don’t understand you’, is actually real knowledge that they picked up over many years by making choices--some good, some bad, but they learned something over the years and they’re trying to help you cut that corner.  There is only one thing your parent’s haven’t learned:  Trying to help you won’t work because you’re arrogant and all-knowing and insist upon learning hard lessons the hard way.  So…knock yourself out.  But in a few years (hopefully you’re not in jail, dead, or a single parent), you’ll realize that they actually knew what they were talking about.

Of the few people who read this, some will agree with me and others will lambaste me as a complete fool.  Those people fall in to two categories respectively: Old bastards like me who know stuff, and under 20’s that will think I’m full of shit because they already know everything.  So I guess I probably should have just spent my morning eating pie instead of writing this because it won’t make a lick of difference.

© Raymond Smith 2010

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