Saturday, June 11, 2011

Imagine If You Will …

While I await approval from the park and the bank, so many things are running through my head due to issues, which are between my therapist and me – or as a friend of mine says, “That is an issue for my pharmacist and me to discuss.”

When you grow up in a home on the brink of foreclosure and are trained not to answer the phone – when Ma Bell has actually been paid, you tend to think you are always on the brink of disaster. My brother keeps asking when I am going to discuss living on Dresden Drive in Newport News, Virginia. My answer is that just about any financial decision I have made in my life is about Dresden Drive. Do I really want to dredge up all that childhood drek, too? Again, that is between my therapist and me.

However, to keep one of my few living relatives happy, here goes – and this is it. Our parents treated things and money as disposable. You have heard of disposable income, of course. For those who haven’t or those who have come of age during the last two decades, disposable income is the money you have for fun after you have paid all your bills, put gas in the car, bought groceries and put some aside for your retirement and your kids’ education. Believe it or not, there was a time you could do these things on a regular basis. As anyone my age – except me – can remember.

For my parents, you first spent your money on stuff or vacations you did not need, then you paid your bills, put gas in the car, bought groceries and put aside some for retirement and your kids’ education. Needless to say, those last two were never accomplished.

My father, may he rest in peace, ended up in “Section 8 Housing for the Elderly” because my parents never planned ahead. Ironically, this staunch conservative, anti-New Deal Republican used to expound on how Franklin Delano Roosevelt ruined this country. Of course, I would remind him that if it were not for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he would be living on the street with no home and no Social Security.

It is funny how one hates a program … until he needs it.

Now, when you grow up in a situation where your parents are constantly trying to keep up with the Jeffersons while living like the Bunkers, you can go in two different directions. You can continue the cycle, or in the case of yours truly, you can do a complete one-eighty.

I don’t try to impress anyone. I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I drive or where I live or what I wear. Those that have seen how I dress can attest to this. I dress like Charlie Brown. A blind man can go into my closet and get dressed without worrying about what matches what. All of my clothes look alike – oxford shirt and kakis. I had to dress down for work last week, and no one noticed.

I have already told you about where I’ve lived, and I drive an AMC Spirit. As Rose Nylund once said, “I am the battered consumer; I drive a Gremlin!” In Mexico, the AMC Spirit was the VAM Gremlin. Whenever I go to the car wash, the workers from Mexico always call me the man with the Rambler (I have one of those, too).

And most of all, I am awaiting approval to move into a trailer park for God’s sake! Point made.

My mother never heard me say, “Everyone else is doing it.” What she would say was, “Why can’t you be like everyone else?” I proudly march to my own beat, not even to that of a different drummer.

Now, has my oddness been a hindrance? You be the judge. I have been on a few dates where the guy came over to pick me up, took one look at the neighborhood and the apartment I lived in (especially in Mount Pleasant), and given me the look. You know the look. It is the one you get when you buy a new sofa, which requires an acquired tasted to appreciate, and when your friends see it, they say hesitantly, “Nice sofa,” then look at someone else in the room and either drop their jaws or roll their eyes. Has this bothered me? No. If you don’t like where I live, you have two options: either buy me a new house or don’t see me again.

No one ever bought me a house, and I am still single.

My late partner used to say when someone would worry about what others thought, “Are they paying my rent?” I still use that expression. Hopefully, I soon will say, “Are they paying my mortgage?”

One of my many goals for this blog is advice whether about buying a mobile home or life in general.

So here is a bit of wisdom: If you go through life worrying about what other people think about you, you will never be happy.

I am happy.

I do want to make one thing clear though. I am talking about worrying about what other people think about the material things you have, where you live, what you drive, what you wear, or even the job you have. If you like being a sanitation worker and it makes you happy, be a goddamn sanitation worker and go to work every morning with a smile on your face!

Here is an example: Every morning as I exit at Metro Center, there is a gentleman there whose job is to empty the recycling bins. Instead of just emptying the bins, he parks his master bin (I don’t know the technical term) near the recycling bins and collects everyone’s used papers by hand and says “good morning” and “thank you” with a smile on his face. Do you know how many people walk by him, throw their papers into the master bin and don’t say a word? I wonder if they are worried a colleague will see them say hello to a janitor. I walk right up to him, hand him my paper, and I say, “Good morning, how are you today? Thank you.”

Grandma, my paternal grandmother, once told me, “Never make fun of a person’s job. Anyone who does an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage deserves respect.” Good advice. Grandma worked retail until she was seventy-two. She also didn’t care what others thought and pretty much said what was on her mind all the time. I miss her.

I have always worked two jobs (and still do) because I am afraid I’ll end up homeless – again between my therapist and me. I waited on tables every weekend (and at times full time) until I was thirty-seven. I have worked retail, washed dishes, scooped ice cream, handed out towels in a gym (no jokes), mopped floors, cleaned houses (I tried to start my own maid business), and I even worked in a funeral home. I went to every one of those jobs with a smile on my face. And I still managed to put in at least eights hours of volunteer work a week and still do.

My parents were embarrassed that I was still waiting on tables on the weekends while managing a publishing unit full-time during the week. I wasn’t. I did an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

In spite of my work ethic, there will always be that voice in the back of my head telling me that I am only one paycheck away from sitting with Esmeralda on a blanket on 14th and H with a sign that says, “My dog and I are homeless, please help us. Will work for Milk Bones.”

I love Suzy Orman, and I especially love when she says, “Denied!” But I don’t dare write a letter to her show asking approval to buy anything because I fear she will tell me, “Denied!”

I know it is silly. I have two incomes, no debt and savings for retirement. Why am I so worried?

With all that said, however, I think I may have finally reached a point where for once I just might be a little concerned about what other people think.

Imagine if you will …

I don’t get approved by the park or the bank. Imagine after starting this blog, I have to shut it down because I can’t even manage to move into a trailer! Now that would be humiliating. Even I, the one who doesn’t give a shit, would have to change his identity and move to an undisclosed location.

I can see all those pretentious queens right now: “Oh her! She’s the one who was turned away by a trailer park. Stay clear of that one.”

I wonder if people really do live under rocks because I would have to find one.

Stay tuned.

If you like what you just read, please become a follower of my blog by clicking on the "Follow" button on the right. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Milton,

    Even if you weren't my boss, I'd read your blog. I can't resist your comedy-infused horse sense.