By Dave Simpson, columnist
Time once again for Dave’s Swell Advice to the Graduates, some hard-learned wisdom from a guy who has made many mistakes.
Sprinkle this advice in with the boring stuff you get during your commencement ceremony, and maybe you won’t buy an expensive time-share at some resort. Or help someone in Nigeria free up untold millions. Or get a big, ghastly tattoo that will be unrecognizable when you arrive at Assisted Living.
Without further ado (a word you might use if you had been paying attention in English class), on with the swell advice:
– It’s easier to take out the garbage than to argue with your spouse about who takes out the garbage. Trust me on this. The sooner you give up on the notion that you’re too cool to clutter up your life with mundane tasks like doing dishes, folding laundry, and mowing the lawn, the sooner life will get better. But, not much better. (I hate to be the one to break this to you.)
– Don’t be one of these idiots who holds up traffic in the parking lot at Walmart, waiting for the perfect close-in parking space. Have compassion for your fellow Walmart shoppers. Over the years, I’ve lucked into having the closest parking space several times, and I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t nearly as sexy and wonderful as I expected. My life wasn’t suddenly transformed, It only saved me a few minutes. And people weren’t impressed when I bragged about it.
It’s like your team winning the Super Bowl. The next season starts before you know it, and the fans whose teams didn’t win the big game hate you. Park further out. It’s good exercise.
– Most of what you see about romance is pure bunk. Don’t plan your life around what you saw in a movie. Granted, your first true love may be like being hit by lightning, but nobody could stand being hit by lightning every day from then on. Wake up. Smell coffee.
– Look for a spouse who will be there, decades later, when the anesthesia wears off after some doctor a third your age replaces your bum knee, or overhauls your rotator cuff. Think less in terms of spending your life with a super model (they get old, too), and more along the lines of a loyal Labrador Retriever, who can be trusted to shake his hind leg when you scratch his belly just right.
– Don’t have separate checking accounts or credit cards. A spouse looking over your shoulder will save you a boatload of trouble, Skippy. And if you can’t trust the person you want to marry with a checkbook or a credit card, don’t have children with that person. If you don’t take this simple advice, it will be like being married to a member of Congress, tossing fiscal discipline to the wind.
– It helps if you can find a person who thinks like you do about spending. My wife and I joke about crawling under doors to save wear and tear on the hinges. We’re both cheap. Likewise, if you’re a person who believes that you only live once and you must have every crazy geegaw and jimcrack you can jam into a garage, find someone who is just as nuts as you. You’ll be bankrupt, but at least you won’t have to argue about it.
– If you’re headed off to college, be aware that you’re about to encounter some of the craziest people you’ll ever meet, and most of them will be professors. Campuses are nut houses these days, so if you can’t be something impressive like an engineer or a doctor, give some thought to being a plumber. You might make more money as a plumber.
- Save some money from every paycheck. A healthy savings account is your best defense against a jerk boss.
- Don’t eat at restaurants all the time. Get a Crock Pot.
- Take this advice from my wife (who is smart): “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s pretty much all small stuff.”
In summary, be sure to follow that advice about not holding up traffic at Walmart. I might be the guy behind you.
Dave Simpson can be contacted at email@example.com