Dave Simpson: Dave’s Hard-Learned Lessons For The Grads

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "A high school graduation party for a young man I shadowed on his first day walking home from grade school reminds me that it's time for Dave's Hard-Learned Lessons for the Grads."

Dave Simpson

May 31, 20224 min read

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A high school graduation party for a young man I shadowed on his first day walking home from grade school reminds me that it’s time for Dave’s Hard-Learned Lessons for the Grads.

(The young man’s mom drafted me – her next door neighbor – to do surveillance, and make sure the little guy got home safe. He dawdled a bit, but made it, and never knew I had his back.)

He’s heading off to Casper College now. So let’s ply him and his fellow grads with some Wisdom from the Geezers:

– Speech you don’t agree with isn’t a crime, Dearies, and might actually do you some good. Any college that protects you from speech, and provides “safe spaces,” therapy dogs and Play-Doh if your tender sensibilities are bruised – well, that school isn’t worth the powder to blow it to Hell.

– If you go to college, you’re going to meet some crazy people, and some of them will be in charge, Make the best of it. Pick up what you can. Don’t become a socialist. (Have you considered trade school?)

– It’s easier to take out the garbage than to argue about it with your spouse, significant other, partner, them, they, whatever kettle of fish you’re into. (It’s OK to mutter while you take out the garbage, but not too loud.)

-If your spouse does things that irritate you, like not zipping closed the cheese wrapper (I plead guilty), or leaving socks lying around (ditto), say, “I don’t know who these people are who come in our house at night and leave socks lying around, and don’t zip up the cheese!” Your spouse will get the message.

– If you require breathless, never-ending love, like in the movies, you’re in for some disappointments, Bunky. Breathless love is exhausting, overrated, and sooner or later someone has to stop making goo-goo eyes and take out the garbage. (See above.) Look for someone sturdy, who won’t blow away in the Wyoming wind, and who will be there for you when the anesthesia wears off.

– There’s a place in Heaven for the spouse who breaks the silence after an argument that has you both convinced you’ll never speak to each other again. Even if it’s just, “Pass the salt.”

– If you’re looking for unconditional love, get a Labrador Retriever. Works every time.

-If you want true freedom, save a little bit out of every paycheck. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up, and by the “oh, what a good boy am I” feeling you get. The freedom to say “I quit” is the best defense against a bad boss.

– Always try to be the best at whatever job you have, and you’ll be amazed at how you almost never have a bad boss. (In college, I had a factory job and was known as “Fast Dave, the Fastest Caustic Stripper in the Business.) Show up on time. Stay late. Get the job done. Hitch up your pants.

– If you want to get a tattoo, wait a week. Think about it. Go to exercise and look at some of the tattoos that looked cool long ago, but look like road rash today. Do you really want to look at the same thing for the rest of your life?

– Don’t expect some politician to make your life better. They usually do the exact opposite. Making your life better is your job, not theirs.

– Don’t spend more money than you make. That simple lesson has eluded generations of politicians. Unlike politicians, you can’t spend more money than you make indefinitely. It’s the road to ruin, Bullwinkle.

– Get a used car. New car payments destroy a tremendous amount of wealth, and that new car smell won’t survive kids.

– Buy a fixer-upper house.

– You’ll probably never save a million dollars. But if you invest, you can get there. Because you have the gift of time. (Is this a great country, or what?)

– Everybody gets to be a little crazy about something. For my wife, it’s Elton John concerts. For me, its a little cabin in the Snowy Range. No harm done.

– Stay in Wyoming.

(It’s the best.)

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.