When I grow up

FREIGHT TRAIN

You know you’re getting older when you find your birthdays barreling down on you like an out of control freight train….and you can’t get off the tracks.

When I was a kid, I loved birthdays.  It felt like a national holiday just for me.  Lots of presents, maybe your name would be mentioned on the P.A. system at school, and you had amnesty from your parents for those things that would get you in trouble on any other day of the year.

Pretty sweet!  You just had to avoid the ‘Patty-Whacks’…that part sucked!

Overall, I still like birthdays, but the amnesty thing doesn’t work so well anymore, and you NEVER want your name called out on any P.A. system.  Flying under the radar is the key to birthdays when you’re old enough to remember life before microwave ovens and computers.

The trouble is, now I spend more time thinking of what I dreamed of as a kid and just how far from that path I wandered.  That sounds more morose than it is….I wanted to be either Spider-man or Bat Man.  I probably would have ended up as some sort of mutant 8-legged bat super hero thingy.

I don’t think that would have worked out very well.

I do spend time thinking of what I really want to be when I grow up, though.  I know, it sounds stupid coming from a guy past the curve of his working life.  I guess I just never really gave it a lot of thought.

I always envied those people who just knew what they wanted and went after it.  It didn’t even matter if that’s not what they ended up doing – just the drive towards something they could see down the road always left me in awe.

My plan was probably a lot like a fugitives – stay one step ahead of trouble.  If I could do that, I’d be doin’ all right!  It also meant that I’d probably never reach any sort of destination.  Not sure if that’s good or bad.

But I think I finally got it down.  I think, that after 40 50 something years, I can say with some conviction that what I really want to be when I grow up is….rich.

That sounds pretty shallow I’ll admit, but honestly, I think I’d be really good at it!  I’m a fun-loving guy, and I’m generous, at times, to a fault.  I’d totally share in my riches….tithe, volunteer, help my fellow man and all that – even throw pool parties and invite people over, or have huge barbecues and feed the whole neighbourhood.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking Warren Buffet rich.  That’s too much pressure.  In fact, I’m not even talking ‘personal jet’ rich.  Just rich enough so that I don’t have to worry about prioritizing work over play. Doesn’t that sound great??

I don’t want to have to go to the grocery store in disguise, though.  I will – I just don’t want to have to.

bad disguise

Frankly, I don’t know why everyone else hasn’t thought of that as a goal for life.  I guess that’s what happens when you have enough time to contemplate your options, and have worked long enough to know what you NEVER WANT TO DO AGAIN.

Now that I have that figured out, all I need to do is get rich.

Who wants to help me?

Advertisements

I’m really very charitable…really!

charityI refused to help homeless children, and I’m totally okay with it…..really….maybe.

Okay, let me qualify.  I do believe in giving back for those rich gifts that have been given to me.  I really do.  I’m all about paying it forward, sharing my time, talent and treasures – all that good sharing of God’s gifts kind of stuff.  Maybe not as much as I should, but I do what I can.

But there has to be a limit to saying ‘yes’ to every handout, right?  Those kids at the door with chocolate covered almonds, or the skip-a-thon, or whatever.  They’re endless!  You have to pick and choose carefully, or you’ll go broke and become one of the charities yourself.

It’s tough!  Guilt is a great motivator, and a lot of charities leverage it perfectly.  Send kids. How do you say ‘No’ to a little kid?  Add in some tasty treat that you’re craving, and you can’t resist it.  You reach into your pocket and hand them $5 bucks for a bland piece of candy you could have bought for $1.

So, you’re pressured to help others (guilt), add in some tasty treat (temptation), and sell it through the eyes of a cute, innocent little kid and you’re doomed!  It’s the trifecta of sales tactics.  You can’t resist it.  About the only other thing they could do is be holding a puppy at the time.

There’s a commercial out right now where a little girl is trying to sell donuts door-to-door.  donuts With a syrupy-sweet voice, she stands like Vanna White, showing off the doughy goodness while batting her cute little eyes and says; ‘Donuts?’.  The lady manages to resist the temptation, thanks to a low-calorie cereal bar….yeah, like that’ll work in real life.

My wife loves this commercial.  Not because of the product they’re selling, but she uses the same ‘Donuts?’ voice on me when she wants something or wants me to have a snack with her.  Apparently, it’s not bad to sneak a snack if someone else does it with you.

A few years ago, I was walking out of a store after buying some adult beverages for a dinner party we were hosting.  As usual, some kid had set up shop outside, and was hitting people up to buy a chocolate bar or something so he could do whatever he was trying to do – I don’t even remember what it was.  I said, ‘No thanks’, and walked away.  Just then, the little kid dropped his head down in rejection and muttered;

“I’ve been standing here all day and no one has bought one”….CRAP!

As I ate the stupid chocolate bar on the way home, I wondered if that was one of his lines to make a sale.  I may never know, but I gotta say that it was effective.

I decided a while ago that I would no longer succumb to the door-to-door pitch whenever possible, mostly because I think it’s a lousy way to get a kid to go on a school trip or pay for a hockey tournament.  I also did it because I have to, like most of us, watch my budget.

I have a couple of standard lines I use:  ‘sorry, I don’t have any cash on me right now’, or my favourite; ‘I have a nut allergy’, while standing recoiled behind the door like some vampire being shown garlic.

Usually, I don’t even answer the door any more.  How sad is that?

But you can’t escape them for long.  I was standing at the checkout at the grocery store the other day, with hundreds of dollars in extravagant items – steak, seafood, my favourite potato chips.  Even a decadent dessert that I clearly could live without,  and the cashier asked the dreaded question:

“Would you like to give $2 to help homeless children?”

What do you do?  How do you, standing there with an audience of shoppers silently judging your goodwill, put your foot down and refuse such dastardly trickery?

The ethical and social pressure is immense.  And no one wants to hear your excuses, either.  They just want you to pay up and get your groceries off the belt.

I didn’t have a need to say ‘yes’.  I should feel no guilt, no shame in deciding that what I do regularly is good enough, so I replied, quietly and with no eye contact, ‘Not today’.

So, why do I feel so guilty?  I even wrote this blog, trying to clear my conscience.

Please tell me that I’m not a bad person for not giving $2 to homeless children.  That sounds bad, doesn’t it?