A Unmemorable Week

A woman who works at the volunteer office and I were having a conversation about vacations. I told her how much it pained me in the past to spend money that I earned from a job I disliked.

“Well, if you’re going to work you should spend the money,” she said.

I agreed and replied, “that’s why I quit.”

At Subway I ordered a small sandwich. I watched the guy make the sandwich and he only used 2 slices of meat. It reminded me of the sandwiches my mother made for me in grade school. Uncle Bill remarked one time that they were, “flimsy sandwiches.” Apparently my flimsy sandwiches were not significant enough to make it as a topic at any of the board meetings. I continued to eat my flimsy sandwiches and accepted it as life. That story was my attempt at comedy and tragedy.

The Asian married couple across the street are customizing a van for travelling and living. At first they planned to quit their jobs, sell their house and travel the continent. More recently they told me they’re going to live in their van within the city while continuing with their employment. Sounds to me like they wussed out. Next time I speak with them they’ll probably amend their plans to live in their van while it’s parked right outside of their house. That’s what happens when you walk the path of conformity for your whole life  — you become a comfortable homeowning chicken who can’t bear to quit your job. The thought of drastic change makes your balls shrivel. You have to hope for your parents approval because they gave you that down payment and every other payment.

I know this because I have a special tool that can read minds and I have read theirs. They think I’m a loser with no job who disgraces himself by drinking beer publicly at 2 PM and is a degenerate stock market gambler who is destined to lose all of his money. They will say, “that’s what you get for trying to take the easy way out.” I will curse them for cowards as they’ll have amended their plans again to only watch TV in their van and sleep inside their house. People make ballsy plans when the time of execution is far and unknown. Real heroes put a contract on their own life to be assassinated if they do not follow through with their initial intentions.

 

 

 

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Hope Is The Last Thing That Dies

At about the age of 30 my despondency was showing to the people I had known all of my life. As usual I was unhappy with my situation in life but what was unusual this time was my inability to tell myself that everything might be okay. The married men made it clear where their priorities laid. Everyone else was snorting cocaine while poorly imitating a life from the show Entourage.

When you’re 20 years old, you and everyone else tells you that you have lots of time. When you’re 25 years old it’s, ‘you’re still young.’ When you’re 30 years old it’s, ‘you still got time.’ After that if you still haven’t found some solid footing in life there’s more pity than there is encouragement.

For once in my life I started to question the probable future and didn’t let my feelings get in the way. Most people will only see what doesn’t make them uncomfortable which is why so many people end up living unsatisfactory lives riddled with failed experiences and regret.

Option #1: Snort cocaine, hang out and see what happens.

Option #2: Completely walk away and see what happens.

The more money you have the more loose and carefree you will likely be with your spending. The same goes for time. In my mind, time was becoming scarce and I could no longer be a degenerate gambler with my life. Option #1 seemed even less attractive than betting it all on the roulette table.

Option #2 was what made Mr. Johnson the greatest unknown blogger you know today. It was also what made him a rational thinker who lives by a philosophy rather than day-to-day emotions. Both options were not appealing but I figured one of them at least carried a possibility of a brighter future. It’s difficult to leave the herd but when you envision a slaughter house future you have to make a move. The thought from some is that I could dabble with the cocaine users and the married people but in my mind there’s nothing of utility for me there so what’s the point. Whether you’re holding on with both arms or just 2 fingers you’re still holding on. I didn’t want to take any chances and have to look back that dabbling might have been the cause of my ruin.

From what I have gathered not much has changed for a lot of my old friends except they’re all 10 years older. Those who were snorting cocaine are still doing it and some of them are hitting it harder apparently. The idea of making a dramatic change outside the confines of accepted practice is too heavy a psychological price for them to handle. It’s a case of the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

A decision is just a bet — a prediction on the future. Those who make good decisions in life tend to do better. The lesson? Learn how to make good decisions. How? You have to always be EXTREMELY critical towards your thoughts, feelings and actions. There’s this thing called a brain in your head and if you don’t learn to use it then it’s going to use you to make caveman decisions.

Cheap Piano For A Cheap Guy

As a cheap guy I like deals even when the item for discount isn’t something I want. Once in a while though I’ll stumble across something I do. My piano teacher told me about a used piano for sale from someone she knows. I have been semi-wanting a real piano but as you might know they tend to be on the expensive side. For $300 though you’ll have my attention. Any cheaper it would be free so I had to jump on this one.

She tells me I would have to get a piano mover and then a person to tune the piano. Cost of piano mover, $160. Okay, that’s not so bad. How do I know if this piano is in good working condition? I don’t but I’m reassured by my teacher and her tuner that it should be fine because it’s a Yamaha made in Japan. In 1980 when this piano was made the Japanese were still slicing their stomachs from side to side when they were responsible for poor workmanship. A worker in an English speaking country would just brush it off and have their fellow union co-workers console them by saying, “it’s not your fault. They work us too hard. Let’s go on strike.”

Yesterday the piano arrived. When it came time to pay I was wondering if I should tip. When you have a cheap disorder you’re more than likely to act emotionally in the moment. I didn’t tip him but I offered him and his partner a Coca-Cola which he declined.

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On the same day I called the piano tuner to schedule an appointment. He came today and said I will need a double tuning because the piano has not been tuned for a very long time. I don’t know shit about pianos so I accept. Of course double tuning also meant double pay. He could have said it needed a quadruple tuning and an air freshener afterwards and I would have accepted.

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He sat their for one hour doing what looked and sounded like some kind of voodoo ceremony with the piano. When it was done he said he could only do a single tuning and would come back another time to do another one. $120 for the tuning. I don’t like the feeling of giving people money away but I had to do this. I want a piano and I’m not getting any younger. I could wait but I’ll be even closer to death’s doorstep by that time with possible early onset arthritis.

I’m not sure if the piano sounds good for what it is because the only other piano I’ve been using is my crappy Costco digital piano and my piano teacher’s $30,000 grand concert piano. It’s obviously somewhere in the middle but that middle is a very large middle. It’s like the gap between a midget and a giant. It probably sounds good for $300 even though it’s going to cost me $700 once everything is said and done.

Life is expensive if you want to live it. 

– Mr. Johnson

 

Post Traumatic Cheap Disorder

There’s poverty because you spend all of your money unwisely and then there’s poverty because there’s just not enough money. Having grown up in the latter environment is a form of Western childhood trauma produced by not having much, being scolded for asking for a little more, and having dingy white socks that always had worn out elastics. Pulling my socks up every 10 steps became a part of life. What existed as brand new knee-high socks ended up spending most of its life as ankle socks. They were only considered unusable when there were more holes than sock.

Last week I decided to be adventurous and took public transit to an outlet mall because I had a coupon. The cashier made a processing mistake and my discount was shorted a few dollars which I didn’t realize until after I left. I also spent $13 dollars on a bowl of noodles. My bus on the way home did not arrive because it didn’t feel like it which caused me to have to pay additional fare for the next bus. When I tapped my card on the bus machine it displayed that I had used $10 of stored value for the day which was double of what I thought it would be. Later, I discovered to get to the outlet mall using an alternate train connection there’s a charge of $5 because they feel like it. It’s considered a special train line because it goes to the airport.

It was too much for me. That $13 bowl of noodles used to be $6 in the year 1997. There was no special $5 train fare either in that same year. And I got ripped off using a coupon. All of the overwhelming events triggered my PTCD. In an instant, morphic resonance took over and I was brought back to my roots of communist China where my ancestors crapped in squat toilets and shared one apple between 9 siblings.

Months of paying for overpriced meals and sweatshop-made clothing brought upon a flood of guilt and anxiety. That’s it, I thought — I’m not eating out anymore and will be making soup from almost-expired vegetables on the $1 per bag shelf.

I broke down even further during the week and did the unthinkable — I applied for a job. All things considered, my investment portfolio is doing well but it’s not close enough to my all-time high. Just as in life, it’s not about where you are or where you came from, it’s about the direction of the trend. Bill Gates was more than ecstatic when he first became a billionaire but if he woke up one day and for some reason was down to his last billion he would kill himself by way of hanging using a cat 5 ethernet cable.

For dinner last night I had 2 eggs, an apple and a banana. My face shall soon be gaunt. Strangers will be able to see that I’m a man with many dark tales just from seeing my sad eyes and protruding cheekbones. I’m a first world inhabitant who identifies as a peasant.

I Bought A Kindle

For $130 Canadian dollars I felt it could be worth exploring. Wise men on the internet have said that they’ve never met a smart person who was not a voracious reader. My main goal isn’t necessarily to be a wealth of knowledge. I just want to establish a better knowledge bank to help me navigate life more successfully and to explore new ideas.

There’s a lot to like about the Kindle over traditional books. The screen is very versatile for different lighting situations including the complete absence of it. It’s lightweight and has many useful functions like you would expect a computerized gadget to have. One of my favourites is the dictionary function which shows you the definition of a word by simply pressing on it for a second. Highlighting desired passages and having them saved is also nice. Perhaps one of the best parts of reading from a Kindle is the ability to read lying down on your side while holding the Kindle with one hand or leaning it against something. It’s broken a barrier to entry to reading for lazy people. If they can get a Kindle to float where you want it to then maybe the whole world will become voracious readers like they are photographers and food critics.

Old people will always make a case for why what they’ve been used to all their lives is better but most of the time it’s not.

“I like a rotary telephone because you don’t need to charge the battery and it works in a power outage.”

“Vinyl records are better because you can hear the warmth.” Sure you can old man.

“I like to carry ten books everywhere in case I lose nine I’ll still have one to read.”

So someone is going to tell you that they like the feel of a real paper page, that they can lend the book to their friend or books displayed on their bookshelf is aesthetically pleasing(showing off trying to look smart). Well, screw lending books to your friends because you know they’re going to pick their nose while reading it and leave the remnants on your book. Also likely is that they’re going to sneeze right into it. Also likely is they’ll take it with them to take a dump in the bathroom. All of this goes on while they tell themselves, it’s okay, he’ll never know. By the time they’re done it’ll be more of a bacteria transfer agent than a book.

 

 

The Bottom Catches Up

If I was at my most recent job I would be earning $27 and change per hour by now with 4 weeks vacation per year. In your tenth year you get 4 weeks vacation and if you’re obedient enough(woof woof) you will get 5 weeks when you hit 20 years of service. Ten years of 4 week vacations annually would equal 40 weeks of vacation. Not working at all for the last 4 years like I have will give you 208 weeks of vacation.

When I started my employment there in 2008 my wage was $15.50 an hour when minimum wage was $8. Minimum wage is now $13.85 an hour. To keep up with the increase of minimum wage the company boosted the hourly rate to $16.89 an hour. The position lower than the one I had started at $13.50 in 2008. Current job postings do not state the current wage of this position probably because it’s now minimum wage. Stating a job pays minimum wage puts that job in the category of a ‘shitty job.’ It’s now in the league of McDonald’s except it’s actually shittier because it’s probably more demanding. If you were earning around $13.85 before the increase of minimum wage this increase is basically a demotion for you. Sometimes it’s not about where you are in life as much as how many people are below you.

The lesson here might be that if you don’t have any bargaining power it means you don’t have any power. The delivery drivers there probably tell themselves that the delivery drones, self-driving delivery vehicles and delivery robots will never happen. When the human drivers are on their knees flashing pictures of their wife and kids and begging the robots not to take their job the robot will kick them in the balls and deliver them off the property. With any luck it will happen in your 19th year of service.

Parental Guidance

When I was a young adult I wanted a handout. Everyone I knew got something significant for free and I wanted to be part of this club. It was such a desire of mine that I schemed up a plan to purposely get terminated from my call centre job in hopes of collecting employment insurance. I guess you can say I succeeded but many would argue that success and employment insurance should not be in the same sentence.

By the time I received my first handout which I worked for, some of my friends were already on their second free automobile with all the trimmings of free insurance and maintenance. A few had received down payments for a home. No one paid for their own education. I was way behind when it came to free stuff.

When everyone around you is way ahead of you because they’re getting a free tow you might start to play the role of a victim. Some never even had to look for their own job/career. The hardest thing they had to do in life was show up and the second hardest was to stick their hand out.

There’s no free lunch though. Everything comes with a caveat. When your life is made to not be very difficult you will not have healthy self-esteem or self-confidence — you’re a fraud. You didn’t become anything you were just put there. The spoiled are secretly aware of this but live in denial that they might be a grown infant. They do what all humans do when faced with realities they dislike — they rationalize.

People like certainty and parents want certainty for their children. On paper it would seem as though babying your child until they have the means to support what was given to them would be the best path. Receiving handouts and choosing some safe career is a path that desires conformity. There’s no rite of passage when certainty is involved.

Something I’ve discovered recently is that in order to build self-esteem and self-confidence you have to make difficult but calculated decisions, walk in to a world full of uncertainty and have it work out. It has to work out though otherwise you’ll just feel like a schnook. When you’re given the easy path you never have to make difficult decisions. You don’t develop philosophical foundations for decision making because sticking your hand out never required any deep thought.