Is This You? Sizing down
One fine spring day, about what feels like a zillion years ago, I got my first real paycheck. I cleaned tables in the lunchroom at the school to which I went. I was, like, 13 years old. I see 13-year-old children now and I don’t remember being as grown up as they are. I was just a geeky kid with a $33 paycheck burning a flame-driven hole in my pocket. Thirty-three dollars still is a stack to me, but today, to some, $33 is no more than one trip down the “you want fries with that?” lane.
I know today some checks are never cashed just because they’re not worth the time of the payee. I have written small payroll checks — for under, say, $70 — that were never cashed. That’s amazing to me. You work, you get paid and don’t cash the check because it isn’t worth your time? But I’m spinning the wrong way …
That first real payday still is etched in my pea pickin’ brain. I can still see the check in my hands. It was the first all-printed check with my name on it I had ever received. Not cash for doing chores from my parents, although that cash was always accepted by my greedy little sticky hands. But a real paycheck that had to be cashed — at a bank — by only me! It was, of course, just one of probably a hundred or more paychecks the school district spit out that pay period, but it was the first one with my name on it and it was pretty cool. And I couldn’t cash and spend it fast enough.
Wondering what I bought? A Slinky. Yes, a Slinky — I was 13, not 30. I had wanted one for some time and thought about buying it from the first day I went to work washing tables and clearing litter and moving garbage cans and smelling the leftover lunch after everyone was gone. (You wrinkled your nose in remembrance, huh)?
Yes, I know a Slinky isn’t like buying a book, a collectable clock, a piece of jewelry to have and to hold forever. All of that came later, as I was growing up. That fine spring day it was all about the Slinky. And I’m guessing it lasted all of about three whole days until that slinking spring toy got all matted up within itself and ended up in a ball of silvery frustration in one of those cafeteria garbage cans. Ah, the life of a Slinky, always going down stairs — never up.
I didn’t learn from that, to buy better, to think of the future, to plan with money. I, it seems, have a tendency to just blow and go. Money runs through my hands like water through a hole in a dam. No 401k has followed me through life. No IRA awaits me to turn some special age. And since my other half and I always worked for ourselves, it’s a good thing I was paired up with someone who bought his first hammer at the tender age of, like, 4, because he still has that same hammer and tons more goodies to aid in our retirement fund. Now we are getting somewhere. What to do with stuff!
One of the newer watchwords for those close to being over the hill and sliding to retirement is downsizing. That’s where I find myself; sizing down. But for such a simple few words, just little letters strung together, there are implications that encompass a lifetime of picking up this and that. Not big things, not expensive things, not life altering things worth tons of moolah. Just the Slinkies of life. What to do with all that stuff?
I see now the world today isn’t the world of our yesterday. There aren’t too many 4-year-olds who know what a hammer is, let alone buy one and keep it for, like, the next 65 years, along with an anvil, pliers, tractor … you get the idea. But there’s a few. Yes, there are! We just need to find them to trade our mountain of treasures off.
Rational realization has slowly sunk into my gray matter. All the treasures we have accumulated were treasures someone before us had accumulated and when our paths crossed they were at the point of sizing down their lives. Seems like everything in life makes the rounds, from one treasure hunter to the next. Do you suppose that’s why the world is round? Columbus had no idea!
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share with her at email@example.com.