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 I went to. I was like 13 years old. I see thirteen 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 pay check burning a flame driven hole my pocket. Thirty three dollars is still a stack to me, but today, to some, thirty three dollars is no more than one trip down the “you want fries with that” lane.
I know today that some checks are never cashed just because they are not worth the time of the payee. I have written small payroll checks, for under say seventy dollars that were never cashed. That is amazing to me. You work, you get paid and don’t cash the check because it isn’t worth your time? But I am spinning the wrong way…
That first real payday is still 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 that 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 that 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 thirteen not thirty. 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 left over lunch after everyone was gone. (You wrinkled your nose in remembrance huh?)
Yes I know that 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 is a good thing that 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 is 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 Slinkys of life. What to do with all that stuff?
I see now that the world today is not the world of our yesterday. There are not 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 a few. Yes there are! We just need to find them to trade our mountain of treasures off.
Rational realization has slowly sunk in to my gray matter. All the treasures we have accumulated were treasures that 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 is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org