Somehow Thanksgiving is around the corner again and of course this is the time of year when we are supposed to be grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives … blah, blah, blah. Come on, it’s easy to be grateful for the good things, the challenge is being grateful for the hard stuff that makes our lives better in the end. So, this year I’m going be grateful for the painful things that result in good stuff. So, forget expressing gratitude for friends, family, health, and good fortune; I think gratitude should already be implied for all that good stuff, but say it anyways.
So here is my list of painful things that I am grateful for and why:
Taxes: I am a pretty straight shooter with my taxes out of fear that I would not do well in prison. My shank making skills are heavily lacking, although from a retirement perspective it seems like a good idea. It’s a guaranteed free roof over your head, 3 meals a day, and free healthcare. The fear of prison means that a very good chunk of my income goes to Uncle Sam. While there are many things that our government might do with my tax money that I disagree with (like creating prisons to put me in if I don’t pay my taxes), there are many social programs and scientific endeavors that I fully support and I’m grateful that I can at least contribute financially to their sustainability… as if I had a choice?
Traffic Tickets: I hate getting a traffic ticket. Those few seconds when the flashing lights are turned on behind me, my hearts pounds out of my chest, I start praying that the cop car is just going to blast past me, and when I realize that’s not happening, then I start sweating that I will fail the “do you know why I pulled you over” quiz. I always like to think that I will come up with something witty, but it never happens! I think the police should flash different colored lights when they are behind someone who is not their intended victim. Something friendlier, something that expresses, “hey buddy, I’m just going to go around you really fast. Keep up the good driving!” The sad fact is that there are lunatics out there that drive even crazier than me, so if the fear of getting a traffic ticket makes the roads safer for all of us, than I’m in.
The Dentist: It’s probably TMI, but I have sensitive gums and when I visit the dentist, it’s like visiting a medieval torture chamber or some James Bond movie where they want me to spill my secrets. The various sharp metal instruments and ice-cold rinsing water make every muscle in my body contract into a pretzel, I’m like a fish out of water flopping around the dentist’s chair, sometimes with an equal amount of water splaying about – very messy! As much as I, and possibly my dentist, dislike these visits, they keep my teeth inside my mouth where they belong, plus the dentist does offer up laughing gas!
Kidney Stones: the incredibly intense and unpredictable agony of delivering a tiny kidney stone has allowed me to sympathize with what giving birth to a very large child must be like – at least according to various nurses who have delivered both a stone and a child! With this wonderful gift of knowledge and immense gratitude to all the painkiller manufacturers out there, I would like to announce that the world would be without children if I had to voluntarily offer myself up to get pregnant!
The Gym: Like the dentist, this is another amusement park of pain and soreness that I could do without in my life, but for health and vanity reasons, I go to the place and exert useless energy against stacks of weights. Those machines really should be connected to the energy grid so something is produced from all that labor. Exercise is another one of life’s painful necessities that I’m happy to participate in because I do feel healthier when I do it. Although, I suspect that gravity has increased in the past few years because I could swear that a 20 lbs dumbbell is heavier than it used to be? However, my children would tell me that’s not the only dumbbell that is heavier than it used to be – they are precious!
My Children: perfect transition here. Yes, raising those two was hard stuff at times, but they miraculously resulted in something good. Despite my questionable influence, they have turned into fine human beings and are truly my proudest achievement; although my wife deserves most of the credit!
Car Smogging: I really hate getting that notice in the mail that my car needs a smog test. Every once in a while I will own a vehicle that will not pass. Then I will be told that it failed because the thingy magig next to the throttle defibrillator has a positive pressure vacuum leak and I need to visit the guy’s brother-in-law across town to get it fixed. I know they are making this stuff up, but I do like clean air. I remember going to LA or just the South Bay 20 years ago and seeing haze that would just linger overhead and make your eyes burn. Smogging the car too needs to be done!
Equifax: Like many people I would often wonder if my personal data had been stolen at a restaurant or gas station and made available to the type of scallywag that would perpetrate some sort of ID theft. Thanks to Equifax, I am now totally liberated from such concerns. I no longer waste my time wandering if bad guys have all my personal data, I now pretty much accept it as fact that they have it all. I am now free to worry about other things like staying out of prison.
Frozen Credit Cards: I love the embarrassment caused by handing someone my credit card and being told that it was rejected. I always feel judged when that happens, like I just got someone else’s personal information from Equifax and created a fake credit card for myself. These people should know that my fear of prison would prevent me from doing that! Anyway, it really irritates me when my bank freezes my credit card because of a “suspicious” transaction. However, it is a minor inconvenience to have to call the bank and explain that it was me purchasing gasoline at that same gas station, just as I’ve done every single week for the last 20 years. Considering the alternative is the banks not caring about fraud and just raising their fees to compensate for these losses, I am grateful to have this happen occasionally.
Speed Bumps: while it is true that I find these things extremely irritating, they are an extraordinarily good way to determine if you have way too much loose junk in your car as you hear everything bouncing up and come crashing down after you fly over the speed bump. This will of course lead you to occasionally remove said junk from the car, which would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
AARP Membership Invite: I am the only person I know that made it past 50 that has yet to receive an AARP membership invitation (look up AARP kids). I am not in any way insulted by this exclusion, so please do not reach out to them on my behalf. However, when the invitation does come, I will not look at it as a symbol of getting older, but as a celebration of making it this far.
Alright, that’s about enough stuff that I dislike, but I am grateful for because in the end it does make my life better. Wherever and with whomever you spend your Thanksgiving this year, I hope it’s joyous and that you have things in your life to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving!