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Author: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  July 6, 2008

Topic category:  Other/General

A few tips, pointers and much-needed skills.

OK, so you’ve graduated and you're off to college, your first job, your own apartment or wherever. You've got your high school diploma in hand and you're ready to carve your initials on the world.

The thing is, with what our society is and, more likely, isn’t teaching young people just now, there may be a few things that aren’t in your arsenal but that you may need to get along out here.

I don't know if there’s a general term for what follows. “Life skills” sounds kind of New Age, soft, and squishy. I lean more towards calling them tips, pointers, and a few basic abilities.

So, for what it’s worth, here are a few things that you may find helpful as you join the rest of us out here:

1. There are five simple phrases available to you that’ll make life a lot easier on an almost daily basis. These are: “I'm sorry.”; “Can I help?”; “Please.”; “I was wrong.”; and “Thank you.” Note: Most people notice individuals who use that last one frequently.

2. Stay close to those who have a good grip on life because you’re going to be judged by the friends you keep. This applies to everyone - including those running for president - in every stage of life. Hang out with fool, lowlifes, and bozos and most will assume that you fit that description too. No, it isn’t fair, but it’s the way the world works. Get used to it.

3. Know how to change a tire. Murphy's Law says that you’ll have a flat either when there's no one else around or in a place where the price of getting help will be somewhere north of three digits before you get to the decimal.

4. Know how to use the jumper cables that you'd better have in your trunk. Failing that, you might want to wear a good set of sunglasses for the light show you're about to witness under the hood of your car.

5. If most of your vocabulary is made up of four-letter words and you’re well known for using them about every 5 seconds, don't be surprised if - 10 or 20 years from now - you’re still stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder in whatever job you’ve managed to hold on to. Trust me, there's a reason for that.

6. Know how to build a fire. If you don’t understand this one, keep reading the news. It won’t be long before there’s another story about some poor soul being stranded in some foul place. That could be you. If you're right handed, practice building that fire left-handed (in the rain and after dark) for the time when you break your arm at the end of the day in a place where there’s no help to be had.

7. Know how to read a map. I know that GPS is a great thing, but your first car may not be equipped with one and you my not have the luxury of a wife like mine who seems to have an innate sense of direction. Do this one thing and you may not become a charter member of the “Hegawe” tribe as in: “Where the Hegawe?” Hikers and hunters might also take note since batteries have been known to fail.

8. First impressions count. Always. Everywhere. With everyone. Do your best to make a good one. It matters. It maters more than you can know.

9. Live within your means. Spending money you don't have gets you to where our federal government is right now - in a deep hole. The reason many older people have a lot of nice things is that they started simply. They likely drove a “beater” and lived in a (small) one bedroom apartment. They made plans. They worked hard. They saved. And it worked. Do anything else and you end up in that hole mentioned above. You should also learn that the first rule of holes is that when you find yourself in one, stop digging. I just wish the elected clowns we have in D.C. understood that.

10. Clean up after yourself. If you want one sure way to irritate others, here it is: Make a mess and walk away from it. You’ll soon be known far and wide.

There are (many) other things that I haven’t mentioned. Most likely, you’ll learn them the way the rest of us learned them - the hard way.

So, welcome to the jungle. Once you get the hang of living in it, you’ll find that It’s actually a pretty neat place.

Larry Simoneaux

Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Copyright © 2008 by Larry Simoneaux
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