“It’s too hard.”
That’s what they would tell me, over and over again, the employees and friends I would advise when they would mention wanting to start a new life with a higher income.
“I want to go to school, but can’t,” they would lament, poring over their beer with the TV on in the background. “It’s too hard. Too hard to work a day job and go to school at night.” (Or vice versa, depending upon what their situation was.)
But why?, I would wonder, telling them that I did it – I put myself through school for over a dozen years, shelling out the tuition and cost for books from my day job’s wages. Most of the time I was earning minimum wage, my wages went up slowly as my skills increased. They shot up dramatically once I got my “piece of paper” – the ones proving I do know what I’m talking about, though I know I occasionally make some mistakes.
I achieved the American Dream. I put my own self through school, starting college before I graduated from High School at my parent’s insistance that I get a headstart on my education – I was going to be a vet, despite the fact they had spent all of my tuition money on a nasty divorce between them.
I became a meth head, shooting up the product rather than snorting it.
I went bankrupt when I was about twenty three and have the papers to show it. As the judge said: “Son? This here shows you got three dollars seventy five cents in your pocket and the clothes you wear on your back. That’s all. That right, son?”
When I nodded he looked at me solumly. By the way; the bankruptcy wasn’t over money as much as politics related to keeping my driver’s license – no one had ever gone bankrupt in this way before – setting a precedent in Georgia that they had to call the capitol to resolve.
And imagine my surprise when I first went to file and found I was too broke to pay. It hadn’t occurred to me that you might need money to go bankrupt. I mean, after all: isn’t that what bankrutpcy meant? “I have no money,” with my pockets turned out, standing on the street – no car, no nothing?
So there I stood – hands out, empty (except for a “bankruptcy granted” paper) – not asking for anything . . .
So I took my new-found education and got a new job.
I rented, I saved, I scrimped – I told myself “No” to a lot of things, including food sometimes. I made sure I had my tuition at the end of the quarter for the next one. I made do, did without, hunted a bargain and then some.
Once a buddy of mine and I were so hungry we caught a wild woods chicken and ate HIM – toughest bird I ever knew.
I did not have cable, internet was not there, and my TV was old. It only got one channel and the sound was dead. But I could get one TV station on the radio . . . good enough.
And I did a lot of reading. I studied and practiced my skills. I worked HARD, sometimes sixteen, twenty hours – going to school during the day, work at night; or the other way around.
I missed a lot of my family growing up as I worked to provide for them.
I started my first engineering job when I was twenty nine, and made Chief Engineer in six weeks.
“It’s too hard,” the poor employees would tell me, working out on the floor – grinding, polishing, sweeping the floor. “It’s too hard to work all day and go to school at night.”
Why not. I did it.
I came from an abusive childhood. I didn’t have ‘advantages’. My parents gave me no money. I had to do it on my own. I didn’t have any help from my friends (nor family, but that is another matter).
So If I could do it – why can’t you?
“It’s too hard,it takes too long . . . ”
Out of a class of NINETY two people graduated, me and a colored girl. All the rest dropped out.
They all said the same thing.
“I’m too tired. I’m tired.”
So was I.
Often when sitting in class in some subject I by rote I would remind myself of that “piece of paper” and look at it as some form of “Community Service”, like jail. Only it would benefit me as well. (For my community – and some of YOU – have benefited from my services and education as well. I used to work for a major pharmceutical.)
“It’s too hard,” is what he had said before they sent him off to school for the thing.
I learned it – had it down pat – in a little bit less than three weeks.
The American Dream.
It’s too hard, apparently. To many people feel “entitled” to the thing.
I bought my own house (it’s paid for) and I own my Mustang convertible outright. I still scrimp and save – I only bring in $1700 – and that’s BEFORE taxes (which eat up another 33%) – and live within my means.
I still manage to put some up every month, every ‘paycheck’ (SSDI, my friends: it’s the poorhouse for ya).
I still watch an old CRT TV – it works. My stereo’s over twenty years old – but it puts out sound. I live in a 4 bedroom, 2 full bath house with a one acre yard.
I may not have a mule, but I’ve got a pond and creek.
I have acheived ‘the American Dream’.
What, I wonder, is the matter with YOU – the one’s who said “It was too hard”.
While you were drinking your beer and Pal’ing with your pals, smokin’ and jokin’,
While you were complainin’ about ‘how hard’ your life was . . .
I was busy changing it.