During my teaching days in St. Marys, I always wondered had my life taken a different career path, how I’d have done as far as being able to put bread regularly on the table for myself and those with whom I lived.
I thought about my father’s life, that of a traveling salesman for Central Steel and Wire Corp., whose product was steel and copper wire, and how I’d have done following in his footsteps had his company not had a policy in place that prevented workers’ offspring from joining the company, I suppose, in an effort to keep any perceived nepotism at bay.
So, in that classroom I remained, trying to help kids as much as I could, that is until, in 2005, I decided to join the world I often would see driving by my classroom and leave to my successor Room 16 in the building that no longer is even standing on West South Street.
I’ve been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work as a customer service rep for Mid-American Cleaning Contractors, and my territory is Ohio and a bit of Indiana, which means, like my father once was, I’m on the road a lot, servicing accounts, enjoying the fact that I’m driving in the world rather than watching it drive by me and often listening to a lot of sports talk radio.
Now, as a sports-talk guy, the radio diversion means my morning fix of listening to Fox Sports Radio’s Dan Patrick, the Ohio native who, for my money, is the absolute gold standard when it comes to his radio genre.
However, once Dan’s show ends, I will do a little channel surfing, and, recently while doing so, I came across a talk show hosted by a man named Dave Ramsey. If you aren’t familiar with Ramsey’s show on XM, I’ll tell you he combines a strong Christian influence with a good deal of financial advice when responding to callers and trying to educate them.
Frequently, as an introductory icebreaker, his nervous callers will give the traditional, “How are you, Dave?” or “How’re you doing, Dave?” And, the first time I heard the show, I was intrigued by his response. Instead of the standard, “Can’t complain. Nobody listens anyway,” or some such cliché that has been uttered thousands of times, he said, “Better than I deserve. How can I help you?”
The longer I thought about the first part of his response, really, the more appropriate I thought it was, almost regardless of who’s speaking, from Rush Limbaugh, whose current deal for his radio show pays him in the very fancy neighborhood of around $38 million a year, to folks like you and me.
That’s why as the year is hurtling at breakneck speed, as each seems to the older I get, I might want to start thinking about a New Year’s resolution and getting serious about eradicating something I and a lot of you out there do far too often. No, I’m not talking about smoking cigars or drinking or overeating. Actually, in moderation, I’m kind of a fan of those. Rather, the habit to which I refer is complaining.
Of course, the closer someone is to us, the more most of us tend to complain. For fathers, though, with beautiful daughters, and I am in that fraternity, I usually tend to pass them by and direct a lot of my p and m’ing, and you know what those letters stand for, at the girl who co-stars in this column at times, lady friend Jane, and to my sister Joan and brother-in-law, John. Now, since all three of these folks have been indescribably kind to me for a lot of years, this really isn’t something they should have to listen to. I get it!
Were it just the three J’s, Jane, Joan and John, who have had to endure such tedium, perhaps my getting rid of such an annoying habit wouldn’t be so hard, but, in my case, I have in the past told others who had the misfortune of standing in front of me for more than a few seconds far too much about all that has been unfairly piled on my doorstep. Think of a woe-is-me version of the biblical Job.
Let’s see now. I have gainful employment in times when so many others don’t. I’m reasonably healthy, with only the normal concerns of men of my age. I have terrific daughters who had the good sense to fall in love with great guys. I have a pair of blue-eyed knockouts for granddaughters. I have dear friends. And, those are just for starters.
Why any of us decided sometime in our pasts that our lives must always be perfect, by George Costanza, the "Seinfeld" character who has taken complaining to unimaginable heights, or someone is going to hear about it may very well be rooted in our collective habit of taking what we really never deserved in the first place for granted.
Really, for most of us, what we so often complain about is so very trivial, since our periodic setbacks aren’t the real antagonists in our lives. Rather, the only real antagonist is when we fail to appreciate the gift that each day truly is.
So, for most of us, Dave Ramsey’s response should be ours the next time we’re asked how we’re doing. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t mind our stealing his line.
So, how are most of us doing? Certainly, better than we deserve!