My name is Rickey, and I’m a garbage person.
You could interpret that any number of ways. You could think I mean that I’m a sanitation worker. Maybe you’re an elderly Yiddish woman and think I’m a golem.
Perhaps you’re from my old stompin’ grounds and think I’m telling you that I’m “white trash.” Look, just because I do my grocery shopping at a truck stop, and I do my Christmas shopping also at a truck stop, that doesn’t mean you can disparage my people.
But to be fair, that last guess would be the closest to reality of the three. I respect, however, I could be mistaken for a mythical being built out of mud and debris.
When I say, “I’m a garbage person,” I mean that my natural proclivity is to ignore societal norms.
There are a lot of things that the world will tell you that you have to do. You have to pay your bills. You have to exercise and eat right. You have to keep up with the goings-on of every aunt, uncle, cousin, step-cousin, and each of their pets. You have to use shampoo on your hair and soap on your body, even though they are the same thing as far as I can tell. You have to change your sheets occasionally, apparently, according to my girlfriend.
And there are many things that, according to society, you can’t do. You can’t wear the same pants every day. You can’t drink soda all day, every day. You can’t eat extra free samples at Costco via an elaborate scheme involving unwitting accomplices, disguises, and sleight of hand.
You know how people always admire old folks for their “I don’t give a flying fuck” attitude? Well, I developed that attitude during adolescence, and it never went away. I stumbled upon a vital truth in my early years: there are usually very few real consequences to breaking “rules.”
Now, before you start telling me about lame stuff like “doing what’s right,” or “avoiding the sugar diabetes,” I understand that there are some consequences to breaking certain rules. I’m not stupid, I just act that way as a well-rehearsed ruse.
But the gravity of my previous statement lies in the fact that most “consequences” are a figment of the rule-follower’s imagination. At a minimum, the consequences are far less severe than one imagines.
“But Grandma will get mad!” Yeah, and she’ll get over it as soon as one of your cousins does something that pales in comparison to your misdeed.
“But it’ll ruin my credit!” Sure, but that only matters to the extent you want to buy stuff you can’t afford, or get security clearance…and even that won’t matter if you’re the President’s son-in-law.
Side note: if you ARE the President’s son-in-law, I’d like to take this opportunity to laugh at your self-created predicament. HA! Have fun in prison, you fucker.
Probably because I’m not a fully functioning, rule-abiding grown up, I like to envision what being one would look like. I imagine waking up in time to eat breakfast that I did not purchase at 7-Eleven, with a credit card, which was declined, so I paid with change from my cup holder.
I think of going to the gym and doing something. Something other than buying a smoothie.
I ponder what it must be like to see an unknown number calling, and just answer it.
I fantasize about checking the mail occasionally, getting an oil change every 3000 miles, and going to the dentist (at times other than when I break a tooth).
Of course, there have been consequences to my laissez faire approach to life. I’m sure you could guess some of those consequences if you have a basic understanding of cause and effect.
But there are a few consequences you probably wouldn’t consider.
I’m at peace. I’m mostly happy. I like myself.
I don’t get stressed by much of anything.
I believe stress is just the dissonance between your expectations and your reality. If you want to avoid stress, you must either change your reality to match your expectations, or vice versa. Changing your expectations is much easier.
What I learned (thankfully early) is that the bulk of most people’s “expectations” have a lot to do with what others will think of them. And if you don’t give a shit about what people will say or think of you, you don’t have to do any work at all to keep them happy.
I write all of this by way of background for what is the actual point I’d like to make: I’m starting to believe there could be a middle ground between “being an irresponsible dipshit” and “being an uptight grown-up.”
The reality is, my relaxed approach to everything is, in and of itself, starting to create a bit of stress. And following my own advice, if I want to rid myself of that stress, I’ve got to either change my expectations or my reality.
Maybe my life would be better if I managed my finances and stopped spending money as if I were a contestant on Wheel of Fortune circa 1984. As long as I can still buy a ceramic Dalmatian whenever the hell I want, I think I’m ready to give financial responsibility a try.
Maybe my existence would be better if I exercised and watched what I eat.
Maybe 41 is a good age to stop pretending I’m invincible and start recognizing my own mortality.
I know myself, and I tend to think in extremes. So, I’m preemptively writing this down: I don’t have to be a CPA to stop overspending on nonsense. I don’t have to eat rice cakes and work out 3 hours a day to manage my health a little better.
I’m going to take a stab at being 1-2% less of a garbage person. I’ll let you know how it goes when I send out Christmas cards next December.
Okay, that’s bullshit. I’m literally never going to send anyone a Christmas card. But if I play this right, I might simultaneously be a little more on top of my stuff, and become even more stress-free than I already am.
I’ll keep you posted (1-2% sooner than I otherwise would have, which was never).