I can’t help but be a little fixated on the government shutdown. Our parents are all paid by the government right now, either in the form of retirement or a paycheck. If their money is suddenly gone, we’re probably going to have to do something stupendous to save the family, like go to Taiwan and sell our kidneys. Not all of our kidneys, of course, just the ones we can do without.
“We should probably have them harvested here and take them over real quick-like.”
“What are we harvesting?”
“I may be morally opposed to that. Why are we harvesting our kidneys?”
“To sell. They’re worth about thirty thousand bucks each.”
“I’m not selling my kidneys.”
“You can only sell one.”
“I’m not selling one of my kidneys.”
“Money in the bank, right there. Just carry them around for a while longer and we’ll use them if we need them. I’m going to include them on the financial statement from now on.”
Apparently, our kidneys and the thousand dollars we keep hidden somewhere I’ll have to kill you if I tell you are the only things we actually own. An unknown wanderer once said you only actually own what you can carry at a dead run. (Kidneys travel well, as long as they’re attached to a healthy human.)
My mom has begged me for years to “just get a good job with the government,” like she did 30-some years ago. When she took her job as a GS-4, it was a damn good job and she was lucky and proud to have it. Her office would never close. She’s about three months from retirement, and being sent home without pay, and I’m sure she’s worried to death about her retirement money. She’s 63 years old, facing a defunct retirement and astonishing re-entry into a job market without an officially functioning government. My kidney scheme doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it?
There are no guarantees in life. I told someone the other day that searching for guarantees in this life is like hunting unicorns, and it will destroy you emotionally to hunt unicorns your entire life. Things are obviously not working well the way we’re doing them, guarantees or not. You’re never entirely safe, even if you make sure your feet are covered when you sleep so the closet-monster doesn’t devour you.
(It is a long-standing rule that the blanket, or sheet, of the bed is sufficient protection from any and all monsters, as long as no phalanges protrude in an alluring manner. If you let your fingers or toes hang all out, well, you’re just asking for it. Guaranteed. I may have once again meandered off subject, but I did find a unicorn there, didn’t I? I mean, technically, I can almost guarantee if you don’t cover your toes with the sheet when you sleep, the closet monster will devour you. I really don’t feel like I have to explain to you why a 45-year-old woman still refers to closet monsters. I cite a Sid and Marty Croft childhood and stand firmly on that alone.)
You’re never entirely safe. I’m pretty sure this is no revelation to most people. The ability to keep calm and carry on is grace. Life is terribly dangerous, it always has been, we were just never told so. Now we know everything, and it’s really done us no favors. Life is still terribly dangerous. I keep thinking about an old roofer who used to drink in a bar I once worked in. He fell off a roof about once a month and never died. He’d laugh and drink with his crew and say, “If you can’t fly, boys, you better learn how to land.” I haven’t seen the guy in 15 years, but I think his philosophy is still pretty solid. I don’t think flying is nearly as important as learning to land.