Living Below Your Means
"That's How Livings Get Made Here!"

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By spl241
June 12, 2003

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The road to LBYM [Living Below Your Means] living isn't smooth or straight. Chuckholes abound, some shallow, others deep, many gaping wider by constantly being "hit." I was ramming 'em regularly when I was just short of my 20th birthday and home for the summer while in college. Dad said he would get me on the grounds maintenance crew at his factory on one condition: I'd bank a full 50% of my take-home pay to help with expenses the following year. Non-negotiable, no exceptions. No matter what. There'd be hell to pay the first time I fudged.

Not that my bargaining position to do otherwise was that strong. I'd annihilated a checking account. I'd lost books. I'd bought my girlfriend (now my wife of 33 yrs.) some presents. I'd loaned frat brothers drinking money. I'd...oh, you get the idea. LBYM was "Lotta' Bread You've Massacred." And the return on Pop's investment? A sparkling GPA squintingly north of 2.0. He said that by taking this job, I'd probably get a better idea of how my college money got made.

(Me): "My foreman's a real horse's ass."

(Pop): "Lot of those down there. Yours is about the worst. Get used to it." Wow. Now there was some sympathy.

One day, my foreman told me to take a battery-operated hand truck loaded with trimmings to the burn area. I grabbed the unfamiliar handles, jacked up the "juice," and rammed it into a chain link fence, tearing it to smithereens. Now came my first factory foreman dressing-down. In the middle of it, the lunch whistle blew. I saw Pop going home to lunch. (Whew! I'm gonna' get rescued.) He watched from a distance, turned, into his car. The 4-letter word tirade continued.

At home that night, I was waiting for Dad to salve my mental wounds. Since no paternal healing words were forthcoming: "You saw what George was doing to me?"

"Yep." (That was it-- "Yep.")

"I thought you'd at least...."

"That's how livings get made here, dammit!"

He had no apology for not stepping in. What a mean father. That's what I thought then. It was years before he told me that he hated my foreman. He himself had had run-ins with him. He wanted to tear off his sport coat and confront him; on the other hand, he wanted me to actually experience what lay behind those dollars from the wire/cable company and when I returned to school with the factory experience under my belt, to weigh financial folly against what it took to get that money.

Alzheimer's claimed Pop 11 years ago. He avoided a lot of those "chuckholes" I alluded to earlier, and, thanks to him, I'm more aware of their existence, too. --241

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