May 5, 2011

All I Really Need to Know I Learned...

There was a popular collection of essays published ca. 1990 entitled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It had something to do with sharing, caring, cookies & milk, and dead hamsters. I’m sure none of you read the actual book: it was the ecstasy decade, after all. But, like that “Footprints in the Sand” abomination that enjoyed similar popularity, “inspirational” passages from it were plastered all over coffee mugs, wall posters, stationary, and bookmarks (remember bookmarks, my fellow Kindle converts?). So, I’m pretty sure y’all know what I’m talking about.

The gist, for those needing a refresher, is that the basic lessons about fairness, the importance of social support, safety, etc. that were beaten into us during our early childhood maintain relevance in our lives as we amble through adulthood. It’s pretty good shtick as far as that brand of shtick goes: highly bankable shit.

But for those of us who operate in the real world and get screwed (not in the good way) on a regular basis, its well-intentioned meaning has long been lost: stale words on a chipped coffee mug at a garage sale.

Man, have things changed.

In today’s fucked up world, kindergartens are fierce battle grounds for our finest trust-funders; not the paradises for the pint-sized that they once were whenever it was that people who wrote books in the 1990s went to kindergarten. Or even in the 1980s when we could still have cupcakes on our birthdays and "caution: may contain traces of peanuts" was not considered a terroristic threat.

To prove my point, there was an article in the NYT a few months ago that told of parents hiring tutors and occupational therapists to help their perfectly normal kids get a competitive edge so they may smoke the rest of the 3-5 year olds vying for spots in the most prestigious of pre-schools. Yes, pre-schools. Now, this may be an exaggeration, but I wouldn't exactly know. As someone who has no children, I could have penned All I Needed Really Needed to Know About Kindergarten I Learned from the New York Times.

Thus it occurred to me that since kindergarten no longer serves as a valid reference point for life lessons in the modern day, the outdated essay could use an overhaul. But what could I tap as a suitable framework? Ebay, of course! A “community” where people of all ages, from all walks of life spend way too much time acquiring stuff they’ll never use for any practical purpose. Just like school.

So without further hesitation, I bring you my top 10 list...All I Really Need to Know I Learned On Ebay:

10. Don’t feel “weird” for pursuing the “unusual” -- those making it available to you are much further gone than you’ll ever be

9. Fakes will always be exposed

8. Spring for the insurance

7. If you look long enough, you’ll find what you’re after

6. Everything has a price; only you know if you can afford to pay it

5. Feedback helps us grow, so give with honesty and accept with grace

4. Guard your reputation

3. Timing is everything

2. Damaged goods still hold great value to many

And, finally...

1. Rich people always win

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