The School of Hard Knocks

While checking out at the dollar store, I heard a customer ask for an eyeglass repair kit. She asked my checker and then asked another store assistant.

“Um…I don’t think we have anything like that.” Both clerks seemed unsure.

Since I like to be helpful, I butted in and pointed her to the rack with reading glasses. “Most places keep them with those magnifiers,” I offered.

The customer found the little kits and thanked me profusely, calling me “Ma’am.”

I went out of the store with my purchase, thinking, I know stuff! I know more about how retail stores work than the people who work there.

I can’t begin to tell you how much stuff I know, a good deal of it useful.

I know how to trim tree branches properly and I know to add a few grains of salt to the coffee pot when brewing with filtered water. I know to not pop blisters on bad sunburn; to soak ant bites in Epsom salt and I know to face a snarling dog. I know tricks to raise my credit score and I know how to reduce the principal on a loan. I know how to write a will, how to oversee a trust fund and do a tax return for a business. I know how to save seeds from heirloom tomatoes.

I have read and I have listened to advice but mostly I’ve just lived a long time, made mistakes and tried things.


Where do they keep the magnifying glasses?

Some things one has to figure out for oneself

I knew where the eyeglass repair kits are kept because I recently wasted a lot of time looking for a magnifying glass that store clerks said they didn’t think they stocked. (I found one with the readers and one with the office supplies.)

I have worked a total of about twelve years in retail and there’s a certain logic to how stores are organized. I worked as an executive secretary for 30 and as a legal secretary for three. I packed pop bottles back when they were glass. I served up ice cream at Dairy Queen. I baby sat three kids one summer. I have done graphic art for book authors, coal mining entities and municipalities, an architect and an equestrian camp. I know how to bind a book and design a kitchen.

I’ve been poorer than Ol’ Job’s Turkey so I know how to make a meal with beans, rice, cornmeal and powdered milk. I know stuff about living in the woods with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. I know how to cook on a wood stove.

I’ve cruised in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. I know how to get a passport and the best ways to pack for overseas travel. I know a little bit about the airports at Frankfort, Tokyo, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong. And Dallas; don’t forget Dallas!

I am so amazed at how much stuff I know, I think all my kids and grandkids should be calling or texting continually with a stream of questions.

Yet, I also know enough about human nature to know it won’t occur to them to ask me. They will learn things the way I did: by experience, also known as The School of Hard Knocks.


About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
This entry was posted in Short Takes on Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The School of Hard Knocks

  1. So good, so true, painfully true, Janet. Even today, I am humbled again by facing my own shortcomings, faced again with the reality that we will EACH keep learning until we leave this earth. This “iron sharpening iron: process is quite painful at times, but a necessary process if we’re each to be good for anything. Like the refiner’s fire as he purifies the gold, it takes some pain and lots of time (and falling on our face) to become more and more like our Loving Creator God – the only perfect One who exists, or ever existed. I’ve learned a lot from you over the years, and I’m certain there is plenty more to be learned.

  2. Sounds as if you have gathered much knowledge through your experiences and some common sense as well. Life is a good teacher, that’s for sure. I think we gain different areas of expertise as we journey along, giving us the freedom to say what we think.

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