#2. Preventive Maintenance Is Cheaper Than Emergency Repair
Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This might be the most frustrating lesson one could possibly learn, because it's often unavoidable. A major appliance, like your sink or your fridge, is a bit dinged up and needs a professional to help make it purr again. Yes, sinks purr, and you don't even need to stuff the cat down the drain to make it happen.
The problem is, professionals charge money. And, if you're anything like me (which, again, is a horrible idea), you don't have a lot of it. Unless you're willing to cut your family's grocery bill down to one Cup O' Noodle a month, you're probably going to have to forgo calling Repair City.
Eventually, though, what happens? The thing dies outright. The sink refuses to drain, and suddenly water's all over the place like Splash Mountain from hell. Or the refrigerator stops cooling the second you stick $300 worth of groceries in there. Now you're forced into buying a new one, or you give in and hire somebody to fix every last hole in the old one. You're now out way more money than you would have been if you had just spent a few bucks on proper maintenance every so often.
At the same time, can you truly beat yourself up for this? If you have only $100 to spare for the next month, would you rather pay a doctor to find out why your chest is so tight lately, or pay Mario Brothers Plumbing to make your garbage disposal less noisy? Both are important, but now you're forced to choose which one is more important -- an agonizing and frustrating decision indeed.
I got slapped in the face by this about two years ago, when my car failed inspection. I'd tell you exactly what was wrong, but my knowledge of cars begins and ends with "they're pretty and go vroom." Let's just say the engine was on fire and leave it at that.
"Does anyone have a screwdriver? I think I can save it."
I learned it would cost me over $3,000 to repair my baby. Yeah, I quickly abandoned my baby and adopted a newer, cuter one. I blame myself, as five-plus years of procrastinating on tuneups and ignoring problem after mounting problem because my stupid, stinky landlord wanted big-dumb-jerk rent money all the time came back to cornhole me in the form of a very dead vehicle.
At the same time, what else could I have done? When forced to choose between overhauling an engine and keeping my apartment, I consistently chose "apartment," just like you'd probably do. If you're in a similar situation and truly can't afford preventive maintenance, please don't beat yourself up -- there's precious little you can do.
Well, except learn to fix stuff yourself, or make a shitload more money. Either of those always helps. So get to it, ya slacker.
Well, I tried.
#1. Your Health Comes First
We hear about putting our health first time and again, and it sounds pretty reasonable. However, we realize we're supposed to always put health first, day in and day out, which sounds far less so, namely because that leaves exactly zero days to eat an entire quadruple-chocolate cake in one sitting.
Oh, starting an exercise routine and a healthy new diet is easy enough. We're good at writing Chapter 1, especially when it's preceded by a prologue where the hero comes face to face with mortality. The second you realize something isn't right here -- your favorite pants are suddenly too tight, you can't make it to the bathroom without sucking wind, you pee frosting -- you resolve to make a change, regardless of whether it's New Year's Day. And for a short while, it works. You work out every day, trim your menu down to boiled kale and plain yogurt, and make everything an excuse to squat. As a result, you drop a few pounds, it now takes three trips to the toilet to get winded, and overall you're looking and feeling great.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
"Well, hello there, Wang Chung. It's been a while since we've seen each other."
And how do you react? You forget to exercise one day. But that's OK, because it's a "rest day." You slack on your diet and order a pizza. But that's OK, because it's a "cheat day." Unfortunately, often one rest or cheat day extends into another, and another, and suddenly you're back to your old fat and winded self. All that progress made by eating well and moving around now means absolutely nothing.
Eventually you'll start to feel like shit again and realize that your lifestyle needs to change, stat, and the cycle begins anew. And this will keep cycling until one of two things happens: you stick to it and become a non-roidy version of the Rock, or you drop dead of heart disease at way too young an age.
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
But goddamn, those pizza rolls were worth it.
It's taken me forever to figure this out, and I've paid for my ignorance. Literally. In my continuous start-stop attempts to get in shape, I've purchased at least five goddamned gym memberships throughout my life, none of which I've utilized even sporadically. I always had something better to do than work out, even though that "something better" was usually "update Myspace."
Each time, I convince myself it'll be different. I'm going to go five times a week. I'll spend two hours a day there. I'll actually work out instead of lounging at the juice bar all day, watching Judge Judy.
Nope to all counts, because I quickly remember why I stopped going every other time -- every hour spent walking up imaginary stairs and lifting heavy chunks of metal is an hour spent not masturbating, doing something productive, or masturbating while doing something productive. So I scale back from five times a week to three, then down to two, then one, and then, fuck it: I'm fat, just gonna accept it.
Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
"This is the episode where Judy yells at dumb people. I can't miss this one."
But you don't have to accept it, or anything else, for that matter. Learn from your mistakes, get better, stay better, and, perhaps most importantly, never ever, ever, ever be like me.