Tuesday, May 28, 2024

To all the 2024 graduates

I’m sorry, but I have no sage advice or words of wisdom to share with the graduating class of 2024. Except maybe this: BE KIND.

BE KIND to your parents, no matter if they were awesome or rarely in the picture. They gave you life. The least you can do is maybe call or text them every now and then to let them know you’re doing ok, or let them know you’ll be out of jail next month and you’ve learned your lesson.

BE KIND to your grandparents by sending them a handwritten letter every once in awhile. Getting something from you that arrives in the mailbox will give them a wonderfully nostalgic trip down Memory Lane, a beautiful avenue lined with towering oaks and the clinking sounds of milk bottles delivered by the milk man. If your handwriting’s not legible, practice.

BE KIND to your siblings. The young ones will be jealous. They wish they were out of school, too. Older siblings will welcome you into the club of more schooling or the workforce. Many years from now, when you’re lying on your deathbed, these might be the only people left alive who will bring you jello and change your sheets. It’s best if they sort of like you.

BE KIND to your friends, especially if they had to put down their beloved pet. Give them a hug, say you’re sorry for their loss, ask if there is anything you can do for them. Don’t say things like, “Well, it was just a dog. It’s not like your Aunt Edna in El Paso died. You can always buy a new dog, but your Aunt is priceless.”

BE KIND to your teachers. They’ve put up with your shenanigans for years. Whether they use your name in vain throughout the rest of all eternity or as a shining example of everything that is good in this world, they’re still in school and you’re not. They’re not going to know how to act when you don’t return. And don’t forget about references. You might need some.

BE KIND to your neighbors, especially the ones who mow a portion of your yard when your John Deere is kaput and don’t ask for anything in return, such as the deed to your property. Maybe invite them over for a hotdog roast. Maybe keep your dog from pooping in their front yard.

BE KIND to strangers you accidentally bump into at the grocery store, especially when you’re getting frustrated because the management recently decided to move everything around, and now you’re wondering 1) why you even shop there in the first place, and 2) why the bread is in the automotive department? It’s not that stranger’s fault. They’re in the same boat as you. Try not to sink the ship.

BE KIND to the planet. It’s the only one you’re ever going to have. Plant a tree. Pick up your trash. Maybe don’t throw the trash out your car window in the first place. If you knew your brand new truck was the only vehicle you’d ever own until the day you die, wouldn’t you wash it every now and then? Maybe pick up the hamburger wrappers from the floorboard?  

BE KIND to old people in cars who are driving too slow. That may be me. I’m not in a hurry. I’m enjoying the drive and listening to my favorite opera turned up full volume. If you think I’m the one causing you to be late to your own graduation ceremony, then let me finally give you some words of advice: Next time — leave earlier.

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