Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Surviving the Bad Times…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Friendship & Compassion,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Old Fart Wisdom — Bob at 12:42 pm on Thursday, April 10, 2014

© April 10, 2014

I learned all you’ll read below from an old man–born in 1896–in 1965, when I was 15 and he was 69.

For my grandkids, and yours, listen to his words from nearly 50 years ago.  He lived what I wrote here:

Hard to know all this
When you’re a kid
I was a kid
I didn’t know enough
Didn’t have much choice
Bad times are thrust upon you
Not like choosing a college

Bad times can toughen you
Inside and out
Turn your gut from cotton to leather
If you keep your eyes open
Mouth shut
Listen
And don’t make stupid choices

 What’s a stupid choice?
Drugs
Getting drunk
Stealing
Hurting people in all the ways
One person can hurt another
Seductive people can offer you
Wrong choices
Try to learn when to say no

Here’s some things to say yes to
Ways to make it over lean times
Ways to keep your dignity
When money’s scarce
And prospects dim

 Learn to cook
Food is cheap
Restaurants aren’t
You’re paying for
Other people’s salaries
Their rent
Their everything
Food tastes better
When you make it yourself

Learn to use tools
Doesn’t matter if you’re a girl
Don’t give me that crap
If grandma could build a tank
You can learn to use a drill
A hammer
A saw
Part of equality is self-sufficiency
Learn to lean on yourself

 If you need a table
Build it
If you need a bookshelf
And you will need a bookshelf
Build it
Wood’s cheap
A world of possibilities
When you learn to use
Your hands

 Don’t live up to anyone’s expectations
About what’s acceptable
Screw that
Bad times offer limited options
Clothes are cheap
Thank God for
Salvation Army Stores
Pants? Shirts? Dresses?
$3.00
Find a good shoemaker
And fix your shoes

If you have a car
Shop around for an honest mechanic
Yeah, I know
Like winning the lottery
Except worse odds
But a good one
An honest one
Is like a good brain surgeon
You don’t want to take chances
On a bad either one
Would you?

A small old car is cheap
Two, three grand
Sips gas, low insurance
Don’t waste cash on flash
A good body, good motor
Brakes, transmission
Is good enough
If wheels are essential
To get you to work

Keeping an old car running
Is like tuning up a marriage
Forgetting to change your oil
Is like forgetting an anniversary
Dangerous
Keep up the belts, hoses, tires
Read the manual
Educate yourself
Something breaks?
Don’t bitch: Fix it!
You need the car
It needs you

 Make friends
Choose carefully
Keep them
Come when they call
Stay when they need you
Don’t forget to share
The good moments with them
Real friends will do the same
When you are the one
Calling them

If people really understood this
Psychiatrists would disappear

 Keep your pad warm in summer
Chilly in winter
This is why the Swedes
Invented sweaters
And the French
Snuggling
Save a fistfull of cash
Improve your relationship
A twofer

Read books
All kinds of books
Free at the library
Small change at used book stores
That’s why you built a bookshelf
Isn’t it?

 History, philosophy, geography
Who/what/when/where and why
Get understanding
Get wisdom
Learn to tolerate
People different than you
You ain’t the best there is
No one is

When your chips are down
No one will loan you money
Just because you need it

Establish a kitty
Fill it steadily as you can
Up to six months basic expenses
Not for Hawaii
Next time things go to hell
You can keep the lights on
Not get evicted
Keep cooking
And be able to
Buy gas to find yourself
Another chance

Finally
You young married guys
Fightin’ with yer young wives
Stop it!
Say this:

I’m sorry
I was wrong
I won’t do it again

 Then say it again

 Yeah, might be hard
But–
If you say what you’ll do
And do what you say
Your wife’ll treat ya
Like a damn king!

The romantic
three little words“?
Nah
My ten little words
Just may be
The secret of happiness

 Bad times are like comets
They come
They go
Eventually
Each new cycle of Fate
You’ll be a little more prepared
The next time
Dark clouds gather
On your horizon
Some times
You don’t even see those clouds
And wham!
You’re out on your ass!

Kids don’t want advice from
Some old fart like me
Think they’ll live forever
An’ the sun will always shine on them
Except sometimes
The sun is only shining
In Uruguay

 Hey,
All you can honestly do is
Brace yourself
Experience mostly means
Pain, loss and permanent scars
I want to help people
I’ll never meet

I’m over sixty
Jesus Christ!
Listen to me, damn it!

 

 

5 Comments »

Comment by Brad Dechter

April 10, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

A good rant Bob. They don’t listen!!

Comment by Helene

April 10, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

Wow. Awesome.

Comment by David Griesemer

April 10, 2014 @ 11:12 pm

Read this poem in the voice of Lt. Col. Frank Slade, Al Pacino’s character from “Scent of a Woman.”
Everything starting with “Learn to cook” through “Don’t live up to anyone’s expectations” is straight out of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Clever comparison between old cars and marriage.
“You ain’t the best there is/No one is” Yet again, a line worthy of Yogi Berra.
Notice the part about saving money. “Establish a kitty…to Buy gas to find yourself Another…” You expect him to say “job” but he doesn’t. He says “chance” – nice existential touch.
Most old farts will tell you, “Don’t do as I did. You’ll suffer.”
Bob says, “You’ll suffer either way. Do what’s right.”

Comment by Megan Wentzel

June 11, 2014 @ 4:13 am

Properly just considered i’d say howdy. Terrific web site Ian.

Comment by Louisa kaiserman

September 1, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

My son has got to read this. It has to be beneficial to a young married man

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