Life used to be tougher for some: Uphill both ways

Wayne Johnson
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During Labor Day weekend I lived up to the spirit of the holiday by doing labor: Cleaning gutters, moving furniture, and whining. The whining accounted for the majority of the labor. Speaking of labor, my unwritten rule for employment is to do just enough to keep from getting fired because, for my employer, it’s to pay me just enough so I won’t quit. This set-up maintains a nice balance between us, and, if I’m feeling sick, I call in to the company and tell them I won’t be in because I’m sick. Usually this results in an immediate cure.

You’ll think I’m an out-of-touch old guy, and you’d be right, but according to the old persons living in the old days, life was a lot tougher and a lot more work back then. Just as those old individuals thought kids of my generation had it easy, I’m now free to think today’s kids have it easy. I began mulling it over while writing my last column, which you may accidentally have read, about my tough, unfortunate childhood sports life. I wrote about playing neighborhood tackle football without helmets or other gear and ice-skating on a creek without a life preserver. Kids today are coddled right out of the womb wearing helmets and other protective equipment for everything except complaining about a dead cell phone battery.

I know how tough life was back in the days when my parents grew up because my father told me so. At dinner one night when I didn’t want the haggis my mother had prepared, my father said, “You should be grateful for that. There are people starving in Scotland. When I was a kid, we didn’t have food. Couldn’t afford it. We ate dirt. Once in a while we’d get rocks to suck on as a treat. Never complained. When I got tired of dirt, my father told me to go out and kill something. I killed a tree. We ate like kings.”

I later complained about my shoes giving me sore feet and my father said, “Sore feet? When I was a kid, we didn’t have shoes. We couldn’t afford ‘em. You know that tree I killed? We used the bark for shoes. Nailed it right on our feet. Never complained.”

When I said I was tired, my father replied, “Tired? When I was a kid, we didn’t sleep. Couldn’t afford to. We were too busy fighting Indians. Threw rocks at ‘em. We glued our feet to the floor and shoved broomsticks up our backs so we wouldn’t fall over. Never closed my eyes until I was 16.”

I guess we’re all just a bunch of sissies.

• I can’t close this week without a mention of the late U.S. senator, John McCain. When I watched his funeral service on television and listened to the tributes to him, I couldn’t help making comparisons between him and what’s in the White House now. I imagined Donald Trump, someone who avoided the draft and doesn’t think John McCain was a hero because his plane was shot down and, with broken limbs, was pulled out of the water by the North Vietnamese and tortured for five-and-a-half years. All of this was taking place while Trump was in his family’s penthouse, probably complaining to the cook about his runny eggs.

I imagined Trump during the funeral service sitting alone, pouting and sniveling, figuring out a way to get the attention back on him. But, unfortunately, he was out playing golf, pouting, sniveling, and spewing out tweets.

If more members of Congress used McCain as a role model, that political body actually would get something done and wouldn’t keep earning such a well-deserved low approval rating.

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