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Rich: Some life lessons just won’t stick

POSTED: February 16, 2008 5:02 a.m.

One day I ran into my precious second-grade teacher, Mrs. Rudeseal, in what used to be called the dime store but in these times of economic advancement is now called the dollar store.

I miss the dime stores, though. They were a childhood joy, with their aisles of wonderment and those well-scrubbed, shiny lunch counters that enabled a child to shop for Barbie doll clothes while inhaling the delicious scents of hamburgers and French fries.

Some of those dime stores had old wood floors that creaked when you walked across them, eliminating, I am sure, a great deal of shoplifting since it prohibited a thief from sneaking around.

Anyway, we now shop in dollar stores not dime stores, so while picking up a box of baking soda I ran into Mrs. Rudeseal on the cleaning supplies aisle.

For your future information: In the dollar store, baking soda is on the cleaning aisle not in the grocery section. Go figure.

"I read your column today," she said, smiling like she did when I got a "B" in math because for me that was the same as an "A". "There was a word in there that I don’t believe I taught you in the second grade." She winked merrily. I laughed. "No, in the second grade, you taught me cursive writing and for what it’s worth, I still can’t make a good ‘Q’."

She also taught me multiplication tables and, to this day, I still have a hard time with some of the eight and nine multiples. Of course, I now realize this was a foreshadowing of things to come. There are just some lessons in life that are never going to stick with me.

Let’s see what some of those other lessons are that continue to escape my true grasp of understanding:

If I want my bath the perfect temperature, I have to test the water. As ridiculously simple as it is, I still have not learned this lesson. Every night I draw a bath by randomly turning the handles to what I think will make it the right temperature. But hot water is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter so I frequently get it wrong. This tribulation could be eliminated by simply putting my hand under the running water and testing it. Every time I step into a bath too hot or too cold, I chastise myself by saying, "Why don’t you ever learn?"

Trust my gut. When I do, I’m right and when I don’t, I’m wrong. Why not just trust it all the time? I once dated a guy that my gut immediately warned me against but trusted friends convinced me was a solid choice. I threw instinct out the window and latched on to their reasoning. Huge mistake. My gut was right.

Get a name. I’ve lost count of the times I have called customer service to resolve an issue and was told it was handled. It wasn’t. Then a supervisor would ask on the next call, "Did you get a name?" No, I didn’t. And each time, I have scolded myself saying for the hundredth time, "You know better, you dummy."

I have learned some things, though: No bridesmaid’s dress will ever be worn twice; my swim suit days have melted away like butter on my thighs; and a man who’ll lie to you, will cheat on you. It may not be much, but it’s a good start.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to work on my multiplication tables.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)."



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