Thank you for that smattering of applause, and for those of you who don’t know what “smattering” means, you’re going to want to enroll in a prep course for the SAT’s “Critical Reading” section. I know you were expecting a politician, an athlete or an entertainer as your commencement speaker, but the politicians are busy with primaries, the athletes are busy practicing and the entertainers are busy getting botoxed. Plus they’re all busy not getting picked up by the cops. In a field narrowed to people who were not busy, the Idler finished in a three-way tie with two guys from West Mifflin. Sadly,they got lost at the Mifflin Road detour and ended up at the Hays Moose. By the time they were found they were no longer ready for prime time, if you get my drift. Yours truly was the last man standing. Not that the position is limited to men, but you’ll recall that the job description mentioned having nothing else to do, so . . ..
So what words of wisdom, advice and counsel do I have for you today, graduating seniors? I just happen to have prepared some notes . . . Here we go:
First, insert your card with the magnetic strip up and to the right. No, wait, those are instructions for the ATM. Well let me give you some practical advice. First, avoid that detour down at the bottom of 885, because it’s a real disaster. Second, avoid the Hays Moose. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Loyal Order, ha-ha, don’t go all wilderness on me, lodge brothers, but this crowd looks totally underage so you don’t want to see them for a few years anyway. Except that one guy in the back who appears to be crowding thirty. Held back a few years were we sir? What’s that, you’re from West Mifflin? Okay, I’ll talk slower.
It’s not just road construction and excess alcohol consumption you should avoid, graduates, although that’s a start. You want to be careful with debt. We’re not talking about car loans and other forms of consumer credit. The purveyors of that sort of debt are sufficiently mercenary that you’ll learn about the evils of overextension tout de suite. As your 2 month old Jaguar J Series disappears around the corner at 3 AM you’ll get the message that maybe you should have given the ‘05 Hyundai a closer look. There’s no funny money in the car loan market, or even in the VISA Mastercard racket for that matter, but there is a stupendous amount of it down at the financial aid office of your nearest institution of higher learning. GMAC can only dream about hanging six figures worth of debt on you, the repayment of which happens to be insured by the federal government. And you can’t discharge it in bankruptcy unless you’re struck by lightning. Twice.
We’re not saying, don’t go to college because college is a wonderful experience. It’s just that you don’t want to be paying for your four years of wonderfulness for the rest of your life.
One way to prepare for college expenses is to get a summer job. There are many people who are in need of lawn mowing, painting and general maintenance services. Believe it or not some people even need help disposing of items such as empty bottles and pizza boxes. The Idler would be happy to provide in-depth training for such employment at his personal training facility. A lucky few of you can sign up for this training as you leave with your diploma. First come, first served! And yes, big fellow, you can sign with an X.
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