“Why do you have mama’s phone?” my sister asked me.
“Because she can’t handle having AT&T,” I replied.
“Why can’t she handle having AT&T?”
“Because she thinks she pays 60 dollars a month.”
“What does she really pay?” she asked.
We were sitting in my sister’s car, I could feel the warm waves hitting the coast as we came closer to the beach. I knew the tension that was about to smear into my sister’s emotions.
“She pays one hundred seventy a month,” I told my her. I could feel the disappointment in my sister’s silence as we continued driving.
* * * * * * *
I planned it all out in front of my mom. I told her a million times not to switch over, not to waste her money, not to move from MetroPCS. In MetroPCS there was no contract, she would be safe. She wouldn’t have to pay for minutes, or hope they “roled over,” or anything! She would pay a fixed price of 40 dollars and could spend her day calling llamas in Pennsylvania for all I cared. But she didn’t. She fell for the price of a cheap phone, signed up, and now we’re in debt.
I wrote it all out for her. I pulled out a pen and a piece of binder paper. I did the math in front of my mom as if she was in elementary school and couldn’t understand a simple multiplication problem. “You think you pay 720 dollars a year, but you really pay 2,040 dollars a year. If you go back to MetroPCS you’ll pay 540 dollars a year.” She was paying a difference of 1,500 dollars more a year. My mom loved misery.
When I was a freshmen in high school, I read a book called, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” In one of the earlier chapters the author, Robert Kiyosaki, talks about liabilities with the example of car payments. Brand new cars are great to look at but they’re a total pain in the ass to purchase. People think you could pay installments and it’ll be easier. The truth is these installments grow with interest. And after the 2 to 4 years when you’re done paying the car, you’ll be stuck with a lot of debt to own a car that’s now out of fashion. You could have saved that money on your own and earned your own interest and made a profit.
Car payments are different from cell phones. However, they have something major in common. Contracts. Contracts will follow you for however long they need to. When you breach a contract, you’re not breaking free, you’re just getting into more trouble. The contract owns you. No one really wants to be owned.
A lot of people don’t notice it, but a lot of things are really contracts. Everyone’s trying to own someone else. Jobs, family, religion, your relationship. Your job wants you to be somewhere so they could tell you what to do. Your family wants you to stay home, walk the dog, meet your relatives. Your religion wants you to embark on this incredible journey of praise and being humble. They all own you? However, what is it that you want?
Do you want to help the sick in some saintly endeavor? Then you should become a citizen of church. If you’re doing it because you heard hell sucks, and that’s the reason why you put on a tie and go to church every Sunday and try not to think of naked women, you might be doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m not sure about religion, but I’m sure people are there because they believe in the good and they “want” to praise the good. It shouldn’t be that they’re scared into it, that makes for a terrible life. Does someone value the good or evil. Values!
Same with family. Do you value that connection with your family, enough that you will drive whatever distance with them and let them talk down to you about your lack of a job or the fact that you’re sister is ruining her life. Do you value it enough that you would sacrifice for it. Sacrifice!
My friend Noah use to work graveyard shifts. He woke up every night, worked until morning, and then fell asleep. He was 21. The best year of his life spent working to pay off car payments, insurance, a blackberry phone, and to rent a small room in a big house with socially impaired roommates.
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we could buy shit we don’t need.” – FightClub
I love being in a relationship. I let my girlfriend own that part of my life. It’s still sacrifice. I don’t go back to the apartment of the random girl I met on a subway train. I keep my distance from touching the next girl I’m in a conversation with. Because it’s worth it. I get to stay in bed with the girl I’ve chosen and know that I get to see her after that. I get the plan. I get the contract. Because for however long, I want to be like this. I don’t want to wonder where this relationship is going. I want that security. That’s where I give up my freedom. That’s sacrifice. I don’t complain about it, because there’s nothing to complain about.
If you’re complaining about something in your life, cut it out. You don’t need it. You could weigh it out and see how it goes, but that’s only lying to your happiness. You could cut off your family like you could cut off your phone contract. It’s not going to be easy. You might have to pay for a termination fee. It might be unethical to think of it that way, but you got to make the decision and ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?” If it’s not worth your happiness, cut it off. Stop complaining. No one deserves to be complaining. You don’t own anything to anyone or anything. Cut it off, and you’ll never have to worry about it ever again.
Read last life lesson: How Nickelodeon Taught Me to Become a Better Son