By Tim Hayes
When one works as a self-employed entrepreneur, little things take on disproportionate importance and significance.
The 15-second commute to work, for instance. Taking a break and going for a 30-minute walk outside, safe in the knowledge that the boss totally approves. And the sound of the mail truck rolling up to the front of the house, perhaps bringing new business or payment for business already done and billed.
On a day not long ago, while sitting in my office, writing away at my Mac, my ears perked up at the familiar low rumble of the squat vehicle with the steering wheel on the right trundling up the street. Yay! The mail!
Heading out the front door, I saw the mail carrier leaning out of the truck, tossing items into the box, slamming it shut, and dieseling his way down the street to my neighbor to do it all over again. On the slow walk back up the driveway, I began flipping through the pile of envelopes, magazines, assorted ads and promotions.
“Aw, for God sakes, not again!” I said out loud, even though alone in the house. After the fleeting flurry of fun at hearing the mail arrive, what in that bundle had plunged me into a pit of perturbity? An unexpected bill? A summons for jury duty? A lawsuit? No, none of those.
The culprit? A stack of 9-by-14-inch, four-color, glossy sell sheets for – wait for it – hearing aids. There had to be six of these things in a large envelope, on heavy cardstock paper and in full color. I know from experience that printing and mailing items like that costs quite a pretty penny. But why did some hearing aid company toss my name into its pile of likely customers?
Friends, I know you can keep a secret, so I don’t mind sharing this here. Later this week, I will turn 55 years of age. Now, in my mind, I’m still in college. Or a newlywed, at the absolute eldest. Yes, we’re married 30-plus years, and yes, we have three grown and productive and beautiful and wonderful children, and yes, I have had a fascinating career and have built a successful business. Obviously, it takes a long time to achieve all of those things. I get that.
What I don’t get – and what I resent more and more – is the notion that, at 55, the rest of the world assumes that the wheels are about to fall off the old chassis. That, at 55, you’re washed up, worn out, with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. And that, through the miracle (or curse?) of our interconnected digital world, marketers can zero in on poor dumb clods like me, who happen to fit a target demographic.
So, the hearing aid promos come like clockwork once a month. Next, the invitations to tour Grateful Geezer Retirement Village. Or attend a Social Security seminar. Or join AARP. And then, the clincher. “Don’t wait! Buy your burial plots now!”
Burial plots? Seriously? Guys, I’m turning 55. What’s the rush? Where’s the fire? Methuselah in the Bible made it to 960. You want his address?
Of course, nobody gets out of here alive. But do I need to be reminded of that on a weekly basis while opening the mail, for Pete’s sake?
Want to know what’s really funny? For the first time in quite a while, I’m paying much better attention to what I eat, how much movement and exertion gets expended every day, getting enough rest, spending time away from work on activities and hobbies in which I take great enjoyment – you know, the stuff you’re supposed to do all along. And as a result, I’m feeling better than I have in years.
So thanks for your concern, all of you harbingers of looming doddering and doom, but I’m throwing out your sales pitches. I believe I speak for my mailman when I say we don’t need all this. Save your money, save him the trouble of sorting and delivering it, and save me some unneeded aggravation, will ya?
Fifty-five may be a speed limit, but I refuse to let it limit my living life to the fullest, now that we’ve earned the freedom and resources to do so.
Hearing aids and burial plots. Good grief. I bet Methuselah didn’t start getting this crap in his mailbox until he’d hit at least 850.
Copyright 2015 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting