PMI

PMI stands for Private Mortgage Insurance.  This blog entry has nothing to do with that.

When I was a kid, I remember my dad saying one time that he noticed that his kids (my brother, sister and I) seemed to be the only kids in the neighborhood who were happy most of the time.  It was true, and for me it still is.  (Actually, for all three of us, but this is about me.)  A big part of this is my sense of humor.  Every day is an opportunity to laugh at something, and whether I find it or not, I know it’s out there.

Another part of being happy is that I live in harmony with my surroundings.  Not nature.  Nature’s been out to get me since I was a little kid.  Between taking advantage of my having fair skin that burns easily and a conspiracy to put poison ivy all through the woods behind my house, Mother Nature has had it out for me for almost half a century, and the feeling is mutual, so we’ve learned to pretty much stay clear of each other.  (Disclaimer: Some people say they were born too late, that they were meant to live in the Old West or the Renaissance.  I never say that.  I was born too early.  I was born to live on a space colony, where no one asks you to go play outside, because its 200 degrees below zero and there’s no air.)

Nevertheless, I live in harmony with my surroundings.  I have a job that I love, no matter how much I hate it.  Since I was old enough to work, I have always demanded three things from my job.

1) I don’t have to stand in the hot sun.

2) I don’t have to lift heavy objects.

3) Nobody is shooting at me.

I’m a software engineer, where my job is to type, talk on the phone, and go to meetings.  All of my major job criteria have been met.  The manager who hired me in my current job once asked me how I liked the new job.  I told him, “I have interesting work, competent coworkers, a comfortable work environment, and adequate compensation.  If you could figure out a way to work Heather Locklear into this job, it would be perfect.”  He never did.

My personal life is pretty much the same.  I live in a beautiful part of North Carolina.  I live comfortably, largely because my wants and needs do not outpace my income.  I come and go as I please.  I am liked by many, and loved by a few, for reasons that sometimes baffle me, but there it is.  My family is largely happy and healthy.

I don’t say this to brag.  I do my part, but I put a lot of the credit on God.  It is often said that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  I believe this wholeheartedly.  I also believe that God thinks I’m a wimp who can’t handle anything really bad.  So for 51 years, nothing really bad has happened to me.  I’ve been laid off twice.  Both times I just went and did something else.  I had two seizures six months apart four years ago.  They gave me medicine, and I haven’t had one since.  I had a stroke, and it left me with one leg that doesn’t feel pain and one cheekbone that burns when it’s cold outside.  All the relatives I’m close to are still alive.

But there’s a tradeoff for this.  You can’t just go around in life with no problems.  There have to be obstacles to overcome and troubles to endure.  If there weren’t, when you died and went to heaven, you wouldn’t notice a difference, except that all your stuff was gone.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my first week in heaven going around asking people where my stuff is.  It really defeats the purpose if heaven is more annoying than earth.

Fortunately for me, God has an answer.  I call it Perpetual Minor Inconvenience, or PMI for short.  In exchange for avoiding catastrophe, I am plagued by petty annoyances.  I get caught at red lights a lot.  I have an uncanny knack for restaurants to screw up my order.  I’m too tall for modern airplanes.  My neckties become invisible when I’m looking for them.  My car decides to go vroom-flup for a few hours, and then get better.

My dad has a little litany he goes through when things break.  He always asks, “Is this the worst thing that could happen?”  It obviously never is.  He then asks, “Will money fix it?”  Most broken stuff can be fixed through the judicious application of money.  He then asks, “Do you have the money?”  Since there are very few things I own that I can’t replace, the answer is inevitably “yes”.  At this point, my father’s sympathy plummets.

I don’t whine about PMI (at least, I don’t mean to).  Partly because things could always be so much worse.  Mostly because PMI is part of a larger class of events known as “problems nobody has any sympathy for”.

Try telling someone your leg never hurts.  You’ll see what I mean.

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