Mark Washburn

Graduates, here are the keys to life

It is once again my pleasure to address the graduating class. Feel free to continue staring at your phones because something interesting is probably happening somewhere else.

Speaking of annoying, let’s talk a second about your parents.

They are so proud of you – and of the way you have asserted your independence in these past few years of personal growth – that they have built a shrine at the curbside of the house. It’s called your stuff, and you can pick it up any time.

On this graduation day, certain secrets of life can now be revealed to you as you begin to make your way into the world. Things like:

•  Bathrooms do not clean themselves.

•  When you buy a tire, always pay extra for the road-hazard insurance. This ensures the tire will never hit a road hazard.

•  You’ll never be good at something unless you’re bad at it at first.

•  Never let the office copier know you’re in a hurry.

•  When it comes to technology, you must learn that it doesn’t matter what the problem is; the only guy who can fix it is off until next week.

•  A special shoutout to those of you who have decided to pursue a teaching career, a profession that we will tell you we hold in high esteem. Now, take your energy and skills to a state that actually appreciates them. But, please, plan to return to us when we come to our senses.

•  You will occasionally meet people who are negative about everything. Stay away, positively.

•  Your immunity to french-fry calories expires in exactly five years. You cannot renew.

•  A year or two after leaving home, you will notice a startling change in your parents. They will appear to be getting smarter. This trend will accelerate when you have kids of your own. No one knows why.

•  Change the oil in your car every six months and take care of your teeth every day. These two minor investments pay big dividends over time.

•  If everyone is against you, maybe the problem isn’t them.

•  Spend all you want on clothes, but if you really want to look good to others, try wearing a smile.

•  People don’t really remember who made the mistake. What they remember is the person who tried to alibi his or her way out of admitting it.

•  Dating someone wild and crazy is great fun. Marrying them isn’t.

•  If you hate your job, go find another one. Everybody wins.

•  Every now and then, just for a thrill, close up the laptop, pop out the earbuds and put away the phone. That thing that you’ll discover doing it – it’s called Life.

One more thing.

You’re the smartest, strongest, savviest generation ever minted. We have great hopes for you.

Most of all, we hope you will clean up the mess we’ve left this world in.