One’s Garbage – Another’s Treasure

When is the life of a super like a treasure hunt? I’ll tell you in a minute, but first, let me be holier than thou for a minute. I’m glad I’m not just a clueless super. I’m thankful I’m a person who has a life beyond running a house of homes for, umm, well-to-do people. I’m pleased that I’m happy in my work, even if I’ve been fortunate to get a decent liberal arts education.

Yes it was a state institution, but I won’t tell anyone I was once in an institution if you won’t. I’m grateful that there is more to my life than what I do from 8 to 4. (Sshhh-hh, please don’t wake up my residents from their dream — they think I’m on duty 24 hours).

In my other life, I collect books. I love to read, and have found Classic American Literature to be the savior from my daily actions of sucking up to spoiled rich people — of smiling when I want to curse or laughing when I want to scream.

Okay, now that I got THAT rot out of my system for oh, about the life of a roach, let’s get on to something else you often find in the garbage besides roaches: treasures.

“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire.” – Aristotle

I found a new Logitech Cordless keyboard and mouse in the garbage the other day. Wow. Well, it wasn’t IN the garbage. NEXT TO the garbage. Still, someone had thrown it out. I can’t believe a computer user would buy a new cordless keyboard and mouse, try to set it up, run into some slight though possibly real trouble, and instead of calling tech support and find out if one is working with a defective item (or not), then if YES returning it for a new one, and if NO attempting to divine the real problem … yeah yeah I know, forget it. Time is money.

A free cordless mouse and keyboard. In the original box. It took me about 30 minutes to determine whether or not it worked: set it up on my machine, install the software, test it, pronounce it fit for use on a super’s computer (sure, some of us have lower standards – and I may be one of them, but nevertheless, it does work just fine, thank you much). Wow! Oh, and did I mention it works perfectly?

Sometimes the life of a super in a big condo property on the upper west side can be more like a treasure hunt, than repairs and dealing with disillusioned, sometimes disgruntled, occasionally spoiled rich bambinos.

The problem, I found, was two fold. First, the directions that came with the software were (gasp!) wrong, which in essence, called for unplugging the old hardware and plugging in the new hardware, after which you shut off the computer and reboot, then install the software. But how are you going to install the software if the computer doesn’t recognize the hardware? (Without a mouse OR a keyboard it’s hard to communicate with a computer, no?) It didn’t work – even with XP Pro, at least in my case, because I tried it, just to prove them wrong. Isn’t it great to be right, even IF being right makes things tougher for you?

And second, the batteries in the mouse were installed backward. That’s it. Two items, nothing else.

“Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results.” –Unknown Author

So, instead of following the directions again, I installed the software first, then installed the hardware, which the computer recognized with the help of the software, and away we went. Quick, almost painless. And did I mention it was free?

Sometimes I can’t believe that anyone smart enough to be so rich can also be so dumb. But hey, good for me. And the truth is, of course, that you don’t have to be smart to be rich. If that were the case, few of the people in my condo would be rich. And sometimes we’re all too smart to be anything but stupid. We let our experiences, good and bad, get in the way of learning a new thing quickly, because we THINK we already know the right way, simply based on past experience.

I’ve done it before, as a super and in other niches of my life. And no doubt I’ll do it again once or twice before hitting my expiration date. I’ve done a new thing in an old way, expecting a previous outcome because of prior experience, when it would have been more helpful to keep a totally open mind about the new thing I was trying. Because a new way to do a new thing is sometimes the better way.

If one can keep an open mind things can often progress so much more smoothly. Yes, life is much more unpredictable when you make it a habit to keep your mind open to all possibilities. How can it be both? For many of us the question will immediately be: How can things go more smoothly AND be more unpredictable?

For those control freaks among us who have taken pains to tightly control and strictly plan, who deliberate, ponder, meditate and cogitate about every move for a year before making it, it won’t always be unpredictable or smooth. Some cannot have both. Some can only live in one sphere, and they think there is only one huge choice to make, and THAT will make all the difference.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I say that making many small choices is better. Yes, there will ultimately be more choices to make, many more small options and selections over which to deliberate, but what is wrong with that? What’s wrong with making many smaller choices every day, as opposed to making one or two huge choices – then having to live with them forever.

Well, maybe it has a bit to do with your comfort level with different stages of unpredictability, but not being able to predict your near future, or how things will turn out, can be a plus. You can actually have more control over your eventualities if you take lots of small options every day, than if you make one or two large choices, then have to stick with them forever and have no more planning and choosing to do down the road.

One of Robert Frost’s greatest poems is about choices. He called it The Road Less Traveled. In it he writes of choosing something over another thing, then looking back later in life and musing on how a choice or series of choices has made the chooser who he or she is, and he sums it all up by saying, “That has made all the difference.”

Allow yourself to be open to new things. Not all is always “cut and dried,” as they say, nor would it be good for you if it was. An old dog can learn new tricks. One man’s garbage really is another man’s treasure sometimes. Occasionally the old sayings hold lots of truth. You know the clichés. They become clichéd because they hold much truth, and so are often repeated.

No matter how much experience we have as supers, we all still have lots to learn – if we stay open to learning. All good to keep in our data bank – and our daily practice – in “supering” and in life.

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