Laura on Life

Tending to the rules

By Laura Snyder

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[July 12, 2008]  The world is a busy place. Especially for those who follow all the rules. Whenever you acquire something new, the directions always have their set of "recommendations" for proper maintenance and procedures to ensure the continued life of the product.

DonutsThe lawn mower needs the blades changed regularly; you have to turn the mattresses every six months; prune your trees in the fall; and be aware of the proper pressure for the tires on your car. Who has time to remember all of these rules?

I have owned perhaps five or six refrigerators in my life, and not once did I remember to change the filter. I want you to know that nothing catastrophic ever happened to my refrigerator because of a clogged filter. We did have a lightning strike that caused considerable damage, and there was a power surge caused by a hungry squirrel eating the aluminum casing off our ground wire, but never a filter malfunction.

One rule I do adhere to is changing the oil in my car every 3,000 miles. I'm over 3,000 miles right now and that's why I haven't had a good night's sleep in 250 miles. I am imaging all that "bad" oil eating my car from the inside out. Every small sound it makes, I put down to "bad" oil. I know my car must hate me. It's like forgetting to feed your parrot. It starts talking trash to you.


For some reason, I'm much more casual about changing the filters in my car. When I go in for an oil change, the mechanic will pull filters out of places I didn't know I had filters and show me how bad they are. But filters are expensive.

I think, "Oh, they'll be fine for another few months. I'll just ask my husband to do a once-over with the cat brush and hose them down."

Another rule I've heard is that you have to pump out your septic tank every so often. My septic tank happens to be under my bulb garden, so that'll have to wait until the situation becomes critical. Somehow, intentionally making my tulips mingle with my gladioluses and lilies seems much worse than the mere possibility of a damp, smelly spot in my back yard. I just can't do it.

I can hear all those septic tank guys now: "You'll be sorry!"

Yeah, well, that's coming from a guy who drives a truck named "The Turdinator" and advertises that "We're No. 1 in the No. 2 business!"

They're probably right, but it's hard to take those guys seriously.

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The "rules" say you have to rotate your tires, nip the buds off your roses and clean under your burner pans.

Every year, I'm supposed to spray for termites, get my teeth cleaned and get a mammogram. I know there could be serious consequences if I don't do these things. I do. But somehow the business of actually living my life interferes with the "important things."

The things I do remember to do are the ones that slap me in the face. When I see gray roots, I color my hair. The motivating factor here is vanity. If your doctor says you're at risk for colon cancer, which means, in the best-case scenario, you'd be wearing a poop bag for the rest of your life, you schedule that colonoscopy.

I read once that mothers and fathers who really care about their kids should bathe their toys once a week in bleach water to prevent colds. Do I love my children? Absolutely! Did I ever bathe their toys? I was lucky if I found time to bathe my kids. The colds came, I wiped noses, shoveled cough syrup and rubbed VapoRub on their chest. Then they got better.

Life is like that.

Auto Repair

Even if you follow all the rules, your kids will still get sick, your car will still break down, your teeth will still need root canals, and, like it or not, you're still going to die.

I'm sure I'll be hearing from every well-meaning termite exterminator, septic tank pumper, pediatrician, furnace and refrigerator repairman, and Susan Komen for the Cure.

These people are experts in their fields and see the worst-case scenarios for their fields every day. They feel that not following their rules would result in the worst thing that could happen in your life.

To some of us, the worst thing that could happen would be forgetting to live your life while you tend to all the rules.


You can reach the writer at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit www.lauraonlife.com for more columns and info about her books.


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