Lecture to myself

July 4, 2010 | By | 5 Replies More

Over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced a string of financial and personal set-backs. These setbacks include various major car repair bills, some aches and pains, a minor auto accident (no injuries), and just when I was resigning myself to simply pay the bills and deal with the aches and pains, my iPhone fell out of its holster at the grocery store tonight. I made a call while in the store, then noticed that I didn’t have my phone when I got into my car. I scoured the parking lot with a flashlight, then retraced all of my steps within the store. No phone could be found. The store employees helped out, and then didn’t find anything either. The off-duty cop said to consider it stolen—the crooks remove the sim cards and sell the phones.

I was angry tonight, because I was obsessed on the obvious point that some bastard stole my phone instead of turning it in. That is also a rather narrow view of justice, I’ll admit. Who knows what kind of torment the iPhone thief experienced. Maybe he (I’ll assume it was a he) was born into an extremely shitty family and never recovered from that. Not that some people don’t show extraordinary resilience, but these relatively rare exceptions don’t mean that we should expect extraordinary accomplishments from most ordinary people. But I digress.

At the point where I learned that the person who found my phone kept it rather than turning it in, I was, as I mentioned, pissed. Then I learned that a replacement phone would cost $400, on top of all the other surprise expenses this month: a $700 car repair, a $1,500 car repair, $900 in dental work, probably $700 in costs related to the car accident, $1,000 for a medical test, $800 to replace some PA speakers (I’m a working musician) and a few other things I’m still too frustrated to want to try to remember. It has been one broken thing after another this month, after a long period during which gadgets had been relatively reliable.

I allowed myself to be pissed for awhile, during which and after which, my wife and daughters had some very good questions and comments all guided by empathy. After some distance from the iPhone episode, I reminded myself that despite the aches and pains, and the heavy unexpected expenses, I am physically and financially OK; I will dig deep into savings and pay these bills. Far worse things have happened to other people, and I should be glad every day that things aren’t worse than they are. Basically, I reminded myself to count my blessings and to consider the plights of others who are in truly desperate shape. I then thought of the millions of unimaginably poor African women who must march five hours in the hot sun every day to fill their sacks with a few gallons of water. As far as aches and pains, I reminded myself that the human body is so incredibly complex that it is miraculous that it works at all.

But I also scolded myself on an existential plane. When I hear someone claim that they have been treated unfairly, I often think, “You have no right to be here on planet earth at all. The odds that you would have been born at all were infinitesimally small. It’s all gravy, idiot. You have no ‘right’ to anything at all.” That’s the lecture I gave to myself today: count your everyday blessings and then go to a quiet place to consider the existential, evolutionary and statistical miracle that you were born at all. This helped me put things into much better perspective.


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Category: Education

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Afordable Failures | Dangerous Intersection | July 7, 2010
  1. Ben says:

    Better Get a Paper Route, Erich

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Ben: Running a blog is not a great method for digging out of these financial rough spots. I make $80/month in ad fees, but the hosting is $100/month. And then there are extra consult fee and software fees on top of that.

    It's all worth it, but maybe you're right that I should start a paper route too.

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:


    There is a simple bit of insurance for smart phones. There is a smartphone locator app that can be trigger by a text message to remotely lock the phone, and optionally use the gps to determine the phone's location and email it to the owner.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Niklaus: I did notice that clever software. With it, I could have directed the police to the exact house where someone has my (stolen) phone. How cool is that? I understand that it costs about $65 per year.

      I already had a security code on my phone. I had it rigged to trigger after 30 minutes of non-use. I finally did find my phone (it fell out of the holster in my backyard). I now have it rigged to trigger after 5 minutes. The thought of buying a new phone was an irritant, but I really didn't like the possibility that someone might have had a list of all of my personal contacts and other business information.

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