Al Batt: You conquered the grind, now clang the grad gong 

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Angry hailstones the size of bowling balls had battered my poor car.

That was not on my to-do list.

Al Batt

OK, the hailstones weren’t quite that large, but that’s what I told my insurance company. That’s not true, either. I haven’t called them. I did call my health insurance company because they denied a $3,000 bill from the clinic because I’d had the right test done at the wrong time. I’d have understood if they had denied it because I’d used Dr. Batty’s Asthma Cigarettes, sat inside a rotting whale carcass to treat rheumatism, employed  maggots to heal wounds or drank snake oil to cure whatever ailed me, but I didn’t do any of those things. It wasn’t an elective test that I’d had done. Maybe the car insurance will overpay me by $3,000 so I’ll come out even. Yeah, that will happen.

The hailstones were merely golf-ball sized. Big enough.

I came home after being gone for a week. I carried things into the house in tote bags promoting the Friends of the Library, Audubon and New Yorker magazine. They screamed I was someone whose briefcase was in the shop. 

Then I went for a walk. So had a skunk. It was a good news, bad news thing. The good news was a car didn’t hit me. The bad news was the skunk was hit. I didn’t know the skunk, but I’d seen it around and its scent was familiar. It was eye-watering, just like much of life. I was sorry it had died and left me a noseful in its will.

Hail, claim denial and skunk spray weren’t terrible things, but Grandma said bad things happen in threes. It’s true, but it depends upon what you count and how long you count. Good things happen in threes, too, and more often than bad things.

It’s time for this commencement speaker to commence giving the commencement address. 

My mother’s advice was to make yourself useful. Learn until you know something about something. And, if you have the time, develop a superpower or two. Maybe not spider-sense. Spiders don’t even have that. Only Spider-Man does.

A basketball referee never misses as many calls as the average fan does.

Keep the receipts.

How it is and how you thought it would be won’t be the same.

Be skeptical, not cynical.

You’ll never own the world even if you buy now and pay later.

Be kind. It demonstrates  strength.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” William Shakespeare said that. He said a lot of things.

If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done. 

Getting there is half the fun — skip while you can.

There are two kinds of people: Those who hurry when they see a yellow traffic light and those who slow down when they see a yellow light. It’s a good idea to be one or the other.

Not all dragons deserve slaying.

You can’t go to Plan B unless you have a Plan A. 

Never forget the magic of breakfast cereal. Get yourself a good toaster. That way you can cook.

Embrace change. Brush your teeth with the hand you don’t normally use for that task.

After years of hard work and dedication, you’ll be older. Write things down. Keep a diary or a journal. Otherwise, you’ll be like Dylan Thomas who said, “I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was 12, or whether it snowed for 12 days and 12 nights when I was six.”

Greet each day with the excitement you felt when first seeing your artwork on the refrigerator door.

No matter what you do, it’s a good idea to bring a note from your mother.

Alan Kay, a computer scientist, said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Or you could get a calendar and predict tomorrow’s date.

I learned in Commencement Speaker College that I should conclude with a conclusion. 

If you want people to listen to your commencement address when you make one, just say, “And finally.”

Remember, the worst that could happen is that you won’t become what you already aren’t.


Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.