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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on January 5th, 2010, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 10, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 10, Issue 43

The Cheapskate

Rob's son has saving down to a science

By ROB KRIDER

My son has a personality disorder. It’s not the usual stuff that all kids seem to have these days: ADD, ADHD, or HUA (head up anus). It’s far worse than that. To describe it simply, he’s cheap. If he had a dollar in his pocket, and you needed 10 more cents to pay for the H1N1 flu vaccine, sorry friend, but you’re gonna die.

I don’t know how it happened. He’s become the kind of kid who won’t share any of his Halloween candy—even the candy he doesn’t like. Something chemical in his brain has made him a hoarder. If you give the kid any random thing, he keeps it forever. He absolutely refuses to part with anything he has ever gotten during his entire life. A broken McDonald’s Happy Meal toy from five years ago? He’s still got it. Even worse—if the kid gets his hands on something that he can collect, it doesn’t matter if it is a collection of Pez dispensers or dead AA batteries, he becomes militant about amassing his collection. Remember trading baseball cards? Not my son. He won’t trade anything, so don’t bother to ask.

Being a hoarder and a cheapskate obviously makes him pretty bad at sharing—for example, sharing his Legos with his sister. He’s not comfortable letting her borrow a single piece of his Legos since he has an irrational fear that the Lego won’t be returned (thus lessening his million-piece Lego collection by one piece—the horror!). Never mind that the piece his sister wanted to borrow she found lost under his bed (he didn’t even know he had it). He’ll still obsess about the borrowed Lego piece all night, wondering if it is okay. He’ll stand at her bedroom door, continually asking her if she is done playing with the Lego. Even though he hasn’t used this particular Lego piece in six years, he still wants it back, ASAP. I shouldn’t say he wants it back. He needs it back. He’ll be an emotional wreck about the Lego piece until it’s firmly in his grasp.

Because of his hoarding, his closet is filled with useless junk. Any mention of possibly cleaning out the closet and getting rid of some things is met with absolute panic. If you try to throw something of his away, he acts as if you’re killing a little part of his soul. It’s almost like he is physically attached to this junk. I can’t argue, though. There does seem to be some sort of connection there. If you try to throw something away when he is at school, he senses it and comes home to take inventory of his stuff. He’ll know if you tossed something out, even something as insignificant as a pen without ink.

   When my son is given a gift card from someone, he is faced with a troubling dilemma. He doesn’t want to spend the money, but doesn’t want it to expire. He’ll pace back and forth in the store trying to find the best deal for his money. In the end, my wife, whom I love, just gives him cash for the card, and we use it to buy something very useful, like beer.

It’s a strange condition my son has, because even though he is cheap, he’s compassionate. He truly is a very tenderhearted person. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, is a vegetarian (so as not to harm any animals), and feels incredibly guilty about things (he couldn’t sleep after I showed him what happens when you pour salt on a slug—not my greatest parenting moment). However, his compassion ends at his wallet. His heart will want to help you, but the cheapskate Scrooge in him won’t let the assistance be monetary in any way.

His hoarding and cheapness has also started to hurt his hygiene a bit. He doesn’t shower as much as we would like (I’m assuming this is to conserve water) and by the length of his toenails, I think he’s now collecting those as well. Or maybe he’s just almost 13 and this is what 13-year-old boys do: They stink.

I don’t know where this cheapness came from. His mother and father spend money freely, some could say irresponsibly. Maybe his cheapskate condition is a reaction to his parents being too loose with money. I certainly don’t want my son to be reckless with his finances, but I also don’t want him to grow up to be that guy in a restaurant who is staring at the check at the end of a date, figuring out who owes what, calculating half of the tax, and shorting the wait staff on the tip. I know people like that, and they don’t have many friends. Everyone knows it’s better to play the big shot, pick up the outrageous bar tab, put it on your credit card, and let your buddies take advantage of you. That’s how I roll, and subsequently, I have lots of friends (and lots of debt).

Even though I’m not too fond of my son’s new cheapskate personality, chances are he’ll grow up to be rich. Most of the wealthy people I’ve known over the years are also the tightest people I’ve known, which is maybe why they are so wealthy. I’m just planning ahead because I know that at the end of my life, if I haven’t made arrangements, my son will have me buried in an unmarked grave in a plain pinewood box just to save a few bucks.

Rob’s son has the world’s largest collection of remote-control cars that don’t work anymore.




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