10 Things I Wish I Had Been Taught In School
I have yet to meet a woman who didn’t know how to wrap her hair in a towel.
It’s automatic. Head down, apply towel, twist, and voila! Your hair is out of your face, and you’re free to do what you do while it dries.
There are other things, however, that don’t come naturally.
Most of them are taught in school: reading, writing, recorder performances of Hot Cross Buns – all things that were meant to better us later in life.
Well, it’s officially “later”, and cursive is deader than Latin, I haven’t don’t long division since phones came equipped with calculators, and my recorder skills haven’t exactly translated to the working world.
I feel cheated. Sure, I’m a well-rounded individual, and I’m proud of my education, but bragging to my coworkers about parachute day in gym class isn’t winning them over as much as I thought it would. There are so many things I was never taught that would have benefit me more than knowing how to calculate the velocity of a penny dropped from the Empire State Building.
So, seven years out of the public school system, I give you, 10 Things I Wish Had Been Taught In School.
(Some of you might have extensive knowledge of some or all of these, and I applaud you! These are just common sense things that sometimes leave my brain…not an excuse to be dumb, just an acknowledgement that there are things we never really “learned” that are now biting us on the butt!)
1. How to file my taxes.
Like a dog dabbling in chemistry, I have no idea what I’m doing. State taxes, federal taxes, social security, dependents…it’s all geek to me. Whenever I see people in the movies filing their taxes, they have a shoebox full of receipts and a frazzled accountant shaking their head in dismay. WHAT RECEIPTS ARE YOU SAVING?! I don’t have a box like that. The receipts I have are from the workout DVDs I bought, but have yet to open and will inevitably return. Even e-filing doesn’t feel right. If I owe money, I did something wrong, and if I’m owed money, I still probably did something wrong.
2. Basic household repairs.
There’s a good time and a bad time to discover you don’t own a plunger. The same can be said about knowing how to operate one. From plumbing to hanging pictures (and subsequently, filling holes and painting over them), there are things you don’t know how to do until you’ve done them horribly wrong. “Righty tighty, lefty loosey” can only get you so far.
3. Basic cooking techniques.
In sixth grade, we learned how to make a grilled cheese in Family and Consumer Science. That skill saved me from the Ramen-induced rage felt by many a college student. Now I consider myself a good enough cook, when I have a recipe in front of me, but there are certain things that cookbooks assume you already know how to do. Like how to hard-boil an egg. Or cook chicken so you don’t start a salmonella outbreak. God bless my mother for always answering my phone calls, and patiently talking me through mashed potatoes.
4. How to buy a car/house.
There are big purchases, like your prom dress, and then there are big purchases, like a car or a house. It’s something that you need to plan for, save for, and understand the jargon. I’m terrified to deal with a real estate agent that will use words like “escrow” and “equity”, or a car salesman who calls me “little lady”. Also, should I rent? Lease? Buy a fixer-upper? Do I need to be near good schools? I’m only 25! Why am I thinking about kids?? I’m a horrible future mother!!!
5. When it’s acceptable to start calling “grown ups” by their first name.
Granted, certain friends’ parents will always be Mr. and Mrs., but when do you start meeting people older than you, and refer to them only by their first name? When you’re 18? When you can rent a car? When you stop wearing pigtails? There has to be a line drawn, people.
6. How to apply for/pay off a loan.
Being an upper-middle class college student meant I qualified for none of the financial aid, but still had all these bills. Look in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s bank loans with incredibly high interest rates! Getting a loan was confusing, and then awesome. I suddenly had all this money, and wanted to pull a “Blank Check” and just roll around in it for a while. And then I had to pay it back. No one told me about this part. 7% over 10 years, 12% over 15…I have no idea what that means, but look at my bank account! LOOK AT IT!
7. What to do if you’re ever pulled over/have to deal with the cops.
I’m not talking about a Breaking Bad situation, but just preparing for interacting with your city’s finest. If that happens after you got caught going 12 miles over the speed limit, or the first time you call the boys in blue because your rambunctious frat-boy neighbors are keeping you up at ungodly hours (10:30 on a week night), it’s just good to know protocol. And if and when you need a lawyer, who do you call? That’s right…mom and dad.
8. Basic table manners.
Don’t worry, mom. I got this one. No elbows on the table. Check! Chew with your mouth closed. Check! Set the table…with all these forks and knives!!! Wait, what? I relate with Julia Roberts on many levels, but I never feel like Pretty Woman until I’m sitting at a fancy dinner and am given my own army of utensils. And there are rules of etiquette that I’m pretty sure were made up. Like cut off one bite at a time, and only butter your roll one bite at a time, and how to place your utensils if you’re still eating or if you’re done. I might never be in a situation where these rules are put in effect, but just like owning a pair of elbow length gloves, I’d like to be prepared.
9. How to fax.
THIS IS OLD AND OUTDATED AND I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO FAX SOMETHING!!! But, it’s still at least semi-relevant in the business world today. I’m just going to go watch, “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead” and do exactly what Christina Applegate does.
10. How to tip.
I used to work in the food industry, and we had a saying…If you can’t afford to tip your server, you can’t afford to eat out. Case closed, end of sentence. Tips are how service people make money, and the rates have changed since your parents’ day. BUT food service isn’t the only service you should be tipping. Bartenders, hair stylists, delivery people…knowing how much to tip whom is crucial. Usually, it’s a gut instinct, based on services received, but I’m still not sure how much to tip housekeepers v. masseurs.
I’ll learn most of these in time, but for now there’s Google. And mom.
Originally published on Hahasforhoohas.