Nine Things I Have Learned About People, Now That I Am Forty

My 40th birthday dinner, with the wife

Years ago, I read an essay by humorist Dave Barry - not someone I particularly admire, but whatever - in which he reflected on all the things he learned by his fiftieth birthday. I only remember one of them, but I remember it vividly: A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person. Maybe by the time I turn fifty I will have further insights. But today I am forty, and here are nine nuggets of wisdom I'd like to share. If you remember even one of them, I will be happy.

  1. Everyone thinks they can beat the odds.
  2. People who put their careers ahead of relationships are foolish. I'm thinking specifically of all the people who canceled lunch plans with me because they got called into a meeting at work.
  3. If you're stingy, everyone around you knows it, and will always remember you for it.
  4. Those who say "I hope I'm wrong about this" secretly hope they are right.
  5. Those who say "I need to do something for myself for a change!" have been thinking only of themselves all along.
  6. The people who routinely treat others with no respect or consideration become the biggest crybabies when they themselves are not treated with respect or consideration.
  7. The flakiness of others should never be taken personally. When you realize how many of them can't even organize their own daily lives, this becomes instantly apparent.
  8. When it comes to arguing over religion or politics, everyone cherry-picks. Otherwise, they'd have to acknowledge all the contradictions and gray areas, and then there would be no point in arguing.
  9. For as long as they are together, every couple, happy or unhappy, deserves each other.