Better to Have It and Not Need It …

My wife has an expression she’s used from time to time, and it absolutely drives me nuts when she does:

“It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

God, I hate it. Whenever she starts to say it, I interrupt her, loudly, demanding that she NOT finish that (insert expletive here) tripe in my presence.

She used to say it to me in response to my queries about why her purse was always so large, and so friggin‘ heavy. She’d go through a brief inventory of what’s in there, and shrug at me. And when I asked why she’d carry so much crap, she’d say it. “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”

Ugh!! I’d grit my teeth and walk away mumbling about platitudes and crap-ass old timer “wisdom” that had absolutely no relevance if the human being saying it would just use their God-given brain for a change.

Not that long ago, I was carrying my lunch to work with me in my backpack and to save hassle and noise, I decided to drop the items directly into the cavity rather than put them in a bag or lunch carrier and then throw it in there. I was having egg salad, ready-made from our grocery delivery service’s inventory, and some crackers to top it off. Off to work I went, happy it was Friday, and then down into the computer lab where I’ve been doing most of my work for the last several weeks. Lunch time rolled around and I opened my backpack to discover that my egg salad container, which was still sealed and unopened, had leaked like a colander all over my backpack. Arrrghh!! Whatta mess!!

I wiped it out the best I could and took it home to my loving spouse, who promptly emptied the contents into a grocery bag, washed it and threw it in the dryer for me. The following Sunday, I was ready to reload it and take it back to work with me on Monday.

As I went through the items, I realized how much junk and sundries I’d accumulated in the couple of months since I got the backpack. I had stuff in there like cold medicine, because I’d been so sick so often this year; glasses cleaning cloths; some lens cleaning fluid which doesn’t work very well; a Tide-to-Go pen for those annoying and unexpected stains; a pocket-sized Bible; a tiny 3″ x 5″ notebook for those inspirations that come out of the blue; my migraine kit; a couple of pencils and pens I’d forgotten about; a few USB flash drives (I don’t leave home without them); and a lint “brush” (which was really a roll of inside-out masking tape cut into toilet paper-like squares).

As I looked over the junk in the grocery bag, I decided I wasn’t going to put everything back in. I left out a couple of the USB flash drives; I took out the cold medicines; I dumped the lens cleaning fluid; and I left out the lint brush. I didn’t need that crap; most of it was sitting and collecting dust anyway. I didn’t use it, and the stuff I was left with, except the Bible, I did use most days. Satisfied that I’d pared down to the bare essentials, I loaded the backpack and went my merry way on Monday.

Today, a week later, I’m at work and slaving away over a network that doesn’t connect, and I’m waiting to acquire an IP address from the company LAN, and it’s not happening. I look down, and what do my eyes behold?

Lint. A ton of it. All over my nice, bone-colored pants.

Jeez, I groan inwardly, how long have I been like this? Who saw me looking like a damned dryer filter?? This is so embarrassing!

Mortified but alone, I decide to reach for my lint brush to get it cleaned off.

Just as I start to unzip my backpack, a strangely mocking voice rolled through my head, giggling and lilting a tease through the recesses of my mind.

Better to have it and not need it …

I couldn’t help myself — I burst out laughing aloud, alone in the echoing lab, with only the humming, non-functional computers to witness the toll of irony on my mind and soul. I wiped the tears from my eyes when I could finally control myself, and laid my head down on the table where I was working to ponder how the universe conspires against me at every turn.

The lint brush is going back into the backpack tomorrow, of course.

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