Starting with Nothing

The past couple of days have been an endless slog – either helping other people with their code at work, or trying to uncover the nature of the horrors clients have visited upon their computer systems. I’m way behind with the work I was scheduled on over the last week. Oh well. There’s only one of me I guess.

I get annoyed actually – with other people. I know that sounds like a stupid thing to say, but I do. I get annoyed with people that look for help before they really need it. I have learned more about software development while burning the midnight oil to figure out how to solve problems than at any other time. I guess it’s a mindset thing – knowing that you are the end of the road with a particular problem, and knowing that nobody is going to step in and save you. It’s down to you to figure out what the hell you’re going to do.

People running “go fund me” campaigns for personal reasons annoy me for the same reason. We ran out of money at home a few years back – we didn’t go begging. We started selling stuff, really quickly. We made a lot of money very quickly, and we said goodbye to a lot of things we wished we hadn’t. We went without for months – bought the cheapest food, turned the heating down, wore winter clothes around the house to keep warm. We did what we had to. For a time we had no car, because we couldn’t afford to run one.

I remember the first few days living on my own. I had nothing. I boiled water on the cooker in a saucepan, because I didn’t have a kettle. I can remember the huge order coming in from Argos when I got my next pay-cheque. I suddenly had simple things, like a clock, and a toaster. Over time I bought more and more things – cutlery and mugs from the cheap shop in town. My sister-in-law took me shopping a few weeks later to help get the things I didn’t have – sharp knives, a cutting block, detergents, cleaning cloths, coat-hangers… the list went on and on. I bought the cheapest versions of nearly everything.

I remember buying my first bed, several months later – my first double bed. A friend actually bought it that owed me money – she then owed the bed shop. I remember buying two sets of bedding, and the shop assistant remarking that it was unusual that I knew exactly what I wanted (my sister in law had instructed me what to get).

I remember ordering my first furniture, and it being a big deal. I had been sitting on the floor for months, on a collection of travel blankets bought from discount stores. I thought they looked fine, but felt bad when visitors came round and we had to sit on the floor. The only chair I had for months was the chair at the computer desk, brought from home when I moved out.

It makes me angry that so many people expect to just “have” so much stuff. Until you’re up shit creek without a paddle, you don’t learn to make do, or to adapt, or to be happy with what you have. I know it’s an old saying, but when I lived in that first apartment, and had almost nothing, it was one of the happiest times of my life.

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