I once had a friend frantically call me from her place of employment to ask me a serious question: What language do they speak in England? I did what any friend would do and hung up. Now, years later, that friend is the mother of three and has figured some important life things out since then. However, I’m shocked at the number of people that seem to have coasted by or flat out missed some vital lessons. I’m about to turn 30 and can attest to the fact that being an adult is hard. There are all kinds of situations to deal with, and every day something new can come up. For the most part, people are well adjusted and have a handle on things, but every once in a while you meet someone and just think, “How did you make it this far in life? How are you not dead?” We all know at least one person like that, so to make sure we are all on the same page, it would be wise to glance over this list. These are not life skills that come up every once in awhile, like how to do your taxes. Don’t know how? Pay someone, problem solved. But you can’t pay someone to show you how to eat a pomegranate, that’s just awkward (a friend of mine insisted you spit the seeds out). These are life skills that will come up time and time again and if you don’t want to be the laughing stock of your social circle, it’s best to make sure you are familiar with the 14 things every adult should know.
Artichokes are amazing. Tiny delicious leaves, best when drizzled with melted butter and slathered in mayo. After all that hard work, you are rewarded when you make it to the heart and greedily devour it. More than once have a friend and I gone to dinner, ordered an artichoke appetizer and I end up watching in horror as my friend pops the entire leaf in her mouth and proceeds to make a disgusted face while attempting to chew. You’re American, how do you not know how to eat an artichoke? And if you didn’t, wouldn’t common sense tell you to wait until someone else took a bite and then mimic that action? If you can’t take the time to learn how to eat them, then you don’t deserve them.
There are some things that are acceptable not to know. My 16-year-old self not knowing how to put air in the tires of her car? Acceptable. My 30-year-old self not knowing? Depressing. Learn basic car maintenance, like putting air in your tires or how to connect jumper cables before you reach that age where it’s too embarrassing to admit you don’t know how. Don’t be that girl that has to have her car towed because there was absolutely no oil left in it. You’ll burn through your roadside assistance, as well as any respect you once had, without this basic knowledge.
Cell phones have ruined us. If our cell phone dies, we are completely stranded. I'm amazed at how many people don’t even know their mother’s telephone number off the top of their head. Are you so busy in life that you couldn’t possibly take the time to memorize 7 digits? You’ve memorized the McDonald’s dollar menu, no room left for more information? Don’t wait until after an emergency to realize it’s an important number to know. If you don’t know all of your immediate family members’ numbers by heart, then at least take the time to learn your parents, or the person most likely to post your bail.
"I didn’t know they had grilled cheese!” That’s blasphemy. This chain has been around long enough that we should all know if we want to eat a burger with four patties, then In-N-Out is the place to go. Catch up on your lingo and know how to order what you want, like animal style. Granted, the secret menu is basically the regular menu just with more meat, so don’t go expecting a taco to magically appear before you. Despite that, the menu is still worth looking up, if only to see a faster route to cardiac arrest, which brings us to our next point.
Most people don’t even know what CPR stands for, let alone how to perform it. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is literally a life saving skill that can be learned in a day. It’s not that complex and is pretty easy to recall even after years have passed since learning it. Most instructors will even make the trip to your home or office, so there’s really no excuse to put this off any longer, especially if you have children. At least one family member should be well versed in CPR and, fingers crossed, it isn’t that person who needs it.
Ask first. It’s not difficult and might save your fingers. You might see a Lassie but he’s really a Cujo and then the owner has to put the dog down because of your stupidity? Ask the owner, hold your hand out for the dog to sniff and then go in for the pat. I’m amazed at how many parents encourage their toddlers to come up to my black lab and feel his ears. If I don’t come up to you and feel your kids’ head, don’t let them coming running up to my dog that weighs more than they do. Common curtesy and sense could keep you from being mauled.
If you choose to have children, it’s probably too late for me to convince you otherwise, but hopefully it’s not too late for a little common sense. Why make life harder than it already is? Long lines, harsh sun rays, 20 pound diaper bag lugged around all day, for what? Your six month old has no clue what’s going on, not to mention the fact that you can’t get on any cool rides. If your kid isn’t tall enough to go on Space Mountain, then save the trip until after a growth spurt. Trust me, your infant will not remember this, no matter how many photos you show him/her later in life.
It was only when the lotto was up to a billion dollars that I realized I had no clue how to buy a lotto ticket from a machine. Words like quick pick, consecutive draws and credits used meant little to me. I also found out that the time to learn how to use said machine was not during the billion dollar draw, where there was a line of 20 people waiting while my sister and I aimlessly pushed a bunch of buttons until we were out of cash. Better to work out the details before people are a little uptight.
This works like a charm every time. I for one don't have a lot of upper body strength (or any physical strength at all for that matter) and I use this life trick all the time. Any time someone can’t open a jar, it’s the first thing I ask. “Hit it with a knife yet?” How are there so many people left in the world that have never heard of this? And how are you getting into your jar goods? Until I’m able to manhandle my jars into submission, I’ll stick with this way. Besides, it’s a good way to let out some mid-day aggression.
An actual call, where you push numbers on the phone. Not a text, not an email, not a Facebook message. Every adult should know how to politely carry on a conversation over the phone. Guys: if you can’t pick up the phone to ask her out, I hope she says no. Ladies: If you can’t follow up about an interview, then you’ll be unemployed forever. In this technological age, voice communication has become a thing of the past. Sure there are people that blab on forever and it’s just easier to shoot them a text, just make sure you still know your way around a real conversation.
Like the names of all the continents. The capital of your state. The name of the nearest ocean. You don’t need to travel the world and know the names of all the tiny fisherman’s villages in Italy, but you should have an awareness of very basic geography. There’s nothing more embarrassing than setting up your new phone and asking your friend what time zone you’re in. You don’t need to know what lands comprise the Schengen area, but if someone asks where in Europe would you most like to visit, you shouldn’t have to rack your brain too hard for an answer.
I'll admit, I have no clue how to drive a manual transmission and it’s something I’ve been meaning to learn. How dumb would I feel if I'm fleeing an axe murderer and the only getaway car is a stick shift? Looks like I’m dead. In all honesty, I went to Europe and had to walk everywhere because they only had manual transmissions on the road. It was quite a hassle and I was kicking myself for not learning this earlier (not to mention the fact that everyone made fun of the “silly American” who couldn’t drive a “real” car). If we made everyone switch to stick shifts at least texting and driving would become less of a problem.
As a bartender, nothing annoys me more than a self righteous jerk who strolls up to the bar, demands my attention by snapping his fingers and proceeds to order an Alabama Slammer, his “favorite” drink. My response of “Sorry, we’re out of sloe” is always met with a blank stare. If you do not know what’s in “your” drink, it is not your drink. If you order it all the time then you should know how to make it. Period. Especially if it's a specialty drink of another bar. Bartenders do not know every drink that was ever made, especially if it was invented by a rival establishment. If you know the ingredients, there is a good chance the bartender can make it. Don’t embarrass yourself by muttering a few ingredients, trailing off, and ordering a Jack and Coke.
Sure, violence doesn’t solve anything, but neither does getting beat up because you never learned how to fight. Curling up into a ball is not a good form of self defense, nor is hair pulling. No one is saying you need to spend six days a week training so you can become the next Mike Tyson or Jackie Chan, but when things get cray, you should at least know how to throw a solid punch, if only to give you time to run away. Besides, there are some things in life you just have to fight for. Like the heart of an artichoke.