How to survive on "nothing"

Published on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 by Ken Knutsen

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My sister’s oldest son is a bright lad; he has graduate degrees in law and physics. 

He’s now a member of the local establishment and, according to my sister, wonders how his uncle can survive on “nothing.” 

I’m an aged ex-commercial fisherman, a casualty of the Boldt Decision (1970s – Hey Gillnetters, remember that?).

So how has a member of the “proletariat” survived over the years? Emotionally, I’ve coped with the conundrums and absurdities of life with a ludicrous, often absurd sense of humor – sometimes annoying to friends and acquaintances, I don’t deny.

Here are a few excerpts from a book I hope to write on how to survive on “nothing.”

  • Hang clean paper towels up to dry. When visiting local bathrooms, grab a few extra paper towels to take home.
  • Don’t shower until Sunday before going to church (save the hot water). Monday through Saturday, dose yourself with underarm deodorant.
  • When biking, be brave; stop to pick up that quarter in the midst of traffic. When old (like me), don’t pick up a penny on the sidewalk unless you are followed by a pretty lady. Ask her to help you back up.
  • On daily walks, capture a cup of coffee from your bank; does the city hall still serve coffee?
  • While fishing in ancient days, I checked the dumpsters that served where the rich were harbored. I got things I needed – tarps, tableware and old clothes. I was cautious, however, to make sure lavish thrown-away meals were still edible!
  • In bygone days, I often checked parking spaces near taverns on Sunday mornings. Saturday night elbow-benders were so often careless when drawing keys from pockets laden with coins.
  • New dentures? Too expensive. I let my mustache grow to my lower lip. But I still smile, carefully!

Oh! A cautionary note: can I be crude, but perhaps helpful? I never restricted my use of toilet paper!

Fate was kind to me when over the years commercial fishing restored my health. Upon reflection, it also enhanced my understanding of factors that enrich one’s life: faith, health, family and friends, all of which inspire hope!