Anonymous Mailbag

It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag to rescue you from your work or school doldrums.

As always you can email me your questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

And full disclosure, read until the end for the final story.

Okay, here we go:

“I am a big fan writing you from NJ (the nice rural part of the state). I am a 31 year old living in NJ, married, but with no kids yet. I’ve been in a corporate sales role for 4 years and make 6 figures. We recently downsized as a company and I am in a new sales role selling a commodity product. I absolutely hate my job now, the people I work with on a daily basis and I have questions about the companies long term health. 
I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a real estate agent. I figure I have the sales background, and the real estate market in NJ allows for higher commissions. I also know I will work my ass off and believe if I bet on myself that two years from now I will not regret it. 
However, my biggest concerns are giving up my health insurance, my steady paycheck and eating thru the savings we have worked so hard for. I also don’t know if I want to spend part of my weekends working, although I would have great job flexibility and think if I love the job it would not be bad.
Am I stupid to consider trading in the security of my job to chase this?”
When it comes to trading in one job for another I think there are two primary things you need to consider: 1. where will I be at my job now versus where I could be at a new job in five to ten years and 2. will I be happier (or at least like my new job more)?
Many people don’t make career moves because they aren’t good at forecasting what the future at their present job will be like. So I think you need to try and forecast what your next five to ten years looks like if you continue where you work now.
Granted that’s a broad horizon, but if you aren’t comfortable your exact job will still exist and you will be at least making the same amount of money on an inflation-adjusted basis as you make now than that job you have now might not make a ton of sense going forward anyway.
In other words, switching careers might not be that risky, it might be required. In which case you have to adjust your cost-benefit analysis to make sense of it all.
As for giving up the health benefits, I tend to think this is overrated. Especially if you’re 31 years old, healthy, and don’t have a family yet.
I bought my own health insurance for years, for both my family and me for years after I started Outkick and was self-employed here, and I found it to be fairly affordable. Especially if, and this is key, you buy a plan with a large deductible and just focus on protecting yourself from the worst case scenarios.
If you’re young and healthy, you probably don’t need to worry about anything other than coverage for a major, unexpected event.
The truth is most people don’t actually need health insurance for an average year of health-related issues, they just need the protection that comes if you face something catastrophic.
Think of it this way, you only use your car insurance if you have an accident, right? Otherwise you pay for everything that your car needs. Health care coverage is pretty much the same.
And, by the way, this fires me up so I’m going to take a minute and fire away with a rant here.
I took one of my sons for a strep throat test earlier this year and didn’t have my wallet. We went to a Vanderbilt health clinic out near my house, one of those walk-in clinics, and since I didn’t have my health insurance card with me I gave them my contact info figuring they’d tie it to my insurance.
But that didn’t happen so we got billed for the visit as an uninsured patient. Well, thanks to the fact that another son had also been checked for strep throat the prior week on a separate visit and since he went with my wife, she, of course, had her insurance card so we could compare the two bills.
And it turns out our bill as an uninsured patient was half what it was when we went as an insured family. HALF!
So I would have been better off just going in and paying the rack rate for people without insurance than giving them my insurance card!
You can’t tell me this isn’t common everywhere.
It turns out those of us with insurance are often getting charged double what people without insurance are paying. Which is just further evidence, as if we needed any at all, of our health care system in this country being entirely broken.
That’s why I wish we just had a pure markets based health system.
Your employer shouldn’t be obligated to give you health care just like your employer doesn’t pay for your car insurance. It’s nonsensical.
We should all make decisions on our health care based on price and cost just like we do with everything else in this country. Everyone doesn’t drive the same priced car or live in the same priced residence, so why should everyone receive the same priced health care?
But just like every car and every residence has a requirement of a basic level of acceptability, the government could work to ensure that there’s a minimum standard of available care.
It’s just wild to me that we have a market-based economy — which works really, really well — in everything but health care in this country. I’ve written about this before, but how is it that I’ve had three kids and never had any idea what any of the births would cost? Yet we toured all these hospitals to decide which one to have our kids in and not one person at any of these hospitals ever mentioned cost. Imagine if you picked a hotel room like this? You went and toured all the hotel rooms and no one told you what they cost and then you picked one. Everyone would pick the nicest one. Which means all the hotels would compete based on amenities instead of price. But what’s the one thing you’d most want to know if you had to pay out of pocket? THE PRICE OF THE ROOMS!
And what would that lead to?
The companies competing on cost! Which hospital could provide the best treatment for the best price!
End rant.
My final thought on your question — be careful with the real estate industry. I happen to think the commissions on real estate transactions are borderline criminal in nature. Six percent of the purchase price of a home to real estate agents seems astronomical to me.
Especially when so much of a home’s value and measurable data is easily searchable online now.
Remember that stock trading used to be insanely expensive and now it’s basically free. I feel like many are starting to ask whether real estate commissions are way too high and I expect for that industry to get disrupted in a big way in the years ahead.
I’m not saying real estate agents don’t work hard, provide value, or don’t deserve to make good livings, I’m just saying, how many of you think if a house sells for a million dollars that two people who might work a relatively small amount of time deserve thirty thousand dollars each for their work in selling that property? Doesn’t the home owner deserve a greater share of this? And aren’t there probably people out there who would do it for half that if they were permitted?
I think so.
“I’ve been talking to a girl recently and she’s really into Star Wars (probably way too much, but insanely hot) and when she talks about it or makes a reference (it’s often) I have no idea and just pretend to laugh because I have never seen a single movie in my entire life. She’s also into this new show about it on Disney.  I’ve decided to watch them, but what order am I even supposed to watch these in? Can I get away with not watching some of them, and what’s the fastest way to watch and what is the best order to watch so that I understand it the best?” 
First, this girl sounds awesome.
Second, I think you’re playing this all wrong. You need confess to her that you’ve been lying about having seen Star Wars because you liked her and were afraid she wouldn’t like you if you admitted the truth. But now that your relationship has grown you realize you need to come clean and see the movies.
You’re like her dream come true — A STAR WARS VIRGIN!
Otherwise she’s going to take you to the new Star Wars movie with her and you’re going to be like a foreigner who has never seen a football game before trying to rank your top five quarterbacks of all time.
It’s just impossible.
After you confess you can let her map out the best viewing strategy. This way you have like nine built in dates and she’ll probably get turned on by you being interested in Star Wars because of her and you’ll be banging a girl while watching Star Wars, which is like 99% of Star Wars dudes best possible life outcome.
If she dresses up like Princess Leia in the process, I’m pretty sure they’ll carry you into the next Star Wars convention like the Ewoks did C-3PO in “Return of the Jedi.”
For everyone else out there who hasn’t ever seen Star Wars, I’d suggest watching them I, II, IV, V, VI, III, VII, VIII, IX (This preserves a big surprise that you’ll otherwise experience at the end of episode III. But, honestly, I feel like most people know this surprise already just through pop culture, so I don’t think watching them in order is a bad move either. For instance, my own kids watched the movies starting with episode I, which they loved because it focuses on a kid. Of course, SPOILER ALERT FOR YOU STAR WARS VIRGINS, DON’T READ THE REST OF THIS ANSWER, this means my kids saw Anakin turn into Darth Vader. Which really tormented my middle son, who absolutely loved Anakin up until Episode III. After all, he’d been viewing himself as Anakin and then, BOOM, Anakin turns into sci-fi Hitler.
Seriously, I don’t think we talk enough about the impact of young kids seeing the protagonist of the first two movies turn evil in episode three.
So I think we underrate the pivot point here based on what was the pivot point for our generations. If you watch them chronologically Episode I begins with Anakin as the kid hero of the movie and then he turns into a bad guy in episode III. Arguably this character arc, especially if you don’t know it’s coming, is more jarring from I to III than finding out Darth Vader is Luke’s father in episode IV.
“I’m a first year law student in Nashville, and I live with 3 other first year grad students who went to undergrad with me (2 of us from Nashville, 2 from elsewhere). Now that classes are over and we have all day to sit around and study, myself and the other Nashville-native were studying in our living room and decided to turn on the high school football state championship game.
Then our other two roommates come in and immediately question why we’re watching high school football (schools we didn’t go to are playing, no less). We just said we weren’t really watching the game, it was just the only thing on…you know how daytime TV is. Anyways, they refuse to let the argument die about how weird it is to watch high school football voluntarily, and come to this conclusion that everyone actually from Nashville can’t let the old-time small-town days go and still support local high school sports.
So my first question, is just the act of having a high school football game on my TV during the day weird? If not, then what is the furthest a normal adult can support a high school football team before it’s weird? I’m not counting parents, siblings, coaches, etc., I mean the local 30-year-old, could’ve-gone-pro-with-no-knee-problems electrician. It’s crazy to me that there are adults who actually obsess over the success of their high school alma mater’s football team. I just need confirmation that what I was doing by watching the game nonchalantly was normal behavior, because if it wasn’t, then I’m one of those weirdos.”
I think it’s totally normal to watch a high school football game while you’re home in the middle of the day.
What else is on?
I think your roommates are wrong here.
These games rate well all over the South and, hell, they sell out Jerry’s World down in Dallas for the Texas high school state games.
I think what’s considered too much interest totally depends on what’s normal entertainment in your town. Do you think it’s weird if tons of people show up to root for a college team despite no connection to the players on the team? Probably not.
So I don’t think it’s weird if the primary weekend entertainment in your town is to show up for high school football that you’d show up for high school football.
As a general rule, however, I think you should care far less about the outcome of any sporting event featuring minors.
If a kid hasn’t started to even shave yet and you’re obsessing about his athletic achievements, you probably need to get a life.

“I’m currently a grad student at an SEC school, set to graduate in the Spring with a great job lined up afterwards. I recently ended a long term (4+ year) relationship with my live-in girlfriend. It sucked, but everything is finally resolved/paid for and I’m settling in to a new place.

This weekend I decided to go out and try a nearby bar I’d heard about. At some point a group of girls celebrating a birthday came in. Later in the night, one of them comes over to me and says “My friend thinks you’re cute, you should ask her to dance”. The friend was good looking, and I had had a few drinks so I went for it. Long story short we hooked up and it was the best night I’ve had in forever.

The next time my group of friends met up I told them what happened. The guys in the group congratulated me, but the girls seemed horrified that I’d do that less than 2 months after ending such a long relationship. Here’s the thing: the breakup wasn’t spur of the moment, it was the end of a months-long struggle with losing my feelings for her and realizing she had some manipulative tendencies. Additionally, after the breakup, her/her friends got their revenge by putting my number on Craigslist, cursing me out in public places, etc., all of which helped make me feel justified in my decision and I regret nothing.

My question: Is there something wrong with me for not feeling guilty about what I did, and is the idea of a mourning period for a relationship ridiculous to anyone else?”

There is nothing wrong with what you did at all.
Men, most of the time, view sex as unconnected to emotions. Women, most of the time, view sex as connected to emotions.
The women viewed your actions as a response to the end of the relationship; that is they saw it as still connected. The men viewed your actions as the logical extension of no longer being in a relationship; that is, they saw it as entirely disconnected from the relationship.
The girls here were expecting for you to seek a similar level of emotional connection before you had sex again, the men did not.
On a related note, these girls also sound like buzz kills, but they may also have seen your story as bragging about a sexual exploit, something that men are more likely to enjoy than women are.
Confession time, for all of you who read this far into the anonymous mailbag.
I just survived a poopcaplypse.  
Since we are in the anonymous mailbag trust tree, here goes:
Yesterday the wife and I took our three kids to go see “Christmas Vacation,” in the movie theater. (They’re showing it in the normal movie theater and my three boys, ages 11, 9 and 5 have never seen the movie before so we thought it would be fun to take them).
They absolutely love the movie and we have an awesome time watching it.
But we all get treats and I end up eating a bunch of their nachos and one of those massive bags of Peanut M&M’s. Near the end of the movie, my stomach starts acting up, but I think I can make it home without too much trouble.
Bad idea.
You know how it feels when you’re about to have diarrhea? It comes in waves. You think you’re fine one minute, then you get a wave and it typically subsides. This happens several times as you’re driving home. Then it always seems, at least to me, that as soon as you get remotely close to your house it’s like your bowels know it and they start to come close to erupting.
It’s uncanny how many times this happens to me.
So we pull up to the house and I tell my kids that I have to run inside the house to get to the bathroom. I’m sprinting through the house about to erupt with diarrhea, rush into our bathroom, rip down my pants and slide into the seat just as everything comes pouring out.
For a fraction of a second, I’m like, MADE IT.
And I’m exulting in that great feeling of bowel release when I suddenly feel diarrhea on the backs of my legs.
Turns out, the cover seat to the toilet falls back down as I’m sliding into the toilet and I’d just diarrhea’d all over the top of the toilet seat.
I mean, just completely cover it in hot, funky, grotesque diarrhea.
But the first wave has just hit and more is to come so I flip the cover seat back up and then get the rest into the toilet.
Meanwhile the smell is revolting because, of course, the diarrhea is everywhere and I’m sitting there evacuating my bowels cursing like a sailor.
First of all, WHY DO TOILETS HAVE COVERS AT ALL? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A TOILET COVER? WHY DO WE EVEN HAVE ONE? WE ALL KNOW WHAT THE INSIDE OF A TOILET LOOKS LIKE. THE SUN ISN’T SHINING DOWN ON THE SAHARA EVAPORATING WATER FROM INSIDE THE BOWL.
IT MAKES ZERO SENSE FOR TOILET SEAT COVERS TO EVEN EXIST.
Second, I’m now gagging because of the smell.
I mean, full on leaned forward as far as I can to try and escape the smell, nearly dying.
Meanwhile my kids and my wife all come into the bathroom and are dying laughing because OH MY GOD, DAD HAS POOPED HIMSELF.
Here I am sitting on the toilet with no pants on, hunched over gagging in the bathroom and my entire family is laughing at me.
Clearly, I get no respect in my house.
So I’m done pooping and I’m just sitting there on the toilet, like it’s a damn diarrhea murder scene in the bathroom, just diarrhea everywhere, the floor, the walls, my legs and I legit was thinking to myself, I wish there was someone I could call to clean this up. Because my wife isn’t going to help at all — and I don’t blame her — but if there was a poop Uber, I would have paid hundreds of dollars for a biohazard team to show up at my house and take care of this.
I’m not kidding, $500 cash, right then and there to someone to take care of it and make it all go away.
I ask my wife what to do and she says, “Well, you better clean that shit up!”
So my wife brings me a heavy duty collection of cleaning supplies — it looks like I’m trying to clean up a murder scene with all the supplies she drops off — and I eventually stand up and pull the fucking seat cover back down. (I want to take all the toilet seat covers out of my house now and smash them like in Office Space).
And I swear to god what looks like an entire pot of chili is just piled on the back of the toilet.
Only it doesn’t smell like chili.
And I have no idea how to get it up because it’s fucking diarrhea, not a couple of turds.
How do you even pick that up? Especially because we have one of those bathrooms with the toilet inside its own tiny room so there’s hardly room enough to scoop anything.
I actually asked my wife if we had one of those mini-gardening shovels. (It turns out we don’t have one of these, but it did lead my wife to ridicule the idea I had, which was evidently ridiculous, that we might have a mini-gardening shovel.)
So I’ve got zero idea what do to here.
So my wife gives me a pair of those latex rubber gloves and I put them on and try to pick it up, but, lest I need to remind you, it’s fucking diarrhea so it’s running through my hands and impossible to grip and I immediately have to rush to the sink and I throw up there because the smell is so bad.
So here I am throwing up in my sink with diarrhea covered biohazard gloves on my hands while I’ve filled the bathroom behind me with diarrhea everywhere.
This is not a good life moment.
It takes me a full hour, during which time I think I set the dry heave world record, to clean the bathroom.
And, frankly, I’m still not over the poopacolpyse.
Even now writing about it, I’m starting to dry heave again thanks to PTSD — poop traumatic stress syndrome.
So I’ll leave you all now with a piece of advice.
Pull all your seat covers off your toilets and never buy one again.
They are worthless, absolutely worthless.
(And be careful mixing nachos and peanut M&M’s at the movie theater. That almost killed me.)
Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.
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