After 31 years, I finally got a raise. With my youngest child graduating from college last month, I am no longer supporting deadbeat children. The spigot has been turned off.
     "Letís celebrate!!" I said to my wife, who has financially suffered along with me for 31 long years, which was when our first child was born. "How about a trip to Tahiti or something?"
    "That would be nice," she replied as she turned the pages of Architectural Digest, already contemplating where next yearís tuition savings would be spent. "But so would a remodeled kitchen."
    Deciding where we would spend our newfound savings might take some time. But we were looking forward to the challenge. The only thing standing in our way was making sure all children were employed.
    We gave the youngest a month to find work following graduation. And find work he did, capturing an entry-level job at a financial services firm.
    "Congratulations," I told him when hearing the news. 
"Your rent will begin July 1st."
    "WHAT!!!" he cried. "How about a grace period?"
    He was living in our rundown, beatup house in San Diego along with his brother while they attended the University of San Diego. Of course, it wasnít rundown or beatup when they moved in.
    "Youíve had a grace period of 22 years," I answered. "Now itís my turn."
    Since we considered it an historic occasion, my wife and I flew down to San Diego on July 1st to personally collect the rent. The 22 year old had been working for a few weeks, and his 23 year old brother had been working as an engineer following his graduation. It was time for both to pay up.
    But first we wanted to actually watch them go to work in the morning. So we got up early on Monday, July 2nd, and were right there when they came out of their rooms and headed for the door at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m.
    "Iím so proud," I slobbered, fighting away a tear. "I never thought this day would happen."
    "Itís just a job," the 23-year old sleepily replied. "Donít get so excited."
    "I could care less about the job," I said as I stared at both of them with such admiration. "Iím just thrilled to see both of you with your pants pulled up."
    Sure enough, not a shred of underwear could be seen protruding from their waistline. Their shirts were tucked in, and their pants were hitched above their butts, belt and all. What a magnificent sight!!
    They were not as impressed as my wife and I. They just shook their heads and sluffed out the door.
    "Are you forgetting something?" I asked, my palm outstretched.
    They came back inside to write their rent checks. Not having written a check before, it took longer than usual.
    They tried to get a credit for nights we stayed at the house when visiting or on business in San Diego, but to no avail. And when we reminded them they would also be paying utilities, I believe they considered running away and joining the circus.
    The college dream was officially over. The real world, where people work, write checks, and pull their pants up, beckoned. They didnít look happy about it at 7 a.m., but my wife and I certainly were.
    As the door closed and they went off to make money, we stared at the checks. We thought about depositing them in the bank and saving for a rainy day. Instead, we booked two nights at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, only a 25 minute drive away.
    As we drove to the hotel, we thought about the boys, hard at work making money. We commented that we should at least let them know where we were. So I texted them at around 6:00, right after they got home.
    "At Rancho Bernardo Inn. Just finished a relaxing massage at their spa and now getting ready to go have an expensive dinner. Thanks again!!!!"
    Payback is a beautiful thing.



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