My Dad And I Are, Have Always Been, Different People
The following conversation took place on the phone, was transcribed in real time, and has been edited by both parties for punctuation, capitalization, general readability, and intent. Some failed jokes have been taken out (some have been left in).
Logan Sachon: Dad. Hi. I was thinking today about life, well, my life. And then I was thinking about your life, and how you’re so good at being an adult, and a provider, and how when you were my age, which is 27 but almost 28, you were already married with a child and owned a house and had a career.
Mike Sachon: I think you’re giving me too much credit there. I still made a lot of stupid mistakes, Logan. I didn’t have everything figured out. Still don’t.
Logan: Well, that doesn’t really go with the narrative I’m trying to establish here? And also, I don’t think it’s true. Because look at me, sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a shared apartment in Brooklyn, which is my own little version of success considering I spent the past year living with you and Mom. And I have negative dollars to my name.
Mike: But we’re so glad you’re happy.
Logan: Oh, I’m sure you are. I am, too. But as I was thinking of you versus me, your child, your spawn, I was struck by this story you’d told me, of you going to college. That when you went, you had a box of things, and maybe a lamp, and that your brother drove you up to Charlottesville and dropped you off. And that was ostensibly how you started adulthood.
Mike: Yup. My younger brother drove me up. I had a suitcase of clothes and a little cardboard box, and that was everything I had. I think the box had a little clock radio in it.
Logan: Right. And then, what, 30 years later, it was my turn to go to college. Same journey really, same school, but instead of a box of crap and a brother dropping me off, you and mom came and stayed the weekend and had a minivan full of stuff and you built me shelves and bought me more stuff and it was just this totally, utterly different experience. I think you can make some parallels with that one day, and our lives, and that it then makes sense why you were the way you were ten years later (“successful” and “responsible”) and why I am the way I am (the opposite of those things).
Mike: Well, my mother wasn’t your mother. And if she was, you would have had a box, too!
My parents both worked the whole time we were growing up. Dad was teaching during the day and then he was coaching football at night. He was a lifeguard one summer, and he also worked delivering beer for a brewing company — he did whatever he could to try to make a little bit extra money. My mom was always in school. She was a nurse in the war, and afterwards, she didn’t want to do that anymore, so she went and got a teaching degree and became a teacher. And then she kept taking classes and got a degree in library science and became a librarian. And then she went back and continued in school administration and got a degree in that and became a principal of an elementary school. So she was something, but what she wasn’t was home all the time — she was never home!
Logan: So you grew up fast because you had to. Your parents showed you, basically, that you have to work, and you have to work hard.
Mike: They told me, too. I went to Europe after college, and then after that trip, I came back to Virginia and was home for two weeks and my dad said, “Go get a job.” Not like, “Maybe you should think about getting a job,” but, “Go get a job.” He told me to call my friend Larry’s dad and get some suggestions, so I did that, and then the first company I called, they interviewed me and offered me a job. When they asked, “How much do you want?” and I said, “$9,000.” And they said, “Well, we don’t have any positions that pay that little.” So I started out at $10,000 in 1974.
Logan: Where did you get $9,000 from?
Mike: It’s what I knew I needed to live! Ha. I didn’t know what people got paid. But that’s what I got paid.
Logan: When I had my own first salary negotiation many years later, the starting salary was $30,000, which, similarly, was what I thought was what I needed to live. But mostly because they just told me that’s what I would make, and it seemed like a fine amount of money. But that was California in 2005, and I was totally wrong about that.
Mike: Well, you were wrong about being able to live the lifestyle you were living on that salary. You could have made it work.
Logan: Well, I did make it work.
Mike: Right, and we all know how that ended up.
(With Visa bills. Lots and lots of Visa bills – ed)
Logan: Did your parents pay for your college?
Mike: Yeah, they did. I had no money, I had no job. They would have preferred it if we’d found a way to pay for our own college, I’m sure. My older brother went to the Naval Academy, so he did well for himself. And I’m pretty sure that after my sister got married at 19, they stopped paying for her education. Education was a lot cheaper then, but you didn’t make much money then, either.
Logan: I remember another story about you not paying for a dining plan at school?
Mike: Yeah, that was my first year, I had a friend who went the year before and had said the food really sucks and that the dining plan was overpriced, so I said, well, I’m not doing that. So I got a hot plate, which you’re not supposed to do, and bought groceries and ate at the little restaurants on The Corner.
Logan: I think by the time I got there, they required first years to have dining plans.
Mike: Probably a good idea.
Logan: So your parents just gave you the money instead?
Mike: Yeah, I basically had an allowance.
Logan: Did you spend it all on drugs?
Mike: No, Logan, I didn’t. When I went to college, I hadn’t smoked pot before, if you can believe it. Which I’m sure I can’t say for you.
Logan: Almost! The first time I smoked pot was a week before I went to college, because my friends told me it’d be super lame to go without having tried it. So they got a joint from somewhere, and we went up in the treehouse and pretended to smoke. I didn’t get stoned, at all.
Mike: Why am I not surprised?
Logan: It’s all part of my origin story.
Mike: When do we get to the part about you getting into credit card debt over and over and not learning lessons? That’s what I want to talk about.
Logan: At the office! Got to run! Talk soon! CLICK.
Mike Sachon is Logan’s dad, among other things.