Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.19.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Grads, your future's just a flush away

Dear high school class of 2009,

I'm sorry I can't be with you in person to deliver this commencement address. Apparently, my invitation to speak at your school's graduation ceremony must have been lost in the mail. Regardless, I wanted to take an opportunity to offer my words of wisdom to you before you head off to your future and your post-grad party.

When I considered what to say to the graduating class of 2009, I thought about what I would have liked to have known when I was a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. But since I still don't know a surefire system for selecting winning lottery numbers or how to pick up girls, I thought I would tell you what you can expect out of life.

Life is like the weather: unpredictable and filled with the occasional warning and hailstones the size of golf balls.

I wish that I could say with certainty what you will face as adults. I wish that I could tell you that you will all fulfill your dreams and be successful in everything you undertake. But let's be honest; chances are that many of you won't amount to much. I'm sorry, but it's simply a matter of statistical probability.

But I can offer you one certainty, Class of 2009:

You will clean toilets.

You may be saying, "No!" or "Pshaw!" or even "Pish-posh!" (in which case you probably spent a lot of time stuffed in your locker). But I can guarantee that this will be so.

Right now, as you sit there in your cap and gown, pretending to listen but actually playing the opening credits of "The A Team" over and over in your head, the probability of cleaning a toilet seems remote and revolting (coincidentally, also adjectives you'll someday use to describe your future spouse).

But take my word for it. You will clean toilets. And not just a gentle wipe but a full-on hands-in-the-bowl scrub.

Some of you may be saying, "Never. I'll have people on payroll to do that for me. Or roommates. Or roommates on payroll. I'll have it written into my pre-nuptial agreement that toilet-cleaning is not my job. I'll invent the self-cleaning toilet. I'm never moving out of my parents; house."

All this may be so, but there will come a time and a place where you will have no one to depend upon to polish the porcelain but yourself. I for one never imagined that one day I'd find myself on my hands and knees complaining bitterly about the staining properties of my municipal water supply.

And here's the other piece of news, dear grads: cleaning toilets won't be the most disgusting thing you'll ever do. You will discover this after you leave these hallowed halls of learning and acquire children, pets, and roommates. I won't go into detail here. Suffice to say that you haven't truly lived until you've pointed at the floor and cried, "Oh my God! What is THAT?"

In short, life is vile (rhymes with bile). Once you accept this fact, you become more prepared to deal with all the other inevitable unpleasantness life throws your way, like co-workers who use speaker-phones for no apparent reason, or the impenetrable language of school report cards, or that totally unjustified restraining order, or roommates.

I could go on and on, graduates (see "inevitable unpleasantness" above). But what I want you to take away is that in life, you need to embrace and accept the repulsive, (which, coincidentally, is what my mother-in-law told my wife on our wedding day). Only then can you appreciate the miracle of a child's smile, or the satisfying "fshhhft" of a beer bottle being opened.

So clean those toilets, Class of 2009. Clean them with gusto (although Comet generally does a better job).

Thank you and wake up.