When life hands you lemons

When life hands you lemons, take those lemons and return them to the grocery store. “Yeah, I just bought all of these lemons, and I want to return them.” The cashier is totally going to give you a little bit of an attitude, but whatever, just wait for the manager to come over, “You sure? You bought all of these lemons here?” he’s going to ask you. Of course you didn’t. Life handed them to you. And yeah, I know the old saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But is life handing you sugar? Clean water? I thought the whole point of this cliché is that when life hands you something that you don’t want, you have to turn it into something that you do want. Well what if you don’t have anything else? What if life only hands you lemons? Don’t tell me to just “make lemonade.” You might as well say, when life hands you lemonades, eat a really big steak, or buy a minor league hockey team, or win the lottery.

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“I don’t think you bought them here. There aren’t any stickers on them. The lemons we sell have stickers on them. This is just a giant sack of loose lemons, I’m sorry.” That’s the grocery store manager again. But don’t worry, everything’s still going according to plan. Remember, you only have lemons. So if you want lemonade, or anything else, you’ve got to figure out some way to turn at least some of those lemons into something besides lemons. Otherwise it’s just lemons for the foreseeable future, and if you think drinking straight up lemon juice is tough, just wait until you get hungry later on. The only thing worse than drinking lemons is eating them plain.

“Yeah, well, they had stickers on them originally, but I peeled them all off.” That’s what you tell him. And he’ll say something like, “Well, why’d you do that?” And that’s it, you’ve got him. It might not be obvious right away, but you just won. Because what kind of a question is that to ask to a customer? He’s reaching, desperate to try to get the one up on you. But now that you’ve got him backed into a corner, keep inching closer, let him know that you’re not going to give him any space even to breathe, that if he wants to get out of that corner, he’s going to have to do something about all of these lemons.

“I took the stickers off because I was going to cook with them. You can’t peel the zest off of a lemon if there’s a sticker still stuck. You can’t roast a whole fish with lemons in the baking pan if there are little pieces of paper floating around.”

“OK, well, look, these don’t look like any of our lemons. I’m just saying, you can’t just walk in here with a bag of unlabeled produce and demand a refund.”

Of course you can. Now’s when you go for the kill. “I agree, they don’t look anything like the lemons that you usually sell. That’s why I’m returning them. Normally the quality is a lot more consistent. I just assumed that they’d all be the standard, premium lemons that you and I are clearly both used to. So I peeled them, washed them off, and then the first one I cut into, it was gross, way too many seeds. I want a full refund.”

And depending on how stubborn this guy is, you might have to go back and forth a few more times, but at this point the verdict is all but verbalized. It’s just a matter of how long this guy wants to stand there and pretend like he’s in charge of a situation that he’s not. Eventually he’ll give up, signal to the cashier to give you a refund, and there you go, that’s cash. You can buy whatever you want with that cash.

So next time life gives you lemons, don’t get caught standing around waiting for life to give you a pitcher and ice and a mixing spoon. Turn those lemons into money, and then buy a Coke. Because lemonade sucks. You ever drink two glasses of lemonade in a row? That’s like heartburn central. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from lemonade.

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