I Think I'm an Insurance Liability at This Point

Name: Richard

Age: 18

Role: Senior at Stagg High School

Richard has an unnatural love for foxes and is what he calls, "aggressively senior."

Foxes are cool, there’s so much stuff behind them. If you’ve read any legends or folktales, the foxes are usually the most badass animal there is; he’s pretty much me. He’s always trying to do less work than everybody else. He’s always trying to outsmart everybody else. He’s always just trying to cheat the system and that seems really funny. It’s just like, if I were an animal I’d be a fox, because I don’t care.

When you’ve stopped caring to the maximum, that’s when you’ve become aggressively senior. It kicked in freshman year, but now it’s basically in overdrive. I think right now it’s like, terminal senioritis--I go home and I don’t even do the homework that I have. But it’s good because I kinda just show up and pass all my classes anyway, easiest thing I’ve ever done. I structured it so all of my classes are the easiest classes in the world, so I just show up and I'm graduating.

I failed math last year, so I had to take another math. So I was like, “Alright, I don’t wanna take Advanced Algebra because Algebra makes me wanna cry, so let’s go with Consumer Math.” And it was the easiest and best decision I’ve ever made. It’s kinda just, show up, occasionally do like, addition, subtraction, and some multiplication. That’s it. I think we’ve used two formulas all year, that’s my hardest class; I have an A+ in it. My hardest class and I don’t even do homework anymore. Like, I get homework and my parents are like, “Do you have homework?” “Ehhh no.”

I tell them no because they’d make me do it. I just--I don’t do homework, but I pass anyways. I absolutely don't hate school, but I feel like if I was to be given an option between coming here and sleeping all day, I’d probably pick sleeping all day. It’s not that I hate Stagg either, because it's probably one of the best schools that I’ve been to. It's more of a general I don't like waking up at 7 in the morning; I don’t like waking up before noon. My parents, they don’t want me to screw up, that’s what I’ve got. And I'm trying my hardest not to screw up, because if I screw up, I’ve got like 6 or 7 people staring at me like, “Dude, you dun goofed.”

There’s a lot of good stories, a lot of bad. A lot of stories that would make my teachers cry just from my sheer stupidity. There’s this cool thing by my house, it’s a railroad and it’s got this overlooking light thing and it’s like 50-60 feet in the air. So I was like, “I wanna get on top of that thing.” I ended up climbing the structure all the way up. But it was super windy, so the entire thing was like, shaking and moving. I'm thinking, “You know what? There’s a marginal chance I might die up here, but whatever.” I probably wouldn’t’ve died. I would’ve broken like 60% of the bones in my body if I fell. And then I was like, “Alright, this is kinda fun, this risk.” Any large structure I see that looks climbable, I think “Hey, I can climb that.” It’s just, as a dude I think, “Hey, I can do that thing. So I'm gonna go do that thing because I wanna know that I can really do it.”

I think my friend said the reason that he does things is he has this feeling of immortality, like, “Alright, I’ve never been seriously hurt, I’ve never been seriously sick or injured, so I feel like I can do anything and nothing can stop me.” And I think that’s being a teenager in general. I kinda have that thought process, too. I do the stupidest things ever, like I think I'm an insurance liability at this point; I’ve not broken a bone or done anything really more than a bunch of scrapes and a bruise or two.

I got hit by a car this one time though. I was riding my bike and I wasn’t going fast or anything. I was going across the street and I had the light to go, but then it changed when I was halfway through, and some lady starts going. She’s in a minivan and just like, hits me and my bike. I fall over, and there was a court case. I didn’t break anything, but a decent amount of my bones were bruised. And then when we went to the court thing, the lady’s like, “Oh yeah, he hit me with his bike!” I'm like, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! My bike was underneath your car! I'm not really good with physics or science, but that's not how it works. I don't hit your car and then my bike ends up underneath your car with my front tire bent at a 90 degree angle. It just doesn’t work that way!” But either way, I was like, “Alright, this is fine. I'm not dead, so that's whatever.”

We all feel like we have our entire lives ahead of us, like nothing can take that away. We feel like we’re entitled to a full life, like, “Aw man, I'm only 17 or 18, I have a whole butt-load of years left to live.” But it’s like, we have our entire lives ahead of us. And I kinda feel I have that entire life and nothing can take that, so I might as well do all of the dangerous cool stuff now.

I have the most fun ever and I don't know when I'm gonna stop; I think I’ve established this: I'm not the most well suited to be an adult. I think yesterday I started the day off with 200 and something dollars and then I ended it with like $20. I impulse-buy things. I really shouldn't, but I do, so I'm not well suited to be an adult, I’d fail at it really hard.

It’s part of being me: if I make less than one reckless decision a day, there's something wrong with me. Like, I at least need to once a day be like, “I shouldn't buy this, but I'm gonna buy it,” or “I don't need that extra piece of pizza, but I'll probably eat it anyway.” I need to make one borderline regrettable decision everyday, that's how I keep sane. It’s not like, regrettable to the point where I look back in 20 years and be like, “Damn, I really shouldn’t’ve done that.” But it’ll be more like, 10 minutes later, I'll think, “Man, that probably wasn’t the best decision, but it definitely didn’t kill me.” That's another thing: awesome things will always lead to like, the greatest story ever. If anything terrible happens while doing an awesome sketchy thing, people will always be like, “Man, that was awesome! Well...that was really dangerous...but that was still awesome!”

I want to do things that people don't normally do because I just feel like, if you do things that everyone does all the time, then it’s kinda boring: you're not really living. Doing dangerous, awesome, fun things like diving or climbing things, it’s just, well not anybody else does this stuff, like it sets me apart.

I think, in gym class, I realized a lot of people have a lot more fears than I do. And it’s weird because I kind of don't think about it. I'll do easy things like a front dive, or a backflip, or a reverse dive--and these are like second nature, I don't have to think about them--but then everyone’s like, “I could never do that, I'm so scared!” And I'm like, “Wait, wait, what? I do this for fun! It’s not scary!” It’s just fun for me, so it sets me apart, having like, 20% less fears than the rest of the people in the world. Like, I'll look at a poison snake and be like, “Yknow what? I could probably pick that thing up and not die.” While the Average Joe would be like, “Yknow what? I'm gonna stay like, 20 feet away from that thing because it might kill me.”

I think we got into an argument in my advisory class about like, what would you rather fight: an alligator or a shark? I picked an alligator, and I was like, “I could probably last a minute or two fighting an alligator.” Everyone’s like, “No you couldn’t!” I'm like, “If a middle-aged Australian dude can do it on TV, I can probably last at least two minutes.”

--Interviewed By: Kelsey Weivoda