Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Helpers

This is another one of my old “scribblings,” and I could swear that I’ve posted it before. After an exhaustive search of both this blog and all the authorly papers on my desk, I cannot find it. So here it is again for the first time.


Helpers

Are you the kind of person who gets asked for advice at all times of the day and night, and you give a long, thoughtful, heartfelt answer even if you are not in the mood, or you feel like shit, or you have PMS, or you are asleep, but you do it anyway because you are extremely kind and a helper of people, and the advisee continually says, “I agree!” and “That’s sooo true!” and “The dirty bastards!” all while you are advising them, and at the end the advisee says, “Thank you sooo much, that’s exactly what I needed to hear!”, but then he or she turns right around and does the exact opposite of what you advised?

Not just once or twice, but every single fecking time?

And not just one or two people, but every single fecking idiot you have ever known in your entire life?

And no matter how feckingly stupid the question is in the first place?

RING, RING, RING!

“Hello?”

“Do you think I should put the cat out at night or keep her inside?”

“My advice is to keep her indoors if you don’t want her getting laid by every Tom in the neighborhood.”

“The dirty bastards! I agree! That’s sooo true! Thank you sooo much, that’s exactly what I needed to hear!”

RING, RING, RING!

“Hello?”

“I am up to my ass in kittens; I mean I have kittens coming out of my ass. Want a free kitten? I have an assful of ’em.”

* * *

Yeah, I’m one of those extremely kind and helpful schmucks too.

I think it has something to do with my face. People often mistake the catatonic look in my eyes for intelligence and deep introspective thought, thusly assuming that I know everything about everything. Little do they know “that look” comes from the medications I take to prevent me from lifting my leg and pissing all over them in public.

It would be silly to think I know everything about everything. I know a little about a lotta things and a lot about little things, but I don’t know squat about everything else. And that’s a lot.

RING, RING, RING!

“Hello?”

“This is the bomb squad. Should we cut the red wire or the blue wire?”

“My advice is to cut the . . . uh . . . er . . . umm . . .”

See what I mean? Who in the hell ever heard of cutting the uh-er-umm wire? Boy, am I a boob sometimes. The uh-er-umm wire, for chrissake. What a boob.

Luckily, the bomb guy didn’t listen to me because why would he be any different from every other fecking idiot I have ever known in my entire life?

* * *

I have some theories why people never take my advice.

1. They cannot hear me because they aren’t listening.

2. They are listening but they can’t hear me.

3. They’re not listening because they’re too busy talking.

4. They cannot hear me because they have their iPod ear buds on underneath their cell phone ear buds.

5. They had their mind made up before they called me.

6. They are testing me (see bomb guy, above).

7. I don’t know what I’m talking about (see bomb guy, above).

8. They like to fuck with me, especially when I am not in the mood, or I feel like shit, or I have PMS, or I am asleep.

9. I sound like their mother.

10. My advice involves making personal life changes and people don’t like change, even when a change will solve their problem, and when it’s for their own good, and when it makes their life better and happier, because change takes time and change takes a lot of work, most of it very painful and sad work, especially when it involves quitting a habit or recovering from an addiction or losing weight or forgiving someone or leaving the past to live in the now, but they are scared to death of the process of change and think they are incapable of it, not to mention the investment of their oh-so-precious time, so what they are really asking for is a quick fix, a miracle cure, or divine intervention that will do the changing for them and spare them the inconvenience of doing anything for themselves.

Those things don’t exist, of course—quick fixes, miracle cures, or divine intervention—but why listen to me? Even when someone agrees with me, he or she turns right around and does the exact opposite . . .

29 comments:

Wandering Coyote said...

I don't know...When people ask me for advice (which is rare) I don't necessarily expect them to take it. I expect them to listen, but they can take or leave what I say. I am no longer invested in people listening to what I say.

When I ask for advice from someone, usually my intention is to help me get more information or more opinions on something, so I can see as many possibilities as possible. Again, I take or leave it, depending on the advice & the advisor, but I rarely ask for someone's advice unless I am really in need of it, and I am pretty selective about whom I ask.

Lo said...

Oh, Professor....this may be one of the most brilliant blogs (or anything else) that I have ever read.

I kneel at your feet.

Syd said...

Charlie, I wrote a post about something so related to this tonight. It is a conversation with a double winner that I had earlier in the week. It shook me to the core because we are so different--like night and day. Maybe there is no hope to reconcile these things.

Robert the Skeptic said...

It's my contention that most people ask for "advice" merely to receive confirmation of what they have already decided in the first place.

The psychologists call it "confirmation bias", I believe.

By the way there was just a great story on NPR (Talk of the nation) about how "facts" seldom ever change anyone's opinion.

Philip said...

Charlie - I agree with you completely, haha. I know a little about a lot, which can be rearranged to say there's a lot of things about which I know only a little! People ask me and ignore me. In fact I appear to have made a career out of it. As I get older people expect me to be even more wise. The only wisdom I have is that I have learnt very little. Life is what happens whilst we are making plans.

Sharon Longworth said...

Charlie, I reckon the only thing to do when asked for advice is to give two diametrically opposite answers - that way you either double your chance of someone taking your advice or ensure they'll never ask again.

Meg said...

Soooo true. You are absolutely right. ;)

K. Erickson said...

Newish student here. Great points. Advise is worth exactly what people pay for it. Start charging for the service. People are less likely to ignore what they have to pay for with hard earned money.

DJan said...

Are you sure you aren't busy writing an advice column? You are so helpful and all you get is a brilliant column for us to enjoy! I loved this story, Charlie, and I'm glad you are coming back to life here.

laytonwoman3rd said...

The dirty bastards! They should listen to you. Say, Charlie, I need a new refrigerator. Should I buy a Maytag, or a Frigidaire? Should I get it from Sears, or Lowe's? Whaddya think, freezer on top, or on bottom?

TechnoBabe said...

It is really tough doling out advice even when someone begs you for it. I don't like giving advice about something really important. You probably look way more intelligent than I do, that why you are asked for advice so much.

Syd said...

Charlie, I meant that the alcoholic and I are so different--not you and I. Sorry for the confusion. I totally agree with what you wrote here. I simply think differently from the alcoholic and this role playing brought that front and center in my face.

hope said...

I swear the answer is #3. :)

At one point my sister would call me, moan about her life, ask for my advice and end the call with, "Mind your own damn business!"

Sigh.

Do you also have the kind of face that makes people in every store believe you work there or at least know where everything should be? I do.

Alice said...

That's funny, people NEVER ask me for advice. Even when I have it to give. And it's good.

Kim Ayres said...

I once thought about writing a short story based on the idea that in the village is a man who knows the answer to everything. He can give you an answer, a plan or a set of instructions to achieve anything you want in life. Anything. And everyone knows he can do this. But the world is split into those who never ask him and those who never follow the advice he gives

Eryl Shields said...

What Robert the Skeptic said! Most people, as far as I can see, want to be told they're doing just fine but the rest of the world is at fault. Poor bastards.

Attila The Mom said...

That sounds like my kids! LOL

Roy said...

my friend once told me, "I don't think you really want to hear my advice. I'm sure you already know the answer to your question. You just want a sympathetic ear who will listen to you"

Mary Witzl said...

Yes, I am that person too! I have so many good ideas and such great plans, but nobody damn well listens to me!

And my kids are 4, 5, and 6, but especially 4 lately. My husband is 5 and 8 mainly.

KleinsteMotte said...

What an amusing topic. Elder respect in today's world has wained. The youth have more "I know best".No advice needed. That's notl up for debate. You make me smile. Your humour is better than any advice. And laughter is better than many pills. Thanks, Professor!

Ocean Girl said...

This is intelligently very funny.

I am at the stage of my life where I seek my children's advise.

Mr London Street said...

Check my blog out. You've won something.

sarah at secret housewife said...

Hello! Mr London Street sent me and I'm glad he did! This is soooo funny I laughed out loud. Genius. S

Fay's Too said...

Whenever people ask me for advice - which is often because I evidently have "I care" tattooed on my forehead which is often a fecking lie - I tell them one of two things: Rice Krispies or Don't stick no beans up your nose.
One of those answers will work every time.
I'm doing the happy dance that I often do after reading your blog.

Tiffin said...

The wonderful thing about your blog, Perfesser, is that the responses are just as funny/quirky/interesting as your lectures.

grumpy said...

An assful of kittens - ha! Love it.

That was one hilarious and well-written post Very glad Mr LS sent me here. (He is very persuasive you know.)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Dear Perfessor,
Should I leave a comment here? No? Oh you are absolutely right. I will definitely not leave a comment.
You are so wise.

Murr Brewster said...

I have just realized that almost no one ever asks me for advice. As a result I have a lot of pent-up advice that is doing nobody any good, so I think I'll unload some here. Let's start with:

(1) It is never too early to get in the habit of crossing your legs when you sneeze.

(2) A true friend will judge you by the content of your character, not by the condition of your underwear.

(3) Bleach goes in after the water and detergent are already mixed.

Charlie said...

MURR: That is absolutely BRILLIANT advice! I have to admit, though, that I did the exact opposite on number 3: I think I need some advice on doing laundry . . .