Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Wrong Advice

People value guidance in their lives. They watch the morning news to check out the weather. They listen in to radio talk shows to gain some perspective. They read Bibles, Korans, Gitas and the works of Martha Stuart. Then there is Oprah...Dr. Phil... and psychics.

Still, for whatever baffling reason, I find that people ask me for advice.

My problem is that I am a good listener. I am one of those generally 'polite' people who will lend an ear to someones troubles. I've done quite a bit of that as a bartender over the years. And I think its become something of a habit.

I dont give bad advice exactly. It's just that most people who turn to me for guidance avoid asking me about stuff that I'm good at and ask me about things that I need more guidance about than they do.

Over the years I have owned and operated a number of different restaurants and businesses. I've had a chance to learn the ropes, earn my stripes and discover firsthand what works and what doesnt. Naturally, no one ever asks me about any of that. And if I give them an opinion ... they dont want to hear it. I guess everyone has to learn the hard way...like I did.

What most people talk to me about are personal relationships...girlfriends, boyfriends...and marriages. Now, lets see...I am divorced and was married for a total of 4 months. Most of my girfriends ran off with someone else. In one case the guy was 25 years older than myself. Maybe he had some good advice for her.

The point is...I quite obviously dont know anything at all about relationships. Actually, in my own, I am always asking other people what they think...which I have found to be a terrible idea. One of my good friends advised me to dump a girl I was dating...and when I did...he married her.

Maybe none of us should be looking for advice. And maybe that is the best advice I can give.

I have never gotten good advice from a lawyer but I certainly got charged enough for it. Perhaps I should start billing people when they ask me to give them advice...

"Gee Scott. My girlfriend doesnt like that I go out with the guys as much as I do. What's your take on that?"

"Stay home. Or take her out with the guys."

"Huh? Wha? No man...seriously."

"@#$%. Ok. Well if you really love your girlfriend and value your relationship together then you need to give some thought to why this is important to her. Is she worried you arent going to remain faithful in your relationship? Does she simply want to spend more time with you? Are you being selfish? Is there an underlying reason that you spend an inordinate amount of time..."

"Uh ... dude...she's just wrong right?"

"... Ok. My advice then is that you buy her a cat. Spend the next month out carousing with your boys looking for another girlfriend...cause you're gonna need one. Oh...and that will be 150 dollars, thank you."

As bad as that is...its much worse for me when someone asks me for advice on a question of ethics or morals. Clearly, everyone has their own set of rules. People certainly dont want to abide by mine. If you have to ask me a question like that then you already know the answer...you just want me to be your scapegoat. I'll tell you to be good. So dont ask me if you dont want to be.

Sure there are things that I know a lot about...but you have to ask me for advice on those things and not on things that leave me clueless. Women. That's a whole subject that you shouldnt be asking me about ... ever.

I am not a compass. I have no idea where true north is. The best I can do is tell you how to navigate by the stars, the seat of your pants and by heart.

But, take it from me...that's the wrong advice.

1 comment:

Lightheaded1 said...

Perhaps advice should be preceded by a disclaimer which must be read in full before the advice can be proffered. After about three pages of legalese the person seeking advice would just say, "Ah, to hell with it. Give me another drink."

Good post Brother Free. Always a pleasure.

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