I have ticked off a lot of people in my life (Wes only gets counted once though by all rights he should at least get counted twice). I know it’s hard to imagine, what with my non-opinionated self and all, but it’s true.
I’ve cut people off while driving (sometimes when there’s no break in traffic you just kind of have to make one), I’ve splattered ketchup all over a stranger’s brand new white fur coat (not intentionally. The waiter brought over the ketchup bottle with the lid already twisted off and just sitting on top of the bottle. I shook it and ketchup went everywhere. Honestly, though. What kind of sadistic moron gives someone a deceptively closed ketchup bottle?! Maybe a secret PETA activist…?), and I’ve put my foot in my mouth so many times socially that certain friends are convinced that my lucky left foot just belongs there.
The one thing I’ve always tried to do, however, is keep my advice to myself. Why? Because no one likes unsolicited advice. If you have to preface your statement with, “Would you like my advice?” chances are good the other person doesn’t want what you’re offering.
I’ve been the recipient of a lot of advice during my many years of life and the best advice I’ve ever received by far has been the advice I’ve asked for. When someone presumes to just shove their advice into my hands like an heirloom fruitcake I would usually like nothing more than to club them over the head with it.
For example, take my weight. I’m in no danger of dying from starvation but I’m also perfectly capable of getting out of bed in the morning without assistance. You’ll never see me in a bikini but I’m also not wearing a muumuu either. I’m just comfortable in-between.
Whenever I talk to people about my shape, whether praising or lamenting, I invariably get some a-hole who says to me, “Have you tried giving up soda? I gave up soda and lost 50lbs. You should totally give up soda.” I’m serious, the next person who says this to me is getting unintentionally-on-purpose smacked with my purse.
These people are not dieticians. These people are not weight-loss coaches. They are people who possibly lost some weight (maybe with a tapeworm, maybe by exercising) who are now shoving their advice right in my face. They know nothing about my current eating or exercising habits and yet are presuming to tell me what’s good for me.
For another example, let’s journey to the grocery store together. I was buying my week’s worth of groceries and the grocery clerk asked me if I was married. I replied that I was and he proceeded to let me know that he felt it was wrong for couples to live together before marriage and that I shouldn’t do that (he apparently missed out on the whole “Yes, I’m married” part of that conversation).
Besides his flagrant disregard for my response, I wonder if it was really necessary to have this conversation at the checkout counter. Couldn’t he just scan my Frito’s and be done with it? Does he think I care what his views on co-habitation are? Goodness gracious, can you imagine having that guy as your father?! Every conversation would be like landing on the beaches of Normandy during WWII. You’d have to run like the dickens through each dialogue to avoid getting blasted by incendiary advice.
So, here’s what I’m proposing: Let’s do away with Badvice and institute Radvice. If you’re talking to someone and feel the badvice bubbling up like vomit, turn to the other side or run to the bathroom. Let’s trash all the badvice out there (meaning, all the advice that tends to center around what the other person is doing wrong) and rock the radvice (advice that is solicited and improves the other person’s life. Such as, how to quiet a fussy baby, where to go skin-diving, or when to plant flowers).
If you think you know what’s wrong with the other person’s life, hush. You probably don’t and if you keep talking you’ll likely end up on the long list of things that are currently driving that person bananas.