It’s the Unsolicited Advice Patrol!

I found myself in the grocery store this morning, in need of some bananas for the kids. I grabbed a bunch, as well as a few other items. As I meandered through the aisles, a display of Hostess cakes caught my eye.

I stopped and looked at them. Just looked, mind you. They are mesmerizing, the massive array of choices, the neon pink nasty coconut Snowballs and the traffic cone orange cupcakes and the DingDongs that taste like they were dipped in wax lips.

They aren’t that good, truth be told, but I remember at one point in my life I thought they were, and I was debating if I should get a 2 pack as a rare treat for my kids to celebrate this, the first day of summer.

As the display stand and I squared off in a bit of a standoff, some doofus greybeard popped up behind me and said, “You don’t want that.”

I responded instinctively and truthfully: “You’re right, I don’t.” And I continued the internal debate.

Well, I guess that wasn’t good enough for this busybody, who wanted to make sure that I did not leave the store with a cupcake in tow. “There’s some delightful ripe bananas over there in the produce section,” he said meaningfully. At that point, I realized I was dealing with one of those annoying, condescending Advice Police, off to make the world a better place by educating poor ignorant fools such as myself about nutritional choices. And then I got annoyed.

“I already HAVE bananas, thank you,” I said. I shook my basket in his face. “Under this broccoli.” He got the hint.

I believe in living in a healthy manner, setting up good habits. I also think it’s OK to live a little here and there, which means that we eat vegetables every day and sometimes have a cookie. My dogs eat good quality foods and sometimes I give them a Pupperoni. And if I wanted the advice ย (or, as a good friend helpfully dubbed it, assvice) of some random dude skulking the shadowy nether regions of the Kroger, I would have asked him for it.

If there’s one thing I learned working in a veterinary clinic, it’s that people who aren’t directly asking for advice don’t want to hear it. If someone comes to you for an ear infection, they don’t want to hear that their dog is overweight, even if it’s true. They just want to know about the ear infection. Now I tell them anyway, there in the clinic, because there’s a reasonable expectation that someone who has come to me for veterinary advice will get all the advice I have to give. Occasionally they even listen to it.

Outside of the clinic though, is a different story. I see overweight dogs and dogs with nasty teeth and dogs who could desperately use Gentle Leaders every day of my life as I walk about town, and unless we’re talking about a pet or a person who is being put in harm’s way or the person actually expresses an interest in suggestions, I keep my mouth shut. We all know insufferable blowhards in our everyday lives who just can’t help offering friendly parenting advice, cooking tips, and dog training nuggets. They rarely get invited anywhere.

It reminded me of a vet I used to work with a while back who was, to put it mildly, a character. He had a new boxer puppy, and on our lunch break we took him to the park. He was tossing the dog in the air- not too high, mind you- and just having fun when up came another one of the Assvice Police.

Police: You shouldn’t do that, you know.

Vet: It’s OK. *toss*

Police: That could hurt your dog.

Vet: Nah, I got him. *toss toss*

Police: I really think you need to be more careful with your puppy.

Vet: I’m a !#$!#!!#%#$ VET, OK! If I break something I’ll FIX IT! Now get out of my face and let me play with my dog!

We were, thankfully, not wearing scrubs with our clinic name on them at the time. Unsurpringly, he was fired a short time later for an unseemly outburst at a coworker, but oh, the expression on that guy’s face on the dog park was something I’ll never forget.

What’s the most unwanted unsolicited piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Musings Tagged:
  • Tonya

    Okay, I take issue with you calling the neon pink coconut Snowballs nasty! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those were my favorite special treat as a child. And truth be told, they still are my once-in-a-while treat as an adult. I have to agree though, they don’t taste as good now as they did when I was too young to know what I was eating.

    • Coconut is my kryptonite!

  • Cathy

    Now I want to run to the store and get a crazy treat for myself! Darn!!

    But the rest of the article is wonderful. I try to avoid BEING the Advice Police especially as a mother-in-law. Sometimes it is so hard!

    • ha! RESIST the urge!

  • Oh my gosh I agree I can’t stand Advice Police! I have an apartment in DC and my shelter rescue dog has grown a bit bigger than I had originally thought he would…to be honest though he is still the size of your medium lab…I was carrying a big box upstairs and my well behaved dog was walking on leash well behaved next to me and the only thing the guy on the elevator could say was:

    Guy: (seeming a bit wary) That’s a big dog.
    Me: Yup haha
    Guy: Kind of big for an apartment…

    I just said…”Oh he’s fine”

    Thank god the elevator opened next because I did not want to have a debate…about how my dog was at least in a home and not in a shelter (or dead) and how he is well behaved and fairly lazy and we go to the park every day…..ugh can’t people think of nice things to say instead of vomiting their judgment/two sense?

    I have also had a woman come up to me on a hot summer day…and comment on my dog:

    Lady: He looks hot…
    Me: Yea haha its pretty hot today..
    Lady: Do you have any water?
    Me: Oh yea…I have some for him…
    Lady: Well you should really give it to him…he looks like he needs it.
    Me: Ok thank you…::turn around and eyeroll::

    Little did she know he had literally JUST had a drink up the street….but I poured some more for him…he didn’t want any….and so we wasted some carried water :-/

    Sorry for the long comment but I just really agree…Advice Police are annoying and I wish they would mind their own business!

    • That reminds me of a time I was with my then-six month old daughter in a parking lot. Some woman came running up admonishing me that she needed to be in a hat and/or sunglasses, she was so fair, she was going to get burned, etc. I pulled both out of my bag and told her if she could get my kid to keep either on for more than 10 seconds I would give her $50.

      • That is great! hahaha some people! I guess we all have a few of these stories! They do wind up being a good laugh! But on a related side note…I loved your post where you commented that the gentle leader is not a muzzle “LOOK! I can still bite!” haha…you get a lot of vocal assumptions made from people with that thing too…especially the bigger the dog!

      • Susan

        HAHAHA! That is the best reply yet!! I wish you had a picture of them woman’s face!

      • Lisa W


  • I sometimes post of Facebook about things my pets do that drive me crazy. Never fails that a well-meaning friend of mine will take over a thread and fill it with lists of things I should do to “fix” my problem. Behavior advice, diet advice, product advice…you name it, she’s got the answer. Some days it’s all I can do not to hit the “delete” button, but I try and keep in mind that she’s a good soul, just not great at knowing when to let things be.

  • Sherry Black

    LOVE this post! What I dislike, is when people talk to me as if I am a child. I am 51 years old, full head of gray hair and all…have forgotten more than they will ever know…and yet (as they are giving unwanted advice), they talk to me as if I am five years old. Now, whenever I am in the store, I pretend I don’t hear them and walk away. But,…I AM rolling my eyes!!!

  • ‘If I break something I’ll FIX IT!’

    oh, gosh, that really shouldn’t be as funny as it is given the context, but I laughed quite a bit.

  • Karen

    I had a guy come into my work talking about his pitbulls (because i have pics of my dogs all over my desk) and he was telling me how to train it and how his dogs were the best trained dogs ever because of what a good trainer he was….and then preceded to tell me about how he tied bricks to them when they were puppies to make them stronger and that he had to go to court because his dog attacked a police officer that opened the door to his truck….needless to say since i was at work i nodded and said nothing. But the tried to forget everything he said!

    • KellyK

      You’ve got more self-restraint than I do. I would’ve had a hard time not ripping him up one side and down the other for teaching pitbulls to be mean and nasty. (Especially if I read one more story about a good dog in danger of being euthanized because of BSL. Guys like this are part of the reason for that…)

  • Laura Sterner

    I have a dog with a very serious intestinal disease. He eats like a little pig, but much of what he eats passes right on through, so he’s forever looking like one of those poor, starved creatures that we see in the facebook posts about animal cruelty. This dog has cost me over $10,000 in medical bills–the only food he could eat was discontinued and I had to go on the internet and get people to scour the earth to find the last remaining cans of this… another $2,000 in food and shipping costs.

    I won’t take him anywhere anymore because people are always telling me that I need to feed him more. If I fed him any more, his stomach would burst. But, no. They all know best and I’m the worst animal abuser ever.

  • I totally agree about the pink coconut Snowballs. I haven’t had one in decades, but I used to love them. I think they’re one of the major food groups —– like chocolate!

    The worst advice I ever got was in the early ’80s when I lost a 4-month-old kitten to feline leukemia. I had approximately seven cats at the time and I had them all tested. Three were positive for FeLV. My vet recommended that I euthanize all three. These were young, healthy cats, my precious furry babies. Just the thought of what he said gave me nightmares for weeks! I never went back to him. By the way, all three lived approximately ten years.

  • Megan K

    It’s not quite the Assvice police, but it’s similar and just as annoying. Our neighbors are “church pushers.” The day we moved in, they came over to introduce themselves and brought over a homemade blueberry cobbler, which was a very nice gesture. Then they started asking if we attended church and we be welcome at their church and we just happen to have a brochure about it here for you. They were so nice about it, and we’re new neighbors, so we were polite and said, “Thanks, we’ll think about it,” even though we had no intention to attend. They knocked on the door about a month later to invite us again to go, and this time invited us for dinner and then they would drive us all to their church. We “conveniently” had something to do that night. They tried again right before Christmas, and again right before Easter. We have told them we are happy as we are, but they keep coming. It’s getting a little frustrating trying to be the nice neighbor but asking them to butt out of our religious views!

    • Amy

      After I put an “I Support Gay Marriage” sticker up in my window at my front door the church pushers stopped coming around…. It’s like kryptonite to them around here I guess…

  • I think the worst thing I’ve had is “diet advice”. Yep, I’m a heavy person… nope, I don’t need advice. And I certainly *know* I’m heavy, so I don’t need someone else to tell me that. Really! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lisa W

    This isn’t “stranger assvice” but I did get some piss-me-off advice that actually came yesterday from one of my doctors, who I normally adore. I had gone to her to chat about a possible thyroid issue or hormone imbalance, as I have been eating really well and working out for the last three or four months, but am not able to lose weight for some reason (and a few other issues as well, but that’s the one that really prompted the visit). So she ran a bunch of blood tests and I got the results in the mail yesterday, with a note at the bottom that I should try and lose weight. Ummm, yeah, thanks for that.

    • KellyK

      Don’t you love that? I’ve been in for ankle issues and had my doctor telling me to exercise more so that I could lose weight. I wanted to go “You remember that I’m here for tendinitis, right?” I hope the blood tests showed something useful and you can get whatever’s wrong dealt with.

  • Such people used to annoy me – well, unless I was the annoying person bothering someone else. Then one day I asked a question in a group, received an answer, and it was time for coffee. Three people came up to offer me more advice. I was really growling about it to a friend who said: “Isn’t it good that people care”. That flipped my perspective. It is nice that people care … even annoying ones.

  • Shannon

    It’s not when I get advice that bugs me, its mostly when I’m in a petstore and hear the employees trying to give veterinary advice to shoppers or bad mouthing prescription diet (some pets need s low protein prescription diet, they’re nit just a gimmick) and me being a technician, I have to do my very best to keep my mouth shut and move along

    • macula_densa

      I’m a vet, and I have to do the same thing. It *is* really frustrating. One day I walked up to PetCo employee to ask a quick question, and she was advising an owner to buy Frontline for a large dog and just ‘put a drop’ on her 10 pound Pomeranian. *biting tongue really hard*

      • Heather

        I work in a pet shop and that is similar advice to what we give. we give people a syringe and explain to them how to measure the correct dose. it saves the customer a ton of money because you can make each tube treat a small dog multiple times. we manage to get people who would otherwise say “that’s too expensive, he’ll go without” actually buy flea prevention for their pets. at least they’re using flea prevention.

        • wikith

          And when they measure incorrectly and overdose a pet and have to go to the ER they REALLY won’t be able to afford it. Been there, treated that, I’d really rather the dogs get fleas which can then be treated easily.

          Plus, it’s illegal to use an EPA-approved product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. No one is likely to come hunting you down, but if an owner gives an accidental overdose and some harm comes from it, and it was based on advice given by your store illegally… it will not go well.

          Just my piece of Assvice for the day.

        • wikith

          Ha, once when I was in vet school I came back to my high school to give a career day presentation at the request of an old teacher. One of the janitors came up to me in the hall and told me I should start dressing better because that’s how she wound up where she was! I was just wearing a T-shirt and jeans, sheesh.

          I struggle with GIVING it at the dog park, honestly. People bringing their dogs in heat or their too-young puppies lead to some tongue-bleeding. Just a month or so ago I ran into some of my clients. On their last visit, they’d asked for help breeding their 9-month-old 90lb male American Bulldog to their 1-year-old already-has-hip-dysplasia 40-lb pit bull. My advice was DON’T. So of course, I see them with the two dogs at the dog park… along with the 2-week-old pups sitting out of the ground letting all the older dogs come up and say hi. Clearly didn’t want my advice the last time, so no point in telling them what they need to know now. It took a lot of willpower, though. Amazingly still haven’t see the pups for parvo… or, you know, their first round of vaccines.

        • wikith

          Hm, that was not supposed to be a part of this thread, sorry. Don’t know how it wound up replying again instead of starting a new comment as I intended.

        • Heather

          @wikith: I just wrote a really long reply but I deleted it because I doubt it will actually change your mind on anything. I’ll just tell you that not all pet shop employees are idiots. some of us have a lot of experience working in the animal industry. some of us (like me) have actually got qualifications (I’m halfway to being a qualified vet nurse), but can’t get work in a clinic.

          I give advice to the best of my ability and knowledge and always, always tell people to go to see the vet if it’s something I don’t know.

          p.s. the horror stories I’ve heard of vets poking their noses in when they don’t know what they’re doing/talking about would make you shudder. so it’s not just pet shops that can suffer from ignorance.

        • macula_densa

          I think you might’ve missed her point. Clients aren’t always good at following directions, and when they measure those products incorrectly (which happens all the time), we see those animals in the hospital. It is not uncommon. That doesn’t mean you’re an idiot. You might tell them exactly the right dose, but asking them to measure those out rather than putting them in the idiot-proof pre-measured tubes is asking for trouble.

          So, if you have any interest in protecting yourself from liability, don’t make such a recommendation. It can turn out to be a dangerous one, and on top of that if they measure an amount that is too small and underdose the dog then it contributes to flea resistance (which we’re seeing an awful lot of now with those products. Go figure.) I’m with wikith — I’d rather have a dog with fleas than a dog in the ER OR fleas that have become resistant to all the preventatives so we no longer have any options for treating them.

  • Amber

    I wish I could get some passive-aggressive assvice police out here. Instead I get busybodies who think they know better. My dog, J, has a grain allergy. We have cats who are eating a grain-based food. J got ahold of a kibble and, because of the heat, started to feel very badly. He vomitted in his crate. Poor little foamy face looked so terrible. We put him outside to get some air and vomit on the grass while I ran his bed to the washing machine. He was outside for about 5 minutes, and for most of that time I was at the door asking if he was done his barfing. He came in, got water with an ice cube, was made to lay on the tile floor (He wanted to stand) and felt better a few hours later.

    The next day the SPCA shows up looking for the “sick white dog”. Apparently, dogs aren’t allowed to vomit. *Ever*.

  • Amy

    A few weeks ago I had to reward myself for having the strongest will power of my life when it came to unsolicited advice. I was out playing with my dog in the afternoon. She had been playing for a good hour when she decided to take a rest. Now I will fully admit my dog needs to lose 5 pounds, it’s been an ongoing battle for months complete with gaining 3lbs as a result of putting her on vet recommended weight loss food. Anyway, as we were sitting down resting a particularly obese woman walked up to me and volunteered, “You really should exercise your dog more. She’s kind of overweight. You should get her running instead of just letting her sit in the shade like that.” REALLY?!? So I took a breath, thought all kinds of nasty things about how people in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks and just nodded. It was at that point that she proceeded to add, “You know she probably gets picked on by the other dogs because she’s slower than they are.” I wanted to punch this woman square in her nose.

  • What a great post! And so so true. The unwanted advice police are really annoying.

    I think my favourite one happened when I first got Dahlia. I had only had her for a couple weeks. She was 100% untrained and a bit overexcited and reactive to most things. I headed off our porch to take a walk and was not used to the fact that I couldn’t see beyond the porch too well because of the huge bushes. So I didn’t see this guy coming with his dog until it was too late.

    Dahlia lunged up and barked and looked like a crazy dog as she was wont to do back then and I pulled her back, apologizing for his antics. And the guy looked right at me and said “You should try walking her sometime. I hear they like that.” I mean, what did he think I was trying to do with her, seeing as how she had a leash and collar on and I was, oh I dunno, heading out for a walk? And how rude! I gave him an earful about rescue dogs and new dogs and keeping his mouth shut.

  • Erm…that should say apologizing for HER antics. Got distracted there.

  • Natasha

    I’ve struggled to meet the supposed healthy weight guidelines all my life, but the worst advice came while I was in the Army. If you don’t conform to the height/weight chart (which often fit people don’t…) they take your BMI by measuring the circumference of your neck, forearm, wrist, and hips (for women, anyway.) I have wide hips. Especially back then, I carried all the extra weight I had in hips and thighs. These hips are not going anywhere. Consequently, my BMI was always ranked too high, because my hips were not “proportional” to my other measurements. My platoon sergeants advice to meet the standard? “Bulk up” my neck and forearms, to be more proportional with my wide hips. Just what every woman wants: a beefy neck and large forearms. After being denied promotions and put on special exercise programs for my lack of proportionality, I eventually decided military service was not for me….

  • The unwanted advice that really annoys me and has happened most at the vet’s office is when people tell me how thin my dogs are.. I have 3 Labradors that are the perfect weight and last week at the clinic a lady with a huge lab asked me what I fed my dog because my boy was so thin, and she suggested I try the food she uses to put a few lbs on my dog. Her dog weighed 104 lbs and he was no taller than my lab who weighs 62 lbs.. That’s 42 lbs more… Oh my doG it took all I could do to tell her that my dog would likely live a lot longer than hers and has a much better life. Her dog huffed and puffed from just walking over to the scale to get weighed. I control what goes into my dogs stomach than you and I plan to have my dogs around a long time.

  • I can’t stand the Advice Police… such a great post! My least favorite is actually dog related… I was at my family reunion with my dad’s dog, Roscoe. A guy walked by with his dog and asked if he could approach. Roscoe’s not great with other dogs and I could feel him tensing up, so I said no. The guy kept coming anyway, proceeding to lecture me that “dogs like other dogs” and that I was the problem. That humans make dogs not like other dogs. You know, I don’t like all people… why does that mean my dog has to like all other dogs? Of course, the dogs got into a scuffle and then he left, but he was judging and spouting his unsolicited theories on how we should handle Roscoe the whole time. Jerk… as if he knows our dog better than we do! Whew… rant over. Sorry about that!

  • Cathey

    Boy! I must be the only one who hasn’t has a truly Assvice experience. My husband does work with a guy who told him “you shouldn’t have let your wife buy a Jeep Wrangler.” (strange, non-normal vehicle for a 55 year old woman, you know) Joe told him that when he starts sleeping with him, he can give him advise on cars for me! The guy did have the good grace to laugh out loud!

    • KellyK

      That was a good comeback. “You shouldn’t let your wife…” or “You shouldn’t let your husband…” are pretty high on my list of pet peeves. Uh, hi, we’re both grown-ups, thanks.

  • HA! Just this weekend I recieved som assvice! I found a dog wandering without tags and upon locating his owner was informed that “Dogs are not meant to be restrained and I am damaging my dogs by leashing them. *Her dog* is allowed to run naturally free. I should really try it. Um yeah, thanks for that advice. I’ll try it out in my safely fenced yard and not at the edge of a highway.

  • I realize this is almost exactly a year old, but I have to comment anyway.

    If you see my dog is even an ounce overweight, or if there is so much as a yellow stain on my dogs teeth…I want to know about it. These are my nightmare dog problems x.x