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 (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?