Helpful People

“I think that burger is ready to flip,” said my buddy Nick, while peeking over my shoulder.  I rolled my eyes and looked over at Bill who was leaning against the rail on the deck with his arms crossed, smiling.  As I started rearranging the burgers I said “Hey Nick… can you do me a big favor?”  “Sure!” he answered, poking his head even further over my shoulder.  “Great… could you go outside and see if one of the dogs got loose?”  As soon as he was outside Bill locked the screen door.  We left him outside until the burgers were done.

Nick is an infamous back seat driver, not just when you’re in a car, but when you’re cooking, typing on a computer, or doing something really complicated like rubbing your eyes.  Luckily for him, he’s a lovable character and a good friend, because if he wasn’t, his friends all agree that long ago we would have tied him up, put him in a box and shipped him off to some awful place inhabited by people that he couldn’t possibly bother.   That and the cost of freight to Siberia have kept him in Florida and in the business of trying to supervise his friends.  But as you all know… he’s not the only one!  We all have dear friends that “just want to help.”

Although some of us need all the help we can get, the truth of the matter is that knowing when and how to give or gracefully receive important or useful information is an evolving art form that most of us never quite catch onto.

My father for example, was impervious to anyone’s attempt to “co-pilot.”  I remember riding to work with him in his truck when I was in my teens.  It would be early in the morning and he would be trying to balance a sloshing cup of coffee while driving to a job.  But even though it was one of those bone dry, dewless mornings, he would have the windshield wipers on!  “SCREECH…SCREECH….” on and on.  I would ride with my arms crossed for a couple of miles wincing at every swipe, until I couldn’t stand it.  “Dad… your windshield wipers are on!” He’d take a sip of coffee, and say “Yep… I know.” “SCREECH…SCREECH…”  I’d still be glaring straight ahead. “So…are you going to shut them off?”  Another sip. “Nope.” “SCREECH…SCREECH…”

I suppose the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree when it comes to my Dad and me… but it did roll a little.  I am more than happy to follow correct directions as I drive down the road, but I am equally willing to knowingly follow the wrong directions of some of my special friends.  Miles down the wrong road, after Nick finally wonders out loud if he’s told me to take a wrong turn, I reply “Yep… you did.”  “How long have you known that?”  I take a sip of my coffee “Since you first told me to turn.”  SCREECH… SCREECH…

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