Take My Advice…
The time-honored tradition of giving and taking advice is all but lost these days. Mostly, it seems, because everybody already knows everything.
It’s also possible that they may be surrounded by a host of would-be advisers who collectively are dumber than a cracked rock. (As I look around me in this convenience store, everybody talking at once…)
Fortunately, there are still those who feel that a day without knowledge gained is a waste of time. And, boy, do I have news for you!
The greatest giver of advice, among other things, in my life has been gone for too many years now. I miss him every day. EVERY day.
And I still heed—and try to pass on—his guidance. Every day.
You never know when the opportunity might pop up. For instance, couple of weeks ago I’m sitting at attention (thankfully!) in the congregation when my pastor, mid-sermon, pauses, calls my name, and asks, “How, exactly, did your Dad phrase that comment to you about your little friend?”
First off, one must realize that Daddy wasn’t all that big on phrasing. Much of what he said was with his eyes. He could give you a look that would melt galvanized pipe.
But there was no hesitation in my reply as to the exact quote: “Nobody likes a smart-mouthed kid.” Well, do they? Think about it.
While back, I was on a fishing trip. (I know that’s hard for you to believe, but bear with me.) There were several boats around this one particular area, and I kept hearing a vulgar, roughly 12-year-old voice above all others. The word that came to mind was “brat.” Smiling as I remembered Daddy’s words, I could almost hear him say, “Some day, somebody’s gonna feed him his teeth.”
Sadly, the kid’s own dad was in the boat with him, warning of the consequences when MOM heard how he was spewing…
My daddy was a contractor, and I worked with him from the time I was talented enough to hold one end of a piece of sheet rock overhead as he nailed toward me from the other end. I was six.
One of the most important things I discovered over the next 12-plus years by his side every day was that, “You ain’t learning nothing when you’re talking.”
Another thing about advice is to know when to listen. As in the day he replied to the haughty wife of a client, “Ma’am, before you tell me how to do my job, know how to do my job better than I know how to do my job.”
I had been watching his eyes and knew pretty much what was coming; she looked like she had been slapped in the face with a dead cat; her husband almost had a laughter infarction.
And we proceeded to finish things just as he had laid them out. Because it was the right way.
I’ve written this before, somewhere, and probably will again, because it’s one of the most profound lessons in my life. These few words from him have set the tone for every single hunt since I was 5 years old.
We were walking through a pecan grove minutes before daylight, and I was chattering as only an excited kid can. He soaked in my animation with his quiet smile until we exited the final row of trees and approached a bordering hardwood bottom that I just knew hid a million squirrels.
“STOP!” he urgently whispered. “Everything changes right here. When you go into that treeline, you’re in the animal’s world. You win or lose on his terms, because he has every advantage. Always remember: quiet and slow.”
He never killed a deer; never wanted to. I’ve killed dozens because of that one piece of advice; still-hunting from the ground, beating them at their own game. And even when they win, it remains my favorite way to chase a whitetail.
I have a dear friend who I give a lot of advice to. (It’s always better to give than to receive…) Couple of years ago after being gutted—I guess turnabout is fair play—so a doctor could get at a nasty little tumor, said doctor gave ME a little recommendation: “You go out and do something stupid like dragging a dead bear and I’m going to have to gut you again.”
Now that’s advice even a simpleton can understand!
So this friend did a ton of heavy lifting and watching over me for the next few months, until I could get back to dragging lumpy stuff.
Lately, he’s wanted a gun. Night-hunting variety, because he hates a hog worse than I hate turnips. And he’s so indecisive that he bought the night-vision scope of his dreams—with nothing to put it on!
Advising him requires a slightly different tack.
So I call him up, ostensibly to ride with me to one town, after which I take him to another. We just happen to make our way to one of my favorite gun stores, wherein I introduce him to the guru of the ArmaLite Rifle genre.
Following an hour of hemming, fondling, hawing, shouldering, groaning and whining, I sum things up: “It’s got Bill Ruger’s name stamped on the side; it digests 30-round clips, which means you can pile up enough pork to feed Florida; and the scope you’ve been using to watch TV with for the last two months mounts right on top of it. Pay the man!”
Eventually, he did. Which means that in the north end of the county, there are several sounders that are kind of edgy and don’t like me very much right now. One final piece of advice: quit dawdling and sight that scope in!