Saturday, February 2, 2019
Today I am grateful for advice columnists. I usually read The Inquirer a day late. By that time reading my horoscope is a moot point, but I read it anyway. Then I pick out a few comics, the usual news, but not always the full article. Sometimes I get pissed off and stop reading halfway through. Usually I catch the snippets in World News, looking for something wonderful to be happening someplace, but it isn’t. Murders and wars.
One thing I never miss is the advice columnist. When I’ve read local papers in my travels sometimes there are more than one, which is like a whole bag of Lays Cheddar-Sour Cream Chips being zero calories. When I taught conversational English to graduate students at ATMA JAYA UNIVERSITAS, a catholic university in Jakarta, I used Dear Abby as a jumping off point for conversations. As long as I read it slow enough, so my students got the gist, discussing those columns was a highlight for all of us.
“Do people in US really put grandmas in old people homes away from family? Why not live with them and Ibu? Does not sound good.”
“Young people expect car when finished school? Who pays?”
“Does family really worry if big girl eat too much rice or French fry? They have fruit in America?”
I can’t remember all of the questions, but I remember the feeling I’d get during those discussions. Teaching English had to do with much more than them learning words. These young people wanted to learn everything they could about the American family life and culture. And I wanted to learn about theirs.
Lately I’ve been thinking I should write an advice column and call it ASK MARY. Here a sample question.
Question: “I saw a woman park in a handicapped space. She had the placard on her rear view mirror, but when she got out of the car it didn’t look like there was one thing wrong with her. I wanted to question her, but my husband told me to mind my own business. Why do people who aren’t handicapped park in those spaces?”
Answer: “Are you kidding me? What possible business could it be of yours if someone with a valid placard parked in a legitimate handicapped space? Your husband is right. You are wrong. Just because you couldn’t SEE the handicap doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The person you were ready to berate might have an issue like multiple sclerosis that flairs up occasionally; or serious joint issues that are worse on some days than others; or asthma that doesn’t show at all, yet without the close space she might not be able to function in the store. The last thing someone needs when they already have enough medical issues to handle, is for an insensitive, self-righteous clod like you to berate them. And in answer to your last question. . .They park there because they need too. Be glad you don’t!”
This was kind of fun. I’ve heard about and witnessed a lot of instances where I wanted to (and sometimes did) offer my opinion to someone who needed to get a life and be grateful for it. What do you think? Am I on the cusp of a new career as a self-help columnist? Don’t worry. I won’t quit my day job, which is “retired” and “writer” and I kinda-sorta do this in a way sometimes without being asked, but it might be fun to play it more specifically.