Saturday, November 20, 2010

Don't ask me!

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how difficult it is to get any sense out of anyone these days - especially officialdom or any of its minions?

I'm not talking about daft questions, such as "Are you reading that paper you are sitting on?" but real questions like, "Can you tell me who is in charge, please?" or, 'Who do I talk to about this?" You simply can't get an answer!

"I'll have to talk to my line manager... Leave it with me... I'll look into it and get back to you..."

That's the last you will see or hear from them. Does this only happen to me?

Of course, there are some questions that you shouldn't even ask, never mind expect an answer to. To start with, never ask a woman how old she is because she will never answer but will come back (probably) with a question of her own such as, "How old do I look?"

RUN! Leg it! Head for the hills, rip your own throat out with a rusty garden fork - anything but answer that question. NEVER!

If you try to be charitable and say she is younger than she really is, she will presume you are taking the piss and make life very, very uncomfortable for you. If you go the other way and say she is older then you might as well put fifty pence in the meter, get a cushion and shove your head into the nearest gas oven. It's all over for you, mate! As for getting it right - forget it, not a chance. And even if you do get it right by pure chance then you will be accused of knowing all along, so you can't hardly win really.

But this is getting away from the point - the point is that it has become impossible to get an answer to a perfectly reasonable enquiry these days.

Then we've got the other problem - asking for advice or being asked for advice.

It's no good asking for advice - nobody cares enough to actually listen to anything being said to them. They all have their own agendas in prison and any advice given will be tilted and clouded by that hidden agenda.

Being asked for advice? Another minefield!

This morning (Tuesday 16th November 2010) one of my contemporaries approached me and said (I paraphrase ), "Hey, Frank! Listen, I need a bit of advice... " and he went on to tell me that he had to make a decision about something and wanted advice. I heard him out, of course, and then sat looking at his expectant little dial as he waited for words of wisdom from the venerable and humble old con - well, not so venerable and not so humble, I'm just an old con.

"Well," said I finally, "let me tell you something about advice. You usually find that when someone comes, as you have, asking for guidance or advice, they don't really want it because they have already made their minds up. No, what they are really after is approbation. They want someone else to agree with what they have already decided. The reason for that is so that if their decision should turn out to be stupid they can then point a finger and say, 'You told me to do it!' So, they don't want advice, they just want somebody to blame when it goes tits up."

"No! No!" he protested. "It's nuffink like that!"

I just grinned at him. "You are a big lad now, over twenty-one. You have to make your own decisions in life - this is one of them. Look, you know what you intend to do, so go and do it. Have confidence in your own decisions. You'll make mistakes - everybody makes mistakes in life - and let's face it, nitwit, in life your mistakes are the only thing you can really call all your very own work. Good luck with that then," and I grinned again.

"You're a horrible sod," says he, disgruntled.

"True," I agreed, "but I make my own decisions. Off you go and make yours."

So, really I am no different from all of the others who won't or can't answer questions. I don't mind making decisions and taking the blame for my own mistakes, but I see no reason why I should take the blame for the decisions of others. And perhaps that is at the root of the whole thing - nobody wants the blame for things that they are not responsible for.

I'm too old for all this, that's the trouble. 

The Voice In The Wilderness

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