A stranger knocks on your door, asking for directions from your home to the closest gas station (or café, or library. Your pick!). Instead of the fastest and shortest route, give him/her the one involving the most fun detours.
Type, type, type…
Ironing out the latest WordPress task…
Slurp, slurp, slurp…
Drinking down the last of the milk in my cereal bowl…
Knock, knock, knock…
Someone’s at the door…
I put down my laptop, move the black cat away, and go through the kitchen to see who’s there.
A tall, handsome man, who looks about 20 with short brown hair and a fair complexion, is standing outside on the steps. He is wearing a Darth Vader shirt and looks exhausted. I look over his shoulder and there is a bike lying on the driveway; he must have come a long way to my house in a hurry.
I hesitate for a bit and then open the front door. “Yes? What can I help you with?”
This man, who looks oddly like someone I know, asks, “Do you have directions to success?” His voice is deep and monotonous.
The question shocks me at bit. I’ve never been asked one like it before. I look at him a moment, scanning his face, looking for his motives, but, after thinking, respond to his question.
“Get a job at McDonald’s and you’ll be all set.”
He looks at me with a funny expression. “Really, that’s it?”
“Yup. See, you can work your way up through the ranks and eventually become head of the corporation.”
The 20-something man looks at me thoughtfully. “How long should I stay at McDonald’s before I become successful?”
I try to hold back a laugh, a smug smile coming across my face. “I’d say about five years and then you’ll start seeing progress.”
(The man starts working at McDonald’s and gets fired the next day for causing a big grease fire).
The 20-something then nods appreciatively. “Well, thank you. I appreciate your advice. Is there anything else you have for me?”
I look at him curiously, still wondering why this man reminds me of myself, and respond again.
“Um, yeah, I think you should also try to start a musical career. Just pick up your guitar, or whatever instrument you have, take it down to the corner, and start playing. People will love you.”
The man puts his hand to his chin, stroking it and thinking deeply. “Yeah, that sounds awesome. I have a guitar and know some music and could earn some cash doing so.”
(The man plays his guitar on the corner of Windham Hills. Most people laugh or completely ignore him. He sounds horrible with his guitar way out of tune, no accompanying back-up, and not to mention him having a terrible singing voice).
The man is not done yet. “What about going to college or starting a business? Aren’t those big ways to find success?”
At this point I just want to get back to my life and start winging more bologna at the man. “No, college is overrated and no one has ever achieved much by going. As for the business, if you want to start one, I’d advise you to go into selling bootlegged copies of music.”
The man, brainwashed by my silly advice, also takes this last piece to heart. “Okay, so no college and selling bootlegged copies of music seems good, I already know how to get the music without paying for it.”
(In an alternate universe, the man would have been a multi-millionaire with two yachts, if he’d not taken my advice and had graduated from college. As for the bootlegged business, he was arrested, fined for at least $250,000, and sentenced to five years in prison).
“Well, I will take your advice strongly. Thanks for the help! But I have just one more question – what about finding the love of my life? What should I do if I meet someone and have a strong connection to them?”
This causes me to stroke my chin thoughtfully. “Hmm…well, I would not answer her phone calls and every time a date comes up, say you are out with some of your friends at a strip club getting rowdy drunk. She’ll appreciate it and love you more.”
The man makes no sign of seeing false advice here, not even giving me a scrutinizing look, but says, “Got it! Thank you!”
He retreats down the steps, waves back at me, and hops on his bike, riding away. I slam the door and a chorus of laughter erupts from my belly. What a fool.
That fool turned out to be me from an alternate universe, who was still taking people’s advice too strongly without any thinking for himself.