Have you ever noticed how everyone else is an expert at your job?
The fewer reliable facts one has to confuse one's thinking, the greater the expertise one is compelled to share on exactly what you should do. This is the system favored by assorted consultants, opinionated relatives and various members of Congress.
Baseball is a good example. Gather a group of guys, a couple dozen hot dogs, six trays of cheesy nachos and some cold drinks, park them in the outfield bleachers, and the guys will evolve into experts at something they've never, ever done - face Major League pitching.
After one batter pops up, one of the helpful experts screams, ''Idiot! Stop choking up on the bat. Even my great-grandmother knows that, and she's home rocking her cat, Mr. Wiggles.''
The next batter whiffs. The same expert - spraying hot dog chunks down the back of the guy in front of him - bellows, ''Moron! Choke up on the bat. Even my great-grandmother knows that, and she's home rolling yarn with her cat, Mr. Fluffy.''
The guy with food bits in his hair whips around and yells, ''Watch the hot dogs.''
''I know. Don't the knuckleheads at the concession stand know anything about grilling. Even my great-grandmother... '' And so on.
My brother-in-law Bill used to say, ''There are two things that everyone else can do better than I can: Raise my kids and spend my money.''
Parenting is chock full of experts - the experts mostly being people who have raised no actual children.
Once, a mom recounted the rough night she had putting her 3-year-old to bed.
''Abby was so hyper. Her grandparents fed her a bag of marshmallows at 8 p.m. At 8:30, she kept popping out of bed like toast. She sang, she danced, she asked why the sky is blue, she fussed about a toothache that morphed into a toe ache, she hid under the covers with a flashlight and crayons...''
One guy - who never had kids - said, "Why didn't you just tell her to go to sleep?'' The other unencumbered adults nodded. ''It's a proven childcare technique. We saw in Reader's Digest.''
Those of us who are parents rolled our eyes. We knew that the phrase ''Go to sleep'' had been repeated roughly 3,472 times with the same effect as screaming at the batter to choke up. Which is what my friend planned to do to the next bag of marshmallows she saw.
I have worked in newspaper offices for about 30 years. In that time, I have received hundreds of helpful expert advice from concerned readers, many that go something like this: ''It's obvious you slept through English, you imbecile, but at least do your job.''
This will be followed by an infliction of their advice, including three things that are unethical, one that is physically impossible and two that are flat-out illegal. Plus, apostrophes and commas fall as randomly as rain throughout the letters.
This used to get on my nerves so badly that I complained to my doctor about it. That goofball, who obviously found his medical degree in a Cracker Jacks box, suggested that I ...
But why should I straighten him out? There are plenty of other experts willing to tackle that job. Right now, the next batter is up and I need to shout instructions. The brainless idgit is choking up on the bat.
---- Tell Cole how to do his job at email@example.com or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.