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Ask Anyone

don't ask me

I can’t stand it when people ask me for advice. I always feel like I’m being put on the spot. I mean, how should I know what somebody else should do in a given situation? I’m not that person, right? What if I suggest something and it ultimately winds up making the situation worse?

Yet week after week, I see all you “experts” giving out advice on any number of topics. Don’t you ever worry that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about?

Just Wondering

The Omniscient One says: If you’re going to question our wisdom, then I would advise you don’t ask our advice. I’m sorry to hear you feel “on the spot” if asked your opinion. We’re quite comfortable dishing out opinions.

Aberrant in Allentown says: There’s nothing to worry about, because I’m already pretty sure I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. It’s okay, though, that won’t stop me—observe:

Advice-seekers are often looking either for an avenue to vent, or have already made up their minds and are fishing around for validation. On the other hand, if you advise and a situation gets worse, they may have been looking for somebody to share blame in the first place, so be wary of that trap.

So here’s some simple advice-giving tips: 1) Simply lending an ear is often the favor they were looking for. Your advice doesn’t matter in that situation so don’t sweat it. 2) If it’s not terribly important in the grand scheme, just tell them what they want to hear and they’ll really appreciate “your” perspective. 3) If it is an important, life-changing decision and you can’t be helpful, be vague—even to the point of not making much sense if necessary. 4) If they’re the annoying, indecisive type asking for advice about every mundane life detail, give totally useless advice. Be creative, you can have some fun with this one. 5) Take no blame if it comes. You didn’t make the final decision, they did.

These tips should keep your conscience clear and most of your advice-seeking peers satisfied. For the ones who aren’t, have them send us an e-mail and we’d be glad to poke fun at their situation right here on this page.

Smart Money says: Do I know what I’m talking about? No. Do I care? Sure…um…no, not really. But I’ll have you know I’m a fabulous predictor of behavior, even if I am an insensitive lout.

The Shutterbug says: No, we never worry. Of course we known exactly what we’re talking about…they don’t call us “experts” for nothing. Now leave a duffle bag of unmarked bills totaling $5,000 behind the Buffalo Central Terminal. Come back in exactly two weeks and there will be a duffle bag there with double your money. Trust us.

The Sales Guy says: Free advice often validates the adage “You get what you pay for.” That said, as worldly and wise as our crack staff is, I’d say you’re getting your money’s worth and then some! But that’s just my opinion—whatever that’s worth.

Strictly Classified says: To answer your first question, you could suggest that your friends write to us at if you are uncomfortable providing advice. As for the second, I try to respond in a way that’s either insightful or amusing (although I have been know to miss the mark on both counts).

Special Delivery says: When someone asks for advice, what it really means is that they already know what they are going to do and they are trying to deflect any sort of guilt associated with whatever decision they were going to make. So when someone asks me for advice, I tell them to do whatever it is they were going to do anyway. Stop whining about it and just do it already.

As far as making someone’s situation worse—they don’t have to take your advice now, do they?

Ask Anyone is local advice for locals with problems. Send your questions for our panel of experts to

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