Kent Bernhardt: Suggestions for life

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 1, 2016

We live our lives by rules.

We stop at stop signs, pay our taxes, and wait in line at the grocery store because life simply works better if we follow some basic rules. Some are mandatory, carved in stone rules.

Others are simply suggestions, like washing certain clothes in cold water – or not machine washing them at all, as I discovered with an expensive sweater recently. Come to think of it, that was more of a rule.

So I’ve assembled a small list of Simple Suggestions for a Better Life. Follow these, and you will experience fewer bumps in your travels.

  1. Change your oil. The amount of time between oil changes varies, based on the vehicle and the type of oil used, but check the level and change it regularly. I remind my daughter of this constantly when we talk on the phone. “I love you sweetie – and change your oil.”
  2. Black furry creatures with a white stripe on their back should never be addressed as “Here, kitty kitty…”.
  3. Have at least one dog in your life. You’ll learn a lot about loyalty – and love. And don’t try to figure cats out, just love them. They don’t understand you either.
  4. Never ask how a hotdog is made. Just eat and enjoy it.
  5. Sing. It doesn’t matter if you do it well or publicly, but sing from time to time. As Harold Hill says in “The Music Man”, singing is just sustained talking. There’s something about singing that lifts the spirit.
  6. Think of something unique and sincere to say to the family before you get in line at the funeral home. That way, you won’t blurt out something stupid like “So, how’s it going?”
  7. No one really wants to hear specifics about your ailments, so don’t fog up their glasses when they ask how you are. Even if they press for details, just give them the Reader’s Digest version. Don’t pull out a snapshot of your colon or run down your list of prescriptions.
  8. Don’t post your political views on social media. You won’t change anyone’s mind, and half of them will think you’re an idiot before they even finish reading your rant.
  9. Smile at strangers on the street. Hold the door for them. Speak pleasantly. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and you may make someone’s day. The people who don’t appreciate your kindness will wonder what you’ve been up to. There’s fun in that too.
  10. Don’t take expiration dates too seriously. I put some milk that expired three days ago on my cereal this morning, and so far I’m still alive.
  11. Tip generously. I don’t like our system of compensating restaurant wait staff either, but that’s the way it is, and they need the money. They deserve it too for putting up with some of the customers I encounter.
  12. No, your baby is not the cutest one we’ve ever seen, so don’t ask unless you want an honest answer.
  13. Here’s one for NASCAR fans. When you’re at the race, never boo anyone. Well, maybe it’s all right to boo Brad Keselowski…..and certainly Kyle Busch….but everyone else should get a pass. I heard Jeff Gordon get booed after he was introduced by his sweet young daughter. That’s over the line. And never boo a special guest, even if they’re in politics.

And finally…

  1. Sometimes you’re on the road leading to a goal, and other times you’re simply on a pleasant detour. Appreciate and enjoy them both.


Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

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