Several summer’s ago, when I was walking the Pacific Crest Trail, I had to cross the Sandy River. (More like a creek) On the other side was a troop of boy scouts fiddling around, stacking rocks in the river for an easier passage.
There was pudgy, greasy-haired, yeasty-smelling boy with a walking stick about halfway across the river as I began to pick my way from rock to rock across the river. I had already walked about 10 miles or so and was running low on nourishment. Blood sugar was not optimum.
This kid was standing on a rock about halfway with his walking stick like Gandalf. I unbuckled my hip belt on my pack and started my way across. It wasn’t difficult. It wasn’t dangerous. I just didn’t want my feet to get wet, so I was taking some care.
Just as I passed Gandalf, he reached out his hand and with a look of pity asked, “Sir, would you like me to help you the rest of the way across?”
I would like to tell you that I smiled and was gracious to the little fella, but that would be a lie straight from the depths of hell. I was in no mood to be trifled with. Instantly my mind flashed on what I would like to say to Gandalf:
“Do I need any help? Holy crap, son! I’m not a little old lady crossing the dadgum street. I just walked 400 miles with a 40-pound pack, I think I can manage a little stream crossing.”
But I didn’t say any of those unkind things. That would be cruel and so…uh…unlike me. What I said for real was,
“Get away from me, kid!”
And thought about giving him an elbow as I passed to knock him in to the knee-deep water. I didn’t—but the thought made me feel good inside.
Trail etiquette 101: Never ask an old man if he needs help, let him ask you for help.
I know you are thinking I was too harsh on a kid who was just trying to be helpful. Well, I have something to say to you.
Get off my lawn!
Peace on earth, goodwill towards all men…and pudgy little wizards.