The Best Advice You Ever Got?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
the best advice you ever got

There’s a certain portion of America that doesn’t think that anything is real until Katie Couric tells them it’s so. I prefer Ms. Couric when she’s AutoTuned but the nice people at Michelin have other ideas. They’ve hired her to talk to teens about getting, and giving, good advice behind the wheel.

So, with the weekend ahead, let’s talk about advice, shall we?


The Michelin campaign is called . What makes it fairly unique is that it considers the role of peers in influencing the decisions that teen drivers make when driving. The idea is that you put your advice on Twitter using and that way the best advice can be “crowdsourced”.

I’m not sure how I feel about that; it sounds too much to me like the infinite number of monkeys that, when given Kinja accounts, always fail to create Shakespeare. I got plenty of bad advice about driving from my peers when I was younger. My mom, on the other hand, had something specific, and specifically useful, to tell me.

“You trust your car to work all the time,” she noted, not without criticism in her voice. “You think your brakes will always work and your car will never stall in an intersection and that you can always run at the limits of the car’s capabilities because they will be exactly the same. The day will come,” she frowned, noting how I hauled my 200SX hard-alee across three lanes to grab a very narrow spot in traffic, “when that is not so.”

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  • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on Oct 26, 2015

    Carwise: AWD is very helpful in snow when accelerating or going steady speeds, not so much on ice, unless the patch is small enough that some of the wheels are on better ground the whole time. Stopping, AWD is no better than 2WD. Drive accordingly. And always plan for the other driver possibly doing something stupid or unexpected, and plan in advance your possible evasive moves. Also, whenever possible, on highways especially, break out of a platoon of cars, and settle down in between two platoons of cars, with lots of room in front and back. And always keep track of cars behind you, especially if they are gaining on you. Always snap your head around for a split second to look out the rear window before switching to a lane on your right, no matter how well aimed your mirrors are. Don't be too cool to wear a seat belt, at least when traffic is heavy or conditions are bad. Always check oil and coolant before and after a road trip. Steer into a skid (the clumsiest kid in my crowd was driving a bunch of us in a big American convertible boatmobile, on a high crown road, when a car coming the other way drifted. He went off onto the shoulder and started to skid when he came back on. He had an older sister who had an Austin Healy 3000-6, and who had taught him how to drive. I never would have thought that he would know to steer into a skid, but he did, and saved the thing from rolling over onto all of us. Relationship-wise: thinking you are quite the stud because you have two women in your life at the same time is the stupidest error you can make. Instead, you have more than twice the problems, you will likely end up losing them both in the end, and at least one of them probably has a hidden agenda unrelated to the big stud you think you are. This is not preaching from an abstract view of morality. This is from a hard learned life lesson. Fortunately, I had not yet met the love of my life when I was young and apparently so smart that I didn't believe I could be that stupid. If concentrating on your relationship with the best woman in your life isn't a satisfying option, at many levels, then it is time to move on and keep searching. Or to start fixing what is broke. I used to always keep my eye open for additional opportunities, or a chance to jump ship to a better setup, until I met the woman who was so much more than what I even thought existed in real life, much less existed in my real life, at which point my whole attitude changed, not out of fear of consequences, but because of the totality of what I was suddenly absorbed in. If you have it, honor it and cherish it (and her) and work on it every day. If you don't, I hope you find it. As David Foster Wallace said at the end his 2005 commencement address at Kenyon, "I wish you so much more than luck." To any and all of you to whom this may be applicable. I had a lot of fun when I was being a dog, but also hurt some people and got hurt myself. Being in an all-consuming relationship is much scarier, because the potential for hurt is so much greater. But when and if it arrives, and if it is the real deal, it becomes the only game in town, and everything else was just cutting the cards to kill time. Or in short, always aim high, and if you end up there, hang on and do all you can to stay there. Quality beats quantity, though young men tend not to believe this. I know I didn't when I was younger. My mentor during my teen years, who taught me to box, and gave me a lot of good advice about the Marine Corps, also warned me that if I spent a lot of time being a whorehopper, I would end up missing out on good opportunities I would never know that I could have had. I thought he was just preaching about the importance of settling down, as he was a few years older. But over time, I came to understand that if you aim low, you will get a lot of bottom feeders, but it won't be that satisfying for that long. When he finally married, even though his face looked like a five pound package of hamburger from all the boxing he had done, he ended up with a beautiful and intelligent wife, and they were married almost literally forever. So I think it was good advice that I just wasn't ready for yet at sixteen or seventeen. But it resonated a couple of decades later, when it became time to decide which way I wanted to go with the rest of my life. Thank you, Paul, wherever you are. The funny thing about best advice is how easy it is to not recognize it at the time you receive it, but instead only in retrospect, down the line, when you see what is going on around you.

  • Pb35 Pb35 on Oct 27, 2015

    When I was a kid, I was riding with my dad and newly licensed sister. She was driving and dad told her "stay out of the left lane unless you're passing." Thanks, dad. Second piece, I was about 20, driving my brand new '87 Mustang GT with four friends in the car, one of which was my best friends older sister. I merged onto the LIE and ran vigorously through the gears till I hit about 85. When we stopped, my buddy's sister gave me a stern talking to about how I shouldn't drive like that with people in the car. Lesson learned and I never did it again. Thanks, Elise.

  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 28, 2015

    As usual ; The comments are far better than the original article and it was good . -Nate

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Nov 10, 2015

    "Son, you ain't cocky if you can do 'er."

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