Good stories, like good books, can entertain us and teach us valuable lessons. My father is a country veterinarian and his profession never has a shortage of good material for stories. There is a reason for the success of The Incredible Life of Dr. Pol and James Herriot. It’s because people and their pets are more interesting than any made-up character ever was. I don’t think you ever truly appreciate your parents, until you have a family of your own. My dad never gave me a lecture, rarely raised his voice, and could effectively discipline me without losing his cool. I didn’t get it when I was a kid but many times when my dad was trying to teach me something, he would use a story. This particular one, taught me about manners. It also taught me that if you are quick-witted and creative enough, you rarely have to say anything to get your point across.
My dad had a client who was a Gentleman Farmer. Every time my dad would go to his house for a call. he would complain about a friend of his who would stop by the house every night around dinner time. He would show up uninvited, eat, and then make-up an excuse to leave before they did the dishes. This went on for months, until one evening the farmer decided to cleverly do something about it. On that particular evening, when his friend showed up for dinner… he insisted that he stay to visit afterwards. The friend made his normal excuses to leave but the farmer kept urging him to stay. Finally, he weakly asked: “Do you need me to help with the dishes?” and the farmer said: “No, it’s really no bother.” He took the dinner dishes, put them on the floor, walked to the back door, and opened it. When he did, a large, unruly pack of hounds burst through the back door and proceeded to wildly lick the dinner plates clean. The farmer calmly bent over, picked up the dishes, and put them back in the cabinets. His friend stood speechless for a minute before stumbling out of the house and left. Never to be seen at dinner again.
The moral of the story: don’t invite yourself to dinner. But if you do, please, offer to help with the dishes!