The back-seat driver. In German: der Co-Trainer. The armchair expert, Kneipenprofessor, who knows your job better than you do (because they saw this done in a movie or on YouTube). The bane of my life, and quite possibly of yours, my dear reader.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. Time to write through gritted teeth. I shall wear a smile. Here it is for you.
Let me outline the background of this article for you. Our church treasurer is of Welsh origin, but quite Germanic in his view that:
Ordnung muss sein.
The treasurer noticed a week ago that we had two large boxes at the back of church.
- One for used stamps to donate to charity. In the UK, pretty much every small business had an A4 envelope full of such stamps, which the secretary or office junior would then take once in a while to the local charity shop. (You get the idea.)
- The other contained a whole load of spectacles, also to give to a Third World charity.
Both boxes have never been emptied in the near seven years that I have been attending this church.
Never, never, never, never. In seven (7) years. Never, never, never, never.
Let’s cut to the chase. Last week after seeing the two un-loved boxes one time too many, I undertook to take both boxes with me to the local charity shop. After I had taken the box of spectacles to the shop this morning, I sent out a round-robin to church members via Whatsapp.
We have taken our collection of spectacles for the Third World to charity shop. They are very happy.
Within minutes, messages of unbridled adulation flood into my inbox.
You are the finest human being I have ever met.
Truly you are a blessing in my life.
I am filled with endless gratitude to you for your sterling efforts and endless, selfless devotion to the work of the church, and indeed, to the human race.
And much, much more.
I tell a lie. I get one message from the treasurer:
Other than that one, I then receive a bombardment of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells messages from Billy, our “in-house” back-seat driver and giver of unsolicited advice. He was challenging my decision to discontinue the collecting of stamps and spectacles. I explain that, members of the congregation are grown-up enough to take their donations directly to the charity. (Well, actually, Billy probably isn’t.) He then combines his Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells comments with passive aggressive comments concluding in, “But of course, you’re in charge, and you you know best, and you probably have your reasons for your decision.” (Think of when a woman answers you with “Fine.”)
(Yes, Billy, I do have good reasons, and I’ve just spent ten minutes of my life explaining the rationale, context, whys and wherefores thereof.)
Message after message, after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message… after message…
“Billy must be bored today,” I sigh to myself.
In the end, Billy has the last word and informs me he is “far too busy to discuss this matter until tomorrow.” A reprieve. I anticipate the next chapter at about 02:20 when he gets up for a night-time loo break. I say the words that every ex-HM Forces person, every pads brat utters at least once a month.
I then get on with my jobs at church:
- Shiftin’ and liftin’ fifty stacking chairs back into the church hall
- Writing a thank you card to Grasshopper for some highly amusing videos about protein powder
- Nibbling a couple of small mince pies left for me by our catering team
- Advising the catering team how to bake mince pies because that’s how my last church used to make them (Er no thanx, I’ll leave that to Billy to butt in)
Have an advisory day, won’t you!