Dear Crabby, Should I Always Follow Instructions?

Dear Crabby,

Do I always have to follow all the instructions in life?  I mean, when they say to turn the truck off when filling the gas tank at the gas station, do I really have to?  Or what about when I’m in the park and the sign says to pick up the litter? Are these really rules we need to follow?

Sincerely, Nine Lives Neil

Dear Nine Lives Neil,

I have to say that you are scaring me a little bit with part of your question here, bud.  I am not real sure what could happen if you do not turn off the truck while filling the gas tank, but it sounds like a really good suggestion to turn it off anyway.  I did get one of them e-mails from an old highschool buddy of mine that showed some hole in the ground after a guy answered his cell phone while filling his tank.  My grandkids told me that it was  some sort of a hoax though.  I imagine that the “Pick up Litter” sign you saw was also a request or a suggestion by the park officials to just keep the place nicer for the other folks as well.  I don’t know that they can throw you in the slammer for not picking up someone else’s garbage.  As for a general rule of thumb though, I try to follow the suggestions that sound reasonable.  When they say “Do not pass” on the road, I generally do not.  When they say “One Way” on a street, I generally only drive one way at a time anyhow. When they say “Put the seat down when finished” at a restroom, well, I plead the fifth on that one!  I spent a good part of my life challenging many of these rules and I learned the hard way that they were all made up for good reasons.  I broke the speed limit whenever I could, I turned right on a red light whenever I felt like it, and I resisted wearing my seat belt for many years when they first came up with that law.  But several speeding tickets later, along with many hikes in my insurance premium and a few close calls on the road where the seat belt would have made the difference in my survival or not, I learned that the rules and the laws are more than just someone else’s good ideas.  Accidents are avoided, traffic flows better, and life is often extended if we follow these simple “suggestions” that people who appear to be smarter than us decided to turn into a rule.  Now, just to clear my conscience, I still struggle with a few of these.  I am not fond of the “Remove shoes before entering” signs, or the “Sign here if you have read and understood” line on these doctor’s notices and liability documents they have.  My biggest issue is with a box of Mike & Ike’s.  Mrs. Crabby says you should eat them one at a time and enjoy the different flavors, but I like to grab a huge handful and cram them all in my mouth at once.  That’s one rule I will not follow, that’s a hill I’m willing to die on my friends!  Good luck with your decisions and try to follow the rules sometimes.

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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