Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Life Advice From Those Who Have Lived It

Sunday's Washington Post ran this article with an eye-catching title: Self-proclaimed ‘Old Coots’ offer life advice at farmers market. Their slogan: ‘It’s Probably Bad Advice, But It’s Free.’ Here's how this all came about:

The group of retired friends who meet every Saturday morning at a Salt Lake City deli were growing tired of the same conversation each week.

Sure, they were solving the world’s problems. But they wanted more excitement in their Saturday morning. They wanted to share their wisdom beyond their friend group of seven. As a lark, they set up a card table at the nearby Salt Lake City’s farmers market and told people they were dispensing free advice.

And guess what happened? "[T]o their surprise, people started showing up and sharing their problems. A lot of them."  They realized they were filling an important need and they took this duty seriously.  How popular are they?  According to the article, "[e]ach Saturday since the summer, the “Old Coots” have taken on the issues of about 30 to 40 people who come by seeking their advice. It’s a way for a person to get an outside opinion from somebody who has nothing to gain...." Among the most common questions?  Meeting someone and keeping romance in a relationship. They do get some unique questions, such as what to do about ghosts in the house of one person who stopped by for advice.  What's out of bounds for topics? Politics and religion but they do have forms for folks who want to register to vote.

They don't give advice to each other-- they only give advice to strangers, because, as one of them quipped about giving advice to each other, “Who would listen?” 

The end of the farmer's market season also marks the end of their advice giving at the market. They "will fold up their banner and card table when the farmers market ends for the season later this fall, but they hope to return next year, coffee cups in hand, advice at the ready. As one of them so insight fully noted, “To be truthful, I’m not sure that any of us can claim to have much wisdom, said [one of the old coots], but it sure has been a lot of fun. Maybe all of us coots really do have more to offer than we thought.”


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