Home Sweet Home
The obligatory bio
Charites & Organizations
My Calgary Sun Column & More
Law Stuff
Gary Lautens
E-mail me!

Don't Ask Me

by Stephen Lautens


September 26, 2003

Parents are under an awful burden. It’s the burden of eventually being looked up to by our children as the provider of answers to all the world’s tough questions. As parents, we’re expected to know all these things or risk our children realizing that we’re not as smart as we pretend to be.

In preparation for the barrage of questions that I know will eventually be coming my way, I’ve been doing my homework. I’ve been looking up the answers to some of the easy ones, like why is the sky blue and how do airplanes stay up in the air. That stuff is simple compared to the tough ones I may never be able to answer.

For example, I can’t explain why my car insurance keeps going up every year even though I have a great driving record that gets better each year. I think it has something to do with insurance companies either using a Ouija board to play the stock market or keeping all their customers’ premiums invested in magic beans.

Why can’t people figure out the difference between the words "less" and "fewer"? It’s easy - "less" is for a quantity and "fewer" refers to the number of things. I’m hardly the grammar police, but seeing educated people mangle the language drives me nuts. And while we’re at it, look up the difference between "its and "it’s".

Why is any change in service that a company announces is "for your convenience" automatically going to cost you more and be less convenient?

Why is it old men who always have the loudest opinions about women’s issues? Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but every time I see someone going on about abortion, hemlines, employment equity or the importance of women staying home to raise children, it seems like it’s a gray-haired guy who probably never changed a diaper in his life.

I can’t explain why gas prices go up and down several times a day, and only hit the peak when my car is empty. They say it’s due to problems with "supply", except the oil companies control the supply themselves, from it coming out of the ground to the nozzle on the pump at the station. So when there’s a shortage, it’s because they’ve decided to not supply themselves with as much gas as needed to keep the prices reasonable.

Why does God allow so many idiots to claim to be His representatives on Earth? There are lots of really nice, quiet religious people out there, but there’s always a few starting a crusade, jihad or ethnic cleansing in His name. Think of how much better off we’d all be if He handed out a few well placed lightning bolts to people acting like jerks in His name.

Why does the public keep falling for politicians who offer simple solutions to tough and complex problems? There rarely are simple solutions, but there seems to be no shortage of simple people.

Why do child molesters and rapists get off with light sentences, but if you steal money you can go to jail for a long time? Shouldn’t we consider hurting people more serious than walking off with a few bits of paper or a car?

When you call a utility or bank, why do they make you key in all kinds of account numbers before you can talk to a real operator? When they come on the line the first thing the operator asks you for is your account number again. Are they just messing with us in the hope we’ll give up and go away?

I still have a few years to figure it all out before my kid realizes I don’t have all the answers. Hopefully he’ll stick to asking me the easy ones, like advanced trigonometry and conjugating irregular French verbs.

© Stephen Lautens 2003

Back to column archive index