Giving help where help isn’t needed

Tony Vagneur

If you’re like me, there are some things in this world that are reasonably beyond your grasp and you wouldn’t mind a little help here and there to understand them. I mean, for instance, how often have you operated one of those big, yellow excavators that you see digging up the ground all over the valley? Not very often, I reckon, so if you had to drive one for the day, you might appreciate some help in at least getting it started. Or, if you had to put together a loan package for the purchase of the Aspen Skiing Co., could you do that? Currently, I need help figuring out where to ride my bike on the Colorado State University campus.I don’t understand people who know less about the subject than you do, but somehow believe they can solve your problems. A few springs ago, I was getting ready to take my horses to Utah for some R&R when I casually remarked to my neighbor that my horse trailer needed the left turn-signal wire replaced to work properly. When I got home from work that night, the same neighbor excitedly informed me that, with his extensive expertise of electronics, he had rewired the entire trailer. Silently wondering how he could have done this without a source of power, I skeptically hooked my truck to the trailer and discovered that, thanks to his intervention, none of the lights (nor brakes) worked. This realization came about the same time said neighbor, leaning boisterously into my truck window, was informing me that he really wouldn’t feel comfortable charging me for the work he’d done since we lived so close together. You can’t fault someone for trying, can you? My good friend, Darwin, who knows more about horse trailer lights than most anyone, did have to rewire the trailer to repair it.The other day I saw a friend of mine walking down the road, leading a horse she should have been riding, but couldn’t get on because it wouldn’t stand still. I parked and offered my assistance, which was readily accepted. “Let me show you something,” I said, as I grasped the horse’s headstall and pulled its head toward me, positioning its offside against the fence so it had to stand still, all in an effort to demonstrate how it might be done. My lady friend said that it wouldn’t do her much good for me to be on the horse and her on the ground, now would it? After a moment’s pause, I realized the inherent logic of the situation and handed the horse’s reins back to her. I watched her in my rear view mirror, leading the horse down the road.One spring, as we turned cows out on the summer pasture, a friend and I found ourselves in a thick grove of aspens, pushing a large bunch of cows past a fork in the trail. Almost as soon as they started going well, it became apparent that someone from the other direction was trying to turn the throng around, so we skirted the herd and went around the other way to help out. We got the cows moving again, in the opposite direction, when the same guy started turning the cows again, trying to go back the way we’d just come. Going in either direction would have gotten us to the same destination, so a little peevishly I crashed through the trees, spurring my horse over dead fall and through low hanging branches until I caught up with the confused cowboy. “Which direction is it you wish to go,” I asked with frustration as he nervously tried to avoid me, aware of my irritation.He paused briefly, then asked in a quivering voice, bordering on panic, “Which way are we supposed to go?” At that, my anger subsided and I profusely thanked him for finally asking.Tony Vagneur admits he’s not sure where we’re going next. Read him here on Saturdays and send comments to