Taking advice is a skill we all need

Carolyn Aldis
Carolyn Aldis
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So, this week I have been thinking about the importance of taking advice from those with more experience than us.

I was travelling in my little second-hand Citroen with my youngest along an unfamiliar busy road when there was a beeping noise. I looked at the display and was alarmed to see that the engine heat was at its maximum. I remembered back to my early driving days when I had an old Mini that would often overheat and quickly turned the heating full on. This brought the heat down enough for me to carry on until I saw a petrol station. I pulled in, turned the engine off and got out.

There was such a racket coming from under the bonnet that even with my limited knowledge, I realised something was wrong. I opened it and could see the noise was coming from the radiator, that the reservoir was empty. I popped into the shop to purchase some ready-mixed coolant and came back. The noise had stopped and I used my daughter’s coat to protect my hands as I opened the cap, the steam hissing angrily. Having poured the coolant in, I was then aware of a man coming over.

He asked if everything was alright and I explained what I had done. He then asked if I had left the engine running while I filled it up. I hadn’t and he said I needed to do this to get the coolant round the system, otherwise there would be an airlock. I did as he said and the coolant disappeared. I had to purchase another bottle to fill it up and, thankful for this advice, drove home without any more problems.

Years ago, I was an activity instructor at a residential activity site. We provided all sorts of activities, including abseiling and air rifle shooting on a range. As instructor, I gave the safety talk at the beginning of the sessions and there were always a couple of kids (or more often, adults) who didn’t bother to listen, thinking they knew all they needed to know about it, desperate just to get on and play.

The problem with this is that those talks were important to protect them…in shooting, there were some guns with a telescopic sight. Because the guns kick back when they are fired, if that sight is too near the eye, the metal sight would kick back into the unfortunate person’s eyebrow, resulting in a split forehead and much mockery from the group, particularly if it was a man boasting 
about how good he was at shooting.

In abseiling, I would tell the group of the importance of leaning back 90 degrees over the edge of the 30-foot tower before trying to walk down. Because it felt alien to lean back, they would try to walk too soon, the angle would be wrong and they would “kiss the boards” – literally smack their face into the wooden boards, leading to much laughter and “ooohs”.

Taking advice is a life skill that helps us all; to stay safe, avoid pain and keep the respect of those around us.