Jake renovated old houses. One couple wanted their new-to-them colonial restored with meticulous attention to historic accuracy.
“Alrighty,” Jake said. “Where do you want the outhouse?”
Jake was a stickler.
Turns out they didn’t want that much historic accuracy.
I’m a stickler from a long line of sticklers. If my husband asks, “Do you know where the broom is?”
I say “Yes.” Or “No.” (Depending.) I answer the question he asks.
Every time. If he asked a different question, like “Where’s the broom?”, I respond in kind. We’ve been married 47.8 years, you’d think he’d have figured this out by now.
Sticklers stickle. We can’t help it.
At Clyde’s hardware store, a collapsed shelf sent paint cans flying. “Must have been an awful mess,” a customer commiserated. “All them gallons of paint spilled on the floor.”
“T’was mostly quarts,” Clyde said.
Sticklers tell it like it is, which can lead to more honesty than expected. Or appreciated. An irate citizen confronted the select board. His road needed repair. It’s needed repair for years. It’s practically impassable. “Is there a plan for fixing the roads in this town,” he demanded, “or is it willy nilly?”
“Willy nilly,” the chair replied.
Fred Lee, a legendary North Country stickler, is said to have been working on the Kancamagus Highway when a stranger in a posh car pulled over and yelled, “Hey mister, where’s Lincoln?”
Fred said, “Far’s I know he died a hundred fifty years ago.”
Marshall Dodge and Bob Bryan, of “Bert and I” fame, contributed some cawkahs to the canon of Yankees giving directions:
Q: Which way to East Vassalboro?
A: Don’t you move a goddam inch.
As for how to get to Millinocket (according to “Bert and I”): “You can’t get theyah from heyah.”
Tourists ask for directions; sticklers answer precisely. It’s a whole thing.
Q: Didn’t you say this road went to Mont Vernon?
A: It does. In the other direction.
Q: Can I go over the covered bridge to Springfield?
A: If I were you, I’d go through it.
Sticklers are never deliberately unhelpful, just precise:
Q: Where’s the post office?
A: ‘Bout half a mile from the town house.
Q: On the right or left?
A: Depends what direction you’re coming from.
Q: Where am I?
A: Where do you want to be?
I stopped for lunch en route to a meeting and, concerned about time, asked how long it took to get from Conway to Berlin. Got the answer I deserved: “Depends how fast you go.”
Yankees are all sticklers (pretty much), but not all sticklers are Yankees. They come in different shapes, ethnicities and vintages. Dave, a teacher in Lebanon, described a rainstorm that lasted three days and brought considerable flooding. Students had a hard time getting back and forth to school. Ruthie and her siblings lived across the Connecticut in Thetford, Vermont. On the third day, Ruthie’s mother’s car conked out; she couldn’t pick the children up as usual. Dave volunteered to drive them home. They piled into his car and off they went, only to discover the bridge had washed out.
“Ruthie,” Dave said, “what did your mother do yesterday when she came to the washed-out bridge?”
“She drove down that road there.”
Dave took the road indicated. It turned to dirt. He drove on. It devolved into a soggy rabbit track. It was all he could do to get turned around.
“Ruthie,” he said, “What happened when your mother tried to get through on this road yesterday?”
“Same thing,” she said. “Got this far and turned around.”