I’ve been a fan of Rickey Smiley’s comedy for many years. I’ve even seen one of his comedy shows in person. I listen to his radio show, I’ve seen his reality TV show, Rickey Smiley For Real, and I always have a lot of good stomach hurting laughter. So when I saw this book at the library I jumped at the opportunity to read it, listening to the audio is especially funny because it’s REAL. Smiley’s approach to life reflects his southern values and beliefs as instilled in him by his grandparents and his mother. He gives us a window into his background and still he makes us laugh.
Although some might view his outlook and approach as politically incorrect, I found it authentic and refreshing to think about my own southern heritage. Smiley talks about the lack of child training and disciple, respect and good manners lacking among young people today. I supposed my ears perked up because unfortunately it’s something I see too much of.
“That’s unacceptable. I don’t tolerate bad manners. Whatever your age, treating another person with respect is a matter of common decency. It’s how we reinforce each other’s inherent dignity. Each and every one of us is deserving of acknowledgement and courtesy.”
Like Smiley acknowledges, some of these personality and character flaws can be contributed to the culture we live in. As a people watcher, I notice how people in general will literally run into you because they are so busy looking down at their phones they aren’t paying attention to where they’re walking. Hello, if it’s important stop walking and look it up or take the call in private. Or how my nieces or nephews will talk about how bored they are but when you’re with them, all they want to do is play on your phone or tablet. I am that aunt who will lovingly call them out and declare a no phone zone. Playing board games, talking to people, having a real conversation is hard for our young people because in some ways, their ability to communicate meaningfully has been stunted. Admittedly, the adage kids should be seen and not heard is not 100% fool proof. But I see disrespectful and unappreciative attitudes and it’s just disheartening.
When Smiley discusses the personality flaw of entitlement I wanted to get a loudspeaker and sound a public announcement. Kids who grow up and become adults have a warped sense of entitlement, like the world owes them something. You have to work hard, make sacrifices to get anything in this world. Your parents don’t own you the latest gadgets, fashion, cars. They owe you love and when they give it, make it a priority to show some appreciation. I think about my own mother, a single parent who worked hard and never expected or felt like anyone owed her anything except the wages she earned at the mutilple jobs she worked. Why, to put food on the table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head. Her work ethic is why I get upset, like Smiley, when I see this character flaw.
“I’ve never felt entitled. I’ve always expected that I would have to work hard and that my effort would ultimately be rewarded.”
Being raised with such a strong work ethic has made me truly hate it when people feel that somebody owes them something undeserved, whether it’s a pass for bad behavior, a professional break that they didn’t earn, or an apology for some imaginary slight. Entitlement is a personality flaw that I see in so many people, and it’s a characteristic that I resent more than any other. The only thing that someone owes you is basic courtesy, and if you don’t know how to act, you don’t deserve even that.”
Do you ever reads book where you just want to stop and thank author for saying something you can completely understand? This book made me feel that way several times. In the chapter, Handle Your Business, I could relate to something Smiley says about the one of the simplest sentences in the English language. No. I’m sure as a person that’s well to do, Smiley has learned this lesson and shares it’s with readers. I’m not well to do by any chance, but apparently my personality is of the sort that I will say no to others for the sake of my own well being and sanity. I have had a few relatives tell me they’ve learned that lesson too. No doesn’t need an explanation.
“No” is a complete sentence that requires no explanation.
“Everyone needs to know how to say that word with confidence and power. People may hate to hear it, but they’ll get over it. And the word “no” will save you a lot of headaches in the meantime.”
“No. No. No. I did not stutter.”
Yes I laughed at his matter of fact but truthful approach even to something that’s seemingly simple but sometimes hard to execute. No. No. No. I did not stutter. I think I need a tee-shirt or a mug for tea that says that.
But back to the laughter, Smiley recounts a blasphemous doughnut debate with a friend about Krispy Kreme donuts and Dunkin Donuts, the friend he threatened to put out of his car for such foolish talk. (I’m a Krispy Kreme girl). I knew EXACTLY how he felt when Smiley saw that H-O-T doughnut sign on at Krispy Kreme. As a kid I can remember my mom turning around to go back for some fresh glazed doughnuts. So when Smiley pulls over and buy a those doughnuts and his friend only opens his mouth to eat another doughnut. That’s how you do it, show him better than you can tell him and let the doughnuts prove it!
When Smiley talks about hard topics he still manages to infuse humor. He talks about many other things in the book; his fight to be more than a weekend part time father to his son, the village approach in his childhood, and of course his early days in making a name for himself as a comedian. He opens up about his mother’s drug addiction and how he got shot because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
His old school but real approach to life is refreshing and in classic Rickey Smiley form, hilarious. Great book.