When You Just Ask

This is Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle. As law enforcement, I am used to getting a lot of questions. I get asked for directions every day. And Deputy Digby only knows how to get to IHOP.

I get asked trivia. I guess I look like I should be on Jeopardy. Although I’m not sure why they would ask law enforcement how to win at Jeopardy. And that just proves I know it all.

I thought as were were going on a walk the other day near camp that maybe I could take a break from answering questions for a bit. But as we were hiking in this Florida place, we found some berries on the ground. I didn’t even know what they were.

Girl Person loves to do something she calls foraging. Digby says that’s his new excuse for eating unmentionables on the trail.

Girl Person was all excited! Since she has lived in this Florida place for so long, she was pretty sure she should know what these berries were. So she put some in a bag and carried them home. She was all happy to show Boy Person. What could she do with them? Make a cobbler or a pie or a giant cookie? The possibilities were endless.

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She got out her computer thing and started her research. “Orange fruit from a palm tree.” There we so many pictures. Some information said it might be a date. Or a jelly fruit. Or a nut. But she couldn’t find an exact pictures of her treasures anywhere. Boy Person said they smelled good and she agreed. Then, she finally found a picture she thought may be it! So she watched more videos. And she was pretty sure. Yeah. You could make jelly.

So she told Boy Person to try one. And she tried one too. And they found out it wasn’t a fruit really. But kinda like a seed. Hmmm.

Girl Person got busy and worked a lot. And she didn’t have time to really make a pie. Or a cobbler. Or jelly. And then one night, Boy Person came back from running and told her he had also seen some of the fruit on the ground. He told her not to eat that. It didn’t look right. And she agreed. She would wait. And I wondered. There was a ranger in the park every morning. Why hadn’t she just asked? This had went on forever! Kinda like Digby’s smell after he leaves.

So the next morning when we saw the ranger, I pulled Girl Person over to him. I knew I could lead her to an answer. Because even if I didn’t know, I knew who did. Girl Person got my hint and after some small talk which totally bored me, she asked. She asked him what those orange fruits on the ground were.

The ranger knew! He knew. The ranger explained that it was a very old plant.

And that Native Americans used the plant for food. Girl Person thought that sounded promising. Then he said it grew a big root underground that they boiled to dry and use for flour. But that they had to boil it a special way. To get. Out. The. Poison.

Girl Person took a step back. A big step. And she wondered as she walked away. Were the seeds poison? She had neglected to ask. And I just couldn’t believe it. Here we were going again.

First, Girl Person told Boy Person that she finally knew the name of the plant called a Coontie. And that people used to eat it. And he asked. But what about the seeds? So Girl Person started typing. And the first thing she found? Oh. That just a few seeds could have made us dogs very sick. Very sick.

She eyed the bowl of seeds in the corner. The next thing she typed she almost dropped her phone. Poisonous to humans. Poisonous. And I looked at her and Boy Person. They were still here. Still alive. But Boy Person was really unhappy. He knew that Girl Person wasn’t trying to hurt him but Girl Person felt horrible. And I felt like this whole thing could have been solved without a computer. Without a phone. But with a question. All she had to do was ask! I like to pretend I know everything. But even I ask for Deputy Digby’s opinion sometimes. Because we are a team.

Not every answer can be found on a computer. Persons have begun to believe they don’t need help for anything. They think they can solve it all themselves. But sometimes overconfidence can be like poison.

The persons learned a very big lesson, but they were fortunate to learn it. I could have kept this little story from you. But you should all know…we make mistakes. No matter how many miles we have traveled, places we have been and things we have learned, the most important have been the people we have met. The people who love where they live. The people who want to tell us about where they live. And if you ever get a chance to travel, make talking to others part of your itinerary. Why?

Talking to someone may not save your life…but then again, it may. And let me tell you this. Leave those orange fruity things that are not oranges and not jelly fruit on the ground where you found them.

When you ask someone a question, yes, you may be admitting you don’t know it all. Or close to all…like me. But it shows humility, a willingness to learn and be better, and you may even make someone feel better about themselves. What’s to lose when you just ask? You’ll be surprised how much you can learn. And how much you didn’t know.

Sheriff Peanut Butter Brickle

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