Coach Potatoes

How come Philadelphians can't do anything by themselves anymore?

Friday’s Inquirer had an article in it that I was sure at first was an April Fools’ Joke. It was about “gardening coaches”—people you can hire for anywhere from $25 to $75 an hour who’ll come to your house, kneel down beside you, and hold your hand while you get the hang of how to stick stuff in the ground. And why are we willing to do this? Gardening coach Marcia Tate, who’s based in Media, explains: “People are afraid of doing something wrong or wasting money or time, or hurting or killing a plant.”

My friends, if you’re sufficiently afraid of hurting a petunia that you’ll pay somebody $75 an hour to help you avoid doing so, wasting money isn’t the worst of your woes.

And “afraid of doing something wrong”? Whatever happened to learning via trial-and-error? Were the Pilgrims who sailed to Plymouth Rock afraid of doing something wrong? Was Daniel Boone, when he cleared the wilderness? The Founding Fathers when they wrote the Declaration of Independence? What if they’d decided they needed Independence Coaches to help them figure out how to foment a revolution? We’d all be even more excited about Kate and Will’s wedding, that’s what.

When did we turn from being a nation of intrepid entrepreneurs and do-it-yourselfers to a people so timid we don’t dare decide where to put the tomato plants all by ourselves? Sheesh, what if a plant does die? You plant another one to replace it, duh. They cost about a quarter apiece.

I’m not faulting the gardening coaches the Inquirer article cites. Hell, they’re enterprising; they’re entrepreneurial. They’ve figured out there’s a sucker born every minute; why shouldn’t they take advantage of that? But as for their clientele—and all the rest of the folks out there who need coaches to help them figure out how to clean their closets and organize the garage and work out at the gym and “connect to their authentic selves,” I’ve got a genuine American Indian sweat lodge in Arizona I’d like to sell you. Cheap!