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Rules and recommendations to live by

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The following suggestions are not sanctioned by any governing body or organization and are provided merely to help make life easier.

Never assume the shortest checkout line at the grocery store will be the one that moves the fastest.

Do not lose, let fall between the seats or misplace your car keys, wallet, cellphone or glasses.

Furthermore, do not lock your car keys inside your car under any circumstances, but especially if it happens someplace where you are not supposed to be.

Plan each day as if you will be getting a flat tire. If that doesn’t happen, mark it up as a good day.

Make sure to turn off your cellphone — or better still, leave it in the car — when attending a funeral service. Nothing ruins the spiritual mood like having either a “Batman” or “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song kick in at the wrong moment.

Never ask a woman the question “When is the baby due?” unless you are absolutely certain a baby is due.

After asking, however, and receiving the answer “I’m not pregnant,” you will quickly realize it was a terrible mistake and there is no need to apologize as irreparable damage has already been done.

You should also understand the woman whose baby is not actually due will remember you and your question for the rest of her life and you will never erase from her memory the fact you apparently considered her to be a fat slob.

Do not think you will be able to recall all the items that were on your grocery list, you know, the one that was by the phone and you forgot to take with you when you hurriedly left the house.

Make a habit of checking the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator more frequently than you would normally just to see how things are going in there. While every day is not necessary, going for several weeks without checking means you could have items lurking both difficult to identify and potentially dangerous.

Just for fun, you might take a picture of what you find and have a contest to let your Facebook friends guess what it is.

It is not wise to tackle home plumbing problems by yourself if you are not a certified plumber.

When on your way to somewhere and in a hurry, do not assume you will remember that cup of coffee or soft drink you temporarily left on the roof of the car while running back into the house to get something you forgot.

Be extra careful to never again dial an incorrect telephone number. If you do, expect to be hounded for several months by the person whose number you mistakenly dialed along with the question “Why did you try to call me?”

If on your way home from somewhere on the other side of Raleigh, do not call and tell your family you should be there in about an hour or so.

They will neither believe you nor understand why the trip took three hours or more and you missed dinner, the birthday party, soccer game or some other important event.

Never again tell a joke to anyone, whether by phone, online or in person, involving people, religion, politics, race, sexual preference or any potentially controversial subject.

If someone gives you directions on how to reach a destination and they include either “It’s a straight shot from there” or “You can’t miss it,” you probably should get further instructions.

This one comes thanks to my daddy, Carl Barnes, who provided many similar statements during his lifetime:“If anyone begins a sentence with the words ‘I heard’ or ‘They said,’ you can be sure what you are about to hear is a complete lie.”

Do not assume if you make a wrong turn during any journey by car that you can simply turn around at the next exit and get back on track without difficulty.

Regardless of your age, race, sex, weight, health, wealth, social standing, political views or national origin, you should never under any circumstances completely trust your bowels or kidneys to operate properly when, where or how they should.

In other words, if you think you might have to go before you get back home and there is the slightest chance you could be delayed in traffic, your best bet is to assume the worst, take a few extra seconds and by all means, go! You will not regret it.

Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at