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Book Review: What would Rob Do?

What Would Rob Do? The question in the title of this book raises another immediate question - who is Rob? Rob is Rob Sachs, an NPR correspondent and host of an NPR pod-cast by the same name from which this book was adapted. While I did read the book cover to cover, I have to admit to not having listened to his pod-cast. Despite the fact that I am a tech nerd of sorts, and the fact that I am an avid NPR listener, I am not a pod-cast kind of guy, not even an NPR pod-cast kind of guy.

Now that I have that disclosure out of the way let me share my thoughts on What Would Rob Do? An Irreverent Guide to Surviving Life's Daily Indignities. Without the context above I assumed a different level of irreverence than this book delivered, given all the extreme scenario survival guides that have been published over the last decade or so. But taking into account the NPR connection of this book, the level or irreverence is just about what you would expect from an NPR employee. Nothing in the book was extreme, which was actually a nice contrast to a lot of other media out there going for shock value. That being said, there were enough poop jokes placed throughout the story to satisfy the inner eight year-old inside me.

The writing was pleasant and the experts consulted in the book were interesting. I even learned a few things, like stain triage and prevention. In general, it was a pretty quick and enjoyable read. The best part of the book for me, perhaps, was not just reading some amusing stories of embarrassment from the life of Rob Sachs. The other great thing that this book did for me was to make me reflect on some embarrassing events from my own life.

Rob [and I know it might be a slight breach of convention to refer to him by his first name, but after reading his book I feel that I know him enough for that] tells a story from his childhood about stepping in dog poop at recess during grade school. This story reminded me of a dog poop incident from my own life. As a twelve year-old at the park I decided that it would fun to roll down a grassy hill. It was just my luck that the path I rolled over in the 4-or-so-inch long grass happened to contain a big pile of dog poop. I rolled so quickly down the hill that the dog poop did not register with me until I stood up and found myself covered in canine excrement. That was stinky car ride home, even with the car windows rolled down.

Another Rob story that jogged my own memory banks involved clogging the toilet at a party. I had a similar event happen to me at a small dinner party at an apartment in New York. The apartment of the gals hosting only had one bathroom, so there was no way to just hang up a sign, as per Rob suggestion in the book. I tried in vain to let the water slowly recede so I could coax the clog down with more water from a second-effort flush. This time consuming process made my eventual emergence from the bathroom even more noticeable and awkward, though it did punctuate the seriousness of the clog, perhaps even embellishing it. The ultimate walk of shame, however, came as a friend and I walked about 30 blocks round trip hitting up multiple grocery stores at around 9 pm on a weekend in a long and ultimately successful quest to buy a plunger. My only redemption from it all was that at least I left my hosts with the gift of a plunger.

I am certain that not only will you enjoy, and perhaps even learn about handling some small embarrassments from reading this book, but you will most likely be reminded of some (hopefully not everyday) indignities in your own life.

by Cameron Hatch
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