I heard this anecdote in a Gestetner Paper warehouse in the winter of 1983. It was told to me as being a true story.
A trucker, whose route brought him to the warehouse daily, had worked hard all his life to support his family. It wasn't easy. He was known to be reliably friendly, cheerful and personable, as well as a hard worker. By the time he was fifty-something, his two daughters had grown up, married, and moved out of the house. He and the wife hoped for retirement in a couple of years.
But life has a habit of throwing the odd curve ball. The economy soured. Daughter #1 got divorced and moved back in. The husband of daughter #2 lost his job, and they both moved back in to the family home.
Suddenly, the trucker found himself with a contentious home life, and four dependents - on one income - where there had been one before. The stress was beginning to show.
This being the last stop of the day, he used the office phone to call home, to see if they needed anything at the store on his way home. The son-in-law answered. I was told it went like this:
"Yeah? Just a minute, let me check."
"OK, the girls would like a half gallon of Chocolate - no, they say, make it Rocky Road."
"And, as long as you're stopping, pick me up a fifth of Jack Daniels, huh?"
"And, one more thing: when you get home, this time DON'T PLANT YOUR FAT ASS IN YOUR EASY CHAIR. There's a show on and I plan on watching it, OK?"
"YAAAAH!" They say the trucker went ballistic, almost tore his truck door off its hinges, and tried to drive off in a blind, ranting rage before they could stop him, get paramedics and police on scene to subdue him, and haul him away in a straight jacket.
Sometimes, when folks are living on the edge, it isn't a good idea to give them that little extra push.