Sometimes the best action to take is to take no action at all.
Seeing these words engraved on my great-grandfather's tombstone always brings a tear to my eye. He was such a great man. A man I try to emulate.
Calvin Do-Nothing Hedding.
"Here lies the deceased Calvin Hedding. Has anyone heard of him?" A peppy tour guide is pointing at me and my great-grandfather's tombstone with a ridiculous, forced smile on her face while a group of school age children look around in all the wrong directions while picking their noses, fidgeting with loose rocks on the ground, and picking grass and throwing it in the air. The teacher corralling them is looking completely and totally defeated.
I grin, stretching my smile as wide as I can so it feels almost painful. I can't wait to hear their responses. Oh, how they must know of my great-grandfather and how truly wonderful he was!
I am waiting patiently. As is the tour guide.
After an agonizing ten seconds neither the tour guide nor I can take it any longer. I open my mouth but the tour guide beats me to it. I resume with my face-splitting grin. "Calvin Do-Nothing Hedding is best known for doing absolutely nothing. Many, many years ago he was in charge of overseeing a nuclear reactor right here in the city. As the reactor began to suffer from catastrophic failures Calvin Hedding sat in his office drinking coffee and reading a newspaper. When one of his employees asked what they should do Calvin folded his newspaper down, glanced at the employee, returned to reading his newspaper, and said, 'Nothing.' As the employee pleaded for Calvin to do something about the situation or else they could all die and the city could be destroyed something amazing happened! The reactor fixed itself!"
Audible gasps start pouring out from the children, mixed with a defeated sigh from the teacher as every student's hand shoots into the air and seven kids starting asking questions at once. My smile is at its peak and my eyes become moist with the onset of tears at hearing my great-grandfather's accomplishment.
I could be seeing things, but I'm pretty sure the tour guide's eye is twitching as she states, "Just one question from one person at a time, please. Yes, you. What's your question?" She is pointing to a little girl with bright blue eyes, grass in her fingers, and a combination of grass, little twigs, and tiny pebbles scattered in her dark brown hair.
"My papaw says, he says he was the one who told Mr. Calvin that the whole place was gonna blow and that Mr. Calvin is a big dummy," she stammers out with an evil little grin which could only come from her cursed bloodline.
At this point, I feel my heart pounding as I take my chance to stammer out something in response, "Now, you, you listen here you little - you little stinker! My great-grandfather was the most important person in this city's entire history! If it wasn't for his quick-thinking, dedicated foresight, and supreme tastes in both coffee and literature, then we, well, we would all be dead! Just imagine if he had sent your stupid-head of a grandpa down to fix the reactor and then he ended blowing everyone up. What then, huh? How would you be here if your grandpa had gone and blown the whole place up? Explain THAT to me, you offspring of a minor employee!?" I feel my face practically radiating heat but I feel my argument against this little girl has brought me glorious victory and I begin to feel the adrenaline from my win coursing through my gloriously crafted veins.
The tour guide stands with her mouth agape, obviously blinded by my argumentation prowess. The little girl's face begins to contort as the first tears appear in the corners of her eyes.
"HA HA! You know I am right and that I have won! Think again before challenging anyone from the Do-Nothing Hedding clan, you utter dolt!" I am giddy with my success as I point and laugh at my opponent.
From behind me I hear a sigh of resignation and the sound of jingling metal, partially drowned out by the eruption of crying from my adversary in front of me. "This again, Calvin? This is the fourth elementary schoolkid this month. Hands behind your back."
As I turn to face my new opponent my eyes fall upon my great-grandfather's tombstone and the inscription written on it. I know what I must do. I stare blankly at the security guard in front of me, hands limp at my side.
"Calvin, I'm not kidding. You need to cooperate."
I stand my ground. I know what greatness I have in me and know it is best to do what the Hedding family has done for generations: nothing. It is only a matter of time before everyone recognizes my power and authority, so I will wait and do nothing. Eventually, I even go so far as to close my eyes and stop listening to anyone or anything but my own thoughts. The ultimate power move.
I am great. Great-grandfather, I'm doing it! I am doing nothing just like you! Isn't this wonderful? I am following your legacy! As I take my next breath, taking in the intoxicating feeling of my own awesome presence, I feel a crushing weight slamming into me and knocking me to the ground and the breath I had just taken is forced out of me with such violence that I whimper and cough.
I open my eyes to see the security guard has tackled me to the ground and, ouch, yes he has flipped me over and, OW!, twisted my arms behind my back. He places the handcuffs on my wrists and cinches them tightly. "Sir, what are you doing!? Do you have any idea who I am? I am the great-grandson of..."
"Shut up! I know who you are, you sociopath! You can't keep screaming at children thinking you will get away with these things, Calvin! You are not the descendant of someone important! Your great-grandfather's tomb isn't here so he can be honored but so his decision can serve as a standard of what NOT to do in a situation. If he had done his job correctly, then the reactor would have never gotten out of hand. The only thing he was great at was being lazy!"
I clench my fists as tight as I can, ignoring the pain in my wrists, and push against the handcuffs trying to break free, "You are a liar! My great-grandfather was an amazing man! He was a king, or should have been! Don't tell me your scandalizing propaganda against the Hedding family!"
The class teacher shakes her head as she is blowing on a whistle hanging around her neck. Everyone jerks their head to look at her, "Mr. Hedding, I am sorry my children are upsetting you so much. But, this is getting old. Calvin Hedding is a distant relative of mine, and he was a complete buffoon and my family has removed all ties with the Hedding family because of him. I am sorry you are so disillusioned." She bows her head respectfully and says to the security guard, with another sigh, "Also, can you please pull his pants up? Let's go, children."
What? A family member has disowned my great-grandfather. If I had heard it from anyone else I would never have believed it. To hear her say it just now with no denying or misunderstanding her intent sends me into a spiral. Have I been living a lie? Is he called Calvin Do-Nothing Hedding as a joke rather than an honorary title?
No. No way. If she were truly a relative of mine she would have known to do exactly nothing and everything would have been fine. Why, just look at my success putting it into practice? I'm the greatest, second only to my great-grandather! I even have the same name as him!
"Alright, Calvin. I hate to say this, but it is time to ban you from visiting this area of the cemetery ever again."
At first, my heart begins to sink as I hear about my exile. Then, I think of great-grandfather. No matter. I will simply do nothing. Everything will be great, just like me!