The Fine Art of Piddling by Rick Bragg

If you are a piddler, or if piddling runs in your family, you’ve got to treat yourself to this story. If you don’t know what piddling is, or you have great disdain for piddling, you will still love this story.  Only Rick Bragg, and his Pulitzer prose, can bestow piddling with the reverence it deserves.

Case in point:

“A piddler does not fix a leaky washing machine, or a slipping transmission, or a hole in a roof. Such work is necessary, and the more necessary a labor is, the farther from piddling it becomes. A piddler may use tools, but only small, light ones, and only on things that are not needed right then. Changing out a car battery in the dead of winter is not piddling, because it is a necessity. But tinkering with a lawn mower in the middle of February is, especially if the grass is deader than Great-Aunt Minnie’s house cat and buried under a foot of snow. Doing a load of laundry is, of course, not piddling. Organizing one’s sock drawer by color and fiber is.

Fishing is not piddling. That is why Ellis Ray’s survivors made that distinction in his obit. But sharpening hooks and respooling line is, especially if the bass boat is covered in sheet ice. Going to a baseball game is not piddling. Retying the laces on your cleats is, but only if the only way you will ever again go fast down the first-base line is if someone shoots you out of a cannon.”

And I might have to print a bumper sticker with my favorite line from this story:

“No one, no one born on this planet, is purely piddle free.”

I hope you take a minute to read the full story at Southern Magazine. If you are hungry for more, read others at Rick’s Southern Journal or one of his books.

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Categories: sample stories

4 Comments on “The Fine Art of Piddling by Rick Bragg”

  1. lucewriter
    April 28, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    l loved this. But, tell me, what is the difference between piddling and puttering. All along I thought I as a putterer, coming from a long line of putterers.

  2. April 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Perhaps puttering is for northerners and piddling is for southerners? ;-)

    • lucewriter
      May 1, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Maybe that’s what it is!

  3. May 14, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    I’m a putterer, but I putter at things that need doing. It’s the intensity that makes it puttering, not work. I leave piddling for the things that *don’t* need doing. But being a westerner transplanted to become a midwesterner, I’m probably classed as a northerner rather than a southerner, so who knows? And that’s enough er’s for the day!

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