Do not ask Richard Stallman if he needs help!


I don’t know if you have had a chance to read this email sent by Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Movement, but it is a classic example who has at least a complete sense of their importance and value.  Mr. Stallman lays out the terms of his appearance at conferences and other events.  He is very specific in his desires and needs:

Please pass this section to everyone who will be helping me directly in any fashion during the visit.  It is nice of you to want to be kind to me, but please don’t offer help all the time.  In general I am used to managing life on my own; when I need help, I am not shy about asking.  So there is no need to offer to help me.  Moreover, being constantly offered help is actually quite distracting and tiresome.  So please, unless I am in grave immediate danger, please don’t offer help.  The nicest thing you can do is help when I ask, and otherwise not worry about how I am doing.  Meanwhile, you can also ask me for help when you need it.  One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in crossing streets.  I grew up in the middle of the world’s biggest city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi.  Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.


And a another classic take on the “temperature”:

Above 72 fahrenheit (22 centigrade) I find sleeping quite difficult.
(If the air is dry, I can stand 23 degrees.) A little above that
temperature, a strong electric fan blowing on me enables me to sleep.
More than 3 degrees above that temperature, I need air conditioning to

If there is a substantial chance of indoor temperatures too hot for
me, please arrange _in advance_ for me to have what I need.

If you are planning for me to stay in a hotel, DO NOT take for granted
that the hotel has air conditioning–or that it will be working when I
arrive. Some hotels shut off their air conditioning systems for part
of the year. They often think it is unnecessary in seasons when the
temperature is usually in the mid 20s–and they follow their schedule
like stupid robots even if there is a heat wave.

So you must explicitly ask them: “Do you have air conditioning? Will
it be functioning for the dates XXX-YYY?”

In some hotels with central air conditioning, it simply does not work
very well: it can make a room less hot, but can’t make it cool.
Before using a hotel that has central air conditioning, find out what
temperature it can actually lower a room to, during the relevant

Or look for a hotel that has a real cooling unit in the room, not a
central system. Those tend to work well enough, if they are not


You can check out the entire email here.

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."