Judy Spooner Viewpoint: The world's full of puzzling inquiriesI love to talk to people about their jobs, especially those who deal with the public on a regular basis.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
I love to talk to people about their jobs, especially those who deal with the public on a regular basis.
Daughter Margie, who works at the Bulletin License Center for her father, husband Gary, always has interesting stories to tell.
Last week, I asked her if a customer had asked her a dumb question. “Today?” she asked.
The eye test can be a stumper for people, she said, when people have to renew their driver’s license. When asked to read the line of letters as they do if they have an eye exam, some people are silent.
Since she’s encountered that situation before, as other license center workers have, she tells them they have to read the letters aloud.
People also ask if the eye test hurts, she said. As the silent eye test readers do, Margie was thinking, “not unless I hit you over the head.”
While on our recent cruise to Alaska, I asked Rachel, a former national park ranger, for her list of dumb questions.
“People ask where whales go to drink fresh water,” she said. They are surprised to hear that whales can’t survive in fresh water. “I’m not sure they fully understand,” Rachel told me.
Rachel said people also ask at what elevation caribou turn into reindeer. “They don't,” she said.
After striking up a conversation with the woman at the main desk in the Denali National Park information center, I asked her about dumb questions.
“A lady asked me what time the 2 p.m. bus comes,” she said. “Not wanting to be rude, I told her ‘about 2 p.m.’”
I'm not the only one interested in dumb questions. I refer to a few selections from a collection of “weird reference questions” from the Library Professionals List-serve. By the way, people asked the following questions at reference desks in libraries. I thought that was kind of funny.
“Where is the reference desk?” asked a library patron to the librarian who was sitting beneath a large sign stating “Reference Desk.”
“I was here about three weeks ago looking at a cookbook that costs $39.95. Do you know which one it is?”
At the first floor reference desk, the following question was asked: “Is the basement upstairs?”
The following is a phone call to a reference desk:
Caller: “I have a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. It's all blue with swirly stars in it. Can you tell me where I can get it appraised?”
Reference: “Sir, does it say 'Metropolitan Museum of Art' on the bottom?”
“It does? Well, what you have there is a poster that they sell in the gift shop. I think they're about $10.”
And, my favorite:
“I'm looking for a globe of the earth,” asked the patron. The reference person said the library had a tabletop globe.
“That's not good enough,” said the patron. “Don't you have a life size?”
“Yes,” said the librarian, “but it's in use right now.”