The delightfully raunchy, funny and smart Katie Schwartz has tagged yours truly. Here are the requirements:
"For this meme, I'm going to ask you to answer three (hopefully not dumb) questions: What is the dumbest question you ever been asked? Why was it it dumb? And, even though it won't help, because answering a dumb question never does, what's the answer? (Or, as I like to think of them: The Big Dumb Question, The Big Dumb Reason, and The Big Dumb Answer.)"
Now, before I get started, I have to say something. After reading Katie's story I believe that it is really unnecessary, pointless, really, for any other blogger, anywhere, to post another response to this tag. Go read her story, here, and tell me if I'm not right. In spite of that belief I'll soldier on and give you this story.
Like anyone else who works with people--food service, retail, any of the "helping" professions--I've had plenty of dumb questions. But the thing is, there's one dumb question that I've heard at least a half dozen times over the years, from different people, but always in the same context.
Here's the setting: an office or interview room in a police station. Picture the usual institutional gray/green furniture, cinderblock walls and air of human desperation. There's a guy sitting in a chair, and you can tell by looking at him that he's spent, physically and emotionally. Sometimes he looks tearful and afraid, sometimes relieved, and other times almost happy because a great weight has just been lifted from him. Sometimes it's not a guy, it's a girl, but almost always it's a guy. He's in the process of signing his written confession, the one I just got from him, or he's already signed it and he's sitting back as I explain what happens next. At some point he looks up and makes eye contact with me, something he hasn't done for a while, and says "can I ask you a question?" And I just know the question is coming.
And then it comes:
"Do you think this is going to hurt my chances of becoming a police officer?"
Now, why was the question dumb, every single time it was asked? Because in each case the person had just confessed to a f*cking felony, that's why, and even grimy shithole police departments in places like southern Louisiana and Cook County, Illinois, generally refrain from hiring felons. (Seriously, they do--most of the bad cops you read about become felons after they've been on the job a while.)
So how do I answer this question? Like this:
"No, I wouldn't worry about it. They'll probably appreciate your honesty in admitting you made a mistake. Would you like to make any phone calls now?"
I tag MizBubs, Dale, Lulu and Johnny Yen. MizBubs because she works at a public help desk at the library and she's married to me, and I know she could fill pages with the stupid questions I've asked her; Lulu and Johnny because they're both educators, and Dale...well, because I get the feeling people just ask him a lot of dumb questions in general.