People have the propensity to ask what should be abundantly clear. Something drives people to ask “Is it raining?” when you walk in from outside sopping wet. Male, female, young, old, it does not matter. We all sometimes ask questions with readily obvious answers.
Even before I moved out of my parents house, my mom formed the habit of asking the same question every time I answered the phone.
“Where are you?”
Now, that question isn’t so strange with cell phones and their current ubiquity, but keep in mind this was long before anyone in my family had one and I answered the land line. At our house, I usually just answered, “Where did you call?” Sometimes, though, I felt the need to give a completely fraudulent answer and would say something along the lines of, “Well, I’m over at a friend’s house at the moment. Why?”
“Oh, I just wanted you to check on something in the kitchen for me. Never mind I guess.”
“Wait, I’m just . . .” Click.
Of course, my favorite obvious phone question is one we’ve all received.
“Are you awake?”
“I don’t know. Am I talking to you?”
“I guess so.”
“Then, yeah, I’m probably awake.”
These questions aren’t limited to phone conversations. I cut my finger, badly, the year I remodeled our kitchen. The utility knife slipped and cut my finger before I could adjust. Fortunately the blade caught on the bone, but I thought I may have cut my finger off since blood spurted everywhere. I told myself I needed to remain calm, so I took a deep breath and completely freaked out.
“Chrisie!” I yelled out, “Honey, I need you!”
She ran into the kitchen. The walls and floor now resembled a Jackson Pollack painting if he used only red. I fearfully held my finger with my other hand but blood still poured onto the floor.
My wife, the love of my life, and an extremely intelligent woman looked around the kitchen then at my pale face and asked, “Are you hurt?”
Sadly, I, too, ask obvious questions. When we first got married, I had the bad habit of walking in to the room when Chrisie was talking on the telephone. Even though she held the receiver to her ear, nodding, I for some stupid reason asked, “Are you on the phone?”
Of course, far worse than questions are when people actually state the obvious. With a question you can at least give the benefit of the doubt that they are in shock, or they just need to compose their thoughts and are stalling for time. A statement shows forethought though and is much more annoying.
In the earlier 90’s there was a rash of unrelated murders all committed with .410 shotguns. I’ll never forget hearing my mom say after one news report, “Huh, I guess those .410 shotguns can be deadly.”
Dad and I just looked at her for a moment. Then I said, helpfully, “Yes, oddly a device with the sole purpose of explosively firing projectiles out one end can kill you. Who knew? Oh, that’s right, absolutely everybody.”
Still, I suppose a case could be made that this statement is also acceptable. Sometimes, tough, a statement is made that seems to defy all understanding of the environment in which it’s said and the people to whom it’s said. Such is the case with a conversation I had at work after the Super Bowl.
We mostly lamented that the commercials were not up to par. The conversation soon shifted to commercials we did like. A coworker brought up a commercial for A Telecommunications and Television company. The point of the commercial is that the company’s network is faster than others. I had a problem with it, which I shared.
“I think it’s a funny commercial, but there’s one thing I don’t get. The whole point is that one guy shows up late because his phone is on a different network that’s slower, right? Here’s the thing, though, they show him getting that late message on a phone that is only currently available on the advertiser’s network.”
An excellent point if I do say so myself. My coworker looked at me for a moment and then stated the obvious. We stood in the Technology department, surrounded by people who all had the words “computer” and “technician” in their job title. All of us chose to work with computers. We often share our fond recollections of our first computer. We talk about networks, programs, and the internet daily. We know things about technology that others only guess at. He stood in the middle of all that and seriously, sincerely said, “Wow, Leighton, I had no idea you were a nerd.”
“I had no idea you didn’t know I was a nerd.”
Of course, I then went into a lengthy explanation of how I wasn’t actually a nerd. I’m a geek. Sadly, I think I did more to prove his point than refute it.