Stupid on both sides

It’s really quiet in the office this morning.

All that can be heard is the tapping of keyboards and that angry/sleepy silence that can only be brought on by being at work at 6-fucking-30 in the morning.

The soothing silence was eventually broken by one of my colleagues asking a question to anyone who was listening…..or awake.

“Does ‘two sided’ mean ‘on both sides’?”

If it was at all possible, the silence got even quieter. You could hear a pin drop… London.

I replied (naturally), “Hmm, well, let’s think about it. Does two sided mean both sides? Whew, that’s a tough one…”

“I realize1 now, that was a stupid question.”, he replied.

Yes, yes it was.

1 Not a typo; he’s American.

Don’t ask…

My wife is ill.

Living in America I should really say ‘my wife is sick’, but I can’t use that sentence without wanting to add ‘and twisted’ on the end.

So….my wife is ill.

Very ill actually.

She has spent most of the day – and last night – coughing, sneezing, throwing up and sporting a high temperature.  What’s even worse is the fact I had to cancel our 6:20pm showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

It’s such an emotional time.

Unfortunately I couldn’t cancel the tickets online with the same ease I booked them, so I had to put on outside clothing and drive to the cinema.

Sorry, ‘Movie Theatre’.

Sorry, ‘Movie Theater

(rolls eyes)

After a 35 minute drive I arrived at the cinema and headed into the noisy, bustling foyer.  I navigated the slow, shuffling popcorn munching morons and made a beeline for the box office desk.

The young girl behind the (bulletproof?) glass called me over and I pushed my pre-printed ticket under the glass towards her.

“I need to cancel these tickets; my wife is sick (and twisted) and so we can’t make the 6:30 showing”.

She smiled, took my tickets and proceeded to scan stuff and type things on her tiny little keyboard.

After a few seconds she said, “So I have to ask, where are you from?”

Did you have to ask?

“From Vegas, born and bred” I replied, with a smile.

She looked at me blankly, an emotion came across her face (ooer!) which I can only describe as bemusement.  No, wait….confusion; the word is confusion.

I decided to help her out.

“Just kidding, I’m originally from the UK”.

She smiled (out of relief mostly) and what followed were the usual questions of “How do you like it here?” and “How is it different from the UK?” etc.

After a minute or so of “I don’t miss the clouds and rain” and “Well, the TV over here sucks” she smiled again at me and slipped me my refund receipt.

Before I could thank her and leave, she hit me with this one…

“Let me ask you one more question; since you’ve been here what stereotype of Americans have you found not to be true?”

Wow, this was an interesting one.  Where do I start?

Actually, where DO I start?  I couldn’t think of a single stereotype off the top of my head and here I had this young girl smiling at me, expecting an answer… honest answer.


So I went with the most common stereotype; the one that is synonymous with Americans, known the world over.

“Well, there’s the stereotype that Americans are stupid…” I began.

Her face dropped.

The foyer fell silent.

I felt like that out of town stranger who had walked into a saloon in the Old West.  Even the popcorn had stopped mid-pop.

She looked mortified and started spouting some bollocks about the revolutionary war and the fact that it was actually the English fighting the English or something.  I tuned out to be honest.

Hey, she asked the question.  Be prepared for the answer.  Well, half the answer in this case.

Before I could say that I found that stereotype to be (mostly) untrue, she looked behind me and said “Next please”.

Oh dear.  Touch a nerve did I?

As I got in my car I smiled to myself as I nearly said, ‘Americans are very easily offended’.



ron offended

Wait, she DID ask for an American stereotype that I had found not to be true…right?


It’s a question of stupidity, right?

Today at work I received an email. Well, to be honest, I received a whole boatload of emails, but this one in particular stood out from the rest.

It was from one of the ladies I work with and it read:

‘Dan, can you do something for me please?’

That was it. No follow up. No elaboration. Just that one, simple, pointless question.

I thought long and hard about it for almost a whole millisecond before typing this reply to her:

‘How am I supposed to answer that?

If I say yes and you ask me to kill a man, then I would feel committed to an act I may not be entirely comfortable with.

If I say no and you ask me to help you cheer up a terminally ill child in hospital, then I would be a heartless bastard.

So I’m going to sit here and soon enough you’ll ask me to do whatever it is you need me to do :-D’

I won’t lie, it wasn’t well received.

But when you think about it, it’s a pretty redundant question. I mean, social etiquette forces me into a corner with this one. The only possible answer I could realistically give is ‘yes’, otherwise I’m just a bit of a cock.

And what then? All she would know is that I am CAPABLE of doing something for her, but with no clue if I would actually DO it. After all, I didn’t know myself IF I’d do it, only that I COULD.

If so inclined.

Which I wasn’t.


If a genie were to appear in a puff of smoke and, instead of granting wishes, offered her the answer to any question of her choosing, she would probably reply “what, I can ask any question I want?”


> Poof <

This got me thinking of all the redundant questions I’ve been asked in my life. The ones that simply don’t satisfy the basic purpose of a question, which is to gain information or clarity.

I don’t include rhetorical questions in all this because they don’t really require an answer. What would be the point in that?

No, I’m talking about genuine questions I’ve heard in my lifetime that serve no purpose other than to use up more oxygen than brain cells.

For example; “Can I ask you a question?”

It’s a lot like “Dan, can you do something for me please?” in the fact that after the socially required answer of “yes”, you STILL need to ask the question you actually wanted to ask in the first place.

Some picky grammar nazis might say that the question in itself is a paradox because you’re asking someone if you can ask them a question, in a question; therefore leaving the recipent without a choice.

But not me, I would never do that.

And what about; “Are you still reading that book?” when I’m sat there, book in hand, reading it.

No mate, i’m deep frying a chicken.

The same goes for “why are you watching this?” or “how can you eat that?”; both of these can be answered with “because I like it”, or “fuck off”.

Take your pick. Both are effective and surprisingly relevant.

And there’s the multifaceted irritant that is, “Do you know what I mean?”, or “Do you know what i’m saying?”, or “Do you see what i’m getting at?”, or “Does that make sense?”, or “Do you get me?” at the end of practically every sentence.

I can appreciate using it from time to time when speaking to someone at great length. In fact, my job as a trainer requires me to check throughout the day if the content is making sense, but I don’t use it at the end of practically every sentence.

If you’re that unsure the person you’re speaking to knows what you’re saying, either communicate more effectively or shut up.

The latter would be preferable.

Know what I mean?

Stupid Questions