The Odd Questions
By Patricia Crisafulli
Twenty odd questions. The headline in The Wall Street Journal was so intriguing, I had to click on it. (You probably have to be a WSJ subscriber to read it, but in case you are or you find a way to bypass the requirement, go for it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304432704577348122857214042.html?mod=WeekendHeader_Right)
The subject of the interview was Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, a private island, and a whole bunch or other interests, who served up pithy and sometimes witty responses to questions about his watch (Bulova Accutron), what he likes to wear (jeans), and why he hates neckties (they are unnecessary and should be abolished). Although I could care less about his watch, jeans, and open-neck shirt, I was really intrigued by the concept of Twenty Odd Questions.
Can you imagine if we all were asked odd questions in unexpected places, say the next time you went to the doctor’s office and have to, once again, fill out “the paperwork” -- which you completed six months prior and nothing has changed. (It’s not like the appendix you had removed at age 14 has suddenly grown back.) Imagine: name, address, insurance carrier, favorite color, favorite movie, vanilla or chocolate, Beatles or Rolling Stones, Leno or Letterman….
Or on a job application: list last three positions, reasons for leaving, core competencies, can you carry a tune or ride a unicycle, have you ever wanted to skydive, if your house was burning what is the one item you’d go back for, do you like broccoli?
And better yet, on those automatic phone answering systems, the ones that tell you to press 1 to place an order, press 2 to inquire about an order, press 3 to listen to instructions about making returns, and smack yourself in the head if you want to know anything else. Since you’re getting the runaround anyway and have a snowball’s chance in hell of reaching a live person, it might as well be a game: “Press 4 if you have a middle name, Press 5 to make one up, Press 11 if you know how the electoral college works, Press 74899011&&*%$ to learn how to swear in Mongolian….”
The idea of asking odd questions is rather brilliant, because then you can tell if people are really listening. Next time your significant other is absorbed in the newspaper at the breakfast table, fire off a quizzical query: “What do you think about buying a hippo for a pet?” If the answer is, “How nice, dear,” then you’ve got an issue. Of course, if the answer is an enthusiastic, “Really! I’ve always wanted a hippo!” then you’ve got a bigger problem, but your relationship is probably intact. Well, for now. Before the hippo, that is. After that, all bets are off.
Or at those networking receptions where everyone has to slap on a “hello my name is” badge, and ask intelligent things such as, “what line of work are you in?” Banish the banter and go for it. “Are your feet ticklish?” Even if they do call security and have you removed, you will have made an impression -- good or bad, I’m not saying.
FaithHopeandFiction is my creative home and my labor of love. I have written stories all my life. As a child, I told myself stories for entertainment, to pass the time, and for comfort. Stories were my way of interpreting and understanding the world around me and to discover the deeper meaning and lessons hidden in even the most ordinary circumstances and relationships.
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