any questions?

More stuff from that thing.

There's this thing that's been bothering me recently. Whenever someone asks me if I have any questions, the answer is invariably "no." Opening a new bank account, orientation at a new job, moving in to a new apartment. It's always the same thing: "so, these are the basic facts," with the strong implication that the specific facts are available if only I ask the right questions. So then they smile at me and say "any questions?" and suddenly I'm on the spot.

I don't know what I'm supposed to ask. Everything they said makes sense, and if anything does come up that I don't know the answer to, I can just ask then. I don't really trust explanations, anyway. I don't trust words that aren't in stories. Stories are how you learn; explanations are there to obfuscate. It's just, somehow I don't think "do you have any stories about this place?" is the question they want to hear.

There was a time this girl emailed me after I tried to fill the room that had just opened up at her house, when I was back east. I got a tour of the place and spent hours with these people, who felt like old friends. We told stories. Then I got an email saying that I didn't seem interested in the community, whatever the fuck that means, so they'd gone with someone else. And I remember, after I'd been given the tour, the tour guide--my emailer, I think--said "so, do you have any questions?" and of course I pretended to think about it for a minute before saying "no, I'll just figure it out as I go."

And then, what reminded me of all this, I was opening a new bank account today, and after the lady went through all the details with me, she asked me if I had any questions. And I thought about it, and said, "no, it seems pretty straightforward!" and I swear her smile was almost pitying. Like she wanted to say, "you shouldn't be doing this, you don't have any idea what you're doing, you need to research your decisions before making them," but of course she wasn't allowed to. I tried to smile in a way that said: "I know that I'm making poorly considered decisions but I've chosen to trust my future to you, even though we've never met and will probably never meet again."

 Probably I'm imagining it. Probably she wasn't thinking anything at all, and that point in the conversation is just when her smile starts getting strained. Maybe it was even relief that I hadn't gone off the script. But I remember weirdly hostile emails from future roommates that never happened, and I wonder.

1 comment:

Kizolk said...

GOOMHR. I was thinking about just that a few days ago while watching a taped lecture. The prof asked if there were any questions, eyed the audience for some time, then moved on, visibly disappointed; he would later on be audibly so, pissed at how "uncooperative" the students were. Not like it's weird or anything. But still, I do remember having thought at that moment "why is he so convinced that he did a shitty job at explaining that?" Like the thought that he might actually be an OK teacher and that he had covered everything we needed and wanted to know at that point in such a crystal-clear way that it all made sense -- basically what he's paid to do -- hadn't even crossed his mind.

Anyway, nice entry as always!