June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013

Having/Knowing

I’m pre-disposed to dislike you.

Well not YOU, because you’re reading my blog. Evidence of good taste as well as cognitive ability. But, y’know, people in general are not really my thing. Thus it’s unfortunate that I run into a great number of them on a daily basis. Often, as was the case yesterday, asking me to say or do things. Like the guy outside the Metro station who asked me if I had a minute for gay rights. I refused to make eye contact or otherwise acknowledge his existence. So it didn’t end so well for him.

But it could have!

You see, even we hardened misanthropes can be reached. It’s all in the approach. Let’s look again at his question:

“Do you have a minute for gay rights?”

Did you spot where he went wrong? Look again, I’ll wait.

No?

Word #3. “Have.” Questions from strangers that start with “Do you have…” typically end with a bad deal.

“…fifty cents for the bus?”
“…a problem with me?”
 “…a dollar? I got to feed my kids.”
 “…any idea how Keystone XL will affect the environment?”

And so on. You get the gist.

I don’t want any part of a “Do you have” situation. I’m not going to give you money, engage your crazy, sign your petition, or debate with you on the merits of a trans-American pipeline. You may be a taker, but I am really not a giver.

BUT, if you start your entreaty with “Do you know,” it’s a whole. Other. Ballgame. Because showing off how much I KNOW is my third favorite thing after all-you-can-eat-buffets and genius Asian babies. The phrase “Do you know…” often ends with things I totally know, like:

“…where the Washington Monument is?”
“…what DC attraction opens really early?”
“…how to get to the Metro from here?”
“…the names of all the Presidents in order?”

And I will happily provide you directions, point you to Arlington Cemetery, and sing you the names of the Presidents to the tune of “Ten Little Indians.”

So if the gay rights volunteer person had just said “Do you know how many currently-legal marriages could be nullified by Supreme Court action?” we might have had something. Think about it, all ye petitioners.

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