There Is Definitely Such a Thing As a Stupid Question

18 Apr

You can find Bart and his mockery at

If I could have a time machine to go back and stop any event in the world, it would be to back up and slap the face off of whoever said “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” before they have a chance to articulate it into the universe.

I know, I know: if I had a time machine, I should go back and do something far more grandiose and far-reaching, like prevent huge acts of genocide or help avert the deaths of major icons and leaders of thought.  But let’s be honest – if a time machine is made available to mankind, the first things everyone will go back and take care of are the major atrocities of our existence.

At least I hope so.  I’d really like to think they’re being taken care of while I tend this whole ‘no stupid questions’ fellow, who must be abolished because he is a downright filthy rotten liar and he’s ruined my life.

There are indeed stupid questions.  I get asked at least three every single day.  I think it’s because the whole ‘ask any question’ culture has gone a long way to eliminate shame in the asking.

I’m a fan of shame.  I think it’s good for society.  Let’s bring back the shame.  So here, for the reference of humankind, I offer you a sampling of totally idiotic questions, many of which I face on a daily basis.  Share.  Tell your friends.  Email it to a moronic office mate.  “Accidentally” send it to your boss.  Let’s start a shame revolution.  It will make us better people.  I promise.

Examples of Stupid Questions

  • Asking a place of business a question that was answered in the greeting.  Example: “Hello, thank you for calling Happy Llama Mart, this is Jackie; How can I help you?”   Stupid questions would include “Who is this?”  “Who did I call?” “What’s the name of this business?”
  • How to do anything on a computer that you haven’t first Googled.  I’m serious about this one.  So serious.  I can’t tell you how many times I’m interrupted at work just because I’m in my 20’s and everyone assumes I can fix any computer-related issues.  Google it.  Somewhere out there in the magical interwebz, someone else couldn’t figure out how to get their tabs to align or how to change their margins or get rid of that pesky blank page that haunts them on Word.   I don’t interrupt your generation’s workdays to ask them the lyrics of popular 70’s songs; don’t interrupt mine to fix computer problems. (My favorite place to send offenders:
  • Asking if you can ask a question. If you don’t see the problem here, keep trying.
  • Asking for the time.  There are few – very, few instances where this is not a stupid question.  If, for example, you left your phone at home and you’re trying to catch a bus and are without any time telling devices.  If you’re a nomad and you’re still honing your skills at telling the time of day by the position of the sun in the sky.  If you’re scurrying around on New Year’s Eve and trying to make sure you get the wine poured before the ball drops.  For all other unsimilar instances, please make an attempt to reference any of the hundred devices surrounding us at all moments of the day that tell us the time, including your own phone.

Now, in what may seem a contradiction of my rage, I would like to note that I still think it’s a worthy investment of our time as human beings to discuss legitimate questions before referencing our smart phones for the most commonly accepted answer.  Sure, I know the burning in your cerebrum is killer when you can’t remember the name of whats-her-face who was in the movie with the guy with the nose. But remember how good it feels to sort through those dusty old files in your brain and come up with the answer?   I’m pretty certain that studies two decades from now will show we’re less intelligent beings for having defaulted to the device in our pockets in favor of our memories. 

So enough of my annoyances: what are yours?  Tell me all about the questions that set you off.  Get grumpy in that comment section; let’s start the shame revolution.   We’re bringing back the belief in stupid questions. 

After all, I don’t think anyone’s making swift progress on those time machine blueprints. 

29 Responses to “There Is Definitely Such a Thing As a Stupid Question”

  1. Jaimie April 19, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    When I worked at Panera, I got asked stupid questions all the time. For example, one of the best things I ever heard:

    Customer: Hi, I’d like some broccoli cheddar soup.
    Me: Okay, would you like a bowl or a cup?
    Customer: Um, which one is bigger?

    Seriously? You can’t use your brain and figure out which one of those things is bigger than the other??

    And this is a good one too. Customers would look at the soup list and see baked potato and then ask me if that was soup or if it was an actual baked potato. Apparently the big words at the top that said soup didn’t mean anything.


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:19 am #

      I feel your pain on these items, but I’m incredibly distracted by your mention of baked potato soup BECAUSE IT IS SO DELICIOUS IT IS THE MOST DELICIOUS IT IS THE BEST.

      I’m sorry. Thank you for your contribution. People are stupid. In particular, customers.

      Man, I hated customer service. That’s a job I really shouldn’t ever go near again.


  2. Kirk April 19, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Well, when I teach classes I tell the class there are no stupid questions when it comes to asking relevant questions. Asking questions is the best way you can learn, however there are many stupid questions out there for many mundane tasks. I for one, have asked many a stupid question just so I don’t assume someone thinks the same way I do. Because in my line of work there are many names for tools, theater terms, and lighting and sound terminologies occur on a regular basis. So without asking the dreaded “stupid” question then two people may be thinking two completely different ways of doing something and then all hell breaks loose(not really, just emphasizing my point). I would however like to know why the sky is blue, or why is the grass green? These questions aren’t stupid, but they do create great conversation. 🙂


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am #

      Well may blessings come your way for your patience. I am apparently not so equipped. Perhaps why some teach and some do not. 😉


  3. Jules April 19, 2012 at 1:02 am #

    Your aspergers is showing Jackie. Down girl, down!

    I’ve learned to let these things go. Less stress is best these days.

    The only one I could really relate to is the computer problem blahblahblah. is genious if aren’t particularly fond of the person. It has the right amount of passive aggressiveness, but not crossing the @$$hole border by not helping a person out.


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:16 am #

      Oh man. I just finally responded to this and I’ve already gone and posted another “I hate people” post. Shoot.


  4. teamzuhl April 19, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    “Can I ask you a question?” drives me up a wall.
    Your post, on the other hand, was brilliant 🙂


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:15 am #

      Just say “obviously” and walk away. I’m going to try it. I’m sure people will love it.

      And thanks 🙂


  5. knotrune April 19, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Are you awake. (Insensitive as well as stupid.)

    Any question you just asked me and I answered and you couldn’t be bothered to remember the reply I gave two seconds ago. (OK you have an excuse if you have Alzheimer’s. But my husband doesn’t!)


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:14 am #

      Goes right along with “are you sick!?” What am I supposed to say to that? Yes. Because it’s better than admitting I just look like crap.


  6. pegoleg April 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Ouch! That generational thing hits a tad too close to home. So if I were, say, having trouble figuring out how to embed a YouTube video of a dancing cat in this here comment, and I asked, say, you, how to do it…that would be annoying?


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      ooooh sorry about that one. 😉


  7. Lori April 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    “Does this make me look fat?” If you have to ask….it does. Period.


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      OUCH. truth hurts, lori. truth hurts.


  8. Momma April 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    okay…….one of my stupid questions I hear at work all the time. There are 100 stamps in a roll of stamps……they are .45cents each……….How much does a roll cost?


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      Oh, basic math skills – you slay me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown people how to find 10% of something. The fact that tip calculators exist saddens me.


  9. Ro April 20, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Watch God Bless America. You’ll feel better.


  10. klsprout April 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I’m guilty, guilty, guilty of asking my computer-programmer husband for tech support. His reply is always, without fail, ‘Have you Googled it?’
    Silly me, I still keep asking him…


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:12 am #

      at least you’ll never run out of conversation in those later years. Of course, maybe by then we’ll just think of something and the government will put the answer in our heads.


      • klsprout May 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        Yes, I’m prepared for the iBrain to do all my thinking for me when I’m 70…


  11. kitchenmudge April 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    My own favorites, as I mentioned
    a while back:

    – “You know what?”
    (What does that question even mean?)

    – “Could I ask you a question?”
    (You just did.)

    – “Will you do me a favor?”
    (Do you really expect me to agree to do something without knowing what it is?)

    I also stole a nice flowchart for computer problems for my last post:


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:11 am #

      Love the relevant plug – thank you for sharing!


  12. Amy Stutznegger April 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    Lucky for me, teaching and ushering are FULL of stupid questions 🙂 These are all questions I have heard at least five times….

    “Why is my son failing your class?”
    Why don’t you ask your son….. you’re his mother.

    “The box office is closed?!?!”
    Yes, the show started an hour ago. And there’s fifteen minutes left. You can’t buy a ticket.

    First day of school: “I’m giving you this pencil. This is your pencil for my class. It never leaves this room. If you ask me for a pencil. I will gouge your eye out with my baton and then fail you.”
    Second day of school: “Do you have a pencil I can use?”

    “My son can’t make it to the band concert. Is that a problem?”

    “I’m too fat to fit in this chair. What are you going to do for me?”
    Let me get my hack saw….

    “Can we sleep for class today?”


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:10 am #

      Wow – what do you even say to the person who is too big to fit in the chair? Do you buy them a beanbag? That’s rough. Can’t stand the parents who blame teachers for their students’ failure.

      I have to say that last one isn’t a stupid question. It’s just a suggestion infused with hope for success. And one that came out of my mouth many, many times. 😉


  13. Samantha April 22, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    One that I hate at work: “Is this the juniors department?”
    …No, it’s not, even though there’s TWO GIANT PINK PILLARS THAT SAY JUNIORS IN WHITE LETTERS. But no, it’s totally not.

    I also hate when people ask me questions that I’ve just given the reply to a few minutes before and they never remember it. Both my dad and boyfriend are excellent at this.


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:08 am #

      They could be blind. Or illiterate. Aside from that, super stupid.

      uuuugh I hate being asked the same thing over and over again. I frequently have to count to ten to remind myself that bitchiness is not next to godliness.


  14. A Gracious Life April 23, 2012 at 4:39 am #


    How are you? is a question we always ask but we don’t really care about the answer. Duh.


    • Jackie May 3, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      YES. Thank you. Particularly in the office world. Someone said it while they were passing me today in the hall. By the time they got to ‘you’, they were 3 feet behind me.


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