Answering a Question
This week I was talking to a friend — he’s a kind, wise observer — about a habit that’s been with me a long time. It’s usually harmless, but it also doesn’t serve me well.
Sometimes it’s better to answer a question with a question.
This is a good story . . . it really happened.
The Question Was When?
It was the time I was commuting from Southern California to rural Massachusetts. I was living in a hotel, driving a rental, and parking in the visitor’s space.
The situation was caused by the real estate market in California. Banks were “forgiving” mortgages, which meant house prices were lower than the amount that folks still owed to the bank. We couldn’t afford to sell our home and lose the money invested in it. We ended up waiting two years for the prices to get back to where we could afford to sell.
During that two years, I would spend two weeks at each location. Every time I was in the office, two or three people would ask some form of the question
When are you going to move here?
One day, some time in the middle of the second year of my commute, I was walking out to my car with a woman who worked on my team. She asked,
When are you going to stop being a visitor?
I launched into my answer about where the housing market was at that moment and where we predicted it was going. I told her when we projected that would mean my family would be moving to the area for real. She stood with me, by my car, and listened intently.
As soon as i finished, she polited said, “Thank you, but what I wanted to know was, when you were going to quit parking in the visitor’s parking place?”
How many mistakes had I made there? Oh.
If only, I had thought to find out why she was asking.
If only, I didn’t assume I already knew.
BTW, I didn’t really park there every day. She a classic set-up for a joke when she saw one.
–ME ‘Liz” Strauss
Why SOBCon — Not that Other One? —
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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